The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersGene Expression Blog
Moving Along the Roman Peace
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Rami_Malek_in_Hollywood,_California A friend of mine introduced me to Mr. Robot a month ago. The show was difficult for me to follow, and I don’t watch much TV in the first place (“watching TV” is like making a “mix tape”; there’s not television involved anymore). But, the star, Rami Malek, had an intriguing look.

It was only later that I realized why: his face resembled the Fayum portraits. These miniatures represented people in Roman Egypt from all walks of life. They are one of the best set of representations we have of normal individuals, albeit, prosperous enough to commission these works.

Malek is from a Coptic family, so presumably genetically representative of people in Roman Egypt during that time. It stands to reason that he’d look quite like many of these ancient Romans.

italian Anyway, I happen to have some data laying around put it through PCA, Treemix and ADMIXTURE. If you click the plot to the left PC 1 shows a cline from Sardinians to Lithuanians. PC 2 is from (modern) Egyptians to Basques. The Egyptians are clearly being shifted by their Sub-Saharan African admixture, which in other analyses usually comes in at between 10% to 25% depending on the individual. The Assyrian Christian samples, and Cypriots, are much closer to the other populations on PC 2 (several of the Lebanese). Then the Sicilians, Tuscans, Bergamo Northern Italians, and Spanish (before the Basque).

Sometimes Treemix is more informative. Below is a pretty representative graph with 5 migration edges (I set Egyptians to be the root):

Screenshot 2016-10-24 22.39.38

And here’s K = 4.

webpreview_htm_m60f0bd2a

These sorts of plots are a Rorschach test. But, I’m pretty sure ancient DNA will confirm that migration around the Mediterranean during the Classical Era was non-trivial, but, the minor component in the ancestry of most modern populations.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Genetics 
Hide 42 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. I believe he’s also part Greek.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    I believe he’s also part Greek.
     
    With actors and pictures, it's a mixed bag. Here he looks more Greek: http://wallpapersqq.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Rami-malek-12.jpg

    Here he looks more Arab/Levantine: http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/actor-rami-malek-is-photographed-for-los-angeles-times-on-april-24-picture-id533086538

    The magic of makeup, styling, and photography!
  2. He played a pharoah in the Night at the Museum movies (I have kids of just the right age to know these things). Remarkably appropriate casting given his background.

    • Replies: @jimmyriddle
    Perhaps, that wasn't a coincidence? Could they have been heading-off accusations of "cultural appropriation"?
  3. About that PCA, isn’t it PC1 that’s the Basque-Egyptian cline with PC2 separating Sardinians and Lithuanians from others?

  4. He is 7/8 Coptic and 1/8 Greek in known ancestry. The Greek part is too small to have a significant influence on his look.

    • Replies: @Rick
    That is not really how the genetics works.

    Do you really believe that 1/8th of your genome doesn't contribute to your phenotype?
  5. @Onur
    He is 7/8 Coptic and 1/8 Greek in known ancestry. The Greek part is too small to have a significant influence on his look.

    That is not really how the genetics works.

    Do you really believe that 1/8th of your genome doesn’t contribute to your phenotype?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    in general for salient gestalt perception i think 1/8th is usually beneath notice, especially when the groups aren't that different in appearance like egyptians or greeks. if, malek was 1/8th chinese he might not look too chinese (kate beckinsale does not look very burmese and ian duncan smith does not look japanese), an east asian edar variant might still be around, so that would have some effect.
    , @Onur
    Something as complex as general appearance is governed by too many genes, most of which have small effect. So we are not talking about a single or a small number of genes or traits here. Also, no significant influence does not mean no influence, he still might have some small influence on his look from his Greek great-grandparent. Lastly, as Razib said, we are not talking about populations with a big racial difference, so the Greek influence at his look is most likely unnoticeable.
  6. @Rick
    That is not really how the genetics works.

    Do you really believe that 1/8th of your genome doesn't contribute to your phenotype?

    in general for salient gestalt perception i think 1/8th is usually beneath notice, especially when the groups aren’t that different in appearance like egyptians or greeks. if, malek was 1/8th chinese he might not look too chinese (kate beckinsale does not look very burmese and ian duncan smith does not look japanese), an east asian edar variant might still be around, so that would have some effect.

