Dissecting mitochondrial dna variability of balearic populations from the bronze age to the current era
Objectives To determine ancient population influences on ancient and current Balearic populations and to reconstruct their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) gene pool evolution. Methods We analyzed 239 individuals belonging to five archaeological populations from Majorca and Minorca, four dating to the transition between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, and one Late Roman Majorcan population. Six additional individuals from Santa Teresa di Gallura from the Nuragic period were characterized and added to the existing samples from that culture to make comparisons with Talaiotic populations. Results We characterized the haplogroups of 138 individuals and obtained 69 sequences from mtDNA hypervariable region I. In the intra‐island study, the apparent differences in social and funerary rites between two contiguous Majorcan necropolises were correlated with genetic characteristics. Also, the likely occurrence of consanguinity in a population with a very particular burial pattern was supported by genetic data. Despite the uniqueness of each necropolis, the global comparison of the five necropolises revealed no significant differences between them, or between ancient and modern populations from the islands. Ancient Balearics showed a similar mtDNA gene pool to Ancient Catalans, had a Near Eastern component, and showed continuity with European populations since at least the Bronze Age. Conclusion We characterized five Balearic necropolises in the context of their geographic and cultural characteristics. The similarity between ancient Balearic and ancient Catalan gene pools reinforces their known historic interactions, while the lack of a consistent genetic continuity with Ancient Sardinians suggests that Talaiotic and Nuragic cultures arose in differentiated populations. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 29:e22883, 2017. ⓒ 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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