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"Phoenician" DNA....

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanOctober 31, 2008 11:20 AM


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Dienekes and Kambiz both hit a new paper which claims to find the Y chromosomal (direct male descent lines) signatures of the ancient Phoenician colonization of the Mediterranean. I tend to see a lot of merit in Dienekes' criticisms, the net here is thrown so wide that it's almost one of those models where it explains everything so that it explains nothing. Compare this to the recent work on the genetics of the Etruscans and modern populations of Tuscany, which strongly lend credence to ancient myths of their origin in Anatolia The historical data I've seen suggests that both the Phoenician and Greek colonial expansions were characterized by an enormous male skew; the Rape of the Sabine Women echoes incidents which are alluded to in founding myths of several prominent cities in Magna Graecia. So sniffing around the Y is the way to go even if J2 is a false lead. In Carthage he noble lineage of Hannibal's family had attested female ancestors who were Sicilian Greek, which implies that the Barcids were an amalgam of Greek, autochthonous Sicils, Berber as well as the male descent line from the Phoenician settlers from Tyre. Finally, do note that the likelihood of "supermale" lineages such as that of Genghis Khan doesn't make it implausible for me that a handful of elite males hooked into the cheap and efficient Mediterranean transport network could have leave a very strong genetic imprint for the future. The Phoenician expansion into North Africa, Spain an Sicily is probably most well analogized to the Spanish conquistadors who subjugated the New World in less than a century.

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