Wednesday, April 30, 2008

153. Mysteries of D/D -- Nuristan

(I've decided to drop the "Music of the Great Tradition" heading for the time being, as the drone traditions I'm now discussing do not appear to fit into that scheme.)

In the last post I discussed one of the great mysteries of comparative musicology, the uncanny resemblance between two Drone/Dissonance traditions located in two very different parts of the world -- the Balkans and Indonesia/Melanesia -- with nothing resembling either to be found anywhere in between. This is not quite the case, however, as Jordania has written of a very interesting D/D-based tradition still surviving in, of all places, Afghanistan, among the Kalash people, living in a remote, mountainous region overlapping the border with Pakistan, currently known as Nuristan. Here is an example of their very dissonant drone polyphony, as transcribed by Jordania (p. 153):


Here's another example, this time in the form of a dissonant round, quite close in structure and style to the Lithuanian Sutartines we examined in posts 128 and 136:

( The round structure becomes clear when you follow the part beginning on the fourth measure of the upper staff, with downward pointing stems, which is identical to the solo part at the beginning.) How remarkable to find such music smack in the middle of Central Asia, a zone where polyphonic vocalizing of any kind is all but unheard of. And how convenient it would be if this style could be posited as a sort of "missing link" between the Balkans and Indonesia.

The reality, however, may turn out to be even more remarkable. According to their legends, the Kalash are descended from Greek soldiers from the armies of Alexander the Great, who either deserted or were left behind in the wake of his military ventures into this region, ca. 326 BCE. While such claims are always regarded with great skepticism, according to a recent genetic study, "Investigation of the Greek ancestry of northern Pakistani ethnic groups using Y chromosomal DNA variation" (see http://hgm2002.hgu.mrc.ac.uk/Abstracts/Publish/WorkshopPosters/WorkshopPoster11/hgm0533.htm), they might very well be true: "Based upon haplogroup frequencies, 65-88% Greek admixture was estimated for the Kalash, consistent with a Greek origin for a significant proportion of Kalash Y chomosomes." This is exactly the sort of study I suggested could be carried out with respect to the D/D singers in the Balkans and Flores. And in this case it appears to have revealed a truly astonishing connection over a period of over 2,000 years! (Actually the results of the Pakistani study were mixed, with some evidence pointing to a Greek connection and other evidence not so clear. Thus the astonishing musical connection could well resolve the issue in favor of the Kalash claim.) If these results are verified, then this would be hard evidence for exactly the sort of musical survival Yampolsky declared to be "not plausible" ("in the absence of a method of notation or an elaborate pedagogical system . . . for transmitting the tradition, no music could stand still -- with no new ideas or gradual changes, no influences from outside -- for even a few centuries, let alone millennia"). On the other hand, we would still be left scratching our heads over the far more implausible connection between the Balkans and the island of Flores, as an ancient Greek connection dating from 326 BCE would be far too recent and too limited to account for Indonesia as well.

What's most important about this fascinating tale, both cautionary and inspiring, is the great potential of the musical evidence, combined with the genetic evidence, to make a difference in our understanding of some of the strangest mysteries of "deep history."

29 comments:

Dan said...

This is the most fascinating blog I've ever stumbled across. Just wanted to pay my respects and let you know someone is reading, as there seems to be a severe shortage of comments.

cheers, Dan

Victor said...

Thanks for the positive response, Dan. The continuing shortage of comments you've noticed has been a serious disappointment, as I was hoping to make this blog into a forum for the exchange of information and ideas.

It's also something of a mystery, because the statistics I've been getting, from the "hit" counter on the main page, and my Statcounter account, tell me that a great many people have been accessing and even studying the blog in some detail, with the daily number of hits steadily increasing.

I've gotten a good number of positive responses and questions via email, but few seem willing to post their comments on the blog, where others can see them. I have a feeling that most people just don't know that much about the topic and are therefore reluctant to stick their necks out.

Another problem is that those who ought to have such knowledge, at least in certain areas -- i.e., the professional ethnomusicologists and their students -- are reluctant to post here for a variety of reasons:

1. The whole philosophy behind what I'm presenting here represents a point of view that has been aggressively rejected and actively discouraged in ethnomusicology and anthropology as well for a long time now.

2. Even people in the field who agree with me or at least find my ideas interesting may be reluctant to speak out publicly for fear of reprisals, from colleagues or teachers. I think my ideas just scare some people -- and alarm others. They just don't want to go there.

3. There's a lot more I could say about what's happened to the field of ethnomusicology but I'll continue to hold my tongue for a while.

Anyhow, for the benefit of anyone else out there reading this, it really is important for me to hear from you, to know you are out there and to have the benefit of your ideas and opinions, positive OR negative. If you are afraid of what might happen to you professionally as a result of speaking out freely on this blog, then by all means post anonymously.

Maju said...

Hi, Victor.

I was thinking that the Nuristani Afghans and the Lithuanians may be related in a different way: both are Indoeuropean-speaking peoples. Actually genetics has not shown any serious chance that the Kalash are directly related to Greeks (though small admixture would not be detectable) but they are certainly part of that cultural Indoeuropean cotinuum, just a some 1500 years older than Alexander, even less if you count Scythians.

