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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Next-generation DNA sequencing to solve mysteries about Poland's past


Exciting times are ahead for those of us with a passion for the genetic history of Poland. The newly formed Poznan Centre for Archaeogenomics (PCA) has just announced a major ancient DNA project to study the origins of the population of Greater Poland and Poland's earliest rulers, the Piast Dynasty.

Greater Poland, known as Wielkopolska in Polish, is located in Western Poland. This is where the Piast kingdom first emerged around 960AD, and then expanded to eventually become the Kingdom of Poland (see map below, from Wikipedia). So it's basically the cradle of the nation. Indeed, the present-day capital of Greater Poland, the city of Poznan, was the first capital of the Kingdom of Poland.


The main goals of the project are to test the level of genetic continuity in Greater Poland from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages (ie. either side of the so called Migration Period of the early Middle Ages), characterize the biogeographic origins of the Piast Dynasty, and compare the DNA of the early Polish ruling elite to that of the early peasants.

The work will be carried out over a five year period, and as far as I can tell from the source linked to below, the aim is to fully sequence as many genomes as possible from the hundreds of ancient skeletons stored at Polish museums and universities. That sort of resolution should make it possible to easily meet the project goals. The press release doesn't say where the sequencing will be done, but a state-of-the-art ancient DNA lab was launched in Poznan about a year ago, so that looks like the most likely place (see here).

It's probably an understatement to say that the origin of the first Slavic tribes on Polish territory is a major sticking point among Polish archeologists and historians. There are two main competing theories: a local Polish origin (the autochthonous theory) and a Pripet Marsh origin (the allochthonous theory). The ethnogenesis of the Piast Dynasty is also something of a mystery, with some scholars suggesting they were originally of Danish Viking stock. It'll be nice to finally see these issues resolved once and for all.

Source...

Nauka w Polsce: Naukowcy chcą zbadać pochodzenie Wielkopolan

See also...

First direct evidence of genetic continuity in West and Central Poland from the Iron Age to the present

Polish "Goths" enjoyed their millet, while Polish "Vikings" did not


28 comments:

barakobama said...

I dont understand Y DNa R1a1a1b1 Z283 shows extremely close correlation with pre historic Corded ware culture around 4,500-5,000ybp. There are already two R1a1 samples from Corded ware culture. All the Y DNA and other evidence points to them being Indo European and speaking ancestral language to Balto Slavic. But Now i am learning Slavic languages which dominate so much of eastern Europe did not spread till around the middle ages. So there must have been many related languages to Slavic like Baltic in eastern Europe before the Slavic migrations right? I have also heard that R1a M458 seems to be a sign of Slavic migrations. Do modern Slavic speakers including Polish paternal lines mainly from pre Slavic INdo European people in eastern Europe or Slavic migraters?. Is most R1a1a1b1 Z283 in eastern Europe from Slavs or pre slavic Indo Europeans? Why did Slavs dominate so much in eastern Europe did they conquer people how did they spread their language so quickly? Would you agree before R1b L11(mainly U106 branch) Germanic's spread to Norway and Sweden 3,500-4,000ybp(debatable) that a related language to Balto Slavic was spoken there because of the very popular Scandinavian branch of R1a1a1b1 Z283 and the fact Corded ware culture existed there before Germans.

Davidski said...

Present-day Poles are an excellent fit for a blend of the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age groups of Central Europe (Corded Ware, Bell Beaker and Unetice), with lots of mtDNA H and U, an excess of Y-DNA R1a, and even quite a bit of R1b. I don't think that's a coincidence. But many people still do, and it'll take direct DNA evidence, at a very high resolution, to change their minds. Where Slavic languages first developed and how they spread around present-day Poland might actually be a different issue, because languages can be learned.

Scrubsy said...

David,

I understand that it is your position that M458 has been present in Poland since at least the Bronze Age. Do you have any thoughts on the particular subclades of M458 and how they spread?

Obviously L1029 is older than L260. Perhaps it spread with the Lusatain cultures (and the various cultures that followed it). Would you personally expect to find L1029 in Lusatain remains?

And what timeframe/culture would you see as the first to carry L260?

I am just curious on your opinion, not necessarily a prediction.

Thanks!

Davidski said...

