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Basque Origins Predate Arrival of Farmers in Iberian Peninsula, DNA Analysis Finds

Comprehensive analysis of Basque genetic patterns has found that Basque genetic uniqueness predates the arrival of agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula some 7,000 years ago, the Genographic Project announced today.

“Through detailed DNA analysis of samples from the French and Spanish Basque regions, the Genographic team found that Basques share unique genetic patterns that distinguish them from the surrounding non-Basque populations,” Genographic said in a news statement. The Genographic Project seeks to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species and answer age-old questions surrounding the genetic diversity of humanity. The project is a nonprofit, multi-year, global research partnership of National Geographic and IBM with field support by the Waitt Family Foundation. At the core of the project is a global consortium of 11 regional scientific teams following an ethical and scientific framework and who are responsible for sample collection and analysis in their respective regions.

 

 

Published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the Basque study was led by Lluis Quintana-Murci, principal investigator of Genographic’s Western European regional center. “Our study mirrors European history and could certainly extend to other European peoples. We found that Basques share common genetic features with other European populations, but at the same time present some autochthonous (local) lineages that make them unique,” said Quintana-Murci. “This is reflected in their language, Euskara, a non-Indo-European language, which altogether contributes to the cultural richness of this European population.”

The genetic finding parallels previous studies of the Basque language, which has been found to be a linguistic isolate, unrelated to any other language in the world, the news statement said. “It is the ancestral language of the Basque people who inhabit a region spanning northeastern Spain and southwestern France and has long been thought to trace back to the languages spoken in Europe prior to the arrival of the Indo-European languages more than 4,000 years ago. (English, Spanish, French and most other European languages are Indo-European.)”

The news release added:

Genographic Project researchers studied mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which has been widely applied to the study of human history and is perhaps best known as the tool used to reveal ‘Mitchondrial Eve,’ the female common ancestor of all modern humans who lived in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. It has also been used to study regional variation both within and outside Africa, providing detailed insights into more recent migration patterns.

“This Genographic study tells a realistic story of gene and language continuity in a defined region that nevertheless was also subject to repeated gene flow. It is a perfect example of why insisting and persisting on accuracy and the deepest possible phylogenetic analysis is a standard to be followed. We simply could not detect the signal in a lower level of resolution — it may have even led us to a completely opposite conclusion,” said Dr. Doron Behar, a population geneticist and co-author of the paper, based in the Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.

The Genographic Project, launched in 2005, enters its eighth year this spring. Nearly 75,000 participants from over 1,000 indigenous populations around the world have joined the initiative, along with more than 440,000 members of the general public who have purchased a testing kit online, swabbed their cheeks and sent their samples to the Genographic lab for processing. This unprecedented collection of samples and data is a scientific resource that the project plans to leverage moving forward.

Genographic Project Director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells noted, “The Basque research is a wonderful example of how we are studying the extensive Genographic sample collection using the most advanced genetic methods. In some cases, the most appropriate tool may be mtDNA, while in others the Y-chromosome or autosomal markers may be more informative.  Ultimately, the goal of the project is to use the latest genetic technology to understand how our ancestors populated the planet.”

Members of the public can participate in the Genographic Project by purchasing a public participation kit from the Genographic Web site, where they can also choose to donate their genetic results to the expanding database. Sales of the kits help fund research and support a Legacy Fund for indigenous and traditional peoples’ community-led language revitalization and cultural projects.

This post was based on news materials released by the National Geographic Society.

Comments

  1. F. Roby
    Canada
    March 31, 7:54 pm

    we have a Basque village in Canada. See http://bcbasque.com/ My grandmother came on a boat in 1889 she told me stories of Basque people when I was a child. I know that in our family all of us are RH 0 Neg blood type (particular to Basque as I found out by asking other people in that village, they all have O Neg for blood type, it was said that this type was the first on the planet, weird and hard to believe. Basque language have no roots in any other language on this planet. We also have some at Les Escoumins, Quebec.

    I am very interested in the history of the Basque.

  2. deidre falxa gardocki
    Columbia md
    October 10, 2013, 8:51 pm

    My Grandfather Domingo Falxa was all Basque his family were originally from Banka France. My father was born in Bishop California Mar 26 1907 and died on Dec 6 1992 he was named John Domingo Falxa my family had Sheep and a dairy in Wilton, California. My Grandpa married a woman from Northern Italy (Cravegna) named Felicita Alberti in 1905 in Bishop California.

  3. John Twiss
    Sunbury-on-Thames, UK
    October 9, 2013, 11:04 am

    Recent studies undertaken by Stephen Oppenheimer on genetic origins of the British show that the inhabitants of Britain, whether English, Welsh or Scot is on average 75% Basque in origin dispelling the myth of Celts being overwhelmed and pushed out of what is now England, in fact that the Celts themselves make up only a small percentage of the inhabitants of Britain and Ireland.

  4. Aptitude Design
    Australia
    October 4, 2013, 9:35 pm

    I see no relation ship between Basque & Kartvelur Ena [Georgian}, one may as well posit any or all agglutinates. As for DNA, the only ” Atlantean” is either a narrow strip off the coastline, now underwater, or the Canaries & Azores,which are Berber settlements. The Saami have V-type mitochondria, but the language is not related to Basque, except that both be agglutinates. Methinks that much time is wasted on pushing pet theories; let the evidence be accrued,that it may speak for itself. Neither Etruscan nor Pictish bear resemblance to each other or Basque. Isolate is the term, revel in it.

