"Dark" and "Swarthy" Europeans Are Still Light

July 3, 2020

We've seen how olive skin is misunderstood by people to mean "tan" or "non-white", now let's look at the same thing with words like "dark" and "swarthy" used to describe the complexions of Europeans. People treat them as evidence against "whiteness", but they're really just exaggerations of reality.

Benjamin Franklin applied them to a lot of groups that are far from dark, basically lumping all whites who weren't Anglo-Saxon into a "swarthy" group with non-whites, including some who are probably lighter than English people:

All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth.

Another well-known example of this kind of exaggeration is English ideas about the so-called "Black Irish". They're really just white people from the British Isles (not just Ireland) who have dark hair and eyes and a Mediterranean appearance — like Colin Farrell, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sean Connery, Mr. Bean, Russell Brand and many others — but old school Nordicists used to claim that part of the Celtic physiognomy was "black-tinted skin":

But even when applied to "darker" Southern Europeans, they're still an exaggeration, like in this passage from White on Arrival about how Italian gangsters were portrayed in the media:

Al Capone was constantly portrayed in books, magazine articles, pulps, and movies as having a "dark" or "swarthy" complexion. When he appeared in court in 1929 in Philadelphia on charges of having concealed a weapon, the Chicago Daily News noticed that his "face, which is rather dark, assumed a dull reddish hue." No one emphasized Italians' dark features more than popular writer and former newsman Walter Burns. In his book, The One-Way Ride, Johnny Torrio was "a slight, dapper, dark young man"; gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi had "dark faces"; the Genna brothers were "swarthy, black haired, black eyed, looked not unlike Arabs, and probably had in their ancestral strain a strong dash of Saracenic [North African] blood".

From these descriptions you'd probably picture really dark Saudi Arabians or maybe even mixed-race Berbers, but here's what those people actually looked like (the rare mugshot of Capone has been skillfully colorized to show his blue eyes):

Al Capone
Genna Brothers

Johnny Torrio
John Scalise and Albert Anselmi

So the lesson is to not take descriptions like that literally or as meaning something "non-white". Europeans (including Southern Europeans) actually have the lightest untanned skin in the world, so even when they're "dark" or "swarthy", they're still lighter than everyone else.

Who's Really "More European"?

December 4, 2019

Until a few years ago, people thought that Northern Europeans were descended from indigenous Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, and Southern Europeans from more recent Neolithic farmers from the Middle East. Nordic supremacists claimed that this made them "more European" because their ancestors had been in Europe much longer and they had almost no Middle Eastern or other foreign ancestry. This went with their belief that "pure Nordics" were responsible for all European achievement.

Thanks to the ancient DNA revolution, we now know that Neolithic farmers spread much deeper into Europe demographically than was previously thought (back in 1993 by Luca Cavalli-Sforza and his colleagues):

Cavalli-Sforza was especially interested in interpreting the genetic clusters among present-day people in terms of population history. He and his colleagues analyzed their blood group data by using a technique that identifies combinations of biological variations that are most efficient at summarizing differences across individuals. Plotting these combinations of blood group types onto a map of West Eurasia, they found that the one summarizing the most variation across individuals reached its extreme value in the Near East, and declined along a southeast-to-northwest gradient into Europe. They interpreted this as a genetic footprint of the migration of farmers into Europe from the Near East, known from archaeology to have occurred after nine thousand years ago. The declining intensity suggested to them that after arriving in Europe, the first farmers mixed with local hunter-gatherers, accumulating more hunter-gatherer ancestry as they expanded, a process they called "demic diffusion." Until recently, many archaeologists viewed the demic diffusion model as an exemplary merging of insights from archaeology and genetics.

The model that Cavalli-Sforza and colleagues proposed to describe the data was intellectually attractive, but it was wrong. Its flaws became apparent beginning in 2008, when John Novembre and colleagues demonstrated that gradients like those observed in Europe can arise without migration. They then showed that a Near Eastern farming expansion into Europe might counter-intuitively cause the mathematical technique that Cavalli-Sforza used to produce a gradient perpendicular to the direction of migration, not parallel to it as had been seen in the real data.