Some people of South Asia are close relative (like 2-3,000 years) of people of Russia and around (Y-DNA R1a). This is real stuff and probably relates to Scythian migrations, that encompassed from Central Europe to NW India just before the conventional age. Musical traditions may have travelled along with other cultural elements in that time or before.

Victor said...

Hi Maju, thanks for your very interesting comment. I'm curious to learn your reasons for rejecting the possibility of a genetic connection between the Nuristanis and Greeks. Have you read the article I linked to in my post? If so, I'd be very interested in getting your interpretation of their results and learning why you reject the statement I quoted, which suggests that such a possibility does indeed exist.

As far as the relation of this musical style to the culture of the Indoeuropeans -- and the "Old European culture they may have displaced -- this is something I've gone into in some detail earlier in the blog, beginning with post 122, dated Jan. 26, 2008. I hope this question interests you enough for you to take a look at what I've written and get back to me with your opinion. Thanks.

Maju said...

I had not really read it (it's just an abstract, the full paper must be somehwere though) but it's very clear from its terminology that it dates from c. 2000, what is quite old considering the fast pace genetic studies are immersed in. In fact some of the clades identified under that nomenclature are now considered separate haplogroups and the level of resolution has increased a lot.

A very important clue is that haplogroup E (Hg21 in those old papers) that comprises the largest fraction of mainland Greek Y-DNA is totally absent among the Kalash (in fact it's very rare east of Iran), while the other haplogroups are relatively common not just among Greeks but among many other West and South Eurasian peoples.

So the happy conclussion that the Kalash who have less matches with Greeks than Pashtun or other Pakistanis, as that abstract admits, would have "65-88% Greek admixture" is obviously a very simplistic fantasy proper of that early period of human genetic research that seems to make little sense on light of the data. In fact, just one line after that far-fetched claim, the authors admit that:

However, the Kalash lack haplogroup 21 chromosomes and appeared distinct from the Greeks based upon principal components analysis of haplogroup frequencies and weighted population pairwise FST values based on STR variation within Y Haplogroups. They clearly contain a substantial proportion of Pakistani Y chromosomes, illustrated by their high frequency of hg 28, and the true Greek contribution remains uncertain.

Further research has not found any stronger connection but rather repeated the negative results. This does not mean that they cannot have one or a handful of Greek ancestors but that is not obviously their main component at all: they are a local group with some peculiarities that have nothing to do with Greece. That's all.

I'm not very good at music but I know a bit about population genetics. Whatever cultural connection is much better explained as part of the Indo-European steppary continuum or, maybe, as part of older Neolithic cultural traits with a common origin in the Fertile Crescent.

As far as the relation of this musical style to the culture of the Indoeuropeans -- and the "Old European culture they may have displaced -- this is something I've gone into in some detail earlier in the blog, beginning with post 122, dated Jan. 26, 2008. I hope this question interests you enough for you to take a look at what I've written and get back to me with your opinion. Thanks.

I am interested in anthropology and I think your approach is quite intriguing. I have your blog bookmarked and plan to read it slowly starting from the first post - because there are quite many of them and it seems to be more an e-book than a typical blog.

Enjoy.

Victor said...

Thanks for the clarification and update, Maju. It's amazing how quickly the field of population genetics is progressing -- and how readily certain findings are being updated and/or corrected. I'm pleased to learn of your interest in my "ebook" (you're right, it's more of a book than a blog, I suppose), and hope you'll continue to post comments whenever and wherever you find something of interest or something questionable.

When you read what I've written from post 122 on, you'll see that the Drone/Dissonance style I'm referring to is not associated with Indoeuropean culture, but with the so-called "Old European" culture it presumably either assimilated or displaced. (See especially the references to Gimbutas -- and I'm wondering what you think of her ideas.)

As my mentor Alan Lomax first noted, and as Joseph Jordania has recently confirmed (to my satisfaction at least), there is a strong correlation in Europe between traditional polyphonic vocalizing of all kinds (not only D/D) and "Old European" survivals, very often characterized, as Jordania has demonstrated, by residence in so-called "refuge" areas, such as mountains, islands, dense forests, etc.

Outside these scattered pockets of polyphony (usually associated with all sorts of other very traditional cultural practices), we find a mainstream style throughout Europe of monophonic vocalizing, either solo or unison, with little evidence of polyphony aside from the relatively recent influences of "modern" harmonic practices associated with the Christian church and Western classical and popular music. With some training it's usually pretty easy to spot the difference between the more traditional practices and the more recent ones.

Since very similar monophonic (solo and unison) -- also heterophonic -- practices dominate the Indoeuropean heartland, as well as most of Asia generally (aside from certain tribal groups in India, PaleoSiberia, and also Southeast Asia and Southern China) with very little that could be described as traditional polyphony to be found anywhere in the Near and Middle East, North Africa, the non-Georgian Caucasus, Central Asia, village India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, China, etc.,
it makes sense to attribute the domination of monophonic singing in mainstream Europe with the influence of Indoeuropean culture, which presumably has its origin in Western and/or Central Asia.

