Ancient DNA reveals origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | EurekAlert! Science News

The question of the origins of the Minoans and their relationship to the Mycenaeans, Europe’s first literate societies, has long puzzled researchers. A paper published today in Nature suggests that, rather than being advanced outsiders, the Minoans had deep roots in the Aegean and were closely related to the Mycenaeans, and to modern Greeks.

Source: Ancient DNA reveals origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | EurekAlert! Science News

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DNA analysis of archaeological remains has revealed that Ancient Minoans and Mycenaens were genetically similar with both peoples descending from early Neolithic farmers. They likely migrated from Anatolia to Greece and Crete thousands of years before the Bronze Age. Modern Greeks are largely descendants of the Mycenaeans, the study found.The Minoan civilization flourished on Crete beginning in the third millennium B.C.E. and was advanced artistically and technologically. The Minoans were also the first literate people of Europe.

Source: Ancient DNA analysis reveals Minoan and Mycenaean origins | EurekAlert! Science News

Bronze Age Iberia received fewer steppe invaders than the rest of Europe | EurekAlert! Science News

The genomes of individuals who lived on the Iberian Peninsula in the Bronze Age had minor genetic input from Steppe invaders, suggesting that these migrations played a smaller role in the genetic makeup and culture of Iberian people, compared to other parts of Europe. Daniel Bradley and Rui Martiniano of Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland, and Ana Maria Silva of University of Coimbra, Portugal, report these findings July 27, 2017, in PLOS Genetics.

Source: Bronze Age Iberia received fewer steppe invaders than the rest of Europe | EurekAlert! Science News

Nerdly News

new&nerdlyThe multitude of bison fossils found on the plains of Alberta, or their extracted mtDNA, have shed much needed light on just when the much vaunted Corridor opened between North America’s two great Ice Sheets. It has long been theorized that the First Americans passed through this Corridor to colonize the rest of the Americas.

In the 1970s, geological studies suggested that the corridor might have been the pathway for the first movement of humans southward from Alaska to colonize the rest of the Americas. More recent evidence, however, indicated that the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets coalesced at the height of the last ice age, around 21,000 years ago, closing the corridor much earlier than any evidence of humans south of the ice sheets. The initial southward movement of people into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago now seems likely to have been via a Pacific coastal route, but the Rocky Mountains corridor has remained of interest as a potential route for later migrations…The results showed that the southern part of the corridor opened first, allowing southern bison to start moving northward as early as 13,400 years ago, before the corridor fully opened. Later, there was some movement of northern bison southward, with the two populations overlapping in the corridor by 13,000 years ago…According to Shapiro, archeological evidence suggests that human migration within the corridor was mostly from south to north. Sites associated with the Clovis hunting culture and its distinctive fluted point technology were widespread south of the corridor around 13,000 years ago and decline in abundance from south to north within the corridor region. A Clovis site in Alaska has been dated to no earlier than 12,400 years ago.

“When the corridor opened, people were already living south of there. And because those people were bison hunters, we can assume they would have followed the bison as they moved north into the corridor,” Shapiro said.

Proving, once again, there is truth to found in the old tales, a body found in a well confirms events told in Sverre’s Saga, one of the Old Norse tales of Viking Kings and war.

Agriculture was developed a LOT earlier than previously thought, like 25 to 30 million years ago. You read that right. Million. And, here’s the real kicker, not by humans but by bugs. Termites actually cultivate fungi “gardens” within their mounds. This “fungiculture” began in Africa about the time the Great Rift Valley formed so that probably had something to do with it.

Some Nerdiness: A couple of interesting studies about ancient populations in Europe

new&nerdlyThe largest ever study of global genetic variation in the human Y chromosome has uncovered the hidden history of men. Research reveals explosions in male population numbers in five continents, occurring at times between 55,000 and 4,000 years ago.

Here’s a more Euro-centric, and less sciencey, spin:

A research team led by Prof. FU Qiaomei from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IVPP of CAS) and other international scientists has analyzed genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000-7,000 years ago and provided the first vivid look at the genetic history of modern humans in Eurasia before the start of agriculture ~8,500 years ago.

