Genes and Peoples

Western European archaeology is largely a humanistic tradition where many scholars have little knowledge of the natural sciences. For instance, I myself haven’t studied natural sciences in any organised way since high school. Still, in my field, I’m known as an unusually science-orientated guy. (Just look at me now, merrily blogging away at Sb.) I believe that human societies are to a fairly large extent shaped by human nature, which has long been controversial in anthro circles. I also favour stringent methods of data collection and analysis: archaeology should study and interpret its object in basically the same way as a palaeontologist does, not in the way a lit-crit scholar studies and interprets a body of fiction. Because the archaeological record ain’t fiction.

Being seen as such a hard-nosed science type at home, I’m amused to find that I often come across as this fuzzy humanities person here on Sb. Most recently, I’ve disagreed with Razib’s interpretation of some interesting genetic studies over at Gene Expression.

My objections to Razib’s thinking start already with his entry’s headline: “From where came the Slavs?“. BEEP goes my humanistic b-s detector. What is a Slav? Is that a well-defined and relevant category? As it turns out, Razib has stepped squarely into a trap where many other smart people have also gotten stuck through the ages. Razib believes that Slavs are people who speak Slavic languages and/or share certain genetic traits and/or share certain traits of material culture. His Slavs all belong together somehow, wherever they are and at whatever point in time. This model is called ethnic essentialism and has been abandoned in archaeology and social anthropology long ago.

My point is that ethnicity does not map 1:1 with either language, genetic ancestry, religion nor political organisation. It is possible for a bunch of people to be genetically and linguistically close, and still not be a single ethnic or political unit. This means that even if you can establish genetic and linguistic grouping, you may not have caught the grouping that was seen as most important by the people themselves.

Take, for instance, today’s Croatians and Serbs. They are, in Razib’s terminology, all Slavs. But they sure wouldn’t be happy if you told them they’re basically the same guys. Take, on the other hand, today’s speakers of Mandarin and Cantonese in China. They’re entirely distinct, yet cultivate the millennia-old Imperial fiction that they are the same guys.

Evidence was recently published (and discussed on Gene Expression) that suggests the ancient Etruscans may have had genetic origins in Asia Minor. Yet the Etruscans’ ideas about where they came from and who they were related to may not have been very similar to the actual origins documented in that study. Only Herodotus says so, and his writings on foreign people are not a good historical source in the technical sense. I’m fine with the Etruscans having a significant Lydian element in their ancestry. I just don’t find it very interesting that this confirms statements in a poor historical source. My job isn’t to evaluate proto-historic written sources.

But Razib, in my opinion, takes his reasoning one further step in the wrong direction: he discusses his Slavs in evolutionary terms.

“… assume that they had a better cultural toolkit for the far north. people can often be quite conservative so i would imagine that gave the slavic cultures a leg enough so that they could absorb a bunch of finns before the finns changed their practices enough so that they were at competitive parity in terms of exploitation of resources” [link]

Razib apparently believes not only that a Slav is a Slav is a Slav, but that the expansions and regressions of Slavic territory across the map have been directed by the adaptive fitness of “Slavic culture”. This model was abandoned by archaeologists and ethnographers in the 1940s.

When Razib looks at a distribution map of “Slavic culture” in, say, AD 1000, I imagine that he interprets the blob on the map as if it represented a biological species. “This is the distribution of the lynx / Slav. There is some variation in this population, but for most purposes all lynxes / Slavs are alike. One end of the blob represents the same thing as the other end. The shared characteristics of the blob’s members determine the blob’s evolutionary fate.” (Those are all my words put into Razib’s mouth.)

Archaeological cultures and linguistic areas are not like biological species. One end of a culture blob often hates the guts of the other end, insisting that although the two have similar languages and pottery styles, they are in fact not related at all. One end will happily join forces with part of an adjoining blob to annihilate the other end of the home blob. As a result, a third blob may be born, consisting of ten sub-blobs that fight constantly among themselves while exchanging wives and porphyry axe-preforms with the two parent blobs.

Most anthropologists these days reckon that there are several parameters in a person’s identity that can and often do vary independently of each other, and which can vary over the course of that person’s life, even situationally on a scale of days. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Ethnic self-identification: “I am a Swede”

  • Linguistic group: “I speak Swedish”
  • Genetic/phenetic type, i.e. “race”: “I am blue-eyed and pale-skinned”
  • Religion: “I was brought up a Protestant”
  • Material culture group: “I wear denim jeans and an Elvis T-shirt”
  • Political allegiance: “I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Sweden”

Razib and I both agree that genetic studies of modern and archaeological human populations can tell us a lot of interesting things. It seems to me, however, that they are not able to tell us quite what Razib thinks they can. Because a person’s self-reported identity cannot be read off anything material or genetic. And any group that appears tightly knit in material, linguistic and genetic terms may in fact consist of several groups that don’t want anything to do with each other.

But discussion may be futile. Says Razib, “i don’t really care what archeologists think about things non-artifactual”.

[More blog entries about , , ; , , .]

Comments

  1. #1 Ethan
    January 14, 2008

    This seems unobjectionable, but I understand Razib’s approach as well. The interplay between biology and culture is fascinating, even to this astrophysicist. Consequently, there is a temptation to read as much as possible (and maybe too much) into comparisons between what genes reveal about human biological history, and what records and material remains reveal about cultural evolution.

    For example, I found myself wondering what role the Lydian ancestry of the Etruscans played in the cultural tradition that gave rise to the Aeneid. On the other hand, it’s obvious that a great deal of its content has to do with sucking up to the emperor. These aren’t exclusive categories.

  2. #2 Martin R
    January 14, 2008

    The thing is, given free rein, many archaeologists will speculate like absolute bastards. And that way historical fiction lies. I advocate an anti-speculative stance that is sometimes labelled positivism, and “positivist” is in large parts of humanistic academe just about the worst thing you can call a colleague. It basically means “wannabe natural scientist” — *shudder*.

  3. #3 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 14, 2008

    “Because a person’s self-reported identity cannot be read off anything material or genetic.”

    So you think that being or not being a Slav is defined by the person’s own opinion? That is yet another fallacy. It resembles the misunderstanding of creationists who think that a species is connected one-to-one to an individual sample. In real life the species is a characteristic of a population, and the individuals just resemble enough the stereotype to be associated with that species. But there are several examples of ill defined species, e.g. within the Salix family (willow trees).

    IMHO the same goes for cultures. All six dimensions you listed have some weight. (Even though I would put the lowest weight on self-perceived identity, because it is often the least educated one.) You can define a culture by a cluster of similar features, but it is still just a stereotype, and each individual person will differ from it to some extent.

    Razib didn’t define Slavs, but I think he had in his mind a very pragmatic model – the linguistic boundary between the old Finnic people and the new invaders. That is one more definition: if you can draw a border between them, they are different cultures. Of course that is only a local definition. The difference of Western Slavs and Germans was different.

    Different language can’t explain the advance of the Slavs. Therefore I suggested that there was another difference, and since I am an engineer, I suggested better technology. It has worked in many other cases, e.g. taming of fire, horses, or iron. In this case the best fitting new technology was agriculture. It lead to the assimilation of the Finns to the Slavs (or whatever you want to call the mix, Russians?), as seen in their genes.

    Genetic evidence is very weighty, but it isn’t all powerful. We modern Finns still speak an Eastern European language, but genetically we are 3/4 Western. As you can see above, I put the highest weight on technology (your material category, which I’d like to split it to technology and fashion parts), because in a survival situation it can override all the rest. In evolution terms – survival of the fittest technology.

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    January 14, 2008

    I agree with you that cultural, linguistic and genetic identities are very different. Genetically, I don’t think it makes sense to talk about humans having populations – there is very little genetic variation between adjacent regions.

    But there’s one thing I hope will be thrown into the mix. There are people in the UK starting to use genetics to map out the expansion of agriculture (I can’t remember if they were using landraces or grain that had been excavated up – I think the latter). This sort of data might help to map out some parts of cultural invasion.

    I do remember a few years ago someone suggesting that the Finns were remnants of the Neanderthals. I guess this was based on behavioural data.

    Bob

  5. #5 Sávon
    January 14, 2008

    Also in Sweden there are investigations on the genes of horses in old graves, to see were they come from. Agriculture… etc. And at the same time they look also at the people in the graves. They check their mtDNA and Y haplogroups, and different genetic markers which they can compare with living peoples.
    I think it is very interesting. Why cannot we be of different origin geographically, looked through the genes.
    Placenames can be explained, many other things. Cultural traits, exchange, it is to be rich, to be different or same, as a special group of people, different histories, or same? I think it is nice in a way because we do ALL have the same roots, we come from the very same people in the beginning.

    Of course there is a danger. Rasism!!! I saw a horrible example on that yesterday on the net, but that person had not any knowledge about genetics, it was only the old bad photos taken of my people that she had hanged out. Photos taken to show racial types. http://www.panaryan.com/forum/showthread.php?t=443 Isn´t this forbidden by the way??? ( Martin you can take away the address if you think it is unethical)

    Now I have not visited Razib, so I cannot say anything about his studies.

  6. #6 razib
    January 14, 2008
  7. #7 Martin R
    January 14, 2008

    Lassi, are you saying that a person can’t be trusted to tell you their ethnicity accurately unless they’re well educated!? The etymology of “Swede” is “us”, “ourselves”. Education was mean and lean in our parts back in the 1st Millennium.

