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10 Breathtaking Places You Need To See Before You Die

Salar-de-Uyuni-Picture

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Salar de Uyuni might be considered the world’s largest mirror. Stretching nearly 11 000 square km across central Bolivia, it is the world’s biggest salt flat. After the rain falls and the water has settled, the ground at Salar de Uyuni reflects a perfectly clear image of the sky above, creating a dream-like world and giving the illusion of visitors and vehicles treading on water. These salt flats lie at the top of the Andes, at an elevation of 3650 m. The area also holds half the world’s supply of lithium.

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Tianzi Mountains, China.

Look familiar? These colossal pedestals resemble scenery witnessed in the mega blockbuster Avatar. In fact the special effects team visited the Hunan mountain region of China during pre-production, using one of the columns as a proto-type for the Hallelujah mountains in the film. On the top of the mountains, one can have a bird‘s eye view of numberless inter winding hills and deep valleys of the Wulingyuan area as well as downpouring waterfalls and lofty old pines in drifting mists and clouds.

10 Breathtaking Places You Need To See Before You Die

 

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Ancient Discoveries – The Antikythera Machine

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Antikythera mechanism

Antikythera wreck

Antikythera computer may be even older than thought

The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

I thought my capacity for sheer jaw-dropping amazement at the Antikythera mechanism had been well and truly exhausted – until last night. The puzzling instrument is a clockwork computer from ancient Greece that used a fiendishly complex assembly of meshed cogs to simulate the movement of the planets, predict lunar eclipses and indicate the dates of major sporting events.

The clockwork technology in the device was already known to be centuries ahead of its time, but new evidence suggests that the enigmatic machine is even older than scientists had realised. “It is the most important scientific artefact known from the ancient world,” said Jo Marchant, who has written a compelling book on the find called Decoding the Heavens. “There’s nothing else like it for a thousand years afterwards.”

The new data concerns the four-year Olympiad dial, which has the names of significant Greek games etched into it – Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea, Pythia and Naa (plus one other that hasn’t been deciphered). The first four were major games known throughout the ancient world, but the Naa games, held near Dodona in northwest Greece, were a much more provincial affair that would only have been of local interest. “One possibility is that it was made by or for somebody in Naa,” said Marchant, who described the clockwork computer on the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast last year.

This also helps to pin down the date because the Romans took over that region in the 2nd century BC. A Greek-inscribed gadget like this, reasons Jones, would not have been made after the Romans took charge.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KO4-zx9buc]

The Antikythera wreck, a shipwreck discovered off the Greek island of Antikythera on the edge of the Aegean Sea, northwest of Crete, from the 2nd quarter of the 1st century BC., was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900.

The wreck manifested numerous statues, coins and other artifacts dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the severely corroded remnants of a device that is called the world’s oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism.

In October 1900, a team of sponge divers led by Captain Dimitrios Kondos had decided to wait out a severe storm hampering their return from Africa at the Greek island of Antikythera, and while there they began diving for sponges off the island’s coastline. In 1900, divers usually wore standard diving dresses — canvas suits and copper helmets – which allowed them to dive deeper and to stay submerged longer.

The first to lay eyes on the shipwreck 60 meters down was Elias Stadiatis, who quickly signaled to be pulled to the surface. He described the scene as a heap of rotting corpses and horses lying on the sea bed.

Thinking the diver had gone mad from too much carbon dioxide in his helmet, Kondos himself dived into the water, soon returning with a bronze arm of a statue. While waiting for the storm to abate, the divers dislodged as many small artifacts as they could from the wreck.

Together with the Greek Education Ministry and Hellenic Navy, the sponge divers salvaged numerous artifacts from the waters. By the middle of 1901, divers had recovered statues of a philosopher, a discus thrower, the Antikythera Ephebe of ca. 340 BC, a Hercules, a marble bull and a bronze lyre. Many other small and common artifacts were also found and were brought to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

The death of one diver while some others were paralyzed from decompression sickness put an end to work at the site during the summer of 1901. The French naval officer and explorer Jacques Cousteau would later dive there, in 1953 and 1976, to search for more artifacts.

On 17 May 1902, however, the former Minister of Education Spyridon Stais made the most celebrated find at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. When examining the artifacts that had been recovered, he noticed that a severely corroded piece of bronze had inscriptions and a gear wheel embedded in it.

The object would come to be known as the Antikythera mechanism. Originally thought to be one of the first forms of a mechanised clock or an astrolabe, it is at times referred to as the world’s oldest known analog computer, although it is technically an advanced mechanical calculator.

