April 13, 2018

R1ans still at large (or, the story of India)

Ten ago, in the pre-ancient DNA "Dark Ages" a big debate raged on about the origin of R1a  men in India. The stage had been set even earlier, by the pioneering Eurasian heartland paper which was the first (to my memory) to link M17 with steppe migrations and Indo-Iranians. Yet, there was pushback as the distribution of M17 was better described, and people started using Y-STRs to try to date and place phylogeographically its migrations.

The two poles of the debate were the "Out-of-India", which relied primarily on Y-STR based time estimates that seemed very old (even Paleolithic, if one used the wrong mutation rate) in India, and the "Into-India" which thought that the R1a distribution pointed to its being brought into India by the Indo-Aryans in the conventional ~3,500BC time frame of the "Aryan Invasion Theory" (AIT).

AIT has been much maligned because it has been received as a Western colonialist imposition on Indian history: a way to claim that Indian civilization was not native but European in origin. Europeans were certainly guilty of misusing AIT: for British colonials it represented a precedent for their colonization of India; for German National Socialists it was evidence for the greatness of the Aryan race and its past expansions eastward. It also played into internal Indian politics, espoused by some as a means of furthering their superiority as either descendants of "Aryan conquerors" or as oppressed victims of the same.

Of course, a misuse of a theory does not mean it is wrong, and if a new preprint based on ancient and modern DNA is correct, it means that AIT was basically correct: Indo-Aryans did come to India in the Late Bronze Age, via the steppe, and ultimately from central Europe.

The opposing Out-of-India theory is all but dead, although failed theories often have a long half-life, especially if they are espoused for psycho-political reasons. I would argue that Out-of-India was dead for thousands of years before it was conceived, since even in Homer's time it was known that "India" was not "one thing" but was peopled by Indians in the north and "Eastern Ethiopians" in the south (which differed from their western "actual" Ethiopians of Africa by their possession of straight rather than curly hair). These were the "Ancestral North Indians" and "Ancestral South Indians" that modern science has revealed. Out-of-India is little more than a nationalistic myth functioning as an antidote to this basic dichotomy, a way to imbue India's diverse citizens with a myth of common origins.

Yet, proponents of AIT (who have a non-trivial overlap with R1an enthusiasts) are also scratching their heads because of the 27 ancient South Asian males from South Asia studied in the preprint there is exactly one R1a, who also happened to live after the time of the Buddha and not during the Bronze Age.

Both OIT enthusiasts (who expected copious and abundant R1a in India and its environs since the Paleolithic) and AIT/R1an enthusiasts (who expected to see it come in c. 3,500BC) are bound to be disappointed.

Perhaps the R1a Indo-Aryans did come to South Asia in a conventional AIT time frame and they haven't been sampled. Or, maybe they were, indeed, there, but were not R1ans. Or, maybe both sides missed the bigger story which is that the Indo-Aryans (so closely associated with India today) were simply not there as early as people have thought. 

bioRxiv: doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/292581

The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia

Vagheesh M Narasimhan, Nick J Patterson et al.