    Saying that “the people with the best tech spoke Slavic and so a former Finnic area became Slavicised” doesn’t really explain anything. Why did the Slavic-speakers choose to hold on to their language in the new area? Why didn’t the Finnic speakers adopt the new better tech and keep their language? Genetics show that the Slavic speakers certainly didn’t exterminate the people they encountered in NW Russia.

    Bob, I think it’s a great idea to do genetic studies of early crops and livestock. However, I think you’d be introducing an enormous set of unknowns if you tried to map the expansion of farming tech by looking at the genetics of people.

    Savon, there are a lot of racist morons on the net. I’d be very surprised if any Aard reader became one by following that link.

  8. #8 Mattias Niord
    January 14, 2008

    Well, send the genetics my way and they will have a hell on Earth! My mother is from Tornedalen, a “kvaen” (dear God I hate that neo-ethnoterm) her father was also a Tornedaling traced back to the 16th century so you do not get more ethnic than that. But her mother was north finnish, and there are at least two saami families that have woven in and out of the family history. Does that make my grandpa a mixed breed?
    On the contrary, no matter what genetics may say, this is a pattern of intermarriage between saami and finnish speaking groups in the area. I do not know if this would mess things up for the genetics, but there must be a true mixture. Yet culturally, there is a difference, yet about 100-200 years ago, the cultural border could be traversed and sometimes it only took a change of clothes and some reindeer to make a man a saami who would previously have been labled “settler” by the authorities.

    Now that was only my northern half, my father is Halläning, and his family have been living as farmers in Halland since a long time. And Halland was danish up until 1645, does that makes them danes still in genetic terms? For they surely are not culturally.
    For all their large scale trends, there will always be smaller patterns that will complicate the structure.
    People X did never just move in and chase away people Y. In many way, the genetic is an interesting base of knowledge, but they can only paint in very broad strokes.

    Personally, I am more interested if they could analyse patterns on a local basis and not just this grand scale stuff.

    The crops and animal study would be VERY interesting. Some have been made, for example on the sheeps. The sheeps might be the single most important farm animal whose history I and probably others, would really want to know more about.
    Even if my dreams of becoming a “real” researching animal osteologist is buried, I cannot say I lack ideas. It is just that I do not bother with trying to become a PHD anymore. Too many and my interests seems always to be too early, since I want to study stuff others have not even considered.
    But give us more sheep genetics! I want to know all about Shauns ancestors!

    But contrary to Martin, I am somewhat more soft, despite my training in what may be the most “science” oriented discipline of archaeology in Sweden. I am a sucker for cross-science studies, since one single field feels to restricted for me so that Etruscan stuff go me going.

    I think, despite the rather shaky account about the etruscans history prior to coming to Tuscany, it ones more shows that one should never dismiss legends like we are so wont to do. People tend always to forget Schliemann who found what he did because he gave the legends a chance.
    Whatever happened during the end of the Bronze age in the eastern mediterran area, of which the memories of the Trojan war is most likely a part, it created a memory that still lives on.
    There is also a stele on a greek Island, I do not remember which at present, that is written in an unknown language, but that language is very close to the otherwise strangely unrelated etruscan one. A last remant of a diaspora moving westward? Yeah, I know, nothing solid. But that is the thing. If you want to learn new stuff, you must dare to search for more. Since we are here moving in a proto-historic time, it makes everything even more interesting. Could we really find evidence for such a diaspora, that lead the etruscans to Italy and gave us nice smiling couples in clay, merry frescoes and still blesses us with an excellent kitchen?

    Anyway, Troy may be excavated too much to early to answer all this, but maybe there is still hope of finds form there that could help out.

    Another intriguing thing about this is that it points to a “hostile takeover” of another groups cultural birth myth. The romans wanted to create their own distinct cultural history, and having conquered the etruscans, it set them up for an exellent option to maybe transfer the etruscan myth to the romans and the City of Rome. Aeneas would have been pretty far of, even when compared to the founder heroes, Romulus and Remus. Can it be that the Aeneid contains material from two separate cultural myths, shamelessly put together to bring more glory to mighty Rome.
    For however one look at it, having a noble prince from a faraway land as your “real” founder, seems a bit nicer than a bunch of ragtag bandit chieftains!

    So I would say the results are VERY interesting when put into context.

  9. #9 razib
    January 14, 2008

    Saying that “the people with the best tech spoke Slavic and so a former Finnic area became Slavicised” doesn’t really explain anything. Why did the Slavic-speakers choose to hold on to their language in the new area? Why didn’t the Finnic speakers adopt the new better tech and keep their language?

    lassi wasn’t offering ultimate solutions, he was offering proximate explanations to explain the genetic data. it’s describe the physiology of fertilization, but then you responding “well, that doesn’t explain why people have sex in the first place.” you wouldn’t be asking these questions if it wasn’t for genetics. at least in the way you are asking. you could just say that everyone stayed home and the culture moved. so the genes do tell you things insofar as they allow you to ask better and narrower questions. for those secondary questions, you need to look at sociolinguistics and cultural anthropology. people are conservative. there’s plenty of data that they’ll hold onto ‘traditions’ for longer than is ‘rational.’ the slavs who cleared the northern forest weren’t being ‘rational,’ they were doing what had become ‘traditional.’

    However, I think you’d be introducing an enormous set of unknowns if you tried to map the expansion of farming tech by looking at the genetics of people.

    what unknowns? just curious, it isn’t like genetics is moving into solid state physics here, archaeology and prehistorical studies already are swarmed with unknowns. the key is do the unknowns added exceed the unknowns removed.

  10. #10 John Emerson
    January 14, 2008

    I have an interest in the border between prehistory and history, which overlaps with the history of the frontier of civilization. What the written records say about any given frontier people is almost always sketchy and inconsistent, but by comparing records from various sources it’s often possible to narrow the possibilities down a great deal.

    After that, archaeology helps a lot, since it can document the historical movement of new culture into a given area (granted that sometimes archaeology only documents changes in the artifact mix, caused by trade). Even with all this, however, it’s often difficult to tell what happened exactly. (The Goths on the border of the Roman empire, as studied by Heather and Wolfram, are good examples of what archaeology and history working together can do. Archeology has tremendously changed what we learned from the written reports).

    To traditional archaeology, genetic archaeology adds the possibility of understanding what happened in cases of cultural change: was it the migration of a people, or was it mostly just the diffusion of artifacts, technologies, and social forms? If it was a migration, was it a mass migration replacing most of the original inhabitants, or was it just conquest by a ruling group who formed the elite of the new society?
    Recent postings at GNXP have confirmed exactly the point you make: language group does not mean gene-pool. The case is Britain, where results seem to say (subject to criticism) that the present British are descended more than anything from the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Britain (possibly the Stonehenge builders), with the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Norse, and Romans contributing genes in approximately that order. This argues that all of the conquests of England were primarily elite-substitution, rather than the simple displacement or massacre of the local populations.

    As for the specific post you criticized: maybe Razib should just have said “Because of the place names, and for other reasons, we know that considerable areas now inhabited by Slavic speakers were once inhabited by Finnic speakers. What happened?” But much of what he said could have remained the same.

    just don’t find it very interesting that this confirms statements in a poor historical source. My job isn’t to evaluate proto-historic written sources.

    Since I’m a historian, I am unable to understand why you feel that way. I have been aware for some time that archaeologists are proud of their refusal to try to work with historians, but I thought that was changing, and I certainly have been able to think of any good reason why they should feel this way. (K.C. Chang, who did not honor the taboo in his writings on China, commented on this decades ago.)

  11. #11 razib
    January 14, 2008

    Genetic evidence is very weighty, but it isn’t all powerful. We modern Finns still speak an Eastern European language, but genetically we are 3/4 Western.

    there’s an easy model which explains this. imagine if you will that finns were a hunter-gatherer tribe with a particular set of gene frequencies. as agriculture spread population density increased and migration between tribes increased with the swapping of wives. so you could have finnic and non-finnic peoples trading wives a bit each generation. the children of the non-finnic wives would grow up speaking finnish because they would be raised in that culture, but they would have half non-finnic genes. over generations you could replace all the original genes and still retain the same culture if the population sizes were imbalanced. if you assume that there were more germanic speaking tribes and very few finns the germans would not be much influenced by finnish wives but the reverse would have a stronger impact on finns. an easy way to explore this dynamic is simply compare mtDNA to Y lineages, female and male lines respectively. in most adjacent populations the former show less between group difference than the the latter, implying that men were more likely to stay in their natal group than women (on average).

  12. #12 windy
    January 14, 2008

    Genetics show that the Slavic speakers certainly didn’t exterminate the people they encountered in NW Russia.

    Doesn’t this statement carry the same kind of assumptions that you criticize others for? You say that some genetically identifiable “Slavic speakers” as a group moved into a new area and “encountered” some people that belonged to a different group and assimilated all or a part of them. That’s exactly what we have been discussing, and the new study only adds some detail to the overwhelmingly most probable model. “Slavs” is only shorthand for “a bunch of Slavic speakers who tended to have certain genetic markers more often than not”, not some platonic ideal of a Slav.

  13. #13 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 15, 2008

    “Lassi, are you saying that a person can’t be trusted to tell you their ethnicity accurately unless they’re well educated!?”

    Yes, but education should be taken in the context of the times. There have always been people who think themselves something special that majority doesn’t accept. Typically they are religious cults, but there are also political motives. For a modern example think about the Nazis and their self-identification as Aryans.