The presence of vocal polyphony in Nuristan is thus especially surprising and very difficult to explain because it is surrounded by a sea of monophony. And the fact that it is so similar in so many respects to what is commonly found in certain remote regions of the Balkans, including Greece, is especially intriguing.

The Nuristani claim of Greek origin, coupled with the admittedly inconclusive and possibly outdated evidence presented in the paper I cited, may or may not be something that in itself could be taken seriously. When we add the very compelling musical evidence, however, then I do think a case could be made for a legitimate connection.

The problem for the genetic research -- and this is true in general for all of population genetics -- is the need to zero in on very specific populations rather than simply "the French" or "the Greeks," etc. And here the musical evidence can IMO be of special value because, as with the Nuristan case, it can point to very specific groups that may be very different from the people that surround them. To do a definitive test, therefore, of the Nuristani claim, it would be necessary IMO to compare their genetic makeup with that of very specific populations in mountainous regions of the Balkans that vocalize in a similar style -- not simply "Greeks." From the viewpoint of deep history, there is no such thing as "Greeks," as I'm sure you're aware.

Maju said...

I was actually thinking about the Lithuanian rather than the Greek connection in my forst comment (you wrote: ... quite close in structure and style to the Lithuanian Sutartines...). Of course the Indoeuropean and the more specific Scythian connection can also work with the Balcans.

But would the connection be only with Greece (or the Balcans in general) then the West Asian pathway can also make sense. Guess I have to read more before I make up my mind.

You say: Since very similar monophonic (solo and unison) -- also heterophonic -- practices dominate the Indoeuropean heartland, as well as most of Asia generally (aside from certain tribal groups in India, PaleoSiberia, and also Southeast Asia and Southern China) with very little that could be described as traditional polyphony to be found anywhere in the Near and Middle East, North Africa, the non-Georgian Caucasus, Central Asia, village India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, China, etc.,
it makes sense to attribute the domination of monophonic singing in mainstream Europe with the influence of Indoeuropean culture, which presumably has its origin in Western and/or Central Asia.


So where on Earth is there pre-Christian polyphony apart of Greece and among the Kalash? I really cannot make up my mind without visualizing the dots you are trying to join.

Indoeuropean culture has apaprently its origins in the Samara valley in eastern European Russia (though it used to be Asia for the ancients, as it's east of the Volga - but west of the Ural mountains). But, as you know, it's a widespread culture (linguistic area) and yet you seem to be saying that most IEs didn't practice polyphony (before Christianization), so maybe it has a more specific origin.

How widespread was polyphony in Europe, Asia minor, Iran and India before the Christian coral music took over? That's the info I lack to judge if this trait can be generalistically IE or something more specific - or even distinct.

I'm also interested in knowing the ethnic affinities and geography of those polyphonic Paleosiberians. Looks intriguing and maybe it's a missing link.

I think it's a very intriguing puzzle but I fear I'm missing some pieces yet.

Victor said...

You ask some very good questions, Maju. Back in the 1960's I worked on a project involving the systematic encoding of specific stylistic traits for 37 different musical parameters, involving traditional singing styles from all over the world. This was the Cantometrics project, as discussed elsewhere on the blog, concieved and directed by Alan Lomax.

At this point the Cantometric database includes well over 5,000 individual sung performances from hundreds of different cultures. The database -- plus the experience I gained from listening to so much music while encoding it -- plus a considerable amount of additional research and study -- puts me in a very unusual position, because I do think that at this point I have a fairly clear overview of the most traditional musical styles of the world.

This may be a unique situation, 1. because there aren't too many other databases that cover so broad an area for a single cultural practice; 2. because musical style is far more easily assimilated and recognized (via recordings, for example), even by non-experts, than just about any other aspect of culture, certainly far more so than language; 3. because there are so many recordings of music from all over the world, readily available for encoding, analysis, evaluation and re-evaluation, a situation that doesn't apply for any other aspect of culture, not language, ritual, kinship, polity, not even for dance (though youtube may be changing that).

What I've been able to glean from all my research is that there are in fact definable musical style families in the world, within discernible geographic regions -- but also survivals of much older practices scattered in various places within the domain of the larger families.

So when you ask "How widespread was polyphony in Europe, Asia minor, Iran and India before the Christian coral music took over?" I can actually give you a very simple answer, based on the many years of research summarized above. Rather than repeat myself, however, I'll direct you to the blog posts where I discuss all this: post 122 and what follows. You'll notice that I also reference Joseph Jordania's book, which goes into far more detail on exactly where the various types of polyphony can be found.

As Jordania notes, and I more or less agree, the evidence seems to point to the widespread use of vocal polyphony in "Old Europe," including Georgia, prior to the Indoeuropean "invasion." However, we find very little to no evidence of such practices in Asia Minor, Iran and India (aside from certain tribal groups in India).