The genetic formation of Central and South Asian populations has been unclear because of an absence of ancient DNA. To address this gap, we generated genome-wide data from 362 ancient individuals, including the first from eastern Iran, Turan (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan), Bronze Age Kazakhstan, and South Asia. Our data reveal a complex set of genetic sources that ultimately combined to form the ancestry of South Asians today. We document a southward spread of genetic ancestry from the Eurasian Steppe, correlating with the archaeologically known expansion of pastoralist sites from the Steppe to Turan in the Middle Bronze Age (2300-1500 BCE). These Steppe communities mixed genetically with peoples of the Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) whom they encountered in Turan (primarily descendants of earlier agriculturalists of Iran), but there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed genetically to later South Asians. Instead, Steppe communities integrated farther south throughout the 2nd millennium BCE, and we show that they mixed with a more southern population that we document at multiple sites as outlier individuals exhibiting a distinctive mixture of ancestry related to Iranian agriculturalists and South Asian hunter-gathers. We call this group Indus Periphery because they were found at sites in cultural contact with the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and along its northern fringe, and also because they were genetically similar to post-IVC groups in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. By co-analyzing ancient DNA and genomic data from diverse present-day South Asians, we show that Indus Periphery-related people are the single most important source of ancestry in South Asia — consistent with the idea that the Indus Periphery individuals are providing us with the first direct look at the ancestry of peoples of the IVC — and we develop a model for the formation of present-day South Asians in terms of the temporally and geographically proximate sources of Indus Periphery-related, Steppe, and local South Asian hunter-gatherer-related ancestry. Our results show how ancestry from the Steppe genetically linked Europe and South Asia in the Bronze Age, and identifies the populations that almost certainly were responsible for spreading Indo-European languages across much of Eurasia.


April 10, 2018

The slow death of Out of Africa

The significance of the discovery of modern humans in Arabia >85kya is that it provides a second spot (other than Israel) were modern humans existed outside Africa long before the alleged 60kya blitz out of the continent. We now have modern humans outside Africa in roughly two locations (Israel and Arabia), and three time slices (~175-85kya) in Misliya, Shkul/Qafzeh, and Al Wusta-1. It is no longer tenable to claim that these modern humans "died out" to make way for the alleged 60kya OoA event.

An important implication of pre-60kya Eurasians not dying out is that in all likelihood mtDNA haplogroup L3 and Y-chromosome haplogroup E originated in Eurasia, not Africa, and represent major Eurasian admixture into Africa.

Out of Africa theory is not dead (yet), but it resembles Rocky Balboa taking punch after punch round after round over the last 10 years or so. Will it make a cinematic last round comeback and prove itself, or will it be dealt a knockout punch in the near future? 

Nature Ecology and Evolution (2018) doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0518-2

Homo sapiens in Arabia by 85,000 years ago

Understanding the timing and character of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa is critical for inferring the colonization and admixture processes that underpin global population history. It has been argued that dispersal out of Africa had an early phase, particularly ~130–90 thousand years ago (ka), that reached only the East Mediterranean Levant, and a later phase, ~60–50 ka, that extended across the diverse environments of Eurasia to Sahul. However, recent findings from East Asia and Sahul challenge this model. Here we show that H. sapiens was in the Arabian Peninsula before 85 ka. We describe the Al Wusta-1 (AW-1) intermediate phalanx from the site of Al Wusta in the Nefud desert, Saudi Arabia. AW-1 is the oldest directly dated fossil of our species outside Africa and the Levant. The palaeoenvironmental context of Al Wusta demonstrates that H. sapiens using Middle Palaeolithic stone tools dispersed into Arabia during a phase of increased precipitation driven by orbital forcing, in association with a primarily African fauna. A Bayesian model incorporating independent chronometric age estimates indicates a chronology for Al Wusta of ~95–86 ka, which we correlate with a humid episode in the later part of Marine Isotope Stage 5 known from various regional records. Al Wusta shows that early dispersals were more spatially and temporally extensive than previously thought. Early H. sapiens dispersals out of Africa were not limited to winter rainfall-fed Levantine Mediterranean woodlands immediately adjacent to Africa, but extended deep into the semi-arid grasslands of Arabia, facilitated by periods of enhanced monsoonal rainfall.


March 25, 2018

Statistical Palaeoafricans

According to a new preprint by Durvasula and Sankararaman (D+S):
Using this method, we find that ~7.97±0.6% of the genetic ancestry from the West African Yoruba population traces its origin to an unidentified, archaic population
This ~8% matches well the ~9% of "West Africa A" in Yoruba of the model of Skoglund et al. Figure 3D. If "West Africa A" corresponds to the Archaic Ghost of D+S, then the Mende have the most of it at ~13%.