    “Why did the Slavic-speakers choose to hold on to their language in the new area? Why didn’t the Finnic speakers adopt the new better tech and keep their language?”

    The new technology comes with a new vocabulary, which is a bias toward the language of the invaders. Whether the old or the new language prevails depends on many things. Modern Finnish is an example of the old one surviving. The war axe culture that brought systematic agriculture to Finland was assimilated by the old population. Only their terminology remains.

    One important thing to remember is that agriculture comes in many forms. It started as animal husbandry. More developed phases were producing and storing food and fodder for the winter, working the land to provide better growing opportunities for preferred plants, and eventually all the trouble of collecting seeds, storing them through the winter, and tilling them in the spring to a cleared field. The Finns certainly knew the earlier phases, as evidenced by common vocabulary across several languages. The Slavs must have been better at the latter, which also have the highest number of new terms. (I’m somewhat waving my hands here…)

    One more factor is logistics. The war axe culture probably arrived to Finland by small boats, whereas the Slavs spread to Russia by land, which allowed larger groups and easier access back to previous home. They probably lived in the larger communities that their agriculture could support. Their own language was used there, and any Finns who wanted to get along had to learn the language of the village. In the long run the population became mixed, but the language remained Slavic, because at any given moment in time it was the language of the majority.

  14. #14 razib
    January 15, 2008

    In the long run the population became mixed, but the language remained Slavic, because at any given moment in time it was the language of the majority.

    the genetic data shows that in england there is a cline where in east anglia a substantial proportion of the population’s genes has closer relatedness to the dutch and germans than it does to the welsh or irish. this fraction is probably a good proxy for relatively recent ancestry and admixture event. this proportion declines to almost nothing as one moves west, so across vast swaths of england there is only a small suggestion of germanic genetic impact despite total dominance of germanic speech. and, the most interesting point is that english is notorious for having very little influence from any celtic tongues. this is one reason that earlier historians accepted the model that the english were primarily or wholly descendants of german invaders, since one would presume that germanicized celts would at least have some influence on the language. i only bring this up because one model which might explain this peculiar disjunction would be halting progress of the german tongue from region to region, so that by the time another expansionary period occurred the new ‘germans’ totally dominated celtic minorities. i put germans in quotes because it may be that they would be predominantly descended from celts themselves….

  15. #15 Sávon
    January 15, 2008

    Martin wrote: “Savon, there are a lot of racist morons on the net. I’d be very surprised if any Aard reader became one by following that link.”
    God, I hate this kind of dismissing answers!

    Martin is in my opinion a man who denies women as equals, he denies saamis as a people in their own right. I´m sure he will also deny that “the swedes” colonialised our part of Fennoskandia. He is a part of a gang archaeologists who think they have all the right to the history. It is their, they own it, and God help the one who tries to take part in it. They follow the OLD rules of their “masters”. They write with disgust about the “processual” theory of archaeology, were they lump together feminism, marxism, antifascist movements and so on. Martin call his way to be a sceptic. I think it is contrary to sceptic.

  16. #16 Sávon
    January 15, 2008

    I wrote “processuell” archaeology, I mean of course “post-processuell” archaeology.

  17. #17 razib
    January 15, 2008

    Martin is in my opinion a man who denies women as equals, he denies saamis as a people in their own right.

    wow. talk about interpretation! down with white skin privilege!!!!

  18. #18 Felicia Gilljam
    January 15, 2008

    Martin is in my opinion a man who denies women as equals, he denies saamis as a people in their own right.

    The key phrase here is “in my opinion”. See, Sávon, whether Martin is a male chauvinist pig isn’t a matter of opinion. Either he is or he isn’t. Personally, I think the notion is preposterous, and that makes it very difficult to take the rest of your rather confused statement seriously. No one owns history, and no one can change it. What happened happened and it’s the JOB of archaeologists to try to figure out exactly what that was. If you don’t like their conclusions – the conclusions of the experts in the field – how does that make you different from for instance young earth creationists?

  19. #19 ArchAsa
    January 15, 2008

    While I may not quite so hard-nosed scientific an archaeologist as Martin, we do share a lot of common ground on these issues. I belive good geneteic and isotopic analysis of prehistoric bones can be an increadibly important source of information – the whole thing just rests upon the fact that no facts are self evident, they are always interpreted.

    The big problem often lies with scientists and linguists with an extremely poor understanding of prehistory in general and archaeological methods especially. Most often they fall in the trap Martin has outlined here. They believe there acually existed (exists) essential, true “peoples”, in many respects not that different from the old theories on race, i.e. biological. Not calling it race does not mean there is not serious problems with that model. Most seem to have a hazy view of the far, far Stone Age as a place with all these little separate and isolated units moving about. Contact and intermingling only started happening in historic times. Nothing can be further from the truth.

    Not only is it biologically imperative that all these small units exchanged marriage partners, but anthropology shows us that many societies actively chose partners from other linguistic and ethnic groups. To create networks, find allies, prevent strife etc. So looking at genetic make up and seeing a “mix” of people – which really just is the presence of certain genes more common in certain areas, tells us very little. Material culture has usually already shown extensive and long lasting networks between far off regions.

    Is the child of a slav and a finn, a slav or a finn? It depends on place of residence, language and upbringing at home, personal conviction. Not genetics. Slavs, like all other peoples, have no “origin”, no moment when they sprang from the earth fully formed and genetically distinct from all others. They have existence as long as that term has any relevance for the living members of the group. Same with swedes. There has always been mixing and intermarriage. In some cases the decendents took one cultural identity, or another. In some cases new cultural identities came to be due to religious, ideological, political or social circumstances. Identity is grounded into our very bodies from birth, not something easily shed just because we feel like it. Customs, movements, language, attitudes. It might be a very neurological and cognitive phenomenon, but it is not genetic

    Asa Larsson – swede. Father born in France with a french father, whose father in turn came from Spanish and possibly Basque stock. No matter how much I try, I just can’t be “exuberant and mediterranean”…

  20. #20 razib
    January 15, 2008

    *sigh*

    Not only is it biologically imperative that all these small units exchanged marriage partners, but anthropology shows us that many societies actively chose partners from other linguistic and ethnic groups.

    anthropology suggests something, but geneticists can quantify it (see here). you’re caricatures of the scholars in the fields which you speak of are laughable, and certainly most human geneticists aren’t so ignorant of gene flow as you presume. gene flow is one of the primary parameters in any population genetic model, and a major derived conclusion is that 1 migrant per generation results in equilibration of allele frequencies across populations subject purely to drift.

    some of you anthropologists should really engage in field research among geneticists or do a quick survey of the literature before you engage in your stereotyping. it’s tiresome. and i really do think that the geneticists need your help in clarifying their inferences, but from what i can tell many of you are happy to muddy the issue and reject any new tools.

    as windy pointed out above martin had no issues using terms like ‘slav.’ i assume he presumes that he has a subtler grasp of such definitions than geneticists, but perhaps you all should give other scholars the benefit of the doubt that they’re pragmatic instrumentalists and not essentialists. as a point of fact modern evolutionary biology as a field was predicated on the rejection of essentialism in favor of population thinking, so the accusation is a bit much.

  21. #21 razib
    January 15, 2008

    They believe there acually existed (exists) essential, true “peoples”, in many respects not that different from the old theories on race, i.e. biological.

    by the way, that’s totally false. only 96 year old german ‘physical anthropologists’ might believe this. this accusation that a geneticist would believe in true peoples is as plausible as a medical doctor accepting the possibility of healing spells. from reading your & martin’s posts it’s pretty clear that you firmly reject race science as it was practiced up to the 1940s. that great! so do modern geneticists! but stop interpreting modern geneticists through your interpretative lens, there’s a lot of work to be done (a fair amount occurs at the max planck institute actually).

  22. #22 Jonathan Jarrett
    January 15, 2008

    It’s always dangerous for an Englishman to join in debates in which accusations of cultural imperialism are being thrown around. But I just note that the assumptions which Western European early medievalists are now using about ethnicity involve these planks, some of which seem relevant:

    1. there is a disconnect which we cannot often resolve between the names that we give ethnicities (derived from Classical and medieval sources often as not) and any consistent biological or material-cultural strand that can be detected in DNA or archaeology
    2. material culture, being portable, can be adopted by anyone, and without DNA evidence doesn’t therefore tell us anything about population movement; as someone observed above, it could be that the populations, bar traders, remained in place, and only material cultures or indeed loan-words moved
    3. self-identification of ethnicity is a political statement, particularly in a world like the medieval one where everyday understanding of the world is racialist: e. g. Byzantines saying Franks are all treacherous, Romans saying Gauls are all overgrown brutes, whatever
    4. language is not a guide to ethnicity either because we can learn new ones and forget old ones, especially over generations
    5. any biologically consistent population could pretty much disappear in three generations of determined intermarriage and a new one be created which had a choice of ‘political’ identification; how do we separate the many Franks who moved to Italy in the ninth century from those who still called themselves Lombards in the twelfth, and so on?

    Basically, at the moment we early medieval historians are having trouble making the word `ethnicity’ mean anything other than `a claimed culture’, and then we get to argue about who is making the claim, the source, its subject, or the scholar studying it.