  5. Patrick Farnon
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    June 1, 2013, 7:49 am

    Dear JAVIER EGUIA BERISTAIN, could you please clarify how your name is composed. I have some trouble with your English. Tal vez es mejor communicarlo en Castellano. I am writing an article on the origins of the Basques and found your comment very illuminating. thanks patrick

  6. JAVIER EGUIA BERISTAIN
    May 10, 2013, 1:26 pm

    HELLO IM BASQUE AND AS FAR AS I KNOW ALL OF MY ANCESTORS TOO. IM FROM A LITTLE COUNTRY TOWN WHERE WE STILL MANTAIN SOME OF THE CULTURE AND LANGUAGE. ONE OF OUR SPECIAL THING IS THAT OUR MOTHERS WHEN WE ARE YOUNG TEACH US THE SURENAMES OF OUR ANCESTORS AS RESPECT FOR THEM , SO THAT WE KNOW THEIR NAMES AS OURS . THEN MY NAME IS JAVIER 1-EGUIA FIRST FATHERS SURENAME 2 BERISTAIN FIRST MOTHERS SURENAME 3 URIONABARRENETXEA SECOND FATHERS 4USOBIAGA SECOND MOTHERS GANDIAGA ,ARRILLAGA, ARANBURU ,ALBIZU …. ALL THE NAMES HAVE ITS OWN MEANING . THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO DISTINCT EACH OTHER . HE HAVE THE NAME OF THE FARMHOUSE WE BORN ‘ BASERRIA’ . SO THAT MY GRANDPA WAS BALDA , SO MY FATHER , ME AND MY SON . WELL MY SON IS BALDATXIKI KNOW, THE LITTLE BALDA .BOTH OF MY SONS ARE BLOOD (A RH – ) , MY BROTHERS AND ALL MY FAMILY ARE ALSO BALDA . ITS LIKE A CLAN , SO WHEN WHE WE GO TO ANOTHER WILLAGE WE ARE BALDA FROM MARKINA ( THE VILLAGE NAME) , THAT HELPS THE PEOPLE OF OTHER TOWNS TO KNOW WHERE WE COME FROM AND MAYBE THEY DONT KNOW ME BUT THEY KNOW ONE OF THE OTHER MENBERS OF OUR FAMILY SO THE COMUNICATION , RELATION , CAN BE BETTER , WHITH MORE CONFIDANCE .NOW IN SPANISH ‘CON EL INTERNET Y EL ACORTAMIENTO DE LAS DISTANCIAS Y LA IMPERSONALIDAD EN LAS RELACIONES , ESTE METODO PIERDE UN POCO LA RAZON DE SER , PERO PUES EN LOS AMBIENTES RURALES SIGUE TENIENDO AUN VIDA . EN MI PUEBLO A MI ME CONOCEN COMO BALDA NO COMO EGUIA .
    IN BASQUE LANGUAGE (Euskaldunak betidanik itxas gizon trebeak izan dira eta Ameriketan izan giñen Canadan zehar Colon baino aurretik . alan diote azkenengo ikerketak) .The basques were very good sailors and there are new studies that conclude that we were in Canada before Columbus. A boat made with the Wood of some particular tree was found in canada and when they study the Wood they notice that it was from our country , and much older than 1492 . Ive read about white people in some local tribes in the east side of Canada also.
    Now in basque to say goodbye to you all
    Ondo izan eta beste bat arte . Be well and until next time

  7. My computer will not type letter following "y". B. Mi rahi-Shalom
    San Jose, CA, USA
    February 19, 2013, 1:04 am

    I have always been fascinated with the Basque. Also, I think you should study the Navajo whose language is said to be very unique. It is a shame the Mandan tribe has died off for they had european blood. Also the Northwestern Tribe the Kwiatal (sorry for spelling) will sometimes have blond/red hair, light eyes and skin when parents are very dark. Interesting where they obtained the DNA for that.

  8. Margaret Easling
    California
    December 13, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I was told by people in Oaxaca, that there were words in Zapotec or Mixtec that were related to basic Basque words. Surely, some peoples sailed from the early Americas to the East .

  9. Julie Buchanan
    Texas
    December 10, 2012, 9:29 pm

    Has there ever been a study done of recovered Etruscan DNA? If so, is there any likeness to Basque DNA?

  10. Atlantis
    July 8, 2012, 11:34 am

    Basque are from non african Cro magnon, Atlantean

    out-of-Africa is a myth, politically correct but not scientifically correct

  11. Wilson Gray
    United States
    March 26, 2012, 2:26 am

    “Pre-indoeuropean does not mean it is unrelated to other linguistic families.”

    Which ones are these other linguistic families, do you know?

  12. Petronila ALAO
    France
    March 19, 2012, 7:34 pm

    I am not sure at all that basque is a completely isolate language. Genetics is not Linguistics. Pre-indoeuropean does not mean it is unrelated to other linguistic families.