Monday, April 8, 2019

Genetic History of Rome Coming?

Preliminary; emphasis added.

There is some talk that a paper is coming out soon tracing the genetic history of Rome (and surrounding areas of Italy) from prehistory to more modern times. Some preliminary summaries were put online, apparently written up by someone who saw an academic presentation. If we assume that the material posted online is accurate (we have to await the actual paper), what can we say about it?  Again, this assumes that the material below is authentic, which I give no guarantee to. I am just reporting what is online at this point. Whether it turns out to be true or bogus, only time will tell.
Presentation by Hannah Moots. No pictures, not allowed. Paper coming out in a couple of months, done with Pinhasi and Pritchard.

134 genomes, spanning 12000s BP to Renaissance and enlightenment. 0.5-3.5X coverage.
Time period covered.
Vast majority of sampling sites concentrated in Rome and surrounds, lowlands of Latium around the Tiber River, up to Ostia, almost all restricted to Lazio. Some extend to Abruzzo, South Le Marche, none, or maybe one, in Tuscany, and on the South of Tuscany if that.

Couple of samples from Sardinia.
Areas covered.
I'll give a PCA position and a ADMIXTURE description for each time period. Note that the ADMIXTURE only had Iranian, EEF, WHG, EHG and Levant_N, no CHG. Where Iran N appears, it may be a stand-in for CHG. There is something quite puzzling in the list below, mislabeling in the slides? But that doesn't explain it either.

UPPER PALEOLITHIC
All WHG
Which of course makes sense. In the Upper Paleolithic, only the Western Hunter Gatherers were present.  All 'high-trust," no doubt.
NEOLITHIC

Mostly EEF, some WHG. Some Iran_N, quite a significant quantity, as much as WHG. PCA position Between Sardinia and Maltese, east of Sardinia, closer to Sardinia than to Maltese
As I’ve written about many times, Southern Europe was heavily Early European Farmer – the Neolithic farmer expansion from Anatolia/Near East - since the Neolithic. The Paleo/Neo divide that the “movement” breathes heavily about was in place before the rise of the Classical Civilization.  The "Iranian" may be CHG ancestry.
BRONZE AGE (EARLY)

Overlaps modern-day Sardinia, Iran_N percentage declines, WHG and EEF increases
(Note that this represents a Europeanisation of the gene pool!)
Sardinian-like genepool, even more EEF than before.
IRON AGE TO REPUBLICAN PERIOD (700-20BC)

Note: Separated from previous period by 1000 year gap.
Fewer samples, of those that exist 60% overlap with North Italy, 40% overlap with South Italy and Sicily, centroid of overall cluster in central Italy but no samples occur there, very wide spread.
EHG appears, Levant N Appears for the first time, sporadic and inhomogeneous distribution, Iran_N increases further.
This may be the most important set of samples; unfortunately, they are “fewer.”  I say these are the most important because this is the period of Roman history that, according to Der Movement, the Ancient Romans were akin to Dolph Lundgren walking around in a toga. Note that the centroid of the samples (not any individual sample itself) are akin to Central Italy – a North/South mix, a bit more slanted to the North (60% to 40%). “60% overlap with North Italy, 40% overlap with South Italy and Sicily” is hardly Dolph Lundgren walking around in a toga. Note that Levantine and "Iranian" influences, in addition to EHG, are present at this early time. These are parts of the Italian genepool dating back to the Iron Age. Combined with EEF, that likely explains much of the "Southwestern Asian" or "Anatolian" (or whatever) "findings" from ancestry testing companies (with their inadequate parental/reference populations) for customers from this region.

