Saturday, September 13, 2014

Skoglund and the Logic of History

Inconsistencies in the "movement" plotline.

Does the work of Skoglund and colleagues support the comic book "movement" version of European history?  That work, and follow-up studies, has been summarized here and also here, which shows a story somewhat complex and evolving as more data are generated.  What seems likely is that there is a strong north-south cline in hunter-gatherer ancestry in Europe, possibly accounting for the bulk of the major north-south genetic divide found in very fine-grained analyses of European genetic variation.  In the north, the ancestry seems a combination of hunter-gatherer and farmer, while in the south, ancestry is for the most part farmer.  Subsequent studies by other groups have identified a possible minor third ancestral component, found mostly in the north; one can reasonably expect future findings to possibly add (or subtract) components to this mix. Purity in the traditional "movement" sense does not exist in these scenarios, unless one wants to hold up Sardinians as paragons of prehistoric-to-the-present racial purity.

There's an additional problem for the comic book fans.  If Southern Europeans are, as they (and the studies) assert, predominantly of Neolithic farmer origin, and if these farmers entered Europe thousands of years before the start of recorded history, and if all the major ancestral component migrations and mixtures also occurred before the start of recorded history, then these intra-European differences were already in place from the very beginning of the Classical-Western historical record. Or are the Ostaraites going to argue for an original Neolithic population in the south, replaced by hunter-gatherers who created the Classical civilization, who were then replaced by cringing subhuman slaves from the Middle East and North Africa, somehow magically recreating the original genetic divide? That "spin" is of course inconsistent with the genetic differentiation between Southern Europeans and Middle Easterners/North Africans, a differentiation which, along with other findings, is consistent with Southern Europeans being descended from the original Neolithic farmer influx. Indeed, genetic kinship analyses by companies like 23andme show Southern Europeans sharing more genes with Northern Europeans than with Middle Easterners and North Africans, indicative of an early, Neolithic division between these groups, as well as being consistent with a degree of Neolithic ancestry in the north.  In addition, the early work of Cavalli-Sforza supported the idea of general genetic continuity in Italy from ancient to modern times.

Therefore, the different parts of the comic book are incompatible with each other.  Now, in reality, all of this is irrelevant to EGI.  The genomes and their genetic interests of today are what they are, regardless of how they got that way.  But, some are very much interested in "racial history."  The Paleolithic/Neolithic differences are a particular area of interest and that's fine, but, for the sake of consistency, those so interested should abandon descriptions of the Classical world that revolve around images of Dolph Lundgren walking around in a toga.