I think we'll first see M458 turn up in German Unetice remains, mostly because these will be the first relevant remains to have their Y-chromosomes tested. But I wouldn't bet on this M458 being L1029, if that's even tested. It'll probably be M458*, and either an ancestral lineage to L1029 and L260, or perhaps a now extinct subclade.

After that we'll probably see M458*, L1029 and maybe even L260 making appearances in Lusatian, Przeworsk, Wielbark and early Slavic samples. But I think that L1029 and L260 only really exploded in frequency with the expansions of the West Slavs, and it's likely these expansions wiped out most of the other M458 subclades in what are now eastern Germany and Poland.

Scrubsy said...

So I would imagine, in that scenario, full Y-DNA sequencing would likely turn up some "old" and rare subbranches of L1029/L260 in various locations scattered across Central Europe?

Davidski said...

Yes, I expect we'll see new branches of M458, L1029 and L260 when large numbers of modern and ancient Y-chromosomes are sequenced completely from across Europe, not just Central Europe. But Central Europe should be the epicenter in that respect.

barakobama said...

"Present-day Poles are an excellent fit for a blend of the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age groups of Central Europe (Corded Ware, Bell Beaker and Unetice), with lots of mtDNA H and U, an excess of Y-DNA R1a, and even quite a bit of R1b. I don't think that's a coincidence. But many people still do, and it'll take direct DNA evidence, at a very high resolution, to change their minds. Where Slavic languages first developed and how they spread around present-day Poland might actually be a different issue, because languages can be learned."

I am sure Poles have very similar mtDNA haplogroup and subclade percentages as almost all Europeans. There high amount of R1a I think is probably about all R1a1a1b1 Z283 and of course from Indo European Corded ware culture. The R1b is probably mainly Germanic R1b1a2a1a1 S21 which I have noticed is pretty popular in former Prussia and there were migrations in the iron age by Germanic tribes in eastern Europe. I don't think the R1b comes directly from Bell Beaker culture but one of its descendants Germanic people.

I have noticed in Dodecade spreadsheets that there is a pretty big differences between Poles and Germans even though they live right next to each other. Of course there is a pretty big differences in Y DNA. Poles have a bit more North Euro and Atlantic Baltic. So hunter gather ancestry and less Meditreaen so farmer ancestry. Germans, Swiss, Austrians, and Hungarians(central Europe except may Hungary) Dodecade results are very close to British and Irish. Since there is such a big difference in autosomal DNA and Y DNA between west and east Europe. I think it is because they have been so separate for about 5,000 years. Corded ware culture(later Baltic's and Slavs) dominated central and eastern Europe, Bell Beaker(later Germanics, Italic's, and Celts) dominated western Europe.

Scrubsy said...

Barakobama,

According to this link, about 40-50 percent of R1a1 in Poland is M458.
Considering it is just one of the downstream SNPs of Z283 I think you are right to say Z283 dominates the modern r1a Polish population.

On a side note, I do think it is interesting to look at the distribution of L1029/L260 in the various countries listed in those graphs. It appears that the countries that experienced a influx of Slavs during the early Middle Ages have more L260 compared to L1029. For example, Germany has nearly twice as much L260 than L1029.

When you compare that to countries that experienced a lesser degree of Slavic migrations, L1029 appears to be the majority (or a much larger percentage). For example, Sweden, Italy, and France all have more L1029 than they do L260.

I'd be interested to see if anyone had any thoughts on why?

Scrubsy said...

These graphs here:

http://eng.molgen.org/viewtopic.php?t=616

barakobama said...

"I think we'll first see M458 turn up in German Unetice remains, mostly because these will be the first relevant remains to have their Y-chromosomes tested. But I wouldn't bet on this M458 being L1029, if that's even tested. It'll probably be M458*, and either an ancestral lineage to L1029 and L260, or perhaps a now extinct subclade.

After that we'll probably see M458*, L1029 and maybe even L260 making appearances in Lusatian, Przeworsk, Wielbark and early Slavic samples. But I think that L1029 and L260 only really exploded in frequency with the expansions of the West Slavs, and it's likely these expansions wiped out most of the other M458 subclades in what are now eastern Germany and Poland."