I have long maintained that the higher genetic diversity of extant Sub-Saharan Africans is the result of admixture between "Afrasians" (a population that spawned Eurasians and much of the ancestry of Sub-Saharans and which had "low" (Eurasian-level) of genetic diversity) and multiple layers of "Palaeoafricans". It would seem that one such layer has now been discovered.

Where did the Afrasians live? Recent developments pushed back the presence of modern humans in both North Africa and the Middle East, making both regions highly competitive as the cradle of the Afrasians. The odds for Sub-Saharan Africa have greatly diminished also by the discovery of late non-sapiens H. naledi in South Africa (which was naively postulated as a cradle based on the presence there today of genetically diverse San Bushmen, but who are not descendants of even Late Pleistocene South Africans), as well as of the archaic component in the genomes of West Africans. These discoveries pile up on top of known archaic skulls of late provenance in both Central and West Africa.

Remember though, that the archaic admixture in West Africans is "less archaic" (more closely related to H. sapiens) than the Neandertal/Denisovan ancestry which contributed to extant Eurasians. All Africans (modern or archaic) are a branch within the phylogeny of Eurasians, with Australoids (and now apparently East Asians too) having the deepest known strain of human ancestry inherited from the elusive Denisovans.

Long Live the 25th March, 1821

January 26, 2018

Out of Africa: a theory in crisis

The sensational discovery of modern humans in the Levant 177-194 thousand years ago should cause a rethink of the currently held Out-of-Africa orthodoxy.

By Out-of-Africa, I mean here the origin of anatomically modern humans, as opposed to the earlier origin of the genus Homo or the later origin of behaviorally fully modern humans.

Two main pieces of evidence supported the conventional OOA theory:

1. The observation that modern Eurasians possess a subset of the genetic variation of modern Africans.
2. The greater antiquity of AMH humans in the African rather than the Eurasian palaeoanthropological record.

Both these observations are in crisis.

1a. The oldest African fossil AMH is in North Africa (Morocco, Jebel Irhoud); modern genetic variation does not single out this region as a potential source of modern humans. In short, modern genetic variation has nothing to say about where AMH originated.
1b. Eurasians can no longer be seen as a subset of Africans, given that they possess genetic variation from Denisovans, a layer of ancestry earlier than all extant AMH. While it is still true that most Eurasian genetic material is a subset of that of modern Africans, it is also true that the deepest known lineage of humans is the Denisovan-Sima de los huesos, with no evidence for any deeper African lineage. Within humans as a whole, Africans possess a subset of Eurasian genetic variation.
2a. African priority received a boost by 0.1My by the redating of Jebel Irhoud last year. And, non-African AMH received a boost of 0.05My by the Hershkovitz et al. paper yesterday. A very short time ago, Ethiopia boasted the oldest AMH by 0.07My and now it's tied with the Levant and beaten by Morocco. It's a bit silly to argue for temporal priority based on the spotty and ever-shifting palaeoanthropological record.
2b. It is virtually untenable to consider the ~120,000 year old Shkul/Qafzeh hominins as a failed Out-of-Africa, since it now seems that they may have been descendants from the Mislya Cave population of >50,000 or even >100,000 years earlier.

I had previously supported a "two deserts" theory of human origins in which AMH originated in North Africa (Sahara) and then left Africa >100kya as evidenced by the Shkul/Qafzeh hominins and/or the Nubian technocomplex in Arabia. While I am still convinced that AMH originated somewhere in North Africa or the Near East, I am less certain as to where.

Science 26 Jan 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6374, pp. 456-459 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8369

The earliest modern humans outside Africa

Israel Hershkovitz et al.

