Tag Archives: Tuareg

Holocene human peopling of Libyan Sahara

Holocene human peopling of Libyan Sahara – Molecular analysis of maternal lineages in ancient and extant populations of Fezzan

The present work provides an important view of a region of Africa that is still almost unknown: the Central Sahara. The aim of the project as a whole, was to reconstruct from the maternal side, through the genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the origins of a Pastoral nomad population in the Libyan Sahara, the Tuareg. The availability of both modern and ancient samples from the Fezzan (Libyan Sahara), collected in collaboration with the Italian Archaeological Mission in Libya directed by Prof. Savino Di Lernia, represented an important means of relating the mtDNA pool of extant Libyan Tuareg, with that of Pastoral people inhabiting the Central Sahara in prehistoric times, and with the Garamantes, the hypothetical ancestors of Libyan Tuareg. Nevertheless, molecular analysis carried out on the bones collected from the archaeological sites of the Acacus region, showed a very low state of preservation of the DNA, this probably due to the high temperatures that characterised burials over the centuries. Failure of the genetic analyses in the ancient individuals, necessarily limited the present work to the study of the extant Tuareg sample. Nevertheless, comparison with other genetic data collected so far in the modern African populations, and moreover the multidisciplinary integration with archaeological and ethnological data, helped to hypothetically reconstruct the origins of Libyan Tuareg, and their relationship with the ancient human migratory dynamics that occurred in Northern Africa during the Holocene.

A total of 129 individuals from two villages in the Acacus region, in Fezzan, were genetically analysed at the mtDNA level. The results here reported clearly show the low level of genetic diversity in the Libyan Tuareg sample, that is hypothetically due to high endogamy. Furthermore, phylogenetic analyses indicate that the mtDNA genetic pool of the Libyan Tuareg is characterized by a major “West- Eurasian” component, that is shared with many Berber groups and hypothetically comes from the Iberian Peninsula, and a minor “South-Saharan” component that shows some kind of  relationship with Central and Eastern African populations.

A pdf I located with a lot of information on North Africa and The Tuareg, for anyone interested in their history and culture and maternal ancestry.


The pdf book (it’s very long) shows H1 to be dominant in the Tuareg sample tested at  frequencies higher than 60%, H1 having roughly an 11,000 year old presence in North Africa. Eurasian lines H and V  make up nearly 2/3 of Libyan Tuareg mtDNA. This paper also finds traces of Eastern African ancestry in the Tuareg via the L2a lineage which has a coalescence date of around 5,000 years, which is tolerably close to the theorised Beja/Tuareg split of 6,000 years. It’s got a pretty detailed breakdown all all the Hg’s found.

Luis, you’ll like this one. Places the U in N Africa as Iberian in origin.