It took the revolution wrought by the ability to extract DNA from ancient bones — the "ancient DNA revolution" — to drive a nail into the coffin of the demic diffusion model. The ancient DNA revolution documented that the first farmers even in the most remote reaches of Europe — Britain, Scandinavia, and Iberia — had very little hunter-gatherer-related ancestry. In fact, they had less hunter-gatherer ancestry than is present in diverse European populations today. The highest proportion of early farmer ancestry in Europe is today not in Southeast Europe, the place where Cavalli-Sforza thought it was most common based on the blood group data, but instead is in the Mediterranean island of Sardinia to the west of Italy.

Compare the early estimates of Anatolian farmer ancestry in Europe to the more accurate estimates of today:

It's still a bit lower in Northern Europe, but that's because it was displaced by a group of pastoralists from the Russian steppe called Yamnaya who arrived even later (less than 5000 years ago during the Bronze Age) and had a lot of another kind of Middle Eastern ancestry (from the Caucasus/Iran) plus a component from way out in Siberia called Ancient North Eurasian that's related to Native American Indians:

The extraordinary fact that emerges from ancient DNA is that just five thousand years ago, the people who are now the primary ancestors of all extant northern Europeans had not yet arrived.

The Tide from the East


The Yamnaya emerged from previous cultures of the steppe and its periphery and exploited the steppe resources far more effectively than their predecessors. They spread over a vast region, from Hungary in Europe to the foothills of the Altai Mountains in central Asia, and in many places replaced the disparate cultures that had preceded them with a more homogeneous way of life.


Our analysis of DNA from the Yamnaya — led by Iosif Lazaridis in my laboratory — showed that they harbored a combination of ancestries that did not previously exist in central Europe. The Yamnaya were the missing ingredient, carrying exactly the type of ancestry that needed to be added to early European farmers and hunter-gatherers to produce populations with the mixture of ancestries observed in Europe today. Our ancient DNA data also allowed us to learn how the Yamnaya themselves had formed from earlier populations. From seven thousand until five thousand years ago, we observed a steady influx into the steppe of a population whose ancestors traced their origin to the south — as it bore genetic affinity to ancient and present-day people of Armenia and Iran — eventually crystallizing in the Yamnaya, who were about a one-to-one ratio of ancestry from these two sources.


...the frequencies of mutations in northern Europeans today tend to be intermediate between those of southern Europeans and Native Americans. He hypothesized that these findings could be explained by the existence of a "ghost population" — the Ancient North Eurasians — who were distributed across northern Eurasia more than fifteen thousand years ago and who contributed both to the population that migrated across the Bering land bridge to people the Americas and to northern Europeans. A year later, Eske Willerslev and colleagues obtained a sample of ancient DNA from Siberia that matched the predicted Ancient North Eurasians—the Mal'ta individual whose skeleton dated to around twenty-four thousand years ago.

How could the finding of an Ancient North Eurasian contribution to present-day northern Europeans be reconciled with the two-way mixture of indigenous European hunter-gatherers and incoming farmers from Anatolia that had been directly demonstrated through ancient DNA studies? The plot became even thicker as we and others obtained additional ancient DNA data from hunter-gatherers and farmers between eight thousand and five thousand years ago and found that they fit the two-way mixture model without any evidence of Ancient North Eurasian ancestry. Something profound must have happened later — a new stream of migrants must have arrived, introducing Ancient North Eurasian ancestry and transforming Europe.

What's most ironic is that it's actually all the later "non-European" Middle Eastern ancestry, including a component called Basal Eurasian, that made Europeans become "more European" (i.e. more Caucasoid, i.e. "whiter") and more homogeneous than they would have been, because the original Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, like Ancient North Eurasians, actually had affinities to East Asians:

Lazaridis was trying to understand a peculiar Four Population Test result showing that East Asians, present-day Europeans, and pre-farming European hunter-gatherers from around eight thousand years ago are not related to one another according to the tree model. Instead, his analysis showed that East Asians today are genetically more closely related on average to the ancestors of ancient European hunter-gatherers than they are to the ancestors of present Europeans. Ancient DNA studies prior to his work had already shown that present-day Europeans derive some of their ancestry from migrations of farmers from the Near East, who I had assumed were derived from the same ancestral population as European hunter-gatherers. Lazaridis now realized that the ancestry of the first European farmers was distinct from European hunter-gatherers in some way. Something more complicated was going on.