    Meanwhile DNA researches and skeletal study, which might actually take us back to questions of biological ancestry, are nothing like as precise as pop media would have us believe. Once you get into the actual methodology, except in very rare cases like the Cohen gene analysis, which might be ‘harder’ but is obviously very political, the associations are based on tiny margins of significance in correlations–not clear links but likelihoods, and those often so small that any physicist or chemist would dismiss the data as unusable. The interpretation of such evidence becomes the key to its significance, similarly to archaeology, where the evidence is usually undeniable, but its meaning is open to debate.

    Because there are so many problems with ethnicity-based studies, therefore, my personal tendency is to assume when I see that someone has done one, that they are happier than I would be to play fast-and-loose with the interpretation of their sources, otherwise they simply wouldn’t have the basis to say anything at all. There are many more useful categories of analysis than ethnicity.

  23. #23 windy
    January 15, 2008

    Is the child of a slav and a finn, a slav or a finn? It depends on place of residence, language and upbringing at home, personal conviction. Not genetics.

    You need to turn the inference around. The genetics of the child will depend on whether its parents were finn, slav, or both, since those groups have slightly different allele frequencies in some genes and markers.

    Slavs, like all other peoples, have no “origin”, no moment when they sprang from the earth fully formed and genetically distinct from all others.

    Neither do species. Yet there was this guy once who wrote a book called “The origin of species”….

  24. #24 Sávon
    January 15, 2008

    Felicia Giljam wrotes: “See, Sávon, whether Martin is a male chauvinist pig isn’t a matter of opinion. Either he is or he isn’t. Personally, I think the notion is preposterous, and that makes it very difficult to take the rest of your rather confused statement seriously. No one owns history, and no one can change it.”

    I dont care what YOU think about having opinions. And you don´t have to take me seriously, I have my own will(to have opinions) and I decide for myself.
    I am a saami whatever you say, and whats more, I have the right to be it. I own my history, my people owns its history, even if swedish so called scientists (they had the “consensus” from 19th cent. – 1950 ca)) tries to forbid us, or at least by beeing wellmeaning (now) hinder us from having an identity different from let say “the Swedes”.

    And yes, MY OPINION is that by the way Martin answers my comments on his blogg he is either a man who thinks women are(I am a woman) of lower value or saamis are (I am a saami). Or it can´t be that I personally am of lower value? I don´t have the honour to have met Martin…Choose!!!

    And read also what other things I wrote!!

  25. #25 windy
    January 15, 2008

    The war axe culture that brought systematic agriculture to Finland was assimilated by the old population. Only their terminology remains.

    Lassi, the war axe culture as the “Baltic contact” of proto-Finnish is apparently questionable. Here’s a linguistic POW that seems quite interesting (“On the absolute chronology of proto-languages of Finnish.”, in Finnish)

    Ironically wrt to this discussion, the author writes:

    “…just as the dating of the Battle Axe culture is a question for archaeology, the dating of proto-Baltic is a question for historical linguistics; therefore, it’s conspicuous that while historical linguists wouldn’t dream of claiming a later date for the Battle Axe culture, archaeologists have not hesitated to date proto-Baltic as concurrent with the Battle Axe culture. The reason is naturally that, although linguists know that archaeological dates [based on carbon dating] are scientific facts, archaeologists believe that linguistic dates are mere guesses!”

    -> Who are the meanie scientists making assumptions about humanistic fields now? ;)

    One important thing to remember is that agriculture comes in many forms. It started as animal husbandry. More developed phases were producing and storing food and fodder for the winter, working the land to provide better growing opportunities for preferred plants, and eventually all the trouble of collecting seeds, storing them through the winter, and tilling them in the spring to a cleared field. The Finns certainly knew the earlier phases, as evidenced by common vocabulary across several languages. The Slavs must have been better at the latter, which also have the highest number of new terms. (I’m somewhat waving my hands here…)

    Whoa, there… All of those stages were passed in the Fertile crescent long before agriculture came to N Europe. Do you think working the land in Bronze Age Finland would have been useful without the knowledge of storing and sowing the seeds of non-native plants? I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes (or tuohivirsut) of that farmer, anyway! And do you have any evidence that Slavic is rich in farming-related terms and that neighbouring Finnic languages would have adopted these terms? (OK, you may now resume hand-waving ;)

  26. #26 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 15, 2008

    windy,

    thanks for the link. I haven’t been paying much attention to the latest developments. Most of my comments have been based on the book “9000 years of Finnish prehistory” by Matti Huurre (5th ed, 1995). After the speculative book by Kalevi Wiik I lost my interest in linguistics for a long time…

    I still respect scientific timings more than linguistic ones. It is hard to believe that development of languages or cultures would progress at a predictable speed. The further you go in history, the wider the timing bracket grows. Linguistic timings can be credible in relativistic terms, but absolute timings need archeology and scientific dates (carbon or dendrochronology).

    Do you think working the land in Bronze Age Finland would have been useful without the knowledge of storing and sowing the seeds of non-native plants?

    Yes, of course. The first “fields” were probably growing native plants, like berries for humans or hay for cattle. It wasn’t possible to grow cereals for humans in N Europe, because the climate was too cold. Only development of cold tolerating cultivars has made it possible in some parts of Scandinavia so far, and they took centuries to refine. As late as in 20th century Trofim Lysenko tried to bypass evolution with forced shortcuts, and we know how his “achievements” are respected today.

    So the things that had been developed in the Fertile Crescent couldn’t be used as such. Even if the basic ideas had been heard from fur traders, local innovations were still needed to make them work.

  27. #27 Sávon
    January 15, 2008

    In Sweden it is not accepted to be different. Here we all have to be the same. It is the same thing among young or old people. And age-classes. Behave! Fashion, nearly everyone belonging to a special group have same clothes.
    It was different in US, were i lived for some years earlier. And I think it is different in England. I think that this use of genetic analyses is more admitted there.

    http://www.rootsforreal.com/english/The%20Scotsman%20-%20S2%
    20Wednesday%20-%20Meet%20the%20family.htm

  28. #29 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Mattias, to me the Aeneid is good art and bad history.

    Razib: “what unknowns?”. The genetic traits of a well-dated crop or livestock species are 100% relevant to the history of agriculture. The genetic traits of people in that area are not.

    John E: you misunderstand me. I am very happy to help evaluate good historical sources, for instance in my work with the 16th-17th century harbour at Djurhamn. Nothing I can contribute can however make a good source out of a poor proto-historical one. The Lydian genes found in Tuscany do not tell us that Herodotus had any good reason to say what he said about the Etruscans’ origins.

  29. #30 John Emerson
    January 15, 2008

    I don’t think I misunderstand you at all. You are saying that you know somehow that Herodotus was absolutely worthless and for that reason you will ignore him.

    Archaeologists gave been playing your game forever, much to their shame. For large areas of history our only sources are of the Herodotean type — semi-legendary. Critically read, they can be useful. Heather and Wolfram, whom I mention, did an excellent job on the Goths.

    Herodotus’ reputation has gone up and down repeatedly during the last 2000 years, and your evaluation is at the far extreme of the range of opinion. Many of those who denigrated his work did so for the wrong motives. The most reasonable conclusion is that he is to be read critically, like any other source.

  30. #31 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Windy: “Doesn’t this statement carry the same kind of assumptions that you criticize others for?” No, I’m just saying that Slavic speakers arrived into an area where there were already people, which is AFAIK uncontroversial with or without genetics. I said nothing about the number of Slavic-speaking ethnic groups, about their interrelationships nor about their tech. As I hope my blog entry shows, I believe that “Slavic speaker” is a very different kind of category than “Slav”.

    Lassi: the Battle Axe Culture is entirely prehistoric and nothing can ever be known about its language affinities. You are not alone among Finns in having antiquated beliefs in this area, though. I’ve come across highly remarkable statements on the subject from senior Finnish archaeologists in recent years.

  31. #32 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    John E: I’m not saying that I know that Herodotus is worthless. I’m saying that he is unlikely to have known much about things widely separated from him in space and time, and that in order to use him on such matters you need confirmation from higher-quality sources. I do support a rather strict form of source-criticism in historical research, and recently described here what I mean by a good historical source.

  32. #33 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Savon, if it can make you any happier, let me state that I do not believe that Saami ethnicity is any more fictitious than anybody elses’, and that I picked up much of my feministic opinions from my first wife who had been a red-stocking radical in the 1970s.

  33. #34 razib
    January 15, 2008

    Razib: “what unknowns?”. The genetic traits of a well-dated crop or livestock species are 100% relevant to the history of agriculture. The genetic traits of people in that area are not.

    two points

    1) the angle i’m focusing on are the movement of genes which imply lines of descent. this is a totally different that what you’re implying, again, suggesting that simply aren’t characterizing my position correctly.

    2) as a point of fact, your second contention is actually false. it seems likely now that that is false, e.g., ability to digest carbs varies on average across cultures and tracks how long they’ve been agricultural (if at all). an even better example is lactase persistence and ancient DNA, genetics tells us that germans 7,000 years ago probably weren’t lactose tolerant though all germans are today. that has something to do with the style of agriculture extant in the area (i assume you find none of this ‘interesting’).

    . As I hope my blog entry shows, I believe that “Slavic speaker” is a very different kind of category than “Slav”.

    jesus. you can substitute “slavic speaker” throughout my whole post if you want, as windy suggested that’s what i mean.

    , the associations are based on tiny margins of significance in correlations–not clear links but likelihoods, and those often so small that any physicist or chemist would dismiss the data as unusable.

    what does ‘tiny margins of significance’ mean? this is science, most people have to submit within p-values of 0.05. the prose there doesn’t suggest you even understand what sort of research people are doing, though perhaps it is a language barrier.