To date, the earliest modern human fossils found outside of Africa are dated to around 90,000 to 120,000 years ago at the Levantine sites of Skhul and Qafzeh. A maxilla and associated dentition recently discovered at Misliya Cave, Israel, was dated to 177,000 to 194,000 years ago, suggesting that members of the Homo sapiens clade left Africa earlier than previously thought. This finding changes our view on modern human dispersal and is consistent with recent genetic studies, which have posited the possibility of an earlier dispersal of Homo sapiens around 220,000 years ago. The Misliya maxilla is associated with full-fledged Levallois technology in the Levant, suggesting that the emergence of this technology is linked to the appearance of Homo sapiens in the region, as has been documented in Africa.


January 05, 2018

Eurasian origin of mtDNA L3 and Y-chromosome DE

I've argued for a similar scenario for years, so it's nice to see a preprint on the topic.

bioRxiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/233502

Carriers of mitochondrial DNA macrohaplogroup L3 basic lineages migrated back to Africa from Asia around 70,000 years ago.

Vicente M Cabrera et al.

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.


October 12, 2017

Human pigmentation mega-study

A great new study on the genetics of human (including African) pigmentation. I would love to see a future study that would reconstruct what ancestral modern humans looked like pigmentation-wise, as this trait is tightly correlated with sun exposure (and thus latitude), and may thus pinpoint a narrow latitudinal zone where ancestral modern humans may have lived.

From a related story:
The most dramatic discovery concerned a gene known as MFSD12. Two mutations that decrease expression of this gene were found in high frequencies in people with the darkest skin. These variants arose about a half-million years ago, suggesting that human ancestors before that time may have had moderately dark skin, rather than the deep black hue created today by these mutations.

Science 12 Oct 2017: eaan8433 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8433

Loci associated with skin pigmentation identified in African populations

Nicholas G. Crawford et al.

Despite the wide range of skin pigmentation in humans, little is known about its genetic basis in global populations. Examining ethnically diverse African genomes, we identify variants in or near SLC24A5, MFSD12, DDB1, TMEM138, OCA2 and HERC2 that are significantly associated with skin pigmentation. Genetic evidence indicates that the light pigmentation variant at SLC24A5 was introduced into East Africa by gene flow from non-Africans. At all other loci, variants associated with dark pigmentation in Africans are identical by descent in southern Asian and Australo-Melanesian populations. Functional analyses indicate that MFSD12 encodes a lysosomal protein that affects melanogenesis in zebrafish and mice, and that mutations in melanocyte-specific regulatory regions near DDB1/TMEM138 correlate with expression of UV response genes under selection in Eurasians.


September 12, 2017

Sexual orientation from facial images

This is hardly surprising, as there is an obvious evolutionary advantage for people being able to "read faces" not only for sexuality but also for various cognitive, moral, and personality traits (see, e.g., heroes and villains, wizards and simpletons are often portrayed stereotypically in art).

Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images

Description: We show that faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain. We used deep neural networks to extract features from 35,326 facial images. These features were entered into a logistic regression aimed at classifying sexual orientation. Given a single facial image, a classifier could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men in 81% of cases, and in 74% of cases for women. Human judges achieved much lower accuracy: 61% for men and 54% for women. The accuracy of the algorithm increased to 91% and 83%, respectively, given five facial images per person. Facial features employed by the classifier included both fixed (e.g., nose shape) and transient facial features (e.g., grooming style). Consistent with the prenatal hormone theory of sexual orientation, gay men and women tended to have gender-atypical facial morphology, expression, and grooming styles. Prediction models aimed at gender alone allowed for detecting gay males with 57% accuracy and gay females with 58% accuracy. Those findings advance our understanding of the origins of sexual orientation and the limits of human perception. Additionally, given that companies and governments are increasingly using computer vision algorithms to detect people’s intimate traits, our findings expose a threat to the privacy and safety of gay men and women.


