Press Release Medial University of Lodz, Poland
Searching for the origin of four individuals living between the Early Bronze Age and the Roman Period in the middle Euphrates valley, Henryk W. Witas, PhD, a molecular biologist at the Medical University of Łódź, Poland, isolated and genotyped with his team the specimens' mitochondrial DNA for changes indicating haplogroups and nuclear DNA for a few alleles. The remains were found and unearthed by JacekTomczyk, Ph.D., an anthropologist at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University of Warsaw, Poland.
"Extremely well preservation of the DNA is probably a result of alkaline pH of the surrounding soil and deep deposition of the findings, as indicated prior to DNA isolation by high content of collagen in the samples. It allowed the Authors to isolate and analyze not only the Hypervariable Region I (HVR-I) sequence of all the studied individuals, but also to type mtDNA coding region and even chosen nuclear alleles in the case of one of the specimens." says professor Witas.
The paper by Witas and colleagues, published today (12th September 2013) in PLOS ONE, contributes to the debate on the possibility, probable location in time and ways of human movements from the Indian subcontinent to Mesopotamia. The Researchers have found markers of M4b1, M49 and M61 haplogroups in mtDNA of people living in ancient Kar-Assurnasirpal (today Tell Masaikh) and Terqa (today Tell Ashara). The haplogroups likely arose more than 20 Kyrs ago in the region of the South Asia and are also present in today's Himalaya, India and Pakistan. They are, however, absent in the modern population of Syria. The Authors anticipate that the analyzed remains from Mesopotamia belonged to people with genetic affinity to the Indian subcontinent, since the distribution of identified ancient haplotypes indicates a link with populations from the region of South Asia (Trans-Himalaya) as confirmed by the result of the median-joining network analysis. However, "only complete mtDNA genome sequencing would help to narrow down the geography and establish the precise origin of the studied individuals", says Dr. Gyaneshwer Chaubey, co-author and a molecular biologist at the Estonian Biocenter, Tartu, Estonia.
According to the Authors, the fact that the studied individuals comprised of both males and a female, each living in a different period and representing different haplotypes, suggests that the nature of their presence in Mesopotamia was rather long-lasting than incidental. Thus, it is likely that they may have been descendants of migrants from much earlier times, who founded regional Mesopotamian groups like that of Terqa, a city constructed in the early Dynastic Period (early Bronze Age), at the time only slightly preceding the dating of two of the studied skeletons.
Although the Authors in their study identified neither the allele LCT-13910T coding for lactase persistence, delta F508 CFTR, the main allele responsible for cystic fibrosis phenotype, delta32 CCR5 protecting in moderns against HIV infection nor sequences responsible for the most common types of alfa- and beta-thalassemia in the region, they have proved for the first time ever that isolation of amplifiable ancient nuclear sequences from the remains deposited at the Near Eastern sites was possible.
"We will attempt to analyze the complete mtDNA along with a number of autosomal markers in order to fetch more information regarding ancient link which has been discontinued in populations living contemporarily around the Euphrates banks. Our current finding gives hope for conducting studies on ancient Mesopotamians at the population level", says professor Witas.
The article is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0073682
Terqa (Tell Ashara) on the right bank of middle Euphrates, Syria
See: http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2013/09/genetic-links-between-india-and.html Genetic links between India and Mesopotamia in Bronze Age Ancient Neast East
Meluhha may mean the lands of the Indian ocean. [J Reade "Commerce or Conquest"]
"Meluhha was certainly the most distant of the countries beyond the sea the list of its products which were embarked there is among the richest and most varied and comprises precious stones, (chalcedony, cornelian and lapis luzuli) copper, gold and other prized metals, ebony, the wood of sissoo, the gis-ab-be 'sea wood' (maybe mangrove) cane, peacocks and roosters. The texts also speak of ships, skilled sailors and sophisticated inlaid furniture." [G Weisgerber "Dilmun a Trading Entrepot]
"...seafaring merchants from the distant lands of Dilmun, Meluhha and Maakan tied up at Akkads quay during Sargon's reign 2334-2279 BC. Copper was shipped directly from Maakan. During the reign of Gudea of Lagas, copper diorite and wood were delivered from Maakan and Meluhha delivered rare woods, gold *Tin* lapis Lazuli and carnelian to Lagas.There are no records indicating that ships from Meluhha docked in Sumeror that Sumerian seamen were themselves in Meluhha.""Tukulti-Ninurta refers to himself as 'King of the Upper and Lower Seas and ruler over Dilmun and Meluhha."