  34. #35 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    I’m afraid you’d have to get really lucky to find the carbs & lactase genes in snippets of ancient DNA.

    It pleases me that I have had the opportunity to teach you that humanities scholars mean very different things by ethnic and linguistic terms, however similar. This knowledge will make it considerably easier for you to get your points across to such people if you want to.

  35. #36 gcochran
    January 15, 2008

    ” I’m afraid you’d have to get really lucky to find the carbs & lactase genes in snippets of ancient DNA.”

    As for lactase, it’s already been done. You’re behind the times, man.

  36. #37 razib
    January 15, 2008

    I’m afraid you’d have to get really lucky to find the carbs & lactase genes in snippets of ancient DNA.

    this has been done! it was at the link which i provided (you don’t think i do that for fun do you?).

  37. #38 razib
    January 15, 2008

    I’m afraid you’d have to get really lucky to find the carbs & lactase genes in snippets of ancient DNA.

    and this sort of assertion implies you’re absolutely ignorant of the advances in extracting ancient DNA. whether this is because archaeologists are too narrow in their focus or geneticists don’t engage in enough evangelization at the increase in efficiency of their techniques,i can’t say.

  38. #39 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Yes, it’s been done for an individual somewhere, which means that someone got lucky. Ancient DNA is usually very poorly preserved, so the chance of finding that gene is small even if the individual you’re looking at had it originally.

  39. #40 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    I don’t claim detailed knowledge of the field of ancient DNA, but I was at the same department as Kerstin Liden and Anders Gotherstrom until a few years ago and learned quite a bit.

  40. #41 razib
    January 15, 2008

    Yes, it’s been done for an individual somewhere, which means that someone got lucky. Ancient DNA is usually very poorly preserved, so the chance of finding that gene is small even if the individual you’re looking at had it originally.

    you know what a statistically representative sample is. why are you arguing this???

  41. #42 razib
    January 15, 2008

    until a few years ago and learned quite a bit.

    in genomics that’s ages. researchers have been extracting samples from neandertals.

  42. #43 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Why am I arguing that? Because unless I’m badly mistaken, genetic studies of e.g. lactose tolerance via ancient DNA are still on the scale of twenty individuals from three cemeteries in an entire country. Not very good for representativity.

  43. #44 razib
    January 15, 2008

    no, they were from several countries
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/10/3736

    the important point is that ~90% of northern europeans carry an allele which didn’t show up in any of the extracted remains. they all had the non-derived form.

  44. #45 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Well, divide that sample by the number of countries and you’ll see that there are very few data for individual areas.

    I should probably explain something again that I’ve written here now and then. Archaeology is not one discipline. It is a kaleidoscopic cluster of weakly interlinked regional disciplines. My work in southern Sweden is largely irrelevant to colleagues in northern Sweden, and entirely irrelevant to colleagues in Japan. This means that the scale level you’re discussing is very thinly populated by archaeologists. Most of us are sitting in dirty pits way down on a more local level.

  45. #46 razib
    January 15, 2008

    Well, divide that sample by the number of countries and you’ll see that there are very few data for individual areas.

    yes, i see that. but again, as i stated, an allele which is extant at proportion of 0.90 is nowhere to be found in these samples. you don’t need large N’s to reject a null when the difference is so great.

    This means that the scale level you’re discussing is very thinly populated by archaeologists. Most of us are sitting in dirty pits way down on a more local level.

    that’s fine, but then i don’t see why you even took time out to engage in a critique/discussion. if you’re not interested in the large scale or “big picture” questions your only role is assemble more facts for who are interested in generating bigger hypothesis (aside from pointing out when people are misrepresenting or cherry picking your specialty). more specifically i also don’t see what relevance general social anthropological theories have either.

  46. #47 Martin R
    January 15, 2008

    Razib, you talked about the archaeological past in an outdated essentialist terminology that would get you kicked out of grad school at archaeology departments all over the Western world. That’s why I bothered to engage.

    My job is neither to draw the big picture of world prehistory nor to collect data for those who try to do so. My job is to find out what life was like for real people in certain regions during certain eras of the past. Archaeology doesn’t look for general global patterns, it doesn’t try to find the “laws of culture”. We’re like historians in the sense that we reconstruct specific situations in the past. Knowledge about Napoleon won’t help you understand Alexander.

    Archaeology went through a brief period in the 60s and 70s when some people did look for general laws. They failed. Because the generalities of human existence are banal.

  47. #48 Mattias Niord
    January 15, 2008

    Martin, so you say we should not bother with the fact that the Lydian DNA in the Etruscan area corresponds with Herodotos statements and in a turnaround way with the “Aeneid”.
    I would say the Aeneid is a nice story but crap history too, BUT it the idea of a Lydian connection, hinted by two sources, Herodotos and DNA, and to some extent the stele in the Aegean that I mentioned, is interesting.
    The Aeneid does not belong here, for whatever source it had, it might just have been a rip-off and modification of ideas stolen form Herodotos.

    But Herodotos is rather vindicated today. Sure, modern source critizism is not really his game, but as far as we know, Herodotos did not deliberately lie. He has been said to have been a rather keen etnologist, but may not always have understood what he saw or heard. But he was a greek in foreign lands. I bet the Egyptian had loads of fun telling their stories to him…
    Anyway, if he wrote that about the Etruscans, he probably heard it form an Etruscan. Now, I better go borrow Herodotos and seek that out.

    Anyway, I cannot really see why you dismissed my suggestions with that odd quote. It does not really feel like the Martin I once knew. Two different sources indicate the same thing. Even if they taken for themselves are not saying that much, it is still interesting. The etruscans have troubled classicals for a long time. Why do you think you know better and that the lydian DNA and Herodotos comments are irrelevant. Personally, I think the fact that the Aeneid states that Romans came form Troy is one of the earliest documented history or “identity” thefts. A sign of Romes “hostile takeover” of the Etruscan culture.

    Now, I would have loved to debate this with you face to face sometime, but I guess it will not be in the near future.

    But Savon, Martin is not a saamihater or a male chauvinist. Quite the contrary. Had he been, he would have strangled me as the mixedbreed I am when I worked for him. He is just, very strict.
    He just does not think that having a certain historical ethnicity gives you special rights in the modern world. After all, “ethnic” hatred can turn very ugly. But as coming from north Sweden, I can understand your view and why you feel and think like you do. But I cannot help to belive you simply speak past each other.

    Martin is not a swede in the same sense as you feel you are saami, or even in the sense that I feel that I am tornedaling (I refuse the term kvaen, since it has been grossly misused and sullied by modern person as a weapon against the saamis. And it is also an outside ethnical label, like Sioux or eskimo).
    As far as I know, Martin is more of a “citizen of the world” who sees persons first and culture later.

    Sorry for stealing your blogg for this more narrow subject, Martin.

  48. #49 John Emerson
    January 15, 2008

    My work in southern Sweden is largely irrelevant to colleagues in northern Sweden, and entirely irrelevant to colleagues in Japan.

    Sounds like excessively narrowly-defined archaeology. I don’t keep up on the field, but I’m aware that many departments enforce cripplingly narrow definitions of how the work is to be done. I’m always grateful for an archaeologist who doesn’t, and they seem to be more common in recent decades.

    If I’m not mistaken, there were three sources on the Etruscans: Herodotus, human DNA, and bovine DNA. Based on surviving inscriptions it’s also been suspected for a long time that Etruscan was not an Italic language.

  49. #50 windy
    January 15, 2008

    …on the scale of twenty individuals from three cemeteries in an entire country. Not very good for representativity.

    One sword from one location must be quite useless then…

  50. #51 Steve Sailer
    January 15, 2008

    May I suggest definitions for “race” and “ethnicity” that I’ve found useful:

    A racial group is a partly inbred extended biological family.

    An ethnic group is a group of people who share traits that are frequently passed down within biological families, but that don’t have to be — such as language, religion, cuisine, surnames, mythical heroes, customs, and so forth.

    Not surprisingly, therefore, race and ethnicity often overlap, but by no means always.

    These definitions provide formal versions of the distinctions between race and ethnicity used in the U.S. Census, where whites, blacks, and even Guamanian/Chamorros are races, but Hispanic is an ethnicity whose members can be of any race.

  51. #52 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 16, 2008

    Lassi: the Battle Axe Culture is entirely prehistoric and nothing can ever be known about its language affinities.

    Never say never. The hypothesis suggested by archeologists is that the Battle Axe appeared in Finland at the same time as agriculture and the Baltic substratum of agricultural words. That would be the smoking gun: the Battle Axe spoke Baltian. Not even the linguists deny that. So you can know things about language affinities without having samples of the language.

    But the linguists (at least the one windy linked to) don’t agree with the timing. They claim that the Baltic substratum cannot be that early. That doesn’t mean that the Battle Axe weren’t Baltian, only that it cannot be proved by their influence in Finnish.

    If the timings don’t match, it would be interesting to know what substratum they left. They were dominant for almost a millennium before being absorbed, so they must have left a trace into the language. And then we could again conclude something about their affiliations.