    • Replies: @Rick
    That makes sense, but I wouldn't discount a contribution in general.

    I don't know what the odds are, but (according to the few dozen genes that 23andme checks) my daughter inherited 100% of her known pigmentation genes from just 2 grandparents. And that appears to be accurate based on her looks. She somehow got several homozygous recessive alleles.

    On the other hand, she is lactose intolerant, unlike any of her grandparents, parents, or siblings. Again, double recessive.
  7. @Razib Khan
    in general for salient gestalt perception i think 1/8th is usually beneath notice, especially when the groups aren't that different in appearance like egyptians or greeks. if, malek was 1/8th chinese he might not look too chinese (kate beckinsale does not look very burmese and ian duncan smith does not look japanese), an east asian edar variant might still be around, so that would have some effect.

    That makes sense, but I wouldn’t discount a contribution in general.

    I don’t know what the odds are, but (according to the few dozen genes that 23andme checks) my daughter inherited 100% of her known pigmentation genes from just 2 grandparents. And that appears to be accurate based on her looks. She somehow got several homozygous recessive alleles.

    On the other hand, she is lactose intolerant, unlike any of her grandparents, parents, or siblings. Again, double recessive.

    • Replies: @CaoMengDe
    Bruce Lee's Mom is Eurasian. Bruce just look Chinese
  8. Lithuanian being a proxy for Yamnaya/CWC/anything northern?

  9. @Rick
    That is not really how the genetics works.

    Do you really believe that 1/8th of your genome doesn't contribute to your phenotype?

    Something as complex as general appearance is governed by too many genes, most of which have small effect. So we are not talking about a single or a small number of genes or traits here. Also, no significant influence does not mean no influence, he still might have some small influence on his look from his Greek great-grandparent. Lastly, as Razib said, we are not talking about populations with a big racial difference, so the Greek influence at his look is most likely unnoticeable.

  10. @Polynices
    He played a pharoah in the Night at the Museum movies (I have kids of just the right age to know these things). Remarkably appropriate casting given his background.

    Perhaps, that wasn’t a coincidence? Could they have been heading-off accusations of “cultural appropriation”?

  11. The Coptic language is directly descended from ancient Egyptian, and in fact was key in deciphering the hieroglyphs. The Copts obviously are decendants who have been in the area for–conservatively–8000 years.

    The Greeks were much later, and the Romans a bit later than they. There were more Greeks in Egypt than Romans, even after the Roman conquest, but Egypt never became “Greek” or “Roman” below (neither did Syria, etc.). There would have some intermarriage at the top of course.

    I am sure the remaining Copts (Christians persecuted by the Muslim population) will find it amusing that they look like “Romans” to someone who seems to have no inkling of the historical context.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    hey retard, i'm talking about *roman* egypt. that's why i'm calling them "romans" (many of the fayum portraits may have been greek speakers, though probably hellenized in any case).

    also, you're wrong about long egyptians have been egyptian probably (but then you would be, you're stupid with minimal reading comprehension):

    http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/06/16/059311
  12. @E. A. Costa
    The Coptic language is directly descended from ancient Egyptian, and in fact was key in deciphering the hieroglyphs. The Copts obviously are decendants who have been in the area for--conservatively--8000 years.

    The Greeks were much later, and the Romans a bit later than they. There were more Greeks in Egypt than Romans, even after the Roman conquest, but Egypt never became "Greek" or "Roman" below (neither did Syria, etc.). There would have some intermarriage at the top of course.

    I am sure the remaining Copts (Christians persecuted by the Muslim population) will find it amusing that they look like "Romans" to someone who seems to have no inkling of the historical context.

    hey retard, i’m talking about *roman* egypt. that’s why i’m calling them “romans” (many of the fayum portraits may have been greek speakers, though probably hellenized in any case).

    also, you’re wrong about long egyptians have been egyptian probably (but then you would be, you’re stupid with minimal reading comprehension):

    http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/06/16/059311

  13. @Rick
    That makes sense, but I wouldn't discount a contribution in general.

    I don't know what the odds are, but (according to the few dozen genes that 23andme checks) my daughter inherited 100% of her known pigmentation genes from just 2 grandparents. And that appears to be accurate based on her looks. She somehow got several homozygous recessive alleles.