[G Weisgerber "Dilmun a Trading Entrepot]
Mesopotamian carnelian, lapis lazuli, and gold beads, restored as a necklace, l. 14.3 cm, mid-third millennium BCE from Iraq, Kish, Mound A, Burial A51. Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, inv. no. 228533.
The gold 'Bactrian' did not originate in that region, but further east, possibly from the mountains of Dardistan (Vogelsang 1989: 169) to the north of Peshawar.
Examples of long-barrel carnelian cylinder beads from Chanhu-daro (after Mackay 1943: Pl. LXXXI) were discovered in Tello in contexts datable to the time of Gudea or the Ur III period.
Amongst the earliest evidence of Harappan carnelian in Mesopotamia15 are four 14-15-cm-long barrel-cylinder beads (Fig. XII. 7) from the Royal Cemetery at Ur ( Tosi 1980:450).
Indus valley seals have been found in East Arabia. A ceramic tripod which made Bronze in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam starting in the 3rd millenium BC. Could the tin of Meluhha have come from Indonesia? "The Indonesians were sailors, crossing the Indian Ocean to settle Madagascar in the Bronze Age. The Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, Bay of Bengal, and Red Sea, along with the Indian Ocean were all together called the Erythrian Sea and people from the Erythrian Sea settled Sideon and Tyre; eventually becoming Phoenicans. Meanwhile, people from Indonesia moved through Melanesia to the Pacific and became Polynesians, so the two cultures Phoenicians and Polynesians are related." (Steve Glines, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/sci.archaeology/9KwZXeEJ_Bs )
Map showing the locations of the Molucca islands, a traditional center of clove cultivation, and Terqa, where cloves have been discovered in an Old Babylonian context, ca. 1700 BCE.
Tin is listed as coming with the copper from Meluhha in the south.
Meluhha in ancient cuneiform texts may be a reference for areas along the north coast of the Persian Gulf and extending east, possibly as far as Baluchistan. Magan was located near the straits of Hormuz and the peninsula of Ras Hamra (near present-day Muscat in Oman). In mid first millennium BCE, the location changes direction because Magan was designated as an area the other side of the Gulf upto Oman and Meluhha got a new reference to Egypt and Nubia. The ships of Meluhha moored at the quay of Agade would have perhaps come to meet on the horn of Africa with Egyptian ships heading for Punt. The rediscovery of this Bronze Age thalassocracy over the Indian Ocean and its long development toward the Arabian coastlands perhaps represents one of the most exciting perspectives to be opened up by archaeology, as M. Tosi notes.
"The text may date back to 2300 BC and has come to us in a bilingual version in Summerian and Akkadian probably compiled 600 years later in Old Babylonian times Here is the Akkadian version according to H Hirsch"
MA Mw-lukh-kha MA
ir-ku-us [M. Tosi "Early Maritime Cultures"]
ir-ku-us [M. Tosi "Early Maritime Cultures"]
"Dilun emerges as the trading power par excellence in the Gulf securing direct lines of supply from Meluhha and Maakan."
[C C Lamberg-Karlovsky "Death in Dilmun"]
"Sumers foremost copper producer now definitely associated with the rich copper bearing regions of Oman and to Meluhha."
"The acceptance of a possible pre-Akkadian date for at least some of the Meluhha trade with Mesopotamia"
"Appears to suggest a possible Meluhha trade through the Arabian Gulf in pre- Akkadian times"
[E C I During Caspers "Animal Designs and Gulf Chronology"]
"Agum-kakrime II, the ninth king of the kasserites in Babylon, dated after 1600 BC speaks of importing eye stones from the land of Meluhha"
Terqa structures on a mound.