Presentation Abstract

Title: J16.05 - Checking the hypothesis of a Balkan origin of the Armenians
Keywords: Armenians; Balkan origin; Y chromosome
Authors: L. Yepiskoposyan1, P. Hrechdakian2, H. Simonian3;
1Institute of Molecular Biology NAS RA, Yerevan, Armenia, 2Armenian DNA Project at Family Tree DNA, Brussels, Belgium, 3University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
Abstract: The origin of Armenians is a controversial subject for anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and linguists. Among several hypotheses on this point, one prevails. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus described the Armenians as Phrygian colonists because of their speech and the garments they wore. Here, we tested the Balkan version of the origin of Armenians based on the Y-chromosomal markers. We used the results of high-resolution typing (applying 50-70 SNPs) in 1171 DNA samples representing 10 Armenian geographic groups covering the whole area of the Armenian plateau and the database of the Armenian DNA project at Family Tree DNA comprising a general Armenian population. As possible signals of Greek influence the presence of the E1b1b1a1-M78 haplogroup with its major sub-branches (E1b1b1a1b-V13, E1b1b1a1a-V12 and E1b1b1a1c-V22) were considered. The frequencies of the E1b1b1a1-M78 clade in Armenians are quite low in nine out of ten geographic groups and in the general dataset, ranging from 0 to 3.8%. The highest rate (8%) of the supposed Balkan lineages is observed in a sample representing the south-eastern part of the Armenian Highland (currently north-west Iran). The mean age of this haplogroup using 14 STR markers is 14.5 ky based on evolutionary mutation rates. This value is much higher than that shown for the Greek samples which indicates that the E1b1b1a1-M78 haplogroup among south-eastern Armenians is indigenous and clearly was not introduced by back-migration from Balkan region. Thus, the patrilineal genetic structure of modern Armenians groups does not support their Balkan origin.