    On the other hand, she is lactose intolerant, unlike any of her grandparents, parents, or siblings. Again, double recessive.

    Bruce Lee’s Mom is Eurasian. Bruce just look Chinese

  14. AFAIK actual genetic studies of the Copts are few and far between. Indeed, some major studies which were done on North Africa would likely have been helped by their inclusion. I’ve seen more on Lebanese Christians, Druze, various Near Eastern Jewish groups, and even the Mandeans. Is there some cultural or political reason for the lack of Copt data?

  15. @Karl
    This is one study that includes Copts, they do somewhat differ from the general Egyptian population.

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep09996

    There are many groups that go unstudied or understudied, don’t think there’s anything more than lack of resources/interest behind it.

    On a related topic. there’s a new paper about North African population history with public data.
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/10/10/molbev.msw218.abstract
    https://figshare.com/articles/North_African_Berber_dataset/3501761

    They’re more thorough than previous papers with Chromopainter added alongside ADMIXTURE, PCA etc. but probably a mistake to assume the Chenini Berber cluster is “ancestral North African” rather than just drift (extremely small population size, lots or RoH, when it’s a haplotype donor every other Berber pop greatly prefers Qatari etc). They could have compared them to their neighbours like Van Dorp 2015 compared Ari Blacksmiths to Cultivators.

    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    Differ somewhat seems to be an understatement. At least according to that study, Muslim Egyptians are more genetically close to Qataris than they are to Copts on both the PCA and the admixture runs. Of course, the Copt population studied was in Sudan, not Egypt, but since the majority of Sudanese Copts are the descendants of 19th century immigrants from Egypt there shouldn't be dramatic differences between the genetics of Sudanese and Egyptian Copts.
  16. There are a number of the Fayum portraits on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Well worth visiting. Several years back there was an exhibition where the curators of the Met were loaned a large number of Fayum portraits from around the world for a special display. Once in a lifetime chance to see such a magnificent collection in one place.

    I don’t know much about the history of art, but I was surprise at how realistic the portrayals are. Accurate representative portraiture did not begin with the Renaissance.

    I had a similar reaction to Khan. My impression on viewing this exhibition was, “I have seen these people before, all over New York City”.

    • Replies: @Daniel H
    BTW, these portraits were made in the first centuries A.D, so I scrutinized them closely for any representation of Christianity. Couldn't find any, though one young lady was sporting a necklace pendant of the ISIS cult, that I initially took for a crucifix. I take it that Christianity had not made its way into the Egyptian upper classes at this point.
  17. @Daniel H
    There are a number of the Fayum portraits on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Well worth visiting. Several years back there was an exhibition where the curators of the Met were loaned a large number of Fayum portraits from around the world for a special display. Once in a lifetime chance to see such a magnificent collection in one place.

    I don't know much about the history of art, but I was surprise at how realistic the portrayals are. Accurate representative portraiture did not begin with the Renaissance.

    I had a similar reaction to Khan. My impression on viewing this exhibition was, "I have seen these people before, all over New York City".

    BTW, these portraits were made in the first centuries A.D, so I scrutinized them closely for any representation of Christianity. Couldn’t find any, though one young lady was sporting a necklace pendant of the ISIS cult, that I initially took for a crucifix. I take it that Christianity had not made its way into the Egyptian upper classes at this point.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    christianity was pretty marginal for a long time. became a 'big deal' in the second half of the 3rd century.
  18. @Daniel H
    BTW, these portraits were made in the first centuries A.D, so I scrutinized them closely for any representation of Christianity. Couldn't find any, though one young lady was sporting a necklace pendant of the ISIS cult, that I initially took for a crucifix. I take it that Christianity had not made its way into the Egyptian upper classes at this point.

    christianity was pretty marginal for a long time. became a ‘big deal’ in the second half of the 3rd century.

  19. @Shaikorth
    @Karl
    This is one study that includes Copts, they do somewhat differ from the general Egyptian population.

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep09996

    There are many groups that go unstudied or understudied, don't think there's anything more than lack of resources/interest behind it.