As for polyphonic singing among the Paleosiberians this is a complex question that I'm still learning about. There is in fact a Paleosiberian musical style family, stretching from Lapland all the way to Hokkaido, but most of the surviving examples are solo songs. Occasionally however we've found traces of a type of interlocked polyphonic singing that might be a survival of what I've called P/B style. This sort of thing is what I've called the "African signature," but you'll have to read more in the blog to understand what that means.

Again, thanks for your interest and your good questions.

Maju said...

Hi again Victor.

I have been reading the 122-131 posts of your blog and guess I've got a slightly better idea of what you're talking about now.

I wonder if the "African signature" you talk about could be a more recent introduction than the OOA event. One thing that has been often overlooked (probably due to Eurocentrism) is the important role that NE Africa may have played in the developement of Mesolithic (proto-agricultural cereal gathering) and maybe even Neolithic (see: http://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/the-ancient-grain-eaters-at-wadi-kubbaniya-and-esna/).

This crucial role of Nubian Mesolithic may well been related with the spread of some clades of Y-DNA haplogroup E (dominant in Africa) to West Asia and some parts of Europe (notably Greece and southern Iberia but found almost anywhere in the continent).

I would suggest that this African input may have (re-)introduced the B/P polyphonic style in societies that anyhow were not Patriarchally "tense" to ignore it. Just an idea for your consideration.

Enjoy.

Victor said...

I'm very pleased that someone with your knowledge of the archaeology is posting here, Maju. There are certainly indications of possible post-paleolithic African influence in the music of both Europe and the Middle East and also other parts of Asia. Whether this is due to the developments you mention or to the effects of a possible early slave trade is difficult for me to say, but you might be able to help me better understand such possibilities.

The key to differentiating between early and late migrations (and possible influences) is, as I see it, the overall worldwide distribution of any given "distinctive feature" or trait complex. On that basis it seems much more likely to me that P/B style must have spread beyond the confines of Africa at a very early date, most likely with the original "Out of Africa" migrants. To fully understand my reasons you should of course read the earlier portions of the blog that deal with P/B and its possible meaning. Where polyphony is found in Europe, it is not found where one would expect if your idea, reasonable as it may be, is correct. Because it is distributed very widely and also very thinly throughout many "marginal" places in all parts of the continent.

This distribution pattern was strongly suggested by the Cantometric research, but it wasn't until I read the chapter on Europe in Jordania's book that the pattern was confirmed.

Maju said...

I'm very pleased that someone with your knowledge of the archaeology is posting here, Maju.

Just to dispel any possible illusion, I'm just an amateur - but one who is certainly fascinated by Prehistory and has accumlated some knowledge for more than a decade of diverse readings and self-teaching.

There are certainly indications of possible post-paleolithic African influence in the music of both Europe and the Middle East and also other parts of Asia. Whether this is due to the developments you mention or to the effects of a possible early slave trade is difficult for me to say, but you might be able to help me better understand such possibilities.

Slave trade from Tropical Africa is not likely to have been very important before the Modern Age, the late Middle Ages at most in the case of the Muslim World. While it has certainly influenced, via America specially, modern Western Music, I find hard to think it being important in earlier times. In Roman and Medieval Europe the origin of slaves was very diverse but they were imported specially from Eastern and Northern Europe. Prague was the major slave trading market of Europe in the Early Middle Ages and certainly it did not trade on black people. The very word slave is derived from Slav, quite obviously. And this is no peculiarity of English language.

Nubia (modern Sudan) did practice some slave trade destination Egypt and Byzantium but it was not so important. The influence of Nubia in Western culture surely was exerted via other ways primarily.

And possibly the most important one is being at the origin of Mesolithic (understood as proto-Neolithic cereal gathering cultures) as mentioned before. Though of course it also influenced very specifically Ancient Egypt. Now, I can't know if Nubia itself (and upper Egypt) was in the polyphonic tradition but it seems like a candidate to be researched.

While the exact process of diffusion of Afroasiatic languages and Y-DNA haplogroup E in the Mediterranean is not fully clarified, nowadays it seems quite evident that they must have an ultimate African origin, NE African more specifically. There you find the highest diversity of Afroasiatic languages, a very plausible source of haplogroup E-M215 and a likely source of Mesolithic or proto-Neolithic economic practices.

Manjunat said...

Maju:
Are there any comparison between Kalash mtDNA and Greek mtDNA? I have read Greek and Indian women were traded across after Greeks came in contact with Indians. These Greek women many a time were employed as Devadasi-s who in old days were accomplished in music and dance. Of course, just a long shot.

Ref:
Daily Life in Ancient India (From 200 BC to 700 AD), Author: Jeannine Auboyer

You have a very interesting blog here, Victor. Hope to dig it.

Maju said...

Hi, Manjunat.

I know there are quite a bunch of genetic studies that include the Kalash as part of their regional samples. I think also that there was once upon a time a paper or two that determined that the Greek-Kalash connection was most unlikely. But I'd have to search between my bookmarks and probably also online to find the exact references.

