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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Correlations in the spread of Viticulture and Haplogroup J2


Recently, I came across a few books which discussed the history of Viticulture and its spread. I was amazed at the similarity in its spread with that of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup J2 (M172). The earliest evidence of Wine Making found to date originates from Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Zagros Mountain Range, Northern Iran. A Wine Jar, with a volume of about 9 liters (2.5 gallons) was found together with five similar jars embedded in the earthen floor along one wall of a "kitchen" of a Neolithic mudbrick building, dated to ca. 5400-5000 B.C. Chemical Analysis determined the residue in the jars was Wine. Some of the highest levels of M172 are found in this area of Iran, 24.24% in Northern Iran according to Regueiro et al. But certainly M172 and the earliest signs of viticulture are not restricted to this remote area of the Near East. Early evidence of viticulture exists in the Levant and later with the Phoenicians and Isrealite populations, the Sumerians, Akkadians and Hittites of Anatolia.

Common discussion on J2 states that it started to spread in the Northern Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic Period. King et Al noted a strong correlation in precipitation levels and associated levels of J2a (M172+ M410+) within the Middle East, stating:


The genetic memory retained in the extant distributions of Y-chromosome haplogroups J1-M267 and J2a-M410 within the FertileCrescent significantly correlates with regional levels of annual precipitation in a reciprocal manner. The statistically significant correlations of Y-chromosome haplogroups, precipitation levels and domestic lifestyle are pronounced. The spatial frequency distribution of haplogroup J2a coincides closely with regions characterised by >400mm of annual precipitation capable of supporting settled agriculture, while haplogroup J1-M267 distributions correlate inversely with semi-arid regions characteristically used by
pastoralists.
Thus, King et al have established that M410's spread seems to correlate with rainfall. It would then make sense that viticulture would likely mirror this spread since about 400 mm is also the level of annual precipiation required to support the farming of Wine Grapes (General Viticulture, Albert Julius Winkler p 395). And this is what we see; that viticulture mirrors the proposed spread of M172, M410 through the Near east during the bronze age.

Wine making spread to Crete during the Minoan period and then later to Italy with the Etruscans and to Iberia with the Phoenicians. It was an integral component of the economy and social culture of the proto-greek civilizations and the phoenicians who both went on to settle other mediterranean coastal regions. And tracing the spread of Viticulture from its origins to its spread before the Roman period, we can see te highest levels of Haplogroup J2 today correlate with the geographical centres of all these civilizations. While viticulture may not represent the first wave of M172 migrants to Europe, M172 certainly played a strong role in bringing Viticulture to Europe with such civilizations as the Minoans, Greeks and Phoenicians.

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