Although the retrieval of artifacts from the shipwreck was highly successful and accomplished within two years, dating the site proved difficult and took much longer. Based on related works with known provenances, some of the bronze statues could be dated back to the 4th century BC, while the marble statues were found to be 1st century BC copies of earlier works.

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10 Civilizations You’ve Never Heard Of

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XktJwyLLVkQ#t=78]

 

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The Six Pointed Star of Armenia

Most people today associate the six pointed star (hexagram) with the Jewish Star of David (Magen David), as it is the modern symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism. In 1948 it was even adopted on the official flag of Israel. According to Wikipedia: “Its use as a symbol of the Jewish community dates to the 17th century.” However, like many other aspects of Armenian culture, not much has been written about the Armenian usage of the hexagram. Even though its usage in science, art, architecture, decorations and even for religious purposes has been extensive throughout the history.

Historically Armenians are skilled mathematicians, architects and craftsman. As such geometry has always been very special to the Armenians. The ancient Armenians had a refined knowledge of astronomy and were able to predict astral events. The oldest known observatories are located in Armenia.

Dated as early as 4200 BCE, Karahunj and the ca. 2800 BCE observatory at Metsamor allowed Ancestral Armenians to develop geometry to such a level they could measure distances, latitudes and longitudes, envision the world as round, and were predicting solar and lunar eclipses about 1000 years before the Egyptians began doing the same. Armenian architecture is often geometrically sound with straight lines connecting columns and mathematical precision.

The geometry of the Armenian architecture has stood the test of time by preserving many ancient buildings in a region dominated by war, poverty and natural disasters. The fortress cities and temples that have been excavated in Armenia (some going back as far as 7000 years) show a remarkable awareness of using geometry in constructing sacred buildings, using a complex system of squares, rectangles, circles, polygons with intersecting patterns.

Geometry emerges from the study of natural laws. With such knowledge one can build structures, create devices and predict astral events. As such geometrical shapes have been considered magical by the ancients. For without geometry, you cannot build anything, and its knowledge was the key to survival, and believed to be a key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. This love for creation/construction has enabled the early Armenians to value geometrical shapes and symbols giving them a prominent place in the Armenian Culture.

Among many symbols Armenians used the six pointed star for architectural purposes. Early Armenians believed the symbol to hold magical powers and incorporated it in architecture, astronomy and sacred art. Attesting to that are the numerous Armenian churches that are constructed in the shape of a six pointed star, the usage of hexagrams to support the dome or simply as sacred decoration protecting the Church like magic charms.

The first and the most important Armenian Cathedral of Etchmiadzin (301-303 AD, build by the founder of Christianity in Armenia) is in fact decorated with many types of ornamented hexagrams. Another example is seen on the tomb of an Armenian prince of the Hasan-Jalalyan dynasty of Khachen (1214 A.D.) in the Gandzasar Church of Artsakh.

Maybe the most famous example of architectural usage of a hexagram can be admired in the 12th century Armenian Church, the Cathedral of St. James in Jerusalem. Where the hexagram shaped arches are supporting the dome. Similar dome arches in the shape of a six pointed star can be found throughout ancient Armenia. To name a few; the excellent craftsmanship of the Khorakert monastery dome, or the 13th c. Khoranashat monastery.

That the Armenians are acquainted with this symbol from the times immemorial became once again clear when the oldest known depiction of a six pointed star (dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.) was excavated in the Ashtarak burial mound in “Nerkin Naver” (in Armenia). This was confirmed by a series of radiocarbon analysis of artifacts, conducted in laboratories in Germany and the USA. The handle of a dagger depicts the worlds earliest decoration of a six-pointed star buried in a burial mound containing over 500 graves.

As people who love to build and create Armenians have always valued science. Geometry in particular has a long history in Armenian arts, religion as well as sciences. While the usage of hexagrams (as I have demonstrated) has been significant throughout the course of Armenian history, there exist many other geometrical shapes and symbols prominent in Armenian culture. Geometry is after all bound to Armenian culture. The (eight pointed) Armenian Star for example deserves it’s own entry and will be covered next time around.

The Six Pointed Star of Armenia

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Norgesprosjektet DNA

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Norgesprosjektet DNA er et prosjekt innen Family Tree DNA. Alle med norske aner og som har testet gjennom FTDNA eller Genographic project er ønsket som medlemmer. På disse sidene forsøker vi samle informasjon om DNA-testing for både nye og mer erfarne. Det legges ogå ut tidligere publisert materiale og artikler om DNA og slektsforskning på norsk.