  52. #53 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    Matti, you Hallandic noaidie: I’m sure Herodotus is full of useful historical information about such things that he knew well, and that his writings are also a really good read. However, what’s interesting with the Lydian genes in Tuscany thing is not that it supports something Herodotus said. That’s just comparable to digging a barrow about which 19th century said “there’s a gold wagon inside it”, and then finding an undisturbed wagon burial. A source-critically poor historical text does not become source-critically strong if a few details in it are confirmed by archaeology. Cf. the Bible.

    As for the “enigma of the Etruscans”, that’s no longer an issue. The thing that has had scholars scratching their heads is the Etruscan language, which appears as isolated as Basque and Sumerian (though there is very little text to go on). Consensus says that it’s probably a remnant of a varied pre-IE substrate (cf. the linguistic bedquilt of tribal New Guinea). And this consensus still stands, even if the new genetic results can be taken to mean that Etruscan was originally spoken somewhere in Lydia (which is debatable).

    Windy: Yes, we’re lucky to have more than one 16th century sword, not to mention the many 16th century images of swords. And one day the ancient DNA field will hopefully reach comparable or better coverage.

  53. #54 MartinC
    January 16, 2008

    Very interesting debate.
    I’d like to turn the question around a little regarding DNA analysis. In the US there is currently a Presidential election campaign in which one of the candidates believes that a tribe of Israelites traveled by sea a few thousand years ago and were the ancestors of the Native American population. I would suggest that DNA analysis on both the current Native Americans (and current middle east population) and ancient skeletal remains might have made a useful contribution towards the determination of the truth of this story. I think that the Mormons have used traditional archaeological expeditions that try to find remains that confirm their story but perhaps the DNA evidence, at least in this instance, may be the decider. There is also the results of the Icelandic genomic profiles – it looks like the population shows evidence of a founder effect – a bottleneck made up, primarily, of Scandinavian males and Irish females – despite the fact that there has been little contact between the populations for the past thousand years.
    OK, most of that is looking at modern DNA but I would echo what Razib has said about loci such as the Lactose intolerance polymporphism. Recent techniques have brought autosomal loci into the range of analysis, so that we are not restricted to mitochondrial sequences as in the past, and do allow us to look at sequences such as this which is closely linked to cultural (or agricultural) practices or disease susceptibilities. Essentialism is very much a historical notion that has nothing in common with current theories of population genetics but it may be a mistake to dismiss out of hand the potential contribution that genetic analysis of historical remains may make in future. At the very least it might be useful to consider ways of preserving samples such that they can be analyzed by future researchers.

  54. #55 windy
    January 16, 2008

    Yes, we’re lucky to have more than one 16th century sword, not to mention the many 16th century images of swords. And one day the ancient DNA field will hopefully reach comparable or better coverage.

    Move goalposts much? What happened to ‘representativity’ for each ‘location’?

    But this joking is beside the point, since it’s not even necessary to have ancient DNA to date many types of genetic change.

  55. #56 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    We do have many swords for each region, thank you, and also rich contextual information.

    The dating of genetic events (scale of millennia) is still too inexact to make it commensurable with archaeology (scale of half centuries).

  56. #57 razib
    January 16, 2008

    The dating of genetic events (scale of millennia) is still too inexact to make it commensurable with archaeology (scale of half centuries).

    if you increase the sample size of ancient DNA remains then the scale of genetic events is exactly the same as the scale of archaeology events because the former are dated through the latter. we already knew that lactase persistence was a feature of the last 10,000 years, but the extracted samples refined the window and put a lower upper bound on the selection event.

  57. #58 razib
    January 16, 2008

    btw, i really do get the sense that we’re engaging in a “my method is better than your method!” argument. that’s dumb. the point of genetic data is not to supersede or replace current methods, it is to supplement them. that being said, as i suggested via the quote from the etruscan story some archaeologists feel confident rejecting very strong inferences from this data without closer examination from what i can tell. that’s pretty disappointing.

  58. #59 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    Yes, we’ll be happy very to provide dates for this discussion as long as it is informed by currently accepted archaeological theory. But Windy mentioned independent molecular dating of DNA.

  59. #60 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    I personally don’t think our methods are better, or even ours exclusively if you’re speaking of radiocarbon. As for Etruscan matters, you’ll have to ask someone who works in that area. It’s just barely linked to mine through a few rare types of imported goods, so we don’t really talk to each other.

  60. #61 razib
    January 16, 2008

    Windy mentioned independent molecular dating of DNA.

    coalescence. the 95% intervals are usually pretty big though.

  61. #62 razib
    January 16, 2008

    e.g., 4,500 BP +/- 200 to 20,000 BP 95% interval isn’t totally unknown. a number like this though does tell you that a selective event is recent.

  62. #63 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    Yes, I understand. It is very interesting on a global scale. It is however very hard to use on the scale level where most archaeologists work. They are likely to ask, “OK, what does this mean for late-3rd century BC Yorkshire?”

  63. #64 razib
    January 16, 2008

    They are likely to ask, “OK, what does this mean for late-3rd century BC Yorkshire?”

    a question which is coming to be answered through genetics is this: were the people of 10th century AD yorkshire the same people as 4th century AD? that is, were the latter the descendants of the former?

  64. #65 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    Yes, that would be interesting to learn from independent sources. Nobody believes that the population was replaced entirely between those dates. I would personally be interested to learn the difference between male- and female-line heredity in Yorkshire over that time span.

  65. #66 S�von
    January 16, 2008

    From Martin: �My work in southern Sweden is largely irrelevant to colleagues in northern Sweden, and entirely irrelevant to colleagues in Japan.�

    �My job is neither to draw the big picture of world prehistory nor to collect data for those who try to do so. My job is to find out what life was like for real people in certain regions during certain eras of the past. Archaeology doesn’t look for general global patterns, it doesn’t try to find the “laws of culture”.�

    That is too bad opinion in a time when we become more and more international. And more related to each other, also thanks to genetic studies. And northern Fennoskandia and southern do have many things in common archaeologically.

    ——-
    Martin wrote:�Archaeology went through a brief period in the 60s and 70s when some people did look for general laws. They failed.�

    And this is what I wrote earlier about using the term �post-processuell� archaeology .
    —–
    Martin wrote:�Because the generalities of human existence are banal.�

    No, the humans are interesting, that is why we study anthropology, history, archaeology, religion�.
    ——-
    From Martin C: �There is also the results of the Icelandic genomic profiles – it looks like the population shows evidence of a founder effect – a bottleneck made up, primarily, of Scandinavian males and Irish females – despite the fact that there has been little contact between the populations for the past thousand years�

    http://www.slavens.net/dna/niall_results.htm.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_R1b_(Y-DNA)
    http://www.isogg.org/famousdna.htmhttp://www.isogg.org/famousdna.htm
    This can be rather amusing readings.

    ——
    From Mattias Niord: �But Savon, Martin is not a saamihater or a male chauvinist.�

    From Martin: �Savon, if it can make you any happier, let me state that I do not believe that Saami ethnicity is any more fictitious than anybody elses’, and that I picked up much of my feministic opinions from my first wife who had been a red-stocking radical in the 1970s.�

    It is this I see as �patting on my head�. I am more worth than this.

    I�ve also read Anders G�therstr�m, Helena Malmstr�m and some others doctorial thesis, so I know that they have found in a grave in Uppsala area, a man with saami genetic markers among the other buried persons. I�ve read Torbj�rn Ahlstr�m, when he writes about bones found on Gotland that in comparison with modern saami showed same traits. And as I have studied mathematic I have nothing to disagree with Ahlstr�ms statistical methods.
    And it is this question that made me and some other saami to write comments on a few bloggs and fora. The Swedish deny us saami to even exist. Or IF we exist we came very lately to Sweden and Europe ( the GERMANS came before us!!). I saw that Martin wrote once that we are partly white, or something like that�The genetic studies, and there are many, show us saami to be of the oldest European mtDNAs. We have U5 and V mostly and some other smaller as K (also very old European), H1�

    This litteraturelist you will find here: http://saamiblog.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2007-05-01T00%3A00%3A00%2B02%3A00&updated-max=2007-06-01T00%3A00%3A00%2B02%3A00&max-results=1
    1) �A Prehistory of the North: Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes� by John F. Hoffecker; Rutgers University Press, 2005.

    2) Don’s Maps: Resources for the study of Archaeology

    3) The Jesse Earl Hyde Collection, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Department of Geological Sciences

    4) CalPhotos University of California, Berkeley

    5) “The Magdalenian Colonization of Southern Germany” by Michael Jochim et al., American Anthropologist, Vol 101, No. 1, March 1999.

    6) �Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup I Reveals Distinct Domains of Prehistoric Gene Flow in Europe� by Siiri Rootsi et al. (2004)

    7) �A Signal, from Human mtDNA, of Postglacial Recolonization in Europe� by Antonio Torroni et al. (2001). Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:844�852, 2001

    8) �Saami and Berbers�An Unexpected Mitochondrial DNA Link� by Alessandro Achilli et al. (2005). Am J Hum Genet. 2005 May; 76(5): 883�886.
    9) Major genomic mitochondrial lineages delineate early human expansions by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. (2001), BMC Genetics 2001, 2:13.

    10) The Western and Eastern Roots of the Saami�the Story of Genetic �Outliers� Told by Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chromosomes by Kristiina Tambets et al. (2004). Am. J. Hum. Genet. 74:661�682, 2004.

    11) Tracing European Founder Lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA Pool by Martin Richards et al. (2000). Am. J. Hum. Genet. 67:1251�1276, 2000.