I doubt Unetice culture will have R1a M458 probably all or mainly R1b L11 or subclade P312. I haven't been able to actually learn a lot about Unetice culture or really any ancient cultures all I have to learn about them is really Wikpedia. Everything I have heard though is that Unetice culture is ancestral to later Celtic Urnfield(also Italic), Hallstat, and La Tene cultures in central Europe.

I know they had Torc's which were extremely popular in all ancient Celtic people all the way up to when Rome conquered them. Torc's are mentioned in books written by Irish monks about Irish mythology from around 1,000ad. I have also heard of a find in Austrian mine of 3,500 year old tarten clothing from Unetice culture. Tarten clothing was very popular in Celtic and Germanic tribes in Iron age Europe. I have heard of remains of tarten clothing all over Celtic and Germanic areas of iron age Europe and ancient Roman writing's mention them having tarten clothing. It is still worn today in at least Celtic Gaelic Scotland and Ireland.


Unetice was probably early R1b L11 Celtic, Italic, and Germanic. We already know Bell Beaker people in Germany 4,600ybp were because of the two R1b samples. The descendants of probably R1b L11 Bell beaker people had to be somewhere during Unetice times. They spread extremely quickly and eventfully conquered all of western Europe by about 3,000ybp. Bell Beaker, Unetice, and Nordic bronze age culture all somehow are connected with Celtic, Italic, and Germanic people.

Only if Unetice inter married with Indo Europeans in eastern Europe would they have any R1a1a1 M417. I think that during this time there could have been isolated people in eastern Europe who were full of R1b L11 it had to migrate through eastern Europe to get to western Europe. Celts in the British isles have over 80% R1b P312 while in areas of France they may have originally come from there are mainly different subclades and only around 40-50%. There had to be a group of nearly 100% P312 Celts living in France 3,500-4,500ybp and conquered Britain and Ireland. They were probably surrounded by native mainly G2a, I2a1a M26, and E1b1b V13. Just because so much of Unetice culture was in eastern Europe does not mean they had a lot of R1a1a1b1 Z283.

barakobama said...

There are ways to know if a ancient people was most likely a western Europe Germanic or Celt or eastern European Slav or just Corded ware descendants. Slavs have in globe13 and K12b have higher north Euro and in K7b high Atlantic Baltic. Western German's and Celts have higher Meditreaen in globe13 and high Atlantic Med in K12b and K7b. Western Germans and Celts also have much higher Gedorsian in K12b. If they could somehow figure out hair color from Unetice culture a good amount would be 30-100 samples.

The reason is there is a clear cut in distribution of red hair between western and eastern Europe. Red hair may have been mainly spread in west Europe with R1b L11. If there is no redheads from 100 samples the ancestry is probably mainly eastern European. It is important to get as much DNA as possibly from Corded ware, Bell Beaker, Unetice, Nordic bronze age. Because they are probably the last players in creating the genetic makeup in their areas of Europe today.

The autosomal DNA of Neolithic farmers and Neolithic and Mesolithic hunter gathers tells were a lot of modern ancestry comes from. But there is a missing piece which created the modern percentages and I think in eastern Europe it has to do with Indo European R1a Z283 Corded ware and in western Europe Germanic, Italic, and Celtic R1b L11 Bell Beaker.

barakobama said...

Scrubsy it would just be random reasons why samples so far show those results. Or possibly M458 isn't all from Slavs.

Davidski said...

Unetice was closely related to Corded Ware and the Kurgan cultures. It's unlikely they carried any R1b.

http://img824.imageshack.us/img824/2276/j0bo.png

http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/1306/4qkq.png

http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/4927/kn32.png

Fanty said...

I recall another post in this blog wich was about genetic continuity of what is now Poland.

But I think it was based on mtDNA alone (cant remember)?

It said, the best modern fit for Iron age "Poles" are modern Poles, they however had been closer to Skandinavians, Fins and Balts than modern Poles are.

It also claimed, the best fit for the medieval migrants ("Slavic invadors" into the terretory of Poland are modern Belorusians.

barakobama said...

I am just going of wikpedia I have almost nothing else to learn from. It says Unetice is ancestral to Urnfield, Hallstat, La Tene cultures and descendant of Bell Beaker. Really what is a Indo European kurgen, are their any from Bell Beaker culture? I told you about the torcs and tarten clothing from Unetice culture which is the only evidence I know of they are ancestral to Celts, Italics, and Germanic's. Urnfield culture which I have heard is ancestral to Italic tribes and Hallstat Celtic culture extended pretty far east and west just like Unetice. I have seen pictures of their swords and the design is literally identical to the swords Gauls used all the way to Ceasar, the famous Celtic long sword. The distribution of R1b S28 is very close to Urnfield culture. And it is most popular in Italy we know Urnfield culture was in Italy and probably ancestral to Italic tribes.