From memory there is no similitude between the Kalash and Greek genetic pool, not even in the Y-DNA sequences. They are mostly (with some differences) part of the regional Pakistani-Afghani pool (and akin to Nuristanis, which are Kalash converted to Islam).

If I have time later, I'll see if I can find something more precise.

Victor said...

Manjunat and maju:
There appears to be a lot of confusion regarding Nuristan and the Kalash. Some interesting comments on the genetics can be found in this Wikipedia article, in the section titled "Genetic Origins": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalash

I've seen studies that have found Balkan connections with Nuristani groups other than the Kalash, such as the Pathans as I recall, but not involving the Kalash themselves. Here's a passage from a recent article by Qamar et al (2002):
"Greek-admixture estimates of 0% were obtained for the Burusho and the Pathans, but figures of
20%–40% were observed for the Kalash (table 3). In
view of the absence of haplogroup 21, we ascribe this
result either to drift in the frequencies of the other haplogroups, particularly haplogroups 2 and 1, or to the
poor resolution of lineages within these haplogroups, resulting in distinct lineages being classified into the same paraphyletic haplogroups. Overall, no support for a Greek origin of their Y chromosomes was found, but
this conclusion does require the assumption that modern
Greeks are representative of Alexander’s armies."

But modern Greeks might not be representative or at least the Greeks in the sample referenced. The claim has been made that the Kalash are of Macedonian descent, so that could make a difference.

Jordania refers simply to the drone/dissonant style of Nuristan, and doesn't mention either the Kalash or Pathans, so it's not clear which group sings in this manner -- maybe both?

As I see it, the musical evidence can't be ignored -- and given the extreme rarity of D/D style in Asia generally and in this part of Asia in particular, I'd say there's a very good chance the Kalash and or Pathans are who they claim they are: descendants of Alexander's armies.

The problem with the genetic evidence is that at the present time all the samplings are too generalized and even generic. There is no such thing as simply "Greeks" or even "Macedonians." Comparisons must be made with very specific groups from very specific places.

Maju said...

That genetics section is eclectic, according to the NPOV policy of Wikipedia. But I understand that Kivisild (2003) overrides Kamar (2002) for the very reasons he so clearly explains:

The estimate of 23%–40% Greek admixture in the Pakistani Kalash population (Qamar et al. 2002), for example, is unrealistic and is likely also driven by the low marker resolution that pooled southern and western Asian–specific Y-chromosome haplogroup H together with European-specific haplogroup I, into an uninformative polyphyletic cluster 2.

Hg2 was something like F*, a very non-informative cluster. I am even slightly flippant that Qamar's study used that nomenclature as late as 2002, because the YCC tree and standard nomenclature became known in 2001. But guess it was in print already when the YCC standard was launched.

Also the first study that the Wikipedia article mentions, Firasat (2006) clearly concludes that:

This study as a whole seems to exclude a large Greek contribution to any Pakistani population, confirming previous observations.7 However, it provides strong evidence in support of the Greek origins for a small proportion of Pathans...

This being a much more modern study should take precedence, in principle, over the others. So yes to some minor Greek gene flow into Pakistan/Afghanistan but it's not detectable among the Kalash, only among some Pashtun.

But modern Greeks might not be representative or at least the Greeks in the sample referenced. The claim has been made that the Kalash are of Macedonian descent, so that could make a difference.

Modern resolution would detect that. Modern Macedonians have like 20% of haplogroup E, which is probably too much to mean modern gene flow. They also have sizeable fractions of R1b and I, clades that are surely absent among the Kalash (though no of the other papers mentions how Hg1 and Hg2 are acually divided).

Checking a paper on regional West Asian Y-DNA, Northern Pakistan is very low for R1b-M269 and has virtually no I. But this data may not reflect the Kalash.

The problem with the genetic evidence is that at the present time all the samplings are too generalized and even generic. There is no such thing as simply "Greeks" or even "Macedonians." Comparisons must be made with very specific groups from very specific places.

Genetic evidence has some limitations, of course. Culture can be transmitted by a small influential minority whose genes have drifted a lot since then. Genetics alone cannot certainly explain culture.

Manjunat said...

Kalash(Pakistan) Y-chromosomes from Sengupta et al.(2006) study;
Kalash
L3 25%
G2 20%
H1* 20%
R1a1 20%
J2a 5%
J2b2 5%
R* 5%

Greek/Macedonian Y-lineage pool is not seen here. However, the interesting part is mtDNA (Quintana-Murci et al. (2004));
Kalash
pre-HV1 : 22.7%
HV* : 4.5%
H : 4.5%
U2e : 15.9%
U4 : 34.1%
U7 : 2.3%
J1 : 2.3%
J2 : 9.1%
T* : 4.5%

These are generally thought to be West Eurasian. But I wonder whether Lithuanian or Greek/Macedonian mtDNA genepool could be observed here.

Maju said...