    On a related topic. there's a new paper about North African population history with public data.
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/10/10/molbev.msw218.abstract
    https://figshare.com/articles/North_African_Berber_dataset/3501761

    They're more thorough than previous papers with Chromopainter added alongside ADMIXTURE, PCA etc. but probably a mistake to assume the Chenini Berber cluster is "ancestral North African" rather than just drift (extremely small population size, lots or RoH, when it's a haplotype donor every other Berber pop greatly prefers Qatari etc). They could have compared them to their neighbours like Van Dorp 2015 compared Ari Blacksmiths to Cultivators.

    Differ somewhat seems to be an understatement. At least according to that study, Muslim Egyptians are more genetically close to Qataris than they are to Copts on both the PCA and the admixture runs. Of course, the Copt population studied was in Sudan, not Egypt, but since the majority of Sudanese Copts are the descendants of 19th century immigrants from Egypt there shouldn’t be dramatic differences between the genetics of Sudanese and Egyptian Copts.

  20. @Karl

    Those Copts are indeed recent migrants from Egypt. Generally more distant from West Africans than the main Egyptian population, but drifted which complicates interpreting their ADMIXTURE result. There are more PCA’s in the supplements.

    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm surprised to hear that the Copts are drifted. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought drift was an issue with populations which were not only reproductively isolated, but small (like the Kalash) or at least descended from a small founder population. Copts still make up roughly 10% of Egypt's population today, and made up a larger proportion in the past. Solid estimates of Egypt's total population during the Middle Ages are hard to come by, but it seems like it was always somewhere in the low millions. The population nadir for the Copts may have been after the Black Plague, which is thought to have killed 40% of Egypt's total population, and occurred after the bulk of mass Islamization of the Egyptian population. Even then, the Coptic population must have been in the low hundreds of thousands, which is hardly a small population when considering population genetics.
  21. Coptic genetics aren’t a mystery anymore. They are broadly similar to Muslim Egyptians, but lack the ~5% West African component found in Muslims.

    Similar differences exist in the Levant, only the recent West African is a bit lower, and there is occasionally some minor Euro and south-central Asian in the Levantine Muslims. Differences are rather small overall, but naturally appear significant in global PCAs.

    Razib, the Coptic genomes from Sudan are public, if you want to have a look.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i have them. time.
  22. @Lank
    Coptic genetics aren't a mystery anymore. They are broadly similar to Muslim Egyptians, but lack the ~5% West African component found in Muslims.

    Similar differences exist in the Levant, only the recent West African is a bit lower, and there is occasionally some minor Euro and south-central Asian in the Levantine Muslims. Differences are rather small overall, but naturally appear significant in global PCAs.

    Razib, the Coptic genomes from Sudan are public, if you want to have a look.

    i have them. time.

  23. to the commenter who asked why i wasn’t civil. i don’t when a reader accuses me of being ignorant of history, but it’s so false that i assume they must be stupid or lazy. pick one. either way, i don’t want them commenting (ever again).

  24. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The new study on Northwest Africans is absolute garbage.
    The Timimoum Algerian “Berbers” have massive amounts of recent west African ancestry and massive variability in it (from normal north African to as high as 60%)
    The new Tiznit and Errachidia samples are of some value, but again, Souss Berbers are notoriously admixed with all types outsiders, especially west Africans.

    The methodology conclusions are of less worth than the new samples (the samples having at least some non-zero value), and they’re worth absolutely nothing in my opinion.
    First a simple PCA with Yoruba, Basques, Egyptians, CEU and Syrian, where the first PC is SSA ancestry and the second PC is basically affinity to the notoriously inbred and drifted Tunisian Chenini Berbers, who amateur and non-amateur bloggers were aware of for years, including Razib Dienekes and Polako.
    Second, a naive supervised ADMIXTURE run with all the samples mentioned above that looks exactly like every run we’ve ever seen, with the drifted inbred Tunisian Chenini sample forming their own cluster early on and pulling a good part of other North Africans towards them.

    That’s it. Nothing of value as always with North African studies. Nothing learned and little gained.
    The only study of any value about North Africans was the Henn et al. 2012 study, and the ones about U6 and E-M81 if we include haplogroup studies I assume.