Nerdly News

Lots of nerdly morsels to feed the brain this morning.

Archaeologists in Italy have discovered what may be a rare Etruscan sacred text likely to yield rich details about Etruscan worship and early beliefs of a lost culture fundamental to western traditions. The lengthy text is on a large 6th century sandstone slab uncovered from an Etruscan temple, said Gregory Warden, principal investigator of Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which made the discovery, and professor emeritus, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, main sponsor of the project.

Source: Text in lost language may reveal god or goddess worshiped by Etruscans at ancient temple – EurekAlert! (Southern Methodist University)
March 29, 2016

An ancient species of pint-sized humans discovered in the tropics of Indonesia may have met their demise earlier than once believed, according to an international team of scientists who reinvestigated the original finding. Published in the journal Nature this week, the group challenges reports that these inhabitants of remote Flores island co-existed with modern humans for tens of thousands of years.

Source: Indonesian ‘Hobbits’ may have died out sooner than thought – EurekAlert! (Griffith University)
March 30, 2016

The heavily studied yet largely unexplained disappearance of ancestral Pueblo people from southwest Colorado is not all that unique, say Washington State University scientists. Writing in the journal Science Advances, they say the region saw three other cultural transitions over the preceding five centuries. The researchers also document recurring narratives in which the Pueblo people agreed on canons of ritual, behavior and belief that quickly dissolved as climate change hurt crops and precipitated social turmoil and violence.

Source: Ancient Southwest marked by repeated periods of boom and bust – EurekAlert! (Washington State University)
April 1, 2016

The first large-scale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonization on the Indigenous American populations of the time.

Source: Ancient DNA shows European wipe-out of early Americans – EurekAlert! (University of Adelaide)
April 1, 2016

With the help of detailed satellite images, scientists have uncovered what may be a previously unknown Viking settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, news sources report.

Source: Satellite Images Reveal Possible Viking Settlement in Canada – Live Science
April 1, 2016

Shipwrecks, tree rings reveal Caribbean hurricanes in buccaneer era

Records of Spanish shipwrecks combined with tree-ring records show the period 1645 to 1715 had the fewest Caribbean hurricanes since 1500, according to new University of Arizona-led research. The study is the first to use shipwrecks as a proxy for hurricane activity. The researchers found a 75 percent reduction in the number of Caribbean hurricanes from 1645-1715, a time that had little sunspot activity and cool temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.

Source: Shipwrecks, tree rings reveal Caribbean hurricanes in buccaneer era

Neanderthals mated with modern humans much earlier than previously thought, study finds

Researchers publish in Nature strong evidence of an interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans occurring ~100,000 years ago, much earlier than any previously documented. The evidence suggests early modern humans left Africa and mixed with now-extinct members of the human family, before the migration ‘out of Africa’ ~ 65,000 years ago. It is also evidence of breeding in the ‘opposite’ direction from that already known, that is, modern human DNA in a Neanderthal genome.

Source: Neanderthals mated with modern humans much earlier than previously thought, study finds

Video Credit: CSHL (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) Public Affairs

New research into the origins of the Austronesian languages

Complex genetic data now confirms that mitochondrial DNA found in Pacific islanders was present in Island Southeast Asia at a much earlier period.

Source: New research into the origins of the Austronesian languages

Ancient genomes reveal that the English are one-third Anglo-Saxon

For the first time, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have been able to directly estimate the Anglo-Saxon ancestry of the British population, using ancient skeletons. Human remains excavated from burial sites near Cambridge provided the material for the first whole-genome sequences of ancient British DNA. The study estimated that approximately a third of British ancestors were Anglo-Saxon immigrants, showing how Anglo-Saxon immigrants mixed with the native population.

Source: Ancient genomes reveal that the English are one-third Anglo-Saxon

Mounting evidence suggests early agriculture staved off global cooling

New ice core data and other evidence confirm that early human agriculture cancelled natural cooling of Earth’s climate, says University of Virginia environmental scientist William Ruddiman.

Source: Mounting evidence suggests early agriculture staved off global cooling

Not sure I buy this one.