Greek/Macedonian Y-lineage pool is not seen here

Dienekes' data for three Greek Macedonian towns (Thessaloniki, Nean Nikomedia and Serrai) yields:

Px(R1a): 5, 12 and 19% (equivalent to R1b)
R1a: 8, 11 and 25%
DE: 19, 20 and 24% (equivalent to E1b1b, former E3b)
G2: 3-5%
I: 12, 20 and 36%
J2a1: 4, 5 and 16%
J2(xJ2a1): 0, 7 and 10%
J(xJ2): 0, 0 and 11% (equivalent to J1)

Ref: http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2008/05/exploring-y-chromosome-haplogroup.html

It seems that R1a, E and I should be found at any normal Macedonian descendant population. R1b and J2a1 are likely to be found too.

But according to your data (Sengupta) neither E nor I are found at all among the Kalash. R clades are, as well as J2, but these are not anything abnormal among Pakistanis or even Indians.

We can therefore conclude that any Greek-Kalash relation (other than anecdotical) is false.

However, the interesting part is mtDNA (Quintana-Murci et al. (2004));
Kalash
pre-HV1 : 22.7%
HV* : 4.5%
H : 4.5%
U2e : 15.9%
U4 : 34.1%
U7 : 2.3%
J1 : 2.3%
J2 : 9.1%
T* : 4.5%

These are generally thought to be West Eurasian.


With the exception of U2, that is considered South/Central Asian only and U7 that is shared between West, Central and South Asia, yes. Pre-HV (aka R0) and HV* are more of the West Asian only kind: they are rare in Europe, same as U7. U4 is found in West Eurasia but never at those high levels, I think.

Overall they look some special sort of West Asian group (genetically speaking, that is).

In any case Alexander's soldiers were not women, I can assure you. ;)

Manjunat said...

In any case Alexander's soldiers were not women, I can assure you. ;)

:-). But don't forget there are too many regions between Greece and India just like between Turkic homeland in Siberia and present day Turkey. In Indian context, Greeks are the ones who reached India. But tricky thing is you can never disprove Kalash claim of "Alexander's soldiers" though you can prove/disprove they were Greek/Macedonian descendants!

I have already given the reference for slave trading of Greek women in the past.

Any idea about Lithuanian mtDNAs?

Maju said...

I understand that most soldiers in Alexander's aremy were Greek, often Macedonians. They were the only ones able to fight in phalanx formation, a Macedonian innovation that resulted decisive to defeat the Persians.

Any idea about Lithuanian mtDNAs?

From memory mostly H and U5. Typical European. Also at significative levels: I, J, T, U4, V and W. All very common stuff.

Manjunat said...

His Army trained captured Persian soldiers in the tactics of the Macedonians and integrated them into his army.

Link

You never know!

Maju said...

Ok. You never know. But anyhow, for Victor's purposes, if these soldiers would be of Persian origin, they would not be of any use to his research. Even if they were trained in Greek tactics, they were surely not trained in Greek music.

Victor said...

First of all, I want to make it clear that Jordania also doesn't accept the Greek/Macedonian connection. He sees the Nuristan D/D as a survival of an archaic practice dating from long before Alexander's day. It's interesting to note that Jordania also sees evidence of a Lithuanian connection. But again, for him this would not be due to a migraton from Lithuania, but to both representing archaic survivals of an extremely old practice. And by the way, Jordania doesn't accept OOA, so for him these are practices that could go back millions of years.

There are actually two musical mysteries involved with respect to the distribution and origin of D/D. Most instances are found either in remote highland regions of the Balkans (with the Lithuanian "sutartine" style as a somewhat distant relative) or among certain indigenous peoples of Indonesia and Melanesia. The most dramatic similarities are with the island of Flores, where singing of an almost identical type has been recorded and widely discussed.

Which raises the question of a possible common source for the two, which seems highly unlikely. But independent invention seems even more unlikely, at least to me.

The question has always been: why only in these two regions at opposite ends of the Earth and nowhere in between?

Well Nuristan is almost exactly in between. And as I recently discovered, a very similar style can be found in Tibet, though at this point I have no idea of the particular group that's carrying this tradition.

If Nuristani D/D were indeed an archaic survival, antedating the ancient Greeks, that would fit quite nicely with the "bottleneck" model I've proposed, which suggests that many non-African musical styles could have originated with an early population bottleneck centered in southern Asia. The Nuristani's could be seen as survivals of that style, with branches of the same primeval group migrating both east and west from this region tens of thousands of years ago. Jordania doesn't subscribe to the "bottleneck" idea, by the way, but an archaic origin of Nuristani D/D would fit nicely with my own approach for sure.

The trouble is that IMO it's not so easy to dismiss the Kalash claim of Macedonian origin, because it actually makes a lot of sense. It's known that Macedonian/Greek troops were in that region in ancient times. It's also true that the Kalash are regarded as different by themselves and everyone else in the area. And many do resemble Europeans, with blonde hair and blue eyes, which would have been common among the ancient Greeks as well.

As I see it, the genetic evidence must be regarded as inconclusive at this point as the samplings are simply too small and not specific enough. And there does seem to be some indication of a genetic connection which is perhaps being too quickly dismissed.