    The Berber populations that are known to have NOT participated in the west African slave trade and not using slaves, nor having any influx of either Arabs or Moriscos, as well as being numerous and outbred, are never studied for whatever reason.
    These isolated farming Berbers in high mountains (Kabyles Riffians Chaouis Nafusis etc) are obviously the best candidates to study, yet these geneticists apparently prefer to study tiny populations of Berber speakers living in the deep Sahara with huge recent west African ancestry, or even tinier highly inbred non representative populations that no one ever heard of.

    Razib, I heard that the lab that got the Guanche haplogroups are currently sequencing Iberomaurusian aDNA from the Taforalt caves. Have you heard of that and do you have any idea when it’s coming out?

  25. A friend of mine introduced me to Mr. Robot a month ago. The show was difficult for me to follow

    I tried it. I think it had some creative and intriguing elements, but the producers seem to go too “psychedelic” at times. These “artists” should realize that people watch TV shows for the interesting stories… not usually to peak inside their “genius” minds. So some of these psychedelic moments in shows such as “Mr. Robot” strike me as self-indulgent on the part of the creators. Very offputting (to me).

    My discovery this season is “Quarry”:

    Peter Mullan as a major supporting character “The Broker” is excellent (though you can hear his Scottish accent underneath the affected American Southern one).

    ’70’s Memphis scenery is very evocative too.

  26. @TGGP
    I believe he's also part Greek.

    I believe he’s also part Greek.

    With actors and pictures, it’s a mixed bag. Here he looks more Greek:

    Here he looks more Arab/Levantine: http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/actor-rami-malek-is-photographed-for-los-angeles-times-on-april-24-picture-id533086538

    The magic of makeup, styling, and photography!

  27. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the Fayum portraits, but the wikipedia article on them suggests that they were primarily portraits of ethnic Greek settlers to Egypt, and that there was “apartheid” between them and the native Egyptians. Is this good history, and if so, does that imply that Malek is not in fact genetically representative of the population the Fayum portraits came from?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i doubt this is true. hellenization was a thing. greeks have dark hair, but too many of those those portraits look near eastern.
  28. @Qdeom
    I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the Fayum portraits, but the wikipedia article on them suggests that they were primarily portraits of ethnic Greek settlers to Egypt, and that there was "apartheid" between them and the native Egyptians. Is this good history, and if so, does that imply that Malek is not in fact genetically representative of the population the Fayum portraits came from?

    i doubt this is true. hellenization was a thing. greeks have dark hair, but too many of those those portraits look near eastern.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    hellenization was a thing.
     
    That was more cultural than intermarriage, no?
  29. @Shaikorth
    @Karl

    Those Copts are indeed recent migrants from Egypt. Generally more distant from West Africans than the main Egyptian population, but drifted which complicates interpreting their ADMIXTURE result. There are more PCA's in the supplements.

    I’m surprised to hear that the Copts are drifted. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought drift was an issue with populations which were not only reproductively isolated, but small (like the Kalash) or at least descended from a small founder population. Copts still make up roughly 10% of Egypt’s population today, and made up a larger proportion in the past. Solid estimates of Egypt’s total population during the Middle Ages are hard to come by, but it seems like it was always somewhere in the low millions. The population nadir for the Copts may have been after the Black Plague, which is thought to have killed 40% of Egypt’s total population, and occurred after the bulk of mass Islamization of the Egyptian population. Even then, the Coptic population must have been in the low hundreds of thousands, which is hardly a small population when considering population genetics.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i assume he meant the copts *in* sudan. though they migrated in 19th century, so it must have been a big crash if drifted. my initial thought was "drift" too, but thinking about it your now i am skeptical.

    but you are correct. copts are too large of a group to be drifted.

  30. @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm surprised to hear that the Copts are drifted. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought drift was an issue with populations which were not only reproductively isolated, but small (like the Kalash) or at least descended from a small founder population. Copts still make up roughly 10% of Egypt's population today, and made up a larger proportion in the past. Solid estimates of Egypt's total population during the Middle Ages are hard to come by, but it seems like it was always somewhere in the low millions. The population nadir for the Copts may have been after the Black Plague, which is thought to have killed 40% of Egypt's total population, and occurred after the bulk of mass Islamization of the Egyptian population. Even then, the Coptic population must have been in the low hundreds of thousands, which is hardly a small population when considering population genetics.

    i assume he meant the copts *in* sudan. though they migrated in 19th century, so it must have been a big crash if drifted. my initial thought was “drift” too, but thinking about it your now i am skeptical.

    but you are correct. copts are too large of a group to be drifted.

