Monday, February 29, 2016

Haplogroup H1 taken to Europe by Black Africans

I proposed that haplogroup mtDNA H1 probably originated in Africa and was taken 

to Europe by African Muslims. This view was confirmed by Cleize et al (2016) 

when they wrote:


Early Medieval Muslim Graves in France: First Archaeological, Anthropological and Palaeogenomic Evidence
Yves Gleize , Fanny Mendisco , Marie-Hélène Pemonge, Christophe                   Hubert, Alexis Groppi, Bertrand Houix, Marie-France Deguilloux,                          Jean-Yves Breuil

Published: February 24, 2016DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148583


The rapid Arab-Islamic conquest during the early Middle Ages led to major        political and cultural changes in the Mediterranean world. Although the early medieval Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula is now well documented,        based in the evaluation of archeological and historical sources, the Muslim    expansion in the area north of the Pyrenees has only been documented so far through textual sources or rare archaeological data. Our study provides the           first archaeo-anthropological testimony of the Muslim establishment in                South of France through the multidisciplinary analysis of three graves         excavated at Nimes. First, we argue in favor of burials that followed                 Islamic rites and then note the presence of a community practicing Muslim    traditions in Nimes. Second, the radiometric dates obtained from all                  three human skeletons (between the 7th and the 9th centuries AD) echo       historical sources documenting an early Muslim presence in southern Gaul             (i.e., the first half of 8th century AD). Finally, palaeogenomic analyses          conducted on the human remains provide arguments in favor of a North           African ancestry of the three individuals, at least considering the paternal       lineages. Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the           Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during         the Arab expansion in North Africa. Our discovery not only discusses the first anthropological and genetic data concerning the Muslim occupation of the      Visigothic territory of Septimania but also highlights the complexity of the relationship between the two communities during this period.

Results and Discussion

Three burials with clear evidence of Muslim funerary customs

The graves SP7080, SP7089 and SP9269 present a number of common and       specific characteristics that were not recorded in other medieval burials in              this area. In each of the graves, the body, which may have been wrapped,          was directly placed into the pit on its right-hand side facing southeast (in the direction of Mecca). The upper limbs were generally extended, and the                lower limbs were extended and sometimes crossed. The burial practices               and the position of the bodies clearly correspond to medieval and modern          Muslim burial customs

Muslim presence confirmed by textual sources

Textual sources, specifically the Moissac and Uzès chronicles, offer a significant testimony to the complex and unstable historical context of the Nimes region during the early Middle Ages. They notably attest to a Muslim presence or travel in Nimes between 719 and 752 AD

Three adult males of North African ancestry

An anthropological analysis shows that the three skeletons are those of male adults (S1 File). Although it is difficult to be certain of the biological identity of these individuals, several anthropological characteristics can be highlighted. The skeletons did not show any marks indicating death resulting from fighting. The skeleton from SP7080 displayed an incomplete fusion between the right pisiform bone and the hamate bone (S2 Fig). This extremely rare fusion, mainly seen in African populations, suggests an African origin for the Nimes human remains (e.g., [41–42]).

Because the palaeogenomic data support a North African paternal ancestry of the three individuals from the graves, we believe that they were Berbers integrated into the Arab army during its rapid expansion through North Africa. Such conclusions are in perfect accordance with the ones deriving from the isotopic analyses conducted on two individuals from Plaza del Castillo in Pamplona [47].

North African haplotype E1b1b1b-M81 [12, 44] in all three males’ DNA samples (S3 Table).

If the paternal lineage E-M81 and the maternal lineage L1c3 characterized implies with a high degree of probability a North African origin for all Nimes individuals, we have to note that the large distribution of mtDNA lineages H1 and K (both in North Africa and Europe) do not permit to drive any clear conclusion concerning individuals' maternal ancestry. Indeed, the determination of these maternal lineages on Nimes burials may be both the result of a direct North African maternal origin and the result of admixture between migrating Muslims and local European women. If the low discriminatory power of mtDNA does not permit us to decide between both hypotheses, genome-wide data may permit to precise individuals' ancestries in the next future. Nevertheless, if admixture between Muslims and European women is well established for later al-Andalus periods (genetically established for sites in Andalusia dating to the 12th-13th centuries; [11]), such admixture had not been raised so far for the very first Muslim groups arriving in Europe. If admixture with local women was confirmed concerning Nimes individuals, these data would constitute the most ancient evidence of admixture in the al-Andalus context.

Apart from the mitochondrial haplogroup H1, the maternal and paternal lineages detected in the three Nimes individuals are relatively rare in modern-day France [52]. In comparison to the Iberian Peninsula or Italy, it appears clear that the genetic impact of the Arab rule was less significant in France.

This confirms my earlier claim that Africans probably introduced H1 during the Muslim colonization of Europe.