Hallstat Culture which was Celtic also even the area it originated was pretty far east like Unetice culture. Like I said in another post there is a obvious genetic difference between western Germanic's, Italic's, and Celts with eastern Baltic's and Slavs. Not just in Y DNA but also autosomal DNA and hair color(red hair in western Europe). Those can also be used to see how related Unetice was to modern western and eastern Europeans. 20 or so mtDNA samples from Unetice and Corded ware is not enough I don't think to make any claims.

sds said...

"I have noticed in Dodecade spreadsheets that there is a pretty big differences between Poles and Germans even though they live right next to each other."
@Barakobama, please keep in mind that current demographics in this region can be very misleading because after WWII, most Germans on what is now the Polish side were repatriated back to what is now Germany. So autosomal results from populations today are not reflective of what was for probably at least 12 centuries, and maybe even longer. By the way David, that is a cool avatar. Whose head is that?

Davidski said...

It's thought to be a statue of a Yuezhi warrior.

http://www.barkhatcruise.com/upload/rab019.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuezhi

Davidski said...

barakobama,

Wait for Y-DNA and autosomal DNA from Unetice skeletons, which are on the way. They'll show the same thing as their mtDNA.

barakobama said...

Davidski are you saying results are Y DNA an autosomal DNA results from Unetice culture are coming in soon. That will be huge news. But even after those results it might still not be enough. Maybe the samples they will have are immigrants maybe the real Unetice people are not going to be sampled you never know.

What about DNA results from Pontic steppe including Yamna culture. It has been 5 freaking months since Some German article mentioned it. If they have the results why do they wait so long to tell anyone about it. That takes away years from making new discovers.

I am skeptical I think there is a better chance there connected with R1b L11 west European IE's. Their mtDNA didn't show anything there wasn't enough samples. I am not fanatically for Unetice being west European I am willing to say they genetically where connected with Corded ware culture and eastern Europeans.

Davidski said...

I got in touch with one of the editors of the relevant journal, and he said that those ancient DNA articles (which probably include the Yamnaya and Catacomb DNA article as well) will be published early next year here...

http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/arch-inf/issue/current

But I think there's a chance that this article might appear earlier here, so it's worth checking this page from time to time...

http://www.dguf.de/index.php?id=9

Onur said...

It's thought to be a statue of a Yuezhi warrior.

http://www.barkhatcruise.com/upload/rab019.jpg


Do we know its original colors, has any pigment analysis been done on it? Or did you or someone else paint it on computer just according to your or his/her like or conjecture?

Davidski said...

It still has its original colors.

Onur said...

It still has its original colors.

How so? Do you mean that it has the same colors in the pictures below?

http://www.barkhatcruise.com/upload/rab019.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L1mYguZjQQc/UmDszu1QTEI/AAAAAAAAANk/Nil1EckB-wg/s220-h/Yuezi_statue.jpg

The first one is its current state, with its colors no longer on it.

The second one is apparently a computer-edited version with colors added. What I want to know is how faithful to the original colors its coloring is.

Davidski said...

The differences between the two images are due to lighting and background. One of the images was taken with very low lighting and a grey background, which obscures the colors, while the other was done with bright lighting and a green background, which brings out the colors.

Onur said...

I could not find the source of the second image.

Bob said...

Can anyone put this in English??? much too technical

Davidski said...

Try the Google translation of the original Polish press article.

http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&u=http://www.naukawpolsce.pap.pl/aktualnosci/news,397837,naukowcy-chca-zbadac-pochodzenie-wielkopolan.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3DNaukowcy%2Bchc%25C4%2585%2Bzbada%25C4%2587%2Bpochodzenie%2BWielkopolan%26safe%3Doff%26rlz%3D1C1KMZB_enAU516AU516%26espv%3D210%26es_sm%3D93

Brent Doe said...

Hey Davidski!

Has there been any updates on this project? The wait is killing me! :)