Norgesprosjektet DNA

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Different genetic components in the Norwegian population revealed by the analysis of mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms

http://www.norwaydna.no/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Y-haplogroups-Europe.jpg

The genetic composition of the Norwegian population was investigated by analysing polymorphisms associated with both the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome loci in a sample of 74 Norwegian males. The combination of their uniparental mode of inheritance and the absence of recombination make these haplotypic stretches of DNA the tools of choice in evaluating the different components of a population’s gene pool. The sequencing of the Dloop and two diagnostic RFLPs (AluI 7025 and HinfI at 12 308) allowed us to classify the mtDNA molecules in 10 previously described groups.

As for the Y chromosome the combination of binary markers and microsatellites allowed us to compare our results to those obtained elsewhere in Europe. Both mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms showed a noticeable genetic affinity between Norwegians and central Europeans, especially Germans. When the phylogeographic analysis of the Y chromosome haplotypes was attempted some interesting clues on the peopling of Norway emerged.

Although Y chromosome binary and microsatellite data indicate that 80% of the haplotypes are closely related to Central and western Europeans, the remainder share a unique binary marker (M17) common in eastern Europeans with informative microsatellite haplotypes suggesting a different demographic history. Other minor genetic influences on the Norwegian population from Uralic speakers and Mediterranean populations were also highlighted.

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Introduction

Y chromosome specific and mtDNA polymorphisms, which are uniparentally inherited and are not reshuffled by recombination, are particularly useful tools for investigations involving the genetic structure and the history of human populations. Progress in elucidating Y chromosome variation has catalysed the simultaneous study of both loci. In many cases different pictures emerged that have been attributed to possible differential migration patterns or other demographic phenomena.

Recent studies involving Y chromosome and mtDNA sequence variation, have recently provided a refined portrait of the genetic variability of Scandinavian and northern European populations. These studies have also allowed the authors to make inferences on the relations between different populations of linguistic northern European population, to reappraise the origin of the Saami and to evaluate the influence of the Norse on other North Atlantic populations.

These studies however, did not specifically address the possible origin of the Norwegians and the prehistoric migrations that affected Norway and Scandinavia. Here we report the results from Norwegian samples studied at relevant Y chromosome and mtDNA markers that have recently been used to reconstruct the prehistory of human groups in Europe.

The haplotypes defined by these polymorphisms were extremely useful in understanding the re-peopling of Europe that occurred following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the demic diffusion of Near Eastern agricuturalists that introduced agriculture in Europe and the migration spread of Finno-Ugric Uralic speakers into Europe. Archaeological and genetic data indicates that these events strongly influenced the peopling of Norway and Scandinavia.

The improvement of the climatic conditions following the end of the last glaciation about 12 000 years ago gradually exposed the Scandinavian Peninsula, opening it to colonisation. Archaeological evidence suggests that groups of hunter-gatherers migrated from present day Poland and nearby regions. The subsequent arrival of agriculture to the Scandinavian Peninsula and possibly the Indo-European languages transformed the lifestyle and possibly also influenced the indigenous gene pool.

Finally, UralicFinno-Ugric speakers arriving in northern Scandinavia, probably from a region west of the Urals, had sporadic contacts with Norwegians. Here we define the genetic composition of Norway and attempt to distinguish possible signatures of these prehistoric events and to what extent: they involved gender modulated demographic phenomena.

Different genetic components in the Norwegian population revealed by the analysis of mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms

Y chromosomes of Norway

Norway DNA Norgesprosjektet

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Origins, Homelands and Migrations: Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian ‘Culture’ within the History of Bronze Age Eurasia

Origins, Homelands and Migrations: Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian ‘Culture’ within the History of Bronze Age Eurasia by Philip L. Kohl (Wellesley College) summarizes current understanding of the emergence, nature and subsequent southwestern and southeastern spread of the early Transcaucasian (eTC) or Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ (Russian: obshchnost’) and then places this complex cultural phenomenon in the context of the larger early Bronze Age world of the Ancient Near east and the western eurasian steppes.

Origins, Homelands and Migrations: Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian ‘Culture’ within the History of Bronze Age Eurasia

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Haplogroup G

Haplogroup G (M201) is a branch of Haplogroup F (M89). Haplogroup G has an overall low frequency in most populations but is widely distributed within many ethnic groups of the Old World in Europe (especially in alpine regions), Caucasus, South Asia, western and central Asia, and northern Africa.