This period of Roman history seems to be rather genetically heterogeneous. The centroid is Central Italian, but no samples occur there. Was the population basically a bipartite Northern and Southern Italian mix?  Der Movement would of course infer Northern Italian Patricians and brutal and stupid Southern Italian Plebs. None of them seem to cluster with Scandinavia though.
IMPERIAL PERIOD

Dense cluster centroid between Greeks, Cypriots, South Italians/Sicilians, and Syrians, closest to Sicilians. Long tail stretching from central cluster to Syrians and Iraqi Jews. Couple of Northern-shifted samples overlapping N Italy, France, Spain.
Iran_N increases further, Levant N again sporadic and inhomogeneous.
During the Imperial Period Rome becomes more cosmopolitan, as historically noted, with increased population coming from Greece and the Levant, but some from more Northern and Western regions. This shifts the centroid from a more Central Italian to Southern Italian/Sicilian centroid, consistent with the modern clinal gene frequencies shown here.
LATE ANTIQUITY

Tight cluster centroid in S Italy, in the same place as in the previous period. Southern tail to Middle East disappears. N Italian, Northern European and NW European outliers exist.
Later, the centroid remains similar to Southern Italy, but perhaps a bit more Northern and Western than before – “Southern tail to Middle East disappears. N Italian, Northern European and NW European outliers exist.”
AFTER

Resemble modern central Italians.
I would assume that the increase in “N Italian, Northern European and NW European” shifted the centroid back to Central Italian.

Thus, during the period of Der Movement’s favorite era – the early days to the end of the Republic - these data  (again assuming they are authentic) show, crudely speaking, a Central Italian centroid Rome that was split between 60% similar to Northern Italy and 40% similar to Southern Italy/Sicily.

Cosmopolitan migration into Rome pushed the centroid a bit more South/East along the cline of gene frequencies to a more Southern Italian centroid during the peak of Empire. Without seeing the actual data, this could simply be the addition of Greeks, Jews, and Syrians to the population in addition to the bulk of the pre-existing population, rather than a panmixia.  But at this point, who knows?  Some admixture may be possible.

Later, an increased influx from the North and West shifted the centroid back to Central Italian, into modern times. 
Lactase persistence alleles appear abruptly after 0 AD.
Romans were therefore lactose intolerant during the period that Der Movement asserts was Leif Erickson as Consul of Rome.
Heterozygosity reaches modern level after Iron Age.

No information given on uniparentals.
Isotope information not available yet, no way apart from archaeological context to tell between migrants and locals.
Represents a preliminary effort, more work coming later.
If we assume that these data are authentic and if we further assume that the “more work” does not alter the story significantly (two big "ifs"), then the essential Der Movement narrative is not supported.  The only point of agreement (that no one has ever substantially argued against) is that the city of Rome (and some other areas) became more cosmopolitan during the Imperial Era. That there were migrants and slaves in the city is well known.  However, these data paint a crude genetic picture of a Republican Rome whose genetic centroid was Central Italian, a more Southern Italian Imperial and Late Antiquity Rome, and then shifting back to Central Italian in more modern times.  I suppose that Der Movement can try and salvage something here by asserting that “degeneration” (if such actually occurred, which is debatable) was accompanied by the Central to Southern Italian centroid shift. However, the more fundamental point is that these data (again, if authentic, which I do not guarantee) can be interpreted as suggesting that Rome, the Republic, the whole story, was founded by a lactose intolerant, EEF-enriched, Southern European people very crudely akin to a population of 60% Northern Italian and 40% Southern Italian/Sicilian. I suppose that Der Movement would claim that the Patricians were of that 60% and the Plebian rabble were all of the 40%.  Regardless, it is doubtful that any of the sample data are going to fit a narrative stating that Ancient Rome, of any period, was composed of Celto-Germanic Nordics.

Needless to say, from the standpoint of EGI and of biopolitics, all of this is irrelevant.  It is all completely irrelevant to the political facts on the ground today as they related to genetic interests.  From the standpoint of analyzing Der Movement, it is interesting. No doubt that whatever the final outcome of this research, the Nutzis will say "Arthur Kemp was Right," although it undoubtedly will not truly be so.