Presentation Abstract

Title: J16.27 - Armenian Highland as a transition corridor for the spread of Neolithic agriculturists
Keywords: Neolithic transition; Armenian Highland; R1b1a2-M269 haplogroup
Authors: A. Hovhannisyan, A. Margaryan, H. Hovhannisyan, Z. Khachatryan, A. Khudoyan, L. Yepiskoposyan;
Institute of Molecular Biology NAS RA, Yerevan, Armenia.
Abstract: The routes of Neolithic migrations from the Near East are presently intensively debated among scholars of various disciplines. Recent studies suggest that haplogroup R1b1a2-M269, which is the most common lineage in the European populations, was spread with first farmers via Anatolia to Europe during the Neolithic transition. These studies, however, did not include indigenous populations from the Armenian plateau, though it has played a key role in the ancient human migrations since early Paleolithic.
We used a total of 358 Y-chromosomal data collected in three Armenian geographic groups from eastern and western parts of the Armenian plateau and comparative datasets of various European populations to assess the genetic contribution of the region to the spread of haplogroup R1b1a2-M269 north- and westward.
The frequency of this lineage in eastern Armenian populations is higher compared with eastern European populations (including Anatolia) and lower than in Western Europe. The rate of the variance and age of the R1b1a2-M269 is the highest in western Armenian population among all datasets considered. In addition, there is a strong correlation between the genetic and geographic distances of the populations studied thus reflecting the directions of pre-Neolithic and Neolithic migrations from the Near East.
In conclusion, the southwestern area of Armenian Highland deserves to be more thoroughly examined as one of the principal transition regions for the spread of first agriculturists from Levant to Europe.