I say this despite the fact that a non-connection would fit my own model much better. But the possibility of a connection with Alexander's army seems more likely to me, despite the state of the genetic evidence (so far).

Maju said...

And many do resemble Europeans, with blonde hair and blue eyes, which would have been common among the ancient Greeks as well.

It is very possible that there are more blonds among Afghans than among Greeks. In fact the occasional blondness of Afghans is widely known but it surely has no relation with Greece at all. Remember that ancient Indo-Europeans are original from the Volga region (an area with aboundance of blond types), that ancient IEs travelled through the steppes connecting Ukraine, Turkestan and Afghanistan for milenia. And that blondness is found in all West Eurasian groups, even in North Africa, even among the Tuaregs. Do not build a castle on such feeble foundations.

In any case, for what I have seen Kalash and Afghans in general on TV, they are not majoritarily blond at all but rather "Mediterranean". They fit well with the West Asian typology. Sure that there is the occasional Dutch-looking person but they are the exception, not the rule. And those types are much better explained by the steppary IE connection or by the widespread presence of blond minorities everywhere in West Eurasia than by any Greek one.

The Lithuanian connection also suggests the Steppary route. Alternatively they could be independent pervivences.

I say this despite the fact that a non-connection would fit my own model much better. But the possibility of a connection with Alexander's army seems more likely to me, despite the state of the genetic evidence (so far).

What about the Tibetans? From memory again, the Kalash do seem to have a significative deal of East Asian autosomal DNA (minority but meaningful anyhow).

I anyhow think that the Greek origins of the Kalash are much more mythical than real. Maybe an ancient leader of them was actually a Greek soldier, who knows?, but a massive influence of Greek blood should be discarded.

Victor said...

maju and manjunat,

I just came across a very interesting paper in Science, Feb., 2008: "Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation", by a group from Stanford: http://www-shgc.stanford.edu/myerslab/papers/LiAbsher-Science-HGDP.pdf

The supplentary materials can be dowloaded from here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5866/1100/DC1

If you go to Figure S4-C, in the supplementary PDF, toward the end, you'll find a Principal Components map for the region around Nuristan that will interest you. Note that the Kalash are represented as outliers, in the lower left quadrant, well away from all the other groups in the region. There's no information regarding any possible links with anywhere in Europe, but their status as outliers does seem clear and I'm wondering what your thoughts might be on this.

Also, on the same page, in Figure S4-A we have a p. c. plot for Africa, with all the Bantu groups together on the left and the Biaka, San and Mbuti as outliers on the right, each quite distant from one another. I'm wondering what your thoughts might be on that.

It seems to me that if these three groups were close together on the graph, that would suggest a relatively recent common ancestor - which appears to be the case with the Bantu groups. But since each of the three is so widely separated from the others, that this could suggest a common ancestor in the remote past. Does this interpretation make sense, what do you think?

Maju said...

Good find, Victor.

The Kalash seem to be genetically somewhat apart inside the Pakistani-Afghan area but they do not seem to correlate with Europe in any case (no Greek sample but they also do not correlate with West Asians). In the Bayesian K=6 plot they seem the purest CSA group (100% blue for all samples), with no visible West Eurasian (green) or East Asian (orange) components.

I would personally read that as they being a very old isolated local group. But it's very tentative (compare with Europeans: Sardinians appear as "purest", even if they are known to have formed only at the Neolithic, while Basques follow close but with some anomalous "Amerindian" component). This Bayesian depth anyhow, specially for global stats can be very misleading, hiding many local components.

But in any case the reading is that they may have been isolated for very long, maybe from Late Upper Paleolithic or Neolithic.

On Africans, it is obvious that the PC1 (horizontal axis) is discerning between Niger-Kongo and others and PC2 (vertical axis) is discerning between Mbuti and Biaka. The position of the San (smaller sample) in that graph can be very misleading. It just says they are not Niger-Kongo and that their position in the Mbuti-Biaka axis is undefined or irrelevant. The three seem genetic isolates in any case.

I cannot conclude (rather the opposite) that the two Pygmy tribes and the San are related in any way, except for the common shared ancestry of all humans. I cannot discard it 100% either, of course.

Victor said...

"But in any case the reading is that they may have been isolated for very long, maybe from Late Upper Paleolithic or Neolithic."

So. D/D among the Kalash. D/D in some Tibetan group, as yet unidentified. D/D in mountainous regions of the Balkans. D/D on certain islands in Indonesia and Melanesia. In certain cases the musical resemblances between groups in totally different regions are uncanny. Take my word for it.

What do you make of it, maju? Could the mountains of Nuristan and Tibet be paleolithic survivals of a tradition that began in central Asia and spread both east and west to wind up in only two other regions, at opposite ends of the world?

I'm not stating a hypothesis, by the way, because I have no idea what to make of this evidence. All I can say for now is that it's very hard to accept either independent invention, convergent evolution, or same tradition with a common source, though one must be the case and the others not. Is there an alternative?

"The three seem genetic isolates in any case."