Various estimated dates and locations have been proposed for the origin of Haplogroup G. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic.

Two scholarly papers have also suggested an origin in the Middle East, while differing on the date. Semino et al. (2000) suggested 17,000 years ago. Cinnioglu et al. (2004) suggested the mutation took place only 9,500 years ago.

Haplogroup G1 has an extremely low frequency in almost all countries except Iran and the countries adjoining Iran on the west. The highest reported concentration of G1 and its subgroups in a single country is in Iran, with next most frequent concentrations in neighboring countries to the west. There are distinctive Ashkenazi Jewish and Kazakh subgroups based on STR marker value combinations.

Haplogroup G2a (SNP P15+) has been identified in neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000-3000BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup.

The oldest skeletons confirmed by ancient DNA testing as carrying haplogroup G2a were five found in the Avellaner cave burial site for farmers in northeastern Spain and were dated by radiocarbon dating to about 7000 years ago. At the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, north central Germany, with burial artifacts belonging to the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK).

G2a was found also in 20 out of 22 samples of ancient Y-DNA from Treilles, the type-site of a Late Neolithic group of farmers in the South of France, dated to about 5000 years ago.

Men who belong to G2 (P287+), but are negative for all G2 subgroups, represent a small number of haplogroup G men. P287 was identified at the University of Arizona and became widely known in late 2007. Its identification caused considerable renaming of G categories.

Haplogroup G men who belong to G2a (P15+), but are negative for all G2a subgroups, are uncommon in Europe but may represent a sizeable group in so far poorly tested areas east of Turkey.

Haplogroup G2a1 and its subgroups represent the majority of haplogroup G samples in some parts of the Caucasus Mountains area. They are found only in tiny numbers elsewhere.

The North Ossetians in the mid northern Caucasus area of Russia belong overwhelmingly to the G2a1 subgroup based on available samples. The South Ossetians and Svans generally south of North Ossetia have significant number of G2a1 persons, but population percentages have not yet been provided.

G2a1a and its one subgroup represent the majority of haplogroup G samples in some parts of the Caucasus Mountains area. G2a1a is found only in tiny numbers elsewhere.

The exceptionally high level of G2a1a in the North Ossetians has attracted attention and speculation. If a concentration of G2a1a points to the location of its origin, the north and south Caucasus region would be the likely location of origin. However, the first ancestors who were G2a1a could have been small in number, and a relocation from elsewhere is possible.

The most important factor in determining G2a1a origins is knowing from where the North Ossetians came. Because of the confederation nature of the Alans, it is possible the Ossetian ancestors were part of those Alans who did not participate in the Great Migration.

But it also seems plausible that the pre-Alan ancestors of the North Ossetians arrived there from south of the Caucasus where G is found in significant numbers and with the diversity seen in a longtime presence. The G in the area to the north of the Caucasus lacks both features. Two studies published in 2011 and one in 2012 argued that persons of the Caucasus had their origin in lands to the south.

Ashkenazi Jewish G2a1a men with northeastern European ancestry form a distinct cluster based on STR marker values. Men from the Caucasus and men from eastern Europe also form distinctive STR clusters.

The fourth site also from the same period is the Ötztal of the Italian Alps where the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman were discovered. Preliminary word is that the Iceman belongs to haplogroup G2a2b.

Haplogroup G2a2b is a rare group today in Europe. The authors of the Spanish study indicated that the Avellaner men had rare marker values in testing of their short tandem repeat (STR) markers.

This skeleton could not be dated by radiocarbon dating, but other skeletons there were dated to between 5,100 and 6,100 years old. The most detailed SNP mutation identified was S126 (L30), which defines G2a3.

The G2a2a subgroup (M286) is tiny. Samples indicating British Isles, Turkish and Lebanese ancestry have been identified. G2a2b would seem to encompass a significant group of G persons, and is found so far in scattered parts of Europe and North Africa and in Armenia.

Men who belong to G2a3, but are negative for all its subgroups, represent a small number today. This haplogroup was found in a Neolithic skeleton from around 5000 BC, in the cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, Germany, which forms part of the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK), but was not tested for G2a3 subgroups.

G2a3a and its several subgroups seem most commonly found in Turkey and the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean where it can constitute up to 50% of haplogroup G samples. G2a3a is more common in southern Europe than northern Europe. In Europe, except in Italy, G2a3a constitutes less than 20% of G samples. G2a3a so far has seldom surfaced in northern Africa or southern Asia, but represents a small percentage of the G population in the Caucasus Mountains region and in Iran.