    • Replies: @Shaikorth
    Yes, the Sudanese copts surely aren't representative of the average driftedness of Egyptian copts. Just the old genetic structure should be the same since they clearly haven't intermarried with Sudanese.

    Regarding the Egyptian coptic population in general, I don't know whether it has been constantly panmictic since islamization took place or if there are some subpopulations that have gotten isolated from the rest.
  31. I noticed the look and was curious but not enough to check yet – Coptic, very interesting.

  32. @Razib Khan
    i assume he meant the copts *in* sudan. though they migrated in 19th century, so it must have been a big crash if drifted. my initial thought was "drift" too, but thinking about it your now i am skeptical.

    but you are correct. copts are too large of a group to be drifted.

    Yes, the Sudanese copts surely aren’t representative of the average driftedness of Egyptian copts. Just the old genetic structure should be the same since they clearly haven’t intermarried with Sudanese.

    Regarding the Egyptian coptic population in general, I don’t know whether it has been constantly panmictic since islamization took place or if there are some subpopulations that have gotten isolated from the rest.

  33. Why just a west African element? the Omanis owned Zanzibar and the main product of places like that and Mombassa for centuries were slaves exported to the Islamic core, of which egypt has been a central part for a millennnium.
    Wouldn’t a large portion of the African admix. be east African, or is the classic east African type already a blend of the west African Bantu and the north Africans and Arabs?, It’s obvious in the the faces and skins when you look at Ethiopians and Somalis, But are the further south east Africans also descendants of the west African farmers who exploded out of there and took down the San and pygmy, ? do they just look different because of a small Arab admix, the opposite of the one spoken of above?. not stating, just asking

  34. @Razib Khan
    i doubt this is true. hellenization was a thing. greeks have dark hair, but too many of those those portraits look near eastern.

    hellenization was a thing.

    That was more cultural than intermarriage, no?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    standard thinking yes, but it's obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter). latin was the language of the western elites, while greek was the language of the eastern elites. to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion. presumably much of the melkite greek speaking population of the near east came from mixed origins.

    p.s. cypriot greeks are genetically a variant of near easterner.

  35. @Twinkie

    hellenization was a thing.
     
    That was more cultural than intermarriage, no?

    standard thinking yes, but it’s obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter). latin was the language of the western elites, while greek was the language of the eastern elites. to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion. presumably much of the melkite greek speaking population of the near east came from mixed origins.

    p.s. cypriot greeks are genetically a variant of near easterner.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    Do we have any genetic data from Greek burials in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?That would certainly help give us some sense of how common intermarriage was.

    to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion.
     
    Can we use the Byzantine Empire as a model for intermarriage rates in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?
    , @Twinkie

    standard thinking yes, but it’s obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter).
     
    It's been years since I studied the military history of the Diadochi period, but I do still remember some. :)

    For example, Greek mercenaries and settler-soldiers (obviously all males) were constantly in high demand throughout Syria and Egypt during the time period. Because of their martial efficacy and cultural proximity to the ruling Diadochi, they instantly became the soldier-elites of their host societies. But as is typically the case with military adventurers, there was never enough of them and their offspring in the settler societies, which created a real dilemma for the rulers.

    On the one hand, they needed to train the locals in the Greek fashion (as heavily-armed/armored, tight-formation hoplites) to make up for the small numbers of the actual Greeks, and for this they needed Greek troops/instructors. However, obviously the Greek mercenaries and settlers were reluctant to train their own replacements and were likely to mutiny when such schemes were attempted. So there was this precarious situation in which there were never enough Greeks to fight sustained, decisive campaigns, and they acted as potentially dangerous barriers to training local troops in a similar fashion.

    The upshot of all this is that the number of Greek settlers in Syria and Egypt was probably very low compared to the general population, particularly in view of the frequent conflicts among the Diadochi and local warlords (males, especially a small elite, who fight in constant wars tend to have low fertility - just look at the Spartiates). I wouldn't be surprised if the actual numbers of Greek settlers in various Eastern polities were four figures to low five figures at most, probably not enough to leave a large genetic footprint, even as elites. In that regard, they seem no different than other adventuring male elites of the past, the Mongols, the Vikings, the Normans, etc. This is something I think people tend to overlook, because of the difference with the more modern English colonial fertility with which we are more familiar.
  36. @Razib Khan
    standard thinking yes, but it's obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter). latin was the language of the western elites, while greek was the language of the eastern elites. to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion. presumably much of the melkite greek speaking population of the near east came from mixed origins.

    p.s. cypriot greeks are genetically a variant of near easterner.