Present-day Europeans and Near Easterners are mixed: they carry within them ancestry from a divergent Eurasian lineage that branched from Mal'ta, European hunter-gatherers, and East Asians before those three lineages separated from one another.

Lazaridis called this lineage "Basal Eurasian" to denote its position as the deepest split in the radiation of lineages contributing to non-Africans. The Basal Eurasians were a new ghost population, one as important as the Ancient North Eurasians, measured by the sheer number of descendant genomes they have left behind. The extent of the deviations of the Four Population Test away from the value of zero that would be expected if the populations were related by a simple tree indicates that this ghost population contributed about a quarter of the ancestry of present-day Europeans and Near Easterners. It also contributed comparable proportions of ancestry to Iranians and Indians.


After around fourteen thousand years ago, a group of hunter-gatherers spread across Europe with ancestry quite different from that of the people associated with the preceding Magdalenian culture, whom they largely displaced. Individuals living in Europe between thirty-seven thousand and fourteen thousand years ago were all plausibly descended from a common ancestral population that separated earlier from the ancestors of lineages represented in the Near East today. But after around fourteen thousand years ago, western European hunter-gatherers became much more closely related to present-day Near Easterners. This proved that new migration occurred between the Near East and Europe around this time.


The farmers in present-day Turkey expanded into Europe. [...] They mixed with local populations there and established new economies based on herding that allowed the agricultural revolution to spread into parts of the world inhospitable to domesticated crops. The different food-producing populations also mixed with one another, a process that was accelerated by technological developments in the Bronze Age after around five thousand years ago. This meant that the high genetic substructure that had previously characterized West Eurasia collapsed into the present-day very low level of genetic differentiation by the Bronze Age.

So Northern Europeans actually have a ton of the Middle Eastern ancestry that Nordicists have always looked down on. And while they still have some of their beloved European hunter-gatherer ancestry, it turns out that's Asian-related. Furthermore, large parts of their Middle Eastern and Asian/Amerindian-type ancestries arrived long after Paleolithic and Neolithic times in the Bronze Age.

Of course, the same goes for Southern Europeans, but they generally have more of the older Neolithic farmer ancestry and less of the exotic "Asiatic" ancestries. And the originators of European civilization — Minoan and Mycenaean Greeks, as well as Etruscans and Romans — were genetically like modern Southern Europeans, not like modern Northern Europeans as the Nordicists have always claimed.

So in a pissing contest of who's "more European", playing by Nordicists' own rules, Southern Europeans would have to be considered the "winners".

David Reich. Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Related: Phenotypes of Hunters and Farmers

Italianthro Restored!

November 26, 2019

Google finally restored my Italianthro account:


I'll leave the new blog online but hidden from search engines and with comments disabled. If anything ever happens to the original one again, just remove the 'h' from any URL and you'll be taken there.

Italian Anthropology 2

November 4, 2019

Google disabled my Italianthro account and locked me out of it. I think it might be related to this widespread issue (which Google isn't doing shit to fix) but I never found out for sure because there is no customer support. You can fill out forms to try to unlock or restore your account, but you only get auto-generated messages. You never get a reply from a real person you can talk or ask questions to.

I don't know if that account will ever be restored, so for now I've reposted everything to this account. All of the URLs should be the same as before (i.e. post title and date) except for one letter in the name: antro now has an Italian spelling with no 'h'.


Let me know if you find any broken links or other issues.

P.S. You can also access Wayback archives of the old blog (and comments), which should work forever no matter what else happens.

UPDATE 11/26/19: Italianthro Restored!

Ancient Egyptians and Nubians Were Caucasoid

October 8, 2019

Ancient DNA has confirmed that Ancient Egyptians were Middle Eastern and not Sub-Saharan African. This was already suggested by earlier genetic studies that found North Africans were the result of a back-migration from West Asia. But even before that, older craniofacial analyses of skeletal samples from all over Egypt (and Nubia) spanning all of ancient history also showed the same thing.

