Genetic study Palaeogenomic insights into the origins of early settlers on the island of Cyprus


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Archaeological evidence supports sporadic seafaring visits to the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus by Epipaleolithic hunter-gatherers over 12,000 years ago, followed by permanent settlements during the early Neolithic. The geographical origins of these early seafarers have so far remained elusive. By systematically analysing all available genomes from the late Pleistocene to early Holocene Near East (c. 14,000–7000 cal BCE), we provide a comprehensive overview of the genetic landscape of the early Neolithic Fertile Crescent and Anatolia and infer the likely origins of three recently published genomes from Kissonerga-Mylouthkia (Cypriot Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, c. 7600–6800 cal BCE). These appear to derive roughly 80% of their ancestry from Aceramic Neolithic Central Anatolians residing in or near the Konya plain, and the remainder from a genetically basal Levantine population. Based on genome-wide weighted ancestry covariance analysis, we infer that this admixture event took place roughly between 14,000 and 10,000 BCE, coinciding with the transition from the Cypriot late Epipaleolithic to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA). Additionally, we identify strong genetic affinities between the examined Cypro-LPPNB individuals and later northwestern Anatolians and the earliest European Neolithic farmers. Our results inform archaeological evidence on prehistoric demographic processes in the Eastern Mediterranean, providing important insights into early seafaring, maritime connections, and insular settlement.

PCA plot displaying all ancient samples analysed in the present study.
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From the Supplementary Information.

"In terms of paternal ancestry, two out of three analysed Cypro-LPPNB farmers were assigned to Y-haplogroup H2 (H-P96). The third was preliminary assigned to macrohaplogroup F due to low coverage and is excluded hereafter. From the ancient samples analysed in the present study, Y-haplogroup H is found in 33% of analysed Levantine PPNB farmers and 19% of analysed Anatolian Neolithic farmers from Barcin (Supplementary Fig. S12; Supplementary Table S13) and according to previous evidence, could be an indicator of Anatolian ancestry in both Cypro-LPPNB and Anatolian-admixed Levantine PPNB farmers.
In terms of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (Supplementary Fig. S13; Supplementary Table S14), two out of three Cypro-LPPNB individuals providing informative markers, were assigned to haplogroups T2 and X2b, respectively. These haplogroups are probably associated with the Anatolian Neolithic, as among the analysed samples, T2 is found in 13% of Aceramic and 15% in Ceramic Neolithic Central Anatolians, 7% in northwestern Anatolians (Barcin), and sporadically (1 individual at each site) in southeastern Anatolia / Upper Mesopotamia (Nevali Cori), the Central Zagros (Tepe Abdul Hosein), and initial Neolithic Bulgaria. Haplogroup X2b has only been identified in an early Neolithic individual from Revenia, northern Greece.
Overall, the reviewed uniparental marker evidence corroborates our autosomal analyses, highlighting a primarily Anatolian ancestry for the tested Cypro-LPPNB."

Frequency of major Y-chromosome haplogroups (Y-haplogroups) among Near Eastern and Southeast European Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic and Neolithic populations analysed in the present study, including the Cypro-LPPNB.

Frequency of major mitochondrial DNA haplogroups (mtDNA-haplogroups) among Near Eastern and Southeast European Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic and Neolithic populations analysed in the present study, including the analysed Cypro-LPPNB.

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