    12) mtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic: Estimating the Proportions of Norse and Gaelic Ancestry by Agnar Helgason et al. (2001), Am J Hum Genet. 2001 March; 68(3): 723�737.
    13) The mitochondrial lineage U8a reveals a Paleolithic settlement in the Basque country by Ana M Gonz�lez, Oscar Garc�a, Jos� M Larruga and Vicente M Cabrera. BMC Genomics 2006, 7:124.
    14) Denmark before the Vikings by Dr. Glyn Daniel and Ole Klindt-Jensen (1957).

    15) � High Resolution Analysis and Phylogenetic Network Construction Using Complete mtDNA Sequences in Sardinian Genetic Isolates� by Cristina Fraumene et al. (2006).
    16) �Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans� by Mait Metspalu et al. 2004
    17) �Where West Meets East: The Complex mtDNA Landscape of the
    Southwest and Central Asian Corridor� by Llu?�s Quintana-Murci et al. 2004
    18)�Kvinnerollene i Oseberghaugen� av Cecilie Hongslo Vala, 2007
    19) �Ancient DNA as a Means to
    Investigate the European Neolithic� by Helena Malmstr�m (2007)
    20) �The Role of Selection in the Evolution of Human Mitochondrial Genomes� by Toomas Kivisild et al. 2006
    21) �Diversity of Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups in Ethnic Populations of the Volga�Ural Region� by M. A. Bermisheva et al. 2002

  66. #67 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    Let me clarify two issues that Savon has raised.

    1. The modernist, pro-science, technocratic, law-seeking movement in 60s and 70s archaeology was known as the “processual” school or the “New Archaeology”. One of the items on its agenda was to model past societies in flowcharts, much like the ones used to graph industrial processes. Its chief ideologues were Binford and Clarke.

    The reaction to this movement, a post-modernist, lit-crit-inspired anti-science variant, is known as the “post-processual” or “contextual” school, and was established in the 80s. Main names are Hodder, Shanks and Tilley.

    Since the 80s, nobody in archaeology has managed to establish any recognisable school.

    Like almost all of my colleagues, I subscribe to neither of these schools in any orthodox way. I am unusually hostile to theory for theory’s sake, and advocate clear common-sense argument couched in plain language.

    2. Regarding Saami skin colour, I once had a commenter on my blog who believed that Saami were “coloured”. I corrected this misapprehension, explaining that most Saami do not have darker skin than the typical Swede.

  67. #68 Sávon
    January 16, 2008

    Martin: The first point I agree with. I have not studied them, so I was mistaken what they were called.
    But as I understand that what you call “processual archaeology” also is called “Scientific archaeology”, and was built on positivism and functionalism. Then in the end of 70 came the “post-processualism” with feminism, structural marxism and post-strucuralism lumped together (afterwards).
    And now the “Scientific archaeology” again has taken over?

    But as I see it another trend is also coming up, and I think that it will renew archaeology. And make archaeology and history more compatible, hopefully. But will hurt nationalistic feelings.

  68. #69 Martin R
    January 16, 2008

    I’ve never heard the term “scientific archaeology” before. Current academic archaeology is very varied, and most scholars’ outlook consists of ideas from the entire history of archaeological debate.

  69. #70 Jonathan Jarrett
    January 17, 2008

    Far far above Razib engaged with a part of my comment:

    the associations are based on tiny margins of significance in correlations–not clear links but likelihoods, and those often so small that any physicist or chemist would dismiss the data as unusable.

    what does ‘tiny margins of significance’ mean? this is science, most people have to submit within p-values of 0.05. the prose there doesn’t suggest you even understand what sort of research people are doing, though perhaps it is a language barrier.

    I know enough to be aware that mathematicians and experimental scientists have very different ideas over what can be considered a ‘significant’ result. Indeed, I was recently being told (but can’t now find a source–I will try and come back with one) how a recent paper had suggested that an awful lot of the reason so many clinical trials conflict with each other is that the margins of significance of their results are so tiny. That is, they may successfully and legitimately record a tenfold increase in correlation; but when the initial correlation was one in a million, one in ten thousand still isn’t usefully ‘significant’, and another trial can easily obtain results that contradict this because they weren’t, in fact, significant. Does a submission correlation of p=0.05 seem to you to be proof against such difficulties?

    Unquestionably I don’t understand the depths of most scientific research, though if someone takes the time to explain it to me I usually get the drift. I think I follow the maths though.

    If you want to check my perception of the figures, though, my introduction to the DNA stuff was hearing and reading about the Wirral Viking DNA Project, which is described here. That page has some of the actual figures used in the results, and N. B. that they used profiling to boost their sample significance–the Blood of the Vikings project whose methodology they were using was working with far smaller correlations. It may be that I misunderstand the genuine value of these figures, but as someone with more maths training than experimental training, and a natural scepticism that helps make me a historian, it seems that these are only suggestions and not proof.

  70. #71 archaeozoo
    January 17, 2008

    I’ve never heard the term scientific archaeology before either, at least not as a theoretical school equivalent to processualism or post-processualism. If someone said scientific archaeology to me, I would probably assume they meant someone who dealt with one of the sub-disciplines of archaeology that overlap with something like biology, chemistry, geophysics etc.

    Yes, I would agree that scientific techniques are being employed more often in archaeology. The name of the game these days is inter-disciplinary studies, you wouldn’t believe the number of times you hear that phrase when drawing up research proposals, and that will often employ a lot of different techniques from a lot of different places. I would not however claim that that was a theoretical school because, as Martin said, there hasn’t really been one since post-processualism.

  71. #72 Martin R
    January 17, 2008

    Maybe Savon was referring to lab-based studies of archaeological materials, “archaeometry”, or as it is known in Swedish, laborativ arkeologi. The archaeological lab at the University of Stockholm was founded by Birgit Arrhenius in the early 80s unless I’m mistaken. It’s currently headed by Kerstin Liden.

  72. #73 Mattias Niord
    January 17, 2008

    Savon, if you took my comment as “patting you on the head” I am very sorry and must have worded myself poorly. It was not my intention.
    The thing is that I know Martin since before and felt obliged to defend him from those accusations that ain´t true.
    But Martin is a scientific positivist with a liberal view on the world, and that view do clash with yours. It also clashes with mine on many occasions, since I am a christian and have a stronger belief in the rights of indigenous peoples. And I never said you where worth less than me or him!
    And I can fully understand your view and may share more of it than you may belive. I was schooled in Umeå at the archaeological institution, bur also studied at the Institution of Saami history and culture, plus hailing from North Tornedalen. Personally, I have found it very interesting that these saami markers have appeared as far south as they have, but I admit that many colleges of mine, both researchers and educators, do not make much of it.
    It is not because they want to say saami ain´t an ethnical group, but because they are scared. The archaeological world in Sweden became very restrictive about touching the saami issue, save for a few scholars that are part saami themselves. Genes and relations between people are very sensitive, because imidiately the warning sign blink “nazi” and “nationalism” and people avoid that like the plague.
    Anyway, the lawsuit in Härjedalen, where the saami finally lost, sadly, and where Evert Baudou and Inger Zachrisson clashed, is one important reason. Zachrisson is not that well seen, because some feel she is a “traitor”. Not really because she has very strong theories about saami prehistory, but because she gave herself up for “political aims”. That is something extremely ugly in the eyes of most archaeologist, as this also sends alarmbells about “nationalism”.
    You probably know all this, but others may not be that well informed.

    But the saami history is sensitive stuff. In Tornedalen, saamis are under attack from people styling themselves as “kvaens” and they have the stomach to say “their” ancestors came first. Personally, I belive that is a piece of junk. Wallerström and others have quite well showed that the culture attributed to the elusive finnishspeaking kvaens came about 800-1000AD to the lower Torne valley from the coastal regions, and that finnish placenames overlay and older layer of saami names.

    Now, this ethnical distinctions are also pretty messed up because finnish speaking tornedalings and saami families married between each other. In my grandfathers line, there are several intermarriages between his line that the saami families Kitti and Suikki (pardon for eventual misspellings, it was some years since I studied those papers. So many so-called kvaens may indeed have personal ties to the first settlers, but not the finnish speakers as a group.
    The sadest part in this sad story is that while for about a 100 years ago, saamis and finnish usually had friendly relations and the big “foe” was the swedes. Today, instead of trying to support each other, they are attacking each other instead of standing up for their own culture against the main finnish and swedish ones. But this is the usual patterns in a place where one culture group dominates several smaller. Divide and conquer.

    For you others, I think I should write something about the hidden history of north Sweden:
    North Sweden was colonies with the start in the 14th century by initiative of the swedish King Magnus Eriksson. The area was already settled. The coast was settled by sedentary or semi-sedentary groups of mostly finnish speakers, but saamis where moving in and out and it would suprise me a lot of there was not also saami speakers that where sedentary there aswell. There was also a strata of “swedish” speakers, probably people from Hälsingland, who had feld the increased reach of the royal power of South Sweden.
    But in 1335 (correct me if I am wrong, Savon, it was some years since I read about this) The swedes moved in and established control of the coastal regions and the lower river valleys, where the “kvaens” where residing. The “kvaens” became the means by which the swedish king could reach the saami, via a traditional connection carried out by “birkarlar”, who seems to have been both traders but sometimes also tax collectors. And they where not always nice toward the saami. But mostly, this seems to have been more beneficial than the Royal tax collectors that replaced them in the 16th century.
    But the pattern is there. The swedish power used the local groups and played them out against each other.
    To quote Star Trek:”Resistance is futile!”
    Had the kvaens and the saami tried to fight back in some co-ordinated fashion, their voices might have been more listened too. But both groups neither had the organisation, nor really the culture to act out with all out war. Small raids and self defence, yes. But resisting an armed colonisation, no.

