Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Demic Diffusion" Dynastic models: R.I.P

Although by now intellectually relegated to a fringe-status [mainly radical Eurocentrist or affiliated cults] in the face of overwhelming & mounting evidence, there is still a crowd out there that is distressed by the prospect of the Dynastic Nile Valley complex being recognized, well, as autochthonous. The very idea that "sophisticated" or "advanced" complex culture(s) does not begin in Europe, but anywhere outside of Europe, upsets the white supremacist social "pyramid"; so, it comes as no surprise to see elements in this ideological bubble, whether they openly call themselves "gun-touting" conservative "patriots" or "liberal" humanity-loving "activists", cringe at the audacious nature of reality, that the very first sophisticated elaborate complex culture occurs just about anywhere outside of Europe, let alone Africa. The difference between the two camps of the white supremacist ideological bubble, is that the former is more forthright about their disquiet than the latter is.

The entity of "ancient Egyptian" social complex particularly presents a very unsettling situation in the white supremacist ideological bubble, because it has the distinction of being amongst the world's, and not just Africa's, earliest attestable elaborately sophisticated socio-cultural complexes, as well as being "aboriginally" African. Why is this? Well, the first reason had been already stated above, but second one entails the fact that white supremacy is hardwired in placing the darkest of people [skin pigmentation standpoint] at the bottom of their social ladder; think of it—though Eurocentrist elements would frown at such a deserved acknowledgment—as white supremacist "caste system". This is how said "caste system" works: at the top, is the lily white group, and from thereon, as groups progressively get darker, so is their position on the "pyramid" of this caste system determined accordingly—the darker a group gets, the lower its social status on the caste system's "gradient". It is for this reason that all sorts of rounds have been made at explaining away the "Africanity" of the 'ancient Egyptian' complex; including begrudging acknowledgments like,...

"well, yes it is African, but not black African" or "It was in Africa, but ancient Egypt's politics was more focused towards the Middle East, and should therefore more appropriately be seen as Middle Eastern", or "yes, ancient Egypt was physically located in Africa, but it's social complex was brought about by a horde of Middle Eastern immigrants", not to mention another common one: "they were a melting pot of all races [and so, ancient Egypt was brought about by this confederation of different "races"; "different races" presumably living in harmony back then than they are today]".

This one probably takes the cake, if not more forthright about its motivation by white supremacist agenda: "Western civilization history lessons places it [ancient Egypt] in the Middle East [and usually, as a prelude to western civilization history, and so it is], and that's that."

What the above is saying point blank, is that ancient Egypt should force-feedingly be "accepted" as "Middle East" or even "Western" because "we, westerners, say so; it doesn't have to have an ounce of fact to it, just needs to be accepted by those, who we [presumably] dominate". In other words, "we" use "geopolitical dominion" to assert and fabricate what should be accepted or not accepted; truth or reality never has anything to do with it. So, when reasonable people place "ancient Egypt" in its objective or true place, it upsets the white supremacist ideological bubble, because the said "geopolitical dominion" assertiveness is audaciously defied accordingly. Linked to this "assertiveness", the white supremacist "caste system" is defied by the condition of the darkest of groups developing elaborately sophisticated social complexes before the lily white European ones, which is what a "black African ancient Egypt" implicates.

Ideally, but harder to do intellectually, Eurocentrism would prefer just about every "meaningful" autochthonous development in Africa to be attributed to adjoining regions, which they'd prefer to call "outside" of Africa, like say, the portion of the Great Rift Valley of Africa in what they call the so-called "Near Eastern" side. This is not done out of any special Eurocentric love for "Near Easterners", but pretty much out of the necessity of upholding the usually unspoken white supremