Haplogroup J2

Since the Neolithic era, Crete stood in the middle of two cultural streams that lead to the west: the West Asian and the North African. It has been suggested that the Minoan people were not Indo-European, and that they could be related to the Pelasgians–pre-Greek dwellers of the Greek mainland and Western Anatolia.

The oldest evidence of inhabitants on Crete are preceramic Neolithic farming community remains that date to approximately 7000 BC. A comparative study of DNA haplogroups of modern Cretan men showed that a male founder group from Anatolia, or the Levant, is shared with the Greeks.

Ancient Minoan culture has been typically viewed as an ancestor of classical Greek civilization, but Minoan Crete was on the periphery of a powerfully dynamic cultural interchange with its neighbors. Rather than viewing Crete as the autochthonous ancestor of Greece’s glory ancient Crete have to be seen in the context of its powerful competitors to the east and south.

Analyzing the symbols of the Minoan theocratic system and their similarities to those of Syria, Anatolia, and Egypt, there seems to be a “cultural koine,” or standard set of cultural assumptions, that circulated throughout the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean at the time Minoan civilization reached its peak.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent. This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of agriculture in the Levant (which seems to have been linked to haplogroup G and perhaps also E1b1b).

The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that the wild bezoar of the Anatolian Zagros are the likely origin of almost all domestic goats today.

Cattle occupy a unique role in human history, domesticated since at least the early Neolithic. Modern genetic research suggests the entire modern domestic stock may have arisen from as few as 80 aurochs tamed in the upper reaches of Mesopotamia about 10,500 years ago near the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq.

A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy (also from Anatolia and Mesopotamia) and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations. Haplogroup J2 is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Balkans, Italy, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Iranian plateau. J2 is found at very high frequencies in certain peoples of the Caucasus: among the Ingush 87.4%, Chechens 55.2%, Georgians 21%-72%, Azeris 24%-48%, Abkhaz 25%, Balkars 24%, Ossetians 24%, Armenians 21%-24%, Circassians 21.8%, and other groups.

In Europe, the frequency of Haplogroup J2 drops dramatically as one moves northward away from the Mediterranean. In Italy, J2 is found with regional frequencies ranging between 9% and 36%. In Greece, it is found with regional frequencies ranging between 10% and 48%. Approximately 24% of Turkish men are J2 according to a recent study, with regional frequencies ranging between 13% and 40%. Combined with J1, up to half of the Turkish population belongs to Haplogroup J.

It has been proposed that haplogroup subclade J2a-M410 was linked to populations on ancient Crete by examining the relationship between Anatolian, Cretan, and Greek populations from around early Neolithic sites. Haplogroup J2b-M12 was associated with Neolithic Greece (ca. 8500 – 4300 BCE) and was reported to be found in modern Crete (3.1%) and mainland Greece (Macedonia 7.0%, Thessaly 8.8%, Argolis 1.8%).

Copper occurs naturally as native copper and was known to some of the oldest civilizations on record. It has a history of use that is at least 10,000 years old, and estimates of its discovery place it at 9000 BC in the Middle East; a copper pendant was found in northern Iraq that dates to 8700 BC

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland. Gold was in short supply, and the Amarna letters inform us that it was acquired from Egypt. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language, conventionally called Hurrian, (unrelated to neighbouring Semitic or Indo-European languages), which may have been a Language Isolate. The Iron Age Urartian language is closely related to or a direct descendant of Hurrian. Several notable Russian linguists, such as S. A. Starostin and V. V. Ivanov, have claimed that the Hurrian and the Hattic were related to the Northeast Caucasian languages.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. It is thought to be a critical element in identifying the origins of both the Georgian and Armenian peoples. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures.

The Shulaveri-Shomu culture begins after the 8.2 kiloyear event which was a sudden decrease in global temperatures starting ca. 6200 BC and which lasted for about two to four centuries.

In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasys on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

Eastern Anatolia contains the oldest monumental structures in the world. For example, the monumental structures at Göbekli Tepe were built by hunters and gatherers a thousand years before the development of agriculture. Eastern Anatolia, along side Mesopotamia and the Levant, is also a heart region for the Neolithic revolution, one of the earliest areas in which humans domesticated plants and animals. Neolithic sites such as Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori and Hacilar represent the world’s oldest known agricultural towns.

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