Here are five lines of anthropological evidence that group Ancient Egyptians and Nubians with North Africans, West/South Asians and Europeans (Caucasoids), and separate them from Sub-Saharan Africans (Negroids). Note that Horn Africans (Somalis) cluster with Caucasoids in some cases and Negroids in others, which indicates they're a racially mixed population that's not representative of either Sub-Saharan Africans or Egyptians and Nubians.

1. Craniometric

Combined samples of Pre-Dynastic (Naqada) and Late Dynastic (Giza) Egyptians, and Bronze Age, Early Christian and Medieval Nubians, cluster with combined samples of Ancient and Modern North Africans, East Indians and Europeans.

Brace et al. "Clines and clusters versus 'Race:' a test in ancient Egypt and the case of a death on the Nile". Am J Phys Anthro, 1993.

2. Cranial Non-metric

Pre-Dynastic Egyptians from Naqada (#59), 26th-30th Dynasty Egyptians from Gizeh (#60), 12th-13th Dynasty Nubians from Kerma (#61), and Early Christian or Christian Nubians (#62) cluster with South Asians (#44) and several European groups: Greeks (#48), Scandinavians (#51 and #52) and Germans (#53). [NOTE that Somalis are up with Sub-Saharan Africans (#63)]

Hanihara et al. "Characterization of biological diversity through analysis of discrete cranial traits". Am J Phys Anthro, 2003.

3. Dental Metric

Pre-Dynastic and 12th-29th Dynasty Egyptians cluster with Afghans and North Indians on the edge of a larger cluster of Europeans and West Asians. [NOTE that here again, Somalis show Sub-Saharan affinities and don't cluster with Ancient Egyptians.]

Hanihara and Ishida. "Metric dental variation of major human populations". Am J Phys Anthro, 2005.

4. Dental Non-metric

12th Dynasty (Lisht), Roman/Byzantine (El Hesa), and Byzantine (Kharga) Egyptians, and Pharonic, Meroitic, X-group and Christian Nubians, cluster with other North Africans and Europeans (Poundbury, England).

Joel D. Irish. "Diachronic and synchronic dental trait affinities of late and post-pleistocene peoples from North Africa". Homo, 1998b.

5. Prognathism

Ancient Egyptians from Badari, Pre-Dynastic Egyptians from Naqada, and 26th-30th Dynasty Egyptians from Gizeh, as well as 12th-13th Dynasty Nubians from Kerma and Early Christian or Christian Nubians, all cluster with Europeans and West/South Asians on the negative end of the prognathism scale.

Tsunehiko Hanihara. "Frontal and Facial Flatness of Major Human Populations". Am J Phys Anthro, 2000.

Catherine Zeta Jones Is NOT Greek

July 16, 2019

The ancestry of British actress Catherine Zeta Jones is Welsh and Irish, but people keep claiming she's part Greek, and it was just repeated in a Jeopardy question. The source is an old CNN interview she did with Larry King which was transcribed online like this:

Zeta is my grandmother's name, who is of north Greek origin. But Zeta is a Greek name. And everyone thinks that I just put Zeta in to spice up Catherine Jones. And that's completely untrue.

But there's a disclaimer at the beginning that says it's a "rush transcript" that "may not be in its final form". If she were saying that her grandmother was Greek, there would be no "But..." after the first sentence. That only makes sense if she's denying having Greek ancestry, which is what she actually said:

Zeta is my grandmother's name, who is of not Greek origin. But Zeta is a Greek name. And everyone thinks that I was, just put Zeta in to spice up Catherine Jones. And that's completely untrue. [...] I've always been called that. And in my school in Wales, Jones is a very, very popular name in Wales. And so there were like three Catherine Joneses in my class, so they always called me Zeta.

It's thought that her last name is "Zeta-Jones", but she added the hyphen later. "Zeta" was originally her middle name and her grandmother's first name, and this is where it actually came from:

"I've been performing since I was 11 years old," said Catherine, named for her maternal grandmother Catherine Fair and her paternal grandmother Zeta Jones (Zeta was the name of a ship that her great-grandfather had sailed on).

