New genetics study on Ice Age populations around the Black Sea and the Northern Levant
New genetics research led by LAU professor Pierre Zalloua has confirmed the existence of isolated populations around the Black Sea and the Northern Levant during the Ice Age. Referred to as refugia, these populations lived apart from each other with no contact or inter-mixing for more than 25,000 years. "This allowed for distinct genetic signatures specific to each refugium to accumulate," the researcher explains.
|Geographic distribution of major Y chromosome haplogroups frequencies distribution in the Middle East, Arabia, North |
Africa, East Africa, and Europe from the current study and from the published data [Credit: Platt et al. 2016]
"Archaeology indicates the existence of populations in certain areas, but it doesn't show that people were isolated," adds Zalloua.
Using Y-chromosome markers combined with autosomal data, they reconstructed population expansions from regional refugia in Southwest Asia. "We now know that we, in the Levant, migrated through the north around 12,000 years ago, and not directly from Africa," says Zalloua, noting that such findings enrich our understanding of our historical anthropology and of the significant impact climate plays in the way we live.
Among the team's findings was the existence of a refugium that had not previously been known. "We not only identified the expected genetic signatures within refugia around the Black Sea and Northern Levant, but also identified a genetic signature marking a refugia in the Arabian Peninsula yet to be identified through archaeology."
Scientific Reports. The journal article expands upon these findings with a discussion about the possible correlation between these migrations and various cultural and climatic events evident in the archaeological records of the past 15,000 years.
Such a plethora of discoveries is never anticipated, says Zalloua. "We didn't set out to say anything in particular. We plotted our data on a map together with climate and archaeological evidence and it all made sense."
Source: National News Agency - Ministry of Information Lebanese Republic [January 12, 2017]