This is borne out by other studies I've seen, especially the significant genetic differences between eastern and western Pygmy groups. The question is: what do these differences mean? Do they mean there is no meaningful relation between them of any kind? or that the original relation has been obscured by genetic drift (implying that they diverged at a very early date)?

"I cannot conclude (rather the opposite) that the two Pygmy tribes and the San are related in any way, except for the common shared ancestry of all humans."

But they appear to lie at or near the root of that common ancestry. Note the phylogenetic tree on p. 1101 of the main article. The San are closest to the root, followed by the Mbuti and then the Biaka.
Many other studies also place both Bushmen and Pygmy groups very close to the root of the modern human tree.

It makes sense to me that all three groups would show up as distant both from one another and from other African populations. If they clustered together, wouldn't that imply a relatively recent divergence? This interests me because it says that the farther back we go the more distant the genetic relationships will become. Meaning that those groups representing the oldest cultural survivals might not show up as closely related when the overall genetic picture is considered.

What might be more diagnostic in such cases would be the presence of certain highly distinctive genetic markers characteristic of populations that have remained isolated for long periods of time. While most markers would change due to genetic drift, there would hopefully be some that don't. Does this make sense?

Maju said...

In certain cases the musical resemblances between groups in totally different regions are uncanny. Take my word for it.

I do.

What do you make of it, maju? Could the mountains of Nuristan and Tibet be paleolithic survivals of a tradition that began in central Asia and spread both east and west to wind up in only two other regions, at opposite ends of the world?

Not sure really.

What I know (or I think I know) is that whatever the connection your study of these odd similitudes is interesting in itself. You may not have a definitive explanation but the very fact of detecting and studying these "uncanny resemblances" is most interesting in itself.

The question is: what do these differences mean? Do they mean there is no meaningful relation between them of any kind? or that the original relation has been obscured by genetic drift (implying that they diverged at a very early date)?

I think they diverged at a very early date (notwithstanding the occasional gene flow, that cannot be discarded totally).

But they appear to lie at or near the root of that common ancestry. Note the phylogenetic tree on p. 1101 of the main article. The San are closest to the root, followed by the Mbuti and then the Biaka.

Precisely. They do not seem to share any branch, the root means the original humankind and being closest to it means they diverged early on.

What that tree (taken at face value) means is that the San diverged first, then the Mbuti, then the Biaka, then the main divide between Black Africans and Eurasians.

Of course, admixture may distort the apparent value of the tree (case of Mozabites, who are actually a mixed population, not a separate branch on their own right) and all kind of other considerations can be added but basically the order seems to be that.

If they clustered together, wouldn't that imply a relatively recent divergence?

Yes. Or alternative a recent convergence via admixture (though this is probably less common)

This interests me because it says that the farther back we go the more distant the genetic relationships will become. Meaning that those groups representing the oldest cultural survivals might not show up as closely related when the overall genetic picture is considered.

Yes. That is very true.

What might be more diagnostic in such cases would be the presence of certain highly distinctive genetic markers characteristic of populations that have remained isolated for long periods of time. While most markers would change due to genetic drift, there would hopefully be some that don't. Does this make sense?

This is very difficult to say. I think you have to study the genetic structure of the region.

What we have here is an statistical study of global autosomal genetics. The problem with this kind of studies is that the statistical results may be misleading. You can see that easily by comparing Bayesian depth K=2 with K=6, which is much more meaningful. If they would have reached, say a depth of K=16 the results would be much more colorful, showing many more clusters, etc. Sample size seems to matter for these cases too. That is probably the only reason why the San appear undifferentiated in Africa.

PC studies are not much better. After all the map is not the territory and there are so many autosomal genes that it is kind of confuse. Recent research suggests that sample sizes matter a lot and when possible large samples should be taken, with priority over studying more genes, that often are redundant. But if you work with bi- (or tri-) dimensional plots you are likely to miss much info, precisely in the less correlated groups maybe, as they weight less than the large clusters of related ones. With K-means clustering you are also limited to create a number of cluster depending of the depth of your analysis, again probably missing relevant info for minority samples.

Autosomal analysis, while interesting, is quite messy too.

Manjunat said...

I think if a cultural motif misses South Asia and in other regions it's not due to convergent evolution, we should concentrate on Y-haplogroups D and E and an associate mtDNA N subclade.

Maju said...

Why those clades precisely? E in Africa is rather opposed to the B/P signature Victor appears to have detected. D may be present in SE Asia but specially in Mid-Eastern Asia, where this pattern is not visible. If you are thinking of Kalash-realted polyphony, they don't seem to have any of those Y-DNA clades either.

... and an associate mtDNA N subclade

Which one? Can't think of anyone.

I speculated for a moment about Y-DNA K, for Eurasia alone, but this clade is so widespread that it could mean anything, because it's also among peoples without the P/B pattern.

Whatever the case, it must be extremely old if it actually means a connection shared by Pygmies, Bushmen and some Eurasians. So it is more like the rest lost it. A good line of research would be to study more different signature patterns, some of which may be older and may account for the patterns of deletion, IMO.