Many people have also claimed, with no evidence, that she's Hispanic or even half black because they believe Nordicist stereotypes and can't accept the fact that some Northern Europeans are naturally darker and more "exotic" looking. A sane commenter responds:

Whenever a N.European has darker hair, eyes or complexion, somebody (predictably) uses a stereotype of another ethnic group to suggest they're an "outsider" to their own heritage. Despite popular stereotypes, differences in appearance are normal within any one group due to expected genetic variation within families and their older tribal histories. This is the norm--and not the exception. Anyone proud of their heritage won't like racists taking that from them.

Catherine Zeta Jones is just a dark Brit. That's all.

What "Olive-Skinned" Really Means

June 9, 2019

Most people either think that "olive" skin tone is the same as "tan" or "dark", or that it refers to some kind of "nonwhite" or "mixed" ethnicity ranging from the Mediterranean region to Latin America. But it's actually one of several skin undertones that have nothing to do with what race or shade someone is.

When shopping for foundation, you've probably heard the terms "cool," "warm," or "neutral" to describe how a shade will look on skin. Those terms refer to your skin's undertone and are used to determine which foundation shade will match it the best.

Cool, warm, or neutral undertones are the colors that come through your skin from underneath the surface to affect its overall hue. It's not about how light or dark your skin is; people of all skin colors, from very fair to deep, can have cool, warm, or neutral undertones. Here's what each of these terms means:

Cool: Hints of bluish, pink, or a ruddy complexion.

Warm: Skin skews yellow, sallow, peachy, or golden.

Neutral: Has no obvious overtones of pink or sallow skin, but rather the skin's natural color is more evident.


Does your skin look somewhat ashen or gray? You might have the wild card of the bunch — olive skin — which is a combination of the natural neutral, slightly yellow undertone everyone has plus the greenish ashen hue that's unique to olive skin. Olive skin tone is very specific, but is not neutral, as some tend to call it.

Here's what the 4 different undertones would look like on light untanned skin:

And here are people of different races and shades with 3 of the undertones:

Indo-Europeans Were Likely from the Near East

May 20, 2018

A new book and a new study on ancient DNA both say that the homeland of Indo-European languages was most likely south of the Caucasus Mountains in the Near East, and not in the Russian Steppe from where many later spread out. This would explain why the earliest IE languages were in Anatolia, and why IE-speakers in SE Europe have higher "Caucasus/Iran" ancestry and lower "Russian/Siberian" ancestry.

While the genetic findings point to a central role for the Yamnaya in spreading Indo-European languages, tipping the scales definitively in favor of some variant of the steppe hypothesis, those findings do not yet resolve the question of the homeland of the original Indo-European languages, the place where these languages were spoken before the Yamnaya so dramatically expanded. Anatolian languages known from four-thousand-year-old tablets recovered from the Hittite Empire and neighboring ancient cultures did not share the full wagon and wheel vocabulary present in all Indo-European languages spoken today. Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet been published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right, the population sent one branch up into the steppe—mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as described earlier—and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite.

David Reich. Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. New York: Pantheon Books, 2018.

The insight that the Caucasus mountains served not only as a corridor for the spread of CHG/Neolithic Iranian ancestry but also for later gene-flow from the south also has a bearing on the postulated homelands of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) languages and documented gene-flows that could have carried a consecutive spread of both across West Eurasia. Perceiving the Caucasus as an occasional bridge rather than a strict border during the Eneolithic and Bronze Age opens up the possibility of a homeland of PIE south of the Caucasus, which itself provides a parsimonious explanation for an early branching off of Anatolian languages. Geographically this would also work for Armenian and Greek, for which genetic data also supports an eastern influence from Anatolia or the southern Caucasus. A potential offshoot of the Indo-Iranian branch to the east is possible, but the latest ancient DNA results from South Asia also lend weight to an LMBA spread via the steppe belt. The spread of some or all of the proto-Indo-European branches would have been possible via the North Caucasus and Pontic region and from there, along with pastoralist expansions, to the heart of Europe. This scenario finds support from the well attested and now widely documented 'steppe ancestry' in European populations, the postulate of increasingly patrilinear societies in the wake of these expansions (exemplified by R1a/R1b), as attested in the latest study on the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

Wang et al. "The genetic prehistory of the Greater Caucasus". bioRxiv, 2018.

Eurasian Origin and Back-Migration of L3 and DE

January 7, 2018

This was already suggested a few years back by Farrell et al. (2013) and Shi Yan et al. (2013), and now a new study is saying the same thing again.