Haplogroup G2a3a seems most common in Turkey and Greece. Secondary concentrations of G2a3a are found in the northern and eastern Mediterranean, and it is found in very small numbers in more inland areas of Europe, the Middle East, Iran and the southern Caucasus Mountains area.

Research studies have not addressed the age of G2a3a. Based on available 67-marker STR samples, it would seem that the mutation that defines G2a3a arose perhaps about 4,000 years ago.

Perhaps about 5% of men in Turkey are G2a3a, the highest percentage of the general population in any country yet sampled. This 5% figure is based on the finding of the value of 21 at STR marker DYS390 in 21 of 57 G samples from throughout Turkey.

Among G persons, the 21 value is seen overwhelmingly in G2a3a persons. But values other than 21 occur to a small extent in G2a3a persons. So the total G2a3a percentage within Turkish G is likely close to 50 percent, and the 57 SNP-confirmed G samples represent 11% of 523 Turkish samples obtained in the largest study yet conducted of Turkish population genetics.

In adjacent Greece, SNP testing determined that half of eight G samples were G2a3a. The G samples represented 5% of 171 Greek samples. In contrast in nearby Crete, G2a3a was only 20% of the 21 G samples, with G samples representing 11% of 193 island samples.

Though treated separately in this study, Crete is part of Greece but with a different settlement history. Farther out in the Mediterranean, in a smaller sample size from Cyprus 4 of 7 G samples have the distinctive 21 value seen overwhelmingly in G2a3a persons.

Just to the south of Turkey among the Kurds of Iraq 7 of 14 likely G STR samples in the YHRD database have the value of 21 at DYS390 suggesting half the G population there belongs to G2a3a. This relatively high percentage of G2a3a is confined to the country’s northern Kurdish region.

Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine also have significant G2a3a populations though small sample sizes make broad conclusions difficult. In one study, 4 of 5 Palestinian G samples have the distinctive DYS390=21 value.

In Lebanon, at least 10 of 37 G samples have G2a3a features and are found among all the major religions there. In Jordan, 7 of 15 available G samples have 21 at marker DYS390. None of the G samples among the Druze peoples in these locations have STR marker values typical of G2a3a persons. In Syria, G2a3a seems less common than in the countries closer to the Mediterranean. Only 3 of 17 G samples there have the 21 value discussed.

It is logical that G2a3a spread westward along the Mediterranean from the area where it is most concentrated today (Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean countries) in conjunction with the trading, slave-selling and other migratory events originating in these lands. The first great trading empire that joined both ends of the Mediterranean was the Phoenician that originated in the Israel-Lebanon-Jordan area. After the demise of the Phoenicians, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and some “barbarians” could have spread G2a3a from the eastern Mediterranean to the west.

In comparisons of 67-marker G2a3a STR samples available from inland Europe with similar samples from (1) Turkey (2) Lebanon-Jordan and (3) Armenia certain deductions can be made. Most G2a3a Europeans have Armenians as their nearest relatives. Based on the number of mutations observed, some of these probably share common male ancestors as recently as the Dark Ages. Only one European showed Jordan/Lebanon samples as the nearest G relatives. Likewise none of the Europeans showed Turks alone as nearest relatives, but rather some European samples had Turks and Armenians equally related.

The sharing of common ancestors much farther back in time (perhaps 3,500 years ago) among some of these samples does not provide information so useful because the migration westward could have occurred anytime in the earlier period. The finding of likely G2a3a samples in the ancient isolated highlands of Sardinia, however, suggests the arrival of G2a3a in that island prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians. The latter began a Sardinian coastal presence about 3,000 years ago.

Samples from persons with British Isles, Sicilian and Turkish ancestry have been identified belonging to G2a3b.

The G2a3b1 definable subgroups are heavily concentrated throughout Europe west of the Black Sea and Russia where G2a3b1 is often in the majority among G persons. Small percentages of G2a3b1 are found primarily in the area encompassed by Turkey, the Caucasus countries, Iran and the Middle East where the G2a3b1 SNP may have originated. G2a3b1 is also found in India. The great majority of P303+ men belong to one of its subgroups.