    Sweden have indeed always done its best to swoop this old colonisation under the carpet, but my grandfather where beaten in school for speaking finnish, and saami children where for a long time denied the same level of eduction as other children in Sweden, because it would “soften” them. They where allowed to die in phenumonia in drafty “kåtas” rather than becoming too soft to live in the mountains and the forests.

    Anyway, let me tell you about a very personal expirience about what you are allowed to say about saamis and North Swedish prehistory.
    North swedish prehistory was barely studied until the 70:es, for the only ones living there had been “saamis” and who cared? Well, a few did but it was not until the late 70:es and the early 80:es that targeted research was made.
    The finds in Vuollerim changed that, with a very well preserved house, about 6000 years old. I worked there for a summer as guide, just after finishing my MA essay in archaeology.
    Anyway, the issue was infected. Local swedish people did their best to deny that this people living there 6000 years ago could be saamis. And we as guides where instructed not to say anything about any eventual connections with the saami. To me that felt absurd.
    Even if there had been a later cultural change, I find it hard to belive that hunter-gatherer people would have aggressively eradicated other tribes to take over their lands, not to such an extent that one could deny that not blood ties to earlier people would not exist.

    I am sure that many people came to Northern Fennoscandia during many thousands of years, but they did not dissplace each other but merged and the results where the different saami groups and partially the more southern finnish speaking groups. But we where latecomers, relatively.
    So when asked the question by a journalist, I could not lie but felt I must say what I belived was true and answered that my personal theory was that the modern saami must have relations back to the stone age peoples that settled North Fennoscandia. And it would suprise me alot if they never managed to leave any trace in the south as well.
    If we can call the people during the stone age saami or proto-saami, I say no in the cultural sense. But they must according to any sound reasoning still have their genes represented among the saami. There are other stuff, connected with saami shamanism, the wider circumpolar cultural complex it connects with and for me the link to the veneration of the bear, something we see strong traces of in paleolithic Europe.

    Now, I will try and check those links you posted Savon, for my appetite for these issues have just been ignited again.
    Personally, I do belive genetics will become an important part of the understanding of the past, but it is a young science, and there is always a period of clashes before an eventual cross-scientific relation is established firmly. Both lines of researchers have big difficulties understanding each other and misinterpretate each others results. It is a long process, but I am sure it will work out in the end.

    But many archaeologist see the issue of blood ties and relations as unimportant. Why? Because they many times are uninterested about it. They have been raised in the school of western philosophy that teaches that heritage is unimportant and only a hindrance for the development of a good modern society. They are individuals and do not want to be seen as part of a “collective” other than as tied via relations they themselves choose.
    Therefore, they have little understanding for people who belive that who they are related to and where they once lived is considered of vital importance. To them, it is scientifically interesting, but not important in the modern world, where the person and not the collective should be in the centre and collectives only hampers to full flower of the individual.

    This types of clashes rages all over the world, where the scientist many times view the people arguing about inheritance as “quasi-nazis” because they talk about connections with people of the past etc. That is not so strange, since an archaeologist learns that in the end, everyone is related to some very ancient group that lived in Africa

    Due to the rising issues and hot debattes between ethnic groups, and not a small bit because of the bloody balkan wars, many archaeologist simply do not want to dicuss these issues other than on a very academical level.

    I must confess I do not fit in with this professional type of archaeologists. I am thrilled by knowing the earliest known settlement of my grandfathers line was excavated and that some graves dating back to the first millenium may contain person directly related to me via my mother. Sadly, there is no possibility to take any DNA, because the bones where almost totally decayed, but I would have volunteered at once had I been asked.
    The fact that I have some saami blood too really make me feel a bit proud, but I would never style myself as saami, because I was not raised in that culture. But related to the saami people, yes, and therefore knowing about their past is important to me.

    Another rant and hi-jacking of this tread. Sorry. Not much DNA.

    But I am really sorry if I offended you, Savon. I really am. I hope you can forgive me.

  73. #74 razib
    January 18, 2008

    jonathan, i think you mean r-squared.

  74. #75 Jonathan Jarrett
    January 18, 2008

    Well, unless you supply more context, we’ll never know for sure.

  75. #76 Sávon
    January 19, 2008

    Thanks Mattias, I have nothing to forgive you, your nice words…
    Have you heard the enormously romantic music of Burials?
    “Untrue”. 6th track “Etched Headplate”. My favorite so far…

  76. #77 Sávon
    January 19, 2008

    I will only say this and never anything more here, because I started to defend us from this. Mattias wrote: “Anyway, the lawsuit in Härjedalen, where the saami finally lost, sadly, and where Evert Baudou and Inger Zachrisson clashed, is one important reason. Zachrisson is not that well seen, because some feel she is a “traitor”. Not really because she has very strong theories about saami prehistory, but because she gave herself up for “political aims”.

    We see the contrary to this. Baudou had studied the saami for so long time, and still he could stand up for the people with “paper”, the landowners. We have of course no papers on the land we have lived on for so long, usually had/have not indigenous people who couldn´t write or read, the papers the colonialpowers brought with them.

    Zachrisson did not fall in any political trap, it is only what the landowners and their follower have said. Zachrisson has also been a scientist, a scholar, for long time, and she has made a lot of work about us and the contacts we had with “the others” let´s call them the swedes here. We got our defense from her work, that she had done long before this trial, and nobody could foreseen during that time, what was coming.
    Now I think that this issue has not yet been finished.

  77. #78 Martin R
    January 21, 2008

    Sounds like excessively narrowly-defined archaeology. I don’t keep up on the field, but I’m aware that many departments enforce cripplingly narrow definitions of how the work is to be done.

    Believe me, John: the basic methods of excavation and analysis are the same, but there really is no link between the actual content of Japanese and Swedish archaeology, simply because the the two areas were never in contact with each other during prehistory.

  78. #79 Sávon
    January 22, 2008

    Excuse me, have you heared about the Ainupeople in Japan?
    They was seen as a maybe “indoeuropean” speaking people, or they might have had(?) a language that belongs to some old “substrate”, old hunters. They have a BEAR festival similar to the saamis earlier bearhunt rituals. Reminds also of the “bearaltar”, found in the grottoes in the Franco-cantabrian mountains.
    Their huts, houses are called “kottes”, very similar to saami “goatte”, which not seem to be a finno-ugric word, (the hungarian word “hás” sounds more like swedish “hus”, or had, sw. hydda…)

  79. #80 Martin R
    January 22, 2008

    Yeah, I’ve read about the Ainu. Do you find the suggested links persuasive?

  80. #81 Sávon
    January 24, 2008

    Yes I do, but not directly. I´ve looked at the debate about Ainus mtDNA is interesting, some of them seem to have D(?) and in northern Finland there are some with D5. Can be a link, but what is more interesting is that the culture is very old, and that people brought it with them wherever they went. And cultural elements can survive, and people don´t know really why.
    I saw that somebody on a forum for debate, made a comparison between Ainu and people from the Alps, there seem to be some genetic similarities, but not mtDNa or Y-haplogroups, it was some other markers.
    I also read in DN (Dagens Nyheter 2008-01-20)sunday about Ötzi, the iceman, and I have seen his cap of bearskin on other places. Then it was the cap of the shamans, and also looks little like the “heads” of different “Venuses” from early stoneage.. He had a copperaxe. Now axes was used in many “rituals” of old age, to kill the sacrificed animal(?). Or was just a sign.
    There is much more to write about this matter but it can be to later…My point is that the bearrituals are very old.

  81. #82 Mattias Niord
    February 5, 2008

    Sorry for some treadomancy, but I just have to write on this my old subject of the bear cults and bear mythology. Indeed, the similarities of the bear rituals, and what is most interesting, the stories that are so similar all over the northern hemisphere.
    I dwelled into the bear rituals and mythology as part of my Master of arts in Archaeology and it was partially because of that Martin asked me to take a closer look on the bear claws found in his Gotlandic graves and see if I could get some more info out of them via Osteology. It was probably the first time someone had really tried to do something saying “well, those are bearclaws”.
    Well, anyway, I suspect the same thing as you Savon, that the bear rituals are VERY old, much thanks to those similarities in rituals, but even more in living mythical stories about the relationship between man and bear.

    If I had ever kept on with the academical career, I would have liked to go deper and broader into this subject. I suspect that we are seeing and hearing relics form the ice age, before the wast northern regions where freed from the Ice cap and people could move north and spread over the land. This very old common base is the reason I think for the Circumpolar cultures having so much cultural ideas in common.

  82. #83 Mörkerman
    September 16, 2009

    “Lassi: the Battle Axe Culture is entirely prehistoric and nothing can ever be known about its language affinities. You are not alone among Finns in having antiquated beliefs in this area, though. I’ve come across highly remarkable statements on the subject from senior Finnish archaeologists in recent years.”

    För att vara någon som ofta uttalar sig vad som är konsensus bland arkeologer så verkar du döma bort rätt många av de samtida.

  83. #84 Martin R
    September 17, 2009

    Well, consensus is a question of strong majority opinion. There are always a few dissidents. Finland has very few archaeologists at all. But I’m sure most of them have a more updated opinion on ethnic matters.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!