Background: After three decades of mtDNA studies on human evolution the only incontrovertible main result is the African origin of all extant modern humans. In addition, a southern coastal route has been relentlessly imposed to explain the Eurasian colonization of these African pioneers. Based on the age of macrohaplogroup L3, from which all maternal Eurasian and the majority of African lineages originated, that out-of-Africa event has been dated around 60-70 kya. On the opposite side, we have proposed a northern route through Central Asia across the Levant for that expansion. Consistent with the fossil record, we have dated it around 125 kya. To help bridge differences between the molecular and fossil record ages, in this article we assess the possibility that mtDNA macrohaplogroup L3 matured in Eurasia and returned to Africa as basic L3 lineages around 70 kya.

Results: The coalescence ages of all Eurasian (M,N) and African L3 lineages, both around 71 kya, are not significantly different. The oldest M and N Eurasian clades are found in southeastern Asia instead near of Africa as expected by the southern route hypothesis. The split of the Y-chromosome composite DE haplogroup is very similar to the age of mtDNA L3. A Eurasian origin and back migration to Africa has been proposed for the African Y-chromosome haplogroup E. Inside Africa, frequency distributions of maternal L3 and paternal E lineages are positively correlated. This correlation is not fully explained by geographic or ethnic affinities. It seems better to be the result of a joint and global replacement of the old autochthonous male and female African lineages by the new Eurasian incomers.

Conclusions: These results are congruent with a model proposing an out-of-Africa of early anatomically modern humans around 125 kya. A return to Africa of Eurasian fully modern humans around 70 kya, and a second Eurasian global expansion by 60 kya. Climatic conditions and the presence of Neanderthals played key roles in these human movements.

Cabrera et al. "Carriers of mitochondrial DNA macrohaplogroup L3 basic lineages migrated back to Africa from Asia around 70,000 years ago". bioRxiv, 2017.

Genetic Continuity in Greece

August 8, 2017

Greek women through the ages: Minoan, Cycladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Modern  (SOURCE)

A recent study suggested based on modern samples that Greeks hadn't changed much since ancient times. Now that's been proven with ancient DNA from Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean Greeks. Their ancestry is mostly Anatolian Neolithic farmer with some Caucasus/Iran and less Russian/Siberian admixture (the last two related to the spread of Indo-European languages), they had dark hair and dark eyes, and there was no difference between the elites and common people. They're genetically closest to modern Southeastern Europeans, and not to Northern Europeans or Africans as different people have claimed.

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations.


The elite Mycenaean individual from the ‘royal’ tomb at Peristeria in the western Peloponnese did not differ genetically from the other three Mycenaean individuals buried in common graves.


Other proposed migrations, such as settlement by Egyptian or Phoenician colonists, are not discernible in our data, as there is no measurable Levantine or African influence in the Minoans and Mycenaeans, thus rejecting the hypothesis that the cultures of the Aegean were seeded by migrants from the old civilizations of these regions.


Phenotype prediction from genetic data has enabled the reconstruction of the appearance of ancient Europeans who left no visual record of their pigmentation. By contrast, the appearance of the Bronze Age people of the Aegean has been preserved in colourful frescos and pottery, depicting people with mostly dark hair and eyes. We used the HIrisPlex tool (Supplementary Information section 4) to infer that the appearance of our ancient samples matched the visual representations (Extended Data Table 2), suggesting that art of this period reproduced phenotypes naturalistically.

We estimated the fixation index, FST, of Bronze Age populations with present-day West Eurasians, finding that Mycenaeans were least differentiated from populations from Greece, Cyprus, Albania, and Italy (Fig. 2), part of a general pattern in which Bronze Age populations broadly resembled present-day inhabitants from the same region (Extended Data Fig. 7).

The modern Greek samples used in the study for comparison are not the best. Thessaloniki is in the north of the country, the Coriell database doesn't provide specific origins, and there are only two Cretans. I believe that if Mycenaeans were compared to their descendants in the Peloponnese, continuity would be nearly perfect instead of just very strong.

Lazaridis et al. "Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans". Nature, 2017.

Related: Ancient Roman DNA