The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Evidence for long-term gene flow on the Balkan Peninsula using dental nonmetric data: Identity at the Greek colony of Apollonia, Albania


1Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 2School of Anatomical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

Thursday 1:15-1:30, Galleria North Add to calendar

We test the hypothesis that a sustained history of economic interaction throughout the Mediterranean resulted in long-term gene flow between Greeks and Illyrians that can be observed at the Greek colony of Apollonia, Albania (established c. 600 BC). This pattern of human biological interaction is tested by identifying variation in genetic relatedness using biodistance analysis of dental nonmetric traits for three localities: Apollonia (n=226), the mother-city Corinth (n=85), and Lofkënd (n=143), an inland site near Apollonia predating colonization. Dental nonmetric traits were recorded using the ASU Dental Anthropology System.

Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate differences between Corinthian and Illyrian samples and classified 90% of individuals from Apollonia with the Illyrian sample. This suggests that there was an Illyrian contribution to the gene pool at the Corinthian colony of Apollonia. Pseudo-Mahalanobis D2 statistics reveal greater phenetic similarity between colonial Apollonia and prehistoric Illyrian populations (including prehistoric Apollonia and Lofkënd), than with Corinth. However, small biological distances between all of the study populations suggest homogeneity between both the Illyrian and Greek populations. This homogeneous biological signature may represent long-term gene flow in the Balkans. However, the impact of incomplete skeletal remains and resulting small sample sizes must also be considered.

Although each Mediterranean community held a unique set of cultural norms and practices, all Mediterranean cultures shared certain features that come from a long history of economic interactions. This overarching cultural identity is termed Mediterraneanization. The broader implications of Mediterranianization on biological identity and population diversity will be discussed.

This research was supported by a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant, a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, and the International Centre for Albanian Archaeology.

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