    Do we have any genetic data from Greek burials in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?That would certainly help give us some sense of how common intermarriage was.

    to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion.

    Can we use the Byzantine Empire as a model for intermarriage rates in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    roman for sure, yes.

    also, please note that greek colonies in the classical period were founded by men. they did not have women. the mixed progeny were greek.

  37. @syonredux
    Do we have any genetic data from Greek burials in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?That would certainly help give us some sense of how common intermarriage was.

    to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion.
     
    Can we use the Byzantine Empire as a model for intermarriage rates in Ptolemaic/Roman Egypt?

    roman for sure, yes.

    also, please note that greek colonies in the classical period were founded by men. they did not have women. the mixed progeny were greek.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    roman for sure, yes.
     
    Should have been more careful there. I was thinking in terms of early Roman Egypt (say, prior to AD 100). Obviously, an increasingly Christian Roman Egypt would have been a different matter.

    also, please note that greek colonies in the classical period were founded by men. they did not have women. the mixed progeny were greek.
     
    Oh, sure. Founding events would have largely involved Greek men marrying local women. But how much intermarriage occurred after that event?Did exogamy continue? Or did the colonies shift to endogamy once the colony was established?
  38. @Razib Khan
    roman for sure, yes.

    also, please note that greek colonies in the classical period were founded by men. they did not have women. the mixed progeny were greek.

    roman for sure, yes.

    Should have been more careful there. I was thinking in terms of early Roman Egypt (say, prior to AD 100). Obviously, an increasingly Christian Roman Egypt would have been a different matter.

    also, please note that greek colonies in the classical period were founded by men. they did not have women. the mixed progeny were greek.

    Oh, sure. Founding events would have largely involved Greek men marrying local women. But how much intermarriage occurred after that event?Did exogamy continue? Or did the colonies shift to endogamy once the colony was established?

  39. Here’s a comment from Mathilda’s Anthropology blog on the racial origins of the Fayum portraits:

    Studies of the Fayum mummies indicate the only a minority of them were Greeks. They appear to have been the burials of the Greek soldiers/officials, their local wives and Egyptian children and grandchildren. A study on the teeth by JD Irish showed that they didn’t seem to be particularly different from the rest of the population at the time, so the amount of Greek ancestry in them seems to be pretty low.

    https://mathildasanthropologyblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/the-faces-of-ancient-egypt/

  40. @Razib Khan
    standard thinking yes, but it's obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter). latin was the language of the western elites, while greek was the language of the eastern elites. to give a concrete example, many of the byzantine emperors were not hellenes by ancestry if you go back a few generations (often armenians, sometimes syrian or isaurian), but they were thoroughly hellenized in terms of language and religion. presumably much of the melkite greek speaking population of the near east came from mixed origins.

    p.s. cypriot greeks are genetically a variant of near easterner.

    standard thinking yes, but it’s obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter).

    It’s been years since I studied the military history of the Diadochi period, but I do still remember some. 🙂

    For example, Greek mercenaries and settler-soldiers (obviously all males) were constantly in high demand throughout Syria and Egypt during the time period. Because of their martial efficacy and cultural proximity to the ruling Diadochi, they instantly became the soldier-elites of their host societies. But as is typically the case with military adventurers, there was never enough of them and their offspring in the settler societies, which created a real dilemma for the rulers.

    On the one hand, they needed to train the locals in the Greek fashion (as heavily-armed/armored, tight-formation hoplites) to make up for the small numbers of the actual Greeks, and for this they needed Greek troops/instructors. However, obviously the Greek mercenaries and settlers were reluctant to train their own replacements and were likely to mutiny when such schemes were attempted. So there was this precarious situation in which there were never enough Greeks to fight sustained, decisive campaigns, and they acted as potentially dangerous barriers to training local troops in a similar fashion.

    The upshot of all this is that the number of Greek settlers in Syria and Egypt was probably very low compared to the general population, particularly in view of the frequent conflicts among the Diadochi and local warlords (males, especially a small elite, who fight in constant wars tend to have low fertility – just look at the Spartiates). I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual numbers of Greek settlers in various Eastern polities were four figures to low five figures at most, probably not enough to leave a large genetic footprint, even as elites. In that regard, they seem no different than other adventuring male elites of the past, the Mongols, the Vikings, the Normans, etc. This is something I think people tend to overlook, because of the difference with the more modern English colonial fertility with which we are more familiar.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    they came as conquerors to collect rents, not as settlers. that's the important distinction.
  41. @Twinkie

    standard thinking yes, but it’s obvious and attested that hellenic identity was something that aspirant classes and individuals assimilated to (also, there are cases of intermarriage, e.g., antiochus soter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_I_Soter).
     
    It's been years since I studied the military history of the Diadochi period, but I do still remember some. :)

    For example, Greek mercenaries and settler-soldiers (obviously all males) were constantly in high demand throughout Syria and Egypt during the time period. Because of their martial efficacy and cultural proximity to the ruling Diadochi, they instantly became the soldier-elites of their host societies. But as is typically the case with military adventurers, there was never enough of them and their offspring in the settler societies, which created a real dilemma for the rulers.

    On the one hand, they needed to train the locals in the Greek fashion (as heavily-armed/armored, tight-formation hoplites) to make up for the small numbers of the actual Greeks, and for this they needed Greek troops/instructors. However, obviously the Greek mercenaries and settlers were reluctant to train their own replacements and were likely to mutiny when such schemes were attempted. So there was this precarious situation in which there were never enough Greeks to fight sustained, decisive campaigns, and they acted as potentially dangerous barriers to training local troops in a similar fashion.

    The upshot of all this is that the number of Greek settlers in Syria and Egypt was probably very low compared to the general population, particularly in view of the frequent conflicts among the Diadochi and local warlords (males, especially a small elite, who fight in constant wars tend to have low fertility - just look at the Spartiates). I wouldn't be surprised if the actual numbers of Greek settlers in various Eastern polities were four figures to low five figures at most, probably not enough to leave a large genetic footprint, even as elites. In that regard, they seem no different than other adventuring male elites of the past, the Mongols, the Vikings, the Normans, etc. This is something I think people tend to overlook, because of the difference with the more modern English colonial fertility with which we are more familiar.

    they came as conquerors to collect rents, not as settlers. that’s the important distinction.

    • Replies: @Twinkie

    they came as conquerors to collect rents, not as settlers. that’s the important distinction.
     
    That's a very good point. By "settlers" I did not mean peasants who came to till the land. I meant settlers in the sense of Germanic conquerors who were imposed upon the existing Roman landowners and given a share of the produce - rent, as you say.

    I used the term "settlers" ("Kleruchoi" in Greek) to distinquish them from those Greek warriors who were pure (short term) mercenaries - those who were not assigned land/produce but were given money and gifts (and were frequently dismissed after a campaign).

    Like the later Germanic conquerors in Rome, the Kleruchoi initially collected rent, but eventually assumed ownership of land in toto and took over/assimilated into the local elite.

    By the way, one correction. When I wrote "hoplite" above, I meant phalangite. I regret the error.

  42. @Razib Khan
    they came as conquerors to collect rents, not as settlers. that's the important distinction.

    they came as conquerors to collect rents, not as settlers. that’s the important distinction.

    That’s a very good point. By “settlers” I did not mean peasants who came to till the land. I meant settlers in the sense of Germanic conquerors who were imposed upon the existing Roman landowners and given a share of the produce – rent, as you say.

    I used the term “settlers” (“Kleruchoi” in Greek) to distinquish them from those Greek warriors who were pure (short term) mercenaries – those who were not assigned land/produce but were given money and gifts (and were frequently dismissed after a campaign).

    Like the later Germanic conquerors in Rome, the Kleruchoi initially collected rent, but eventually assumed ownership of land in toto and took over/assimilated into the local elite.

    By the way, one correction. When I wrote “hoplite” above, I meant phalangite. I regret the error.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Razib Khan Comments via RSS