The largest G2a3b1 subgroup based on available samples is one in which almost all persons have the value of 13 at STR marker DYS388. The L497 SNP (G2a3b1a2) encompasses these men, but most men L497 men belong to its subgroup Z725. There are additional subgroups of DYS388=13 men characterized by the presence of specific SNPs or uncommon STR marker oddities.

The next largest G2a3b1 subgroup is characterized by the presence of the U1 mutation (G2a3b1a1) But a high percentage of U1+ men belong to its two subgroups, L13/S13 (G2a3b1a1a)and Z1266 (G2a3b1a1b). The L13 subgroup is most common in north central Europe, and Z1266 is most common in the western Caucasus Mountains.

The final major subgroup is characterized by presence of the Z1903 SNP and so far by the value of 9 at marker DYS568. A high percentage of Z1903+ men belong to its subgroup, Z724. The Z724 subgroup contains a further large subgroup consisting overwhelmingly of Ashkenazi Jews.

The highest percentage of G2a3b1 persons in a discrete population so far described is on the island of Ibiza off the eastern Spanish coast.

This G2a3b2 group is certainly smaller in numbers of men included than G2a3b1, but only a small amount of testing has occurred for the L177 mutations. So far the men positive for this have listed Irish, English, Dutch, Lebanese and Turkish (Armenian surname) ancestry. The number of STR marker values separating men in this group suggest G2a3b2 is a relatively old group despite the small number of men involved.

A clade of closely related Ashkenazi Jews represent virtually all G2b persons, with just three other G2b haplotypes having been reported so far: one Turk from Kars in northeast Turkey near Armenia, one Pashtun, and one Burusho in Pakistan. The extreme rarity of G2b in northern Pakistan could indicate that G2b in this area originates outside the region and was brought there in the historic period, perhaps from further west.

These two reported Pakistani G2b haplotypes are quite divergent from the Ashkenazi Jewish clade, and therefore do not at all indicate a recent common origin. The Turkish G2b is somewhat closer, but not identical. It remains to be seen if testing will reveal G2b haplotypes in other populations — this is some indication that G2b occurs at low levels in the Near East.

Knowing the distribution of haplogroup G in general is not as useful as that of the distribution of its subgroups. The subgroups likely spread to new areas of the world in different time periods and to different locations. All available G samples derive from studies or collections that do not meet criteria for random sampling, and conclusions based on them are only rough approximations of what is seen in populations.

In Europe west of the Black Sea Haplogroup G is found at about 5% of the population on average throughout most of the continent.

In Russia, the Ukraine and central Asia, the G percentage is around 1% or less. The northern slope of the Caucasus Mountains represents a major exception where concentrations in the Kabardinian and Ossetian populations are noted. In Digora, North Ossetia the highest known concentration of G in a single town in the world is reached where 74% of the tested men were G.

The Madjars of central Kazakhstan, a Kazakh sub-ethnic group, were found to be 87% G1. Other study on the Argyns found that 71% of them belong to G1. Haplogroup G is found as far east as northern China in small percentages where G can reach more substantial percentages in minority groups such as the Uyghurs.

Argyn tribe is one of the main constituents of the Kazakh people, of Turkic descent, and a main component in the Middle jüz sub-confederation in Kazakhstan, which historically consisted of three tribal conglomerations of Great jüz, Middle jüz, and Little jüz. It is found that 80 to 90% out of the 6 samples of Argyns belong to Haplogroup G1.

In Turkey, the southern Caucasus region and Iran, haplogroup G reaches the highest percentage of a regional population worldwide. Among Turkish males 11% of the population is G. In Iran, Haplogroup G reaches 13 to 15% of the population in various parts of the country. While it is found in percentages higher than 10% among the Bakhtiari, Gilaki and Mazandarani, it is closer to 5% among the Iranian Arabs and in some large cities.

Among the samples in the YHRD database from the southern Caucasus countries, 29% of the samples from Abazinia, 31% from Georgia, 18% from Azerbaijan and 11% from Armenia appear to be G samples.

In southern Asia, haplogroup G is found in concentrations of approximately 18% to 20% of Kalash, approximately 16% of Brahui, and approximately 11.5% of sampled Pashtun, but in only about 3% of the general Pakistani population. The many groups in India and Bangladesh have not been well studied. About 6% of the samples from Sri Lanka and Malaysia were reported as haplogroup G, but none were found in the other coastal lands of the Indian Ocean or Pacific Ocean in Asia.

In the Middle East, haplogroup G accounts for about 3% of the population in almost all areas. Among the Druze mostly residents of Israel 10% were found to be haplogroup G.