August 07, 2017

Minoans and Mycenaeans

It is great to finally see the first data from the most ancient Greeks (Mycenaeans) and also the Cretan Minoans:

  • Ancestrally. both Mycenaeans and Minoans were basically Mediterranean, well outside the variation of most Europeans and Near Easterners and >75% from early European-Anatolian farmers.
  • Phenotypically, they were dark-haired/eyed
  • They weren't pure Mediterraneans, but also partly "West_Asian". Bronze Age people from S.W. Anatolia were even more "West_Asian".
  • Mycenaeans also had some "Ancient North Eurasian" ancestry, which may have come from either the north or east of Greece.
  • Two Minoans and a Mycenaean were haplogroup J2, one Minoan was G.
  • One high-status Mycenaean female from Messenia was not different from the other three Mycenaeans.

Modern Greeks from Greece are more "northern", more "European", and less "Mediterranean" than the Mycenaeans. Bust, Fst-wise Modern Greeks (and assorted neighbors) are still fairly close to Mycenaeans, more so than other people from Europe and the Middle East:

Nature (2017) doi:10.1038/nature23310

Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans

Iosif Lazaridis, Alissa Mittnik, Nick Patterson, Swapan Mallick, Nadin Rohland, Saskia Pfrengle, Anja Furtwängler, Alexander Peltzer, Cosimo Posth, Andonis Vasilakis, P. J. P. McGeorge, Eleni Konsolaki-Yannopoulou, George Korres, Holley Martlew, Manolis Michalodimitrakis, Mehmet Özsait, Nesrin Özsait, Anastasia Papathanasiou, Michael Richards, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, Yannis Tzedakis, Robert Arnott, Daniel M. Fernandes, Jeffery R. Hughey, Dimitra M. Lotakis, Patrick A. Navas, Yannis Maniatis, John A. Stamatoyannopoulos, Kristin Stewardson, Philipp Stockhammer, Ron Pinhasi, David Reich, Johannes Krause & George Stamatoyannopoulos

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 Aegean1, 2, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus3 and Iran4, 5. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia6, 7, 8, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe1, 6, 9 or Armenia4, 9. 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.


July 04, 2017

Deepest Neandertal mtDNA split

The authors interpret the new result from HST as placing a lower boundary on an introgression from Africans to Neandertals at more than 290kya, which explains why Africans are genomically closer to Neandertals than to Denisovans.

Of course, when one looks at the mitochondrial phylogeny, it has the form:

(Denisovans, (Neandertals, Modern Humans))

Within the Modern Humans, Eurasians are a branch of a tree which is mostly African. This has been interpreted for decades as evidence for the Out of Africa hypothesis for the origin of Modern Humans. But, within the phylogeny as a whole, Modern Humans are a branch of the Eurasian tree. This has not (why?) in general been interpreted as evidence for Out of Eurasia for the common ancestor of Modern Humans and Neandertals.

It seems to me that this hypothesis, that Modern Humans and Neandertals stem from a non-African ancestor (a non-African population of H. heidelbergensis, for example), has much to recommend it.

Eurasia has twice the size of Africa and has been home to hominins for ~1.8 million years. It was inhabited by diverse hominins, and thanks to blind luck we discovered that as late as a few tens of thousands years ago, it also sported two of the populations that split off before anyone else: first H. floresiensis, and second Denisovans.

While a North African source of modern humans is plausible, the data seems to favor a Eurasian origin of the (Modern Human, Neandertal) ancestor.

Nature Communications 8, Article number: 16046 (2017) doi:10.1038/ncomms16046

Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals

Cosimo Posth, Christoph Wißing, Keiko Kitagawa, Luca Pagani, Laura van Holstein, Fernando Racimo, Kurt Wehrberger, Nicholas J. Conard, Claus Joachim Kind, Hervé Bocherens & Johannes Krause

Ancient DNA is revealing new insights into the genetic relationship between Pleistocene hominins and modern humans. Nuclear DNA indicated Neanderthals as a sister group of Denisovans after diverging from modern humans. However, the closer affinity of the Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to modern humans than Denisovans has recently been suggested as the result of gene flow from an African source into Neanderthals before 100,000 years ago. Here we report the complete mtDNA of an archaic femur from the Hohlenstein–Stadel (HST) cave in southwestern Germany. HST carries the deepest divergent mtDNA lineage that splits from other Neanderthals ∼270,000 years ago, providing a lower boundary for the time of the putative mtDNA introgression event. We demonstrate that a complete Neanderthal mtDNA replacement is feasible over this time interval even with minimal hominin introgression. The highly divergent HST branch is indicative of greater mtDNA diversity during the Middle Pleistocene than in later periods.


