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February 12, 2004

The forefathers & foremothers of Harald Fairhair

Found this article on the lineages found in 74 Norwegian males (Y & mtDNA). Here is something interesting:

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.

If you look at this table (source), you'll see that the M17 marker is not found in the "British," but is exhibited by 27% of the men of the Orkneys-so we know where it came from. Additionally, note that the highest frequencies are found among eastern European peoples and central Asians. The recent paper on India included a larger sample of north Indian caste groups, and M17 showed up in the various percentages, around 40% (Gujaratis-27%, Bengalis-39%, Chitpavan Brahmins-42%, Punjabis-47%, remember that the sample sizes are small!).

I am mildly skeptical of the thesis advanced in the two above papers that the M17 lineage spread with the PIE-Kurgan expansion ~4000 years ago. More elaboration will be forthcoming, but let me note that the Indo-Aryan elite of the Mitanni kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia did not gift any of the peoples of Syria or northern Iraq with this lineage to any great extent[1].

Update: Dienekes has an old post on a related note. Here is a page that shows the frequency of various haplogroups in different European populations.

fn1. The maryannu ruling caste of the Mitanni kingdom had Indo-Aryan names & worshipped Indo-Aryan gods. But, using the term "Indo"-Aryan to describe them is probably an anachronism, as they likely never had any contact with the Indian subcontinent. What is notable is that they were not Iranian-Aryans.

Posted by razib at 12:04 AM