In Africa, haplogroup G is rarely found in sub-Saharan Africa or south of the horn of Africa among native populations. In Egypt, studies have provided information that pegs the G percentage there to be between 2% and 9%. 3% of North African Berbers were found to be haplogroup G. 2% of Arab Moroccans and 8% of Berber Moroccans were likewise found to be G.

In the Americas, the percentage of haplogroup G corresponds to the numbers of persons from Old World countries who emigrated. It is not found among Native Americans except where intermarriage with non-native persons has occurred. It has been found in Mexican mestizos.

Around 10% of Jewish males are Haplogroup G.

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The Armenian language and the Indo-European Homeland

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The most frequent haplotype in a samle of Armenians was seen against the background of HG1 Y chromosomes. It occurred in all Armenian groups, at frequencies ~5-14%. According to YHRD, the same haplotype defined over more loci (14 13 29 24 11 13 12 11,14) was also the most frequent one, occurring in 3% of Armenians (*). According to Whit Athey’s haplogroup predictor, this is suggestive of haplogroup R1b, also known as the Armenian modal haplotype.

A search for the haplotype in YHRD produced the following result: The geographical distribution of this haplotype is such that it is shared by Armenians and two other populations from the Caucasus. Moreover, it is lacking in most other populations from the Caucasus, as well as in the other populations from further east. On the other hand, it is more frequently found in Europe, where as we know, haplogroup R1b tends to have higher frequencies as well.The Armenian modal haplotype is also the modal R1b3 haplotype observed by Cinnioglu in Anatolia. According to him, apparently it entered Anatolia from Europe in Paleolithic times, and diffused again from Anatolia in the Late Upper Paleolithic.

An alternative explanation may be that the particular haplotype may have been associated with the movement of the Phrygians into Asia Minor. The Phrygians were an Indo-European people of the Balkans who settled in Asia Minor, and the Armenians were reputed to be descended from them. It would be interesting to thoroughly study the populations of modern Thrace, Anatolia, and Armenia, and to investigate whether a subgroup of R1b3 chromosomes linked by the Armenian modal haplotype may represent the signature of a back-migration into Asia of Balkan Indo-European peoples.

(*) Since this is an extended haplotype which includes some fast mutating markers, it is expected that it would occur at a lower frequency than the 6-locus haplotype reported by Weale et al.

XXX

Armenia has been little-studied genetically, even though it is situated in an important area with respect to theories of ancient Middle Eastern population expansion and the spread of Indo-European languages.

We screened 734 Armenian males for 11 biallelic and 6 microsatellite Y chromosome markers, segregated them according to paternal grandparental region of birth within or close to Armenia, and compared them with data from other population samples. We found significant regional stratification, on a level greater than that found in some comparisons between different ethno-national identities.

A diasporan Armenian subsample (collected in London) was not sufficient to describe this stratified haplotype distribution adequately, warning against the use of such samples as surrogates for the non-diasporan population in future studies.

The haplotype distribution and pattern of genetic distances suggest a high degree of genetic isolation in the mountainous southern and eastern regions, while in the northern, central and western regions there has been greater admixture with populations from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.

Georgia, to the north of Armenia, also appears genetically more distinct, suggesting that in the past Trans-Caucasia may have acted as a genetic barrier. A Bayesian full-likelihood analysis of the Armenian sample yields a mean estimate for the start of population growth of 4.8 thousand years ago (95% credible interval: 2.0–11.1), consistent with the onset of Neolithic farming.

The more isolated southern and eastern regions have high frequencies of a microsatellite defined cluster within haplogroup 1 that is centred on a modal haplotype one step removed from the Atlantic Modal Haplotype, the centre of a cluster found at high frequencies in England, Friesland and Atlantic populations, and which may represent a remnant paternal signal of a Paleolithic migration event.

XXX

Armenians have a strong and distinct ethnic and cultural identity that unites them as an ethno-national group. The present-day country (size approx. 30,000 km2, population approx. 3.7 million) is situated in southern Trans-Caucasia between the Black and Caspian Seas at the boundaries of the Middle East, Northern Asia and Central Asia, although many self-identified Armenians continue to live in neighbouring countries or did so until recently.

Armenia occupies an important location in the context of theories of early human population expansion and language development. Neolithic farming in Western Asia began between 8000 and 6000 BC in the Fertile Crescent some 500 km to the south, initiating a major but uneven population expansion that may have spread to other parts of Asia, including the Indian sub-continent and Europe (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994).

Archaeological evidence suggests that farming may have started in Armenia within the same period (Kushnareva 1990), with an increase in the local density of settlements occurring primarily in the Early Bronze Age (Kuro-Araxian culture) c. 3500–2500 BC (Badalyan 1986). It has been suggested that cranial similarities between modern Armenians and Armenian inhabitants of 1600–700 BC indicate a genetic continuity with ancient populations (Movsessyan and Kotchar 2000).

The Armenian language is an isolated branch, with uncertain affiliation, of Indo-European, the language group spoken today in most of Europe and east of Armenia throughout Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Djahukian 1987). The origins of the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European language remain controversial.

While the first records of Indo-European languages appear in western Anatolia c. 1900–1700 BC (Hittite, Palaic, Luwian), the Proto-Indo-European homeland has been variously placed in the Ukraine (Mallory 1989), Anatolia (Renfrew 1987) and Armenia (Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1984) among others. The relative role of the Balkans (west of the Black Sea) and Trans-Caucasia (east of the Black Sea) as routes for early migrations that would have spread Indo-Euro-pean languages to the north or south remains uncertain (Mallory 1989).

The first evidence of Indo-European speaking people in the Armenian region dates to between 1300 and 700 BC. These people eventually replaced the non-Indo-European speaking Hurrians and later Urartians by 600 BC (Bournutian 1993; Hovannisian 1997; Redgate 1998). The Kingdom of Armenia reached its greatest extent by the first century BC, stretching southwest from present-day Armenia to the northeastern Mediterranean. In 301 AD Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

For most of the period from the first century AD to the present day Armenia has been subject to the hegemony of more powerful neighbours, although a notable exception was the Armenian Bagratid dynasty of the ninth to eleventh centuries.

External powers that have ruled or exerted dominant political influence over Armenia include the Romans, Parthians (and later Persians), Byzantium, Seljuk Turks, Mongols (thirteenth to early fifteenth centuries), the Ottoman and Russian Empires, and most recently (until 1991) the Soviet Union. Forced and voluntary dispersions over the years have led to a large worldwide Armenian diaspora.

Georgia appears genetically isolated not only from Armenia but also from all other data sets in our comparison. It has two high-frequency haplotypes in hg2 (haplotype 78, 16.2%; and haplotype 134, 8.8%) found at high frequency in no other data set in this study. In contrast, Turkey has much higher genetic affinities with other data sets.

This supports the hypothesis that patterns of migration into or out of the Middle East occurred to a much larger extent via Anatolia and to the west of the Black Sea than via Georgia to the east of the Black Sea. Further resolution of these migration patterns will require more extensive sampling of populations to the north and east of Armenia.

Armenian Y chromosome haplotypes reveal strong regional structure within a single ethno-national group

Criticism

Against the Anatolian hypothesis stands the argument that PIE contains words for technologies that make their first appearance in the archaeological record in the Late Neolithic, in some cases bordering on the early Bronze Age, and that some of these words belong to the oldest layers of PIE.

The lexicon includes words relating to agriculture (dated to 7500 BCE), metallurgy (7500 BCE), stockbreeding (6500 BCE) the plow (4500 BCE), gold (4500 BCE), domesticated horses (4000–3500 BCE) and wheeled vehicles (4000–3400 BCE).

Horse breeding is thought to have originated with the Sredny Stog culture, semi-nomadic pastoralists living in the forest steppe zone in present-day Ukraine. Wheeled vehicles are thought to have originated with Funnelbeaker culture in what is now Poland, Belarus, and parts of Ukraine.

Most estimates from Indo-Europeanists date PIE between 4500 and 2500 BC, with the most probable date falling right around 3700 BC. It is unlikely that late PIE (even after the separation of the Anatolian branch) post-dates 2500 BC, since Proto-Indo-Iranian is usually dated to just before 2000 BC. On the other hand, it is not very likely that early PIE predates 4500 BC, because the reconstructed vocabulary strongly suggests a culture of the terminal phase of the Neolithic bordering on the early Bronze Age.

Anatolian hypothesis

New evidence supports Anatolia hypothesis for origins of English

Language Continuity: Colin Renfrew. The Anatolian Hypothesis

 West’s Meditations: Why the Anatolian hypothesis is wrong
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A physico-anthropological study of skeletal material from Neolithic age to Hellenistic times in Central Greece and surrounding region

A physico-anthropological study of skeletal material from Neolithic age to Hellenistic times in Central Greece and surrounding region