June 08, 2017

Out of North Africa

I had previously called Irhoud 1 "The Father of Mankind" and proposed a "two deserts" theory of human evolution whereby our species originated in North Africa, and was pumped out of it to both the Middle East (and especially Arabia, the 2nd desert) and Sub-Saharan Africa during periods of Saharan aridity. This Out-of-North Africa theory (together with the secondary Out-of-Arabia expansion ~70kya) is responsible for the spread of Homo sapiens around the world.

The discovery and re-dating of modern human remains from Irhoud of course adds support to this theory and places North Africa as the most probable cradle of our species, with a comfortable 100kya buffer to the next place where modern humans are detected (the Omo remains of East Africa), and another comfortable 100kya buffer to the next place (Israel and the Skhul/Qafzeh hominins).

The interpretation of these findings in terms of Homo sapiens emerging out of a sort of multi-regional evolution involving all Africa is of course wrong. There is no reason to think of a single species evolving across the huge African continent. The early distribution of sapiens remains are in North Africa, East Africa, and the Near East, and such remains are absent in West/Central/South Africa.

The multi-regionalists lost the game in Eurasia, as it turned out that Eurasians only have ~2% archaic admixture, and they are inventing Multiregionalism-in-Africa.

Whatever finds we do have from Sub-Saharan Africa, some of them quite late (such as the Iwo Eleru remains from Nigeria), others of similar age as Irhoud (such as Florisbad and the recently described H. naledi from South Africa) did not belong to our species. The first modern humans appeared in South Africa with the Later Stone Age (probably associated with the migration of Y-chromosome haplogroup E into Africa), and the Hofmeyr skull (which resembled Eurasians and not the eternally romanticized Khoe-San). Even in East Africa the advent of modernity was not clear-cut (see Omo I vs. II and the more archaic later Herto specimen).

It seems that people were misled into thinking of Sub-Saharan Africa as the origin of our species by the genetic observation of greater genetic diversity of Sub-Saharan Africans. But, this diversity could have come about by admixture between people from North Africa and pre-existing people of Sub-Saharan Africa (both early waves of AMH and non-AMH).

It's not certain that North Africa will be the end of the story. Fashions shifted from the Near East to East Africa, to North Africa, with every new find. But, the fact that we do find the earliest modern humans in these areas, while we find non-AMH elsewhere (e.g. Europe or South Africa) is gradually constraining the solution to the problem of our origins. My bet remains North Africa; time will tell.

April 21, 2017

Younger Dryas comet impact encoded in Göbekli Tepe?

Fascinating if true.

Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 17, No 1, (2017), pp. 233-250


Martin B. Sweatman* and Dimitrios Tsikritsis

We have interpreted much of the symbolism of Göbekli Tepe in terms of astronomical events. By matching low-relief carvings on some of the pillars at Göbekli Tepe to star asterisms we find compelling evidence that the famous ‘Vulture Stone’ is a date stamp for 10950 BC ± 250 yrs, which corresponds closely to the proposed Younger Dryas event, estimated at 10890 BC. We also find evidence that a key function of Göbekli Tepe was to observe meteor showers and record cometary encounters. Indeed, the people of Göbekli Tepe appear to have had a special interest in the Taurid meteor stream, the same meteor stream that is proposed as responsible for the Younger-Dryas event. Is Göbekli Tepe the ‘smoking gun’ for the Younger-Dryas cometary encounter, and hence for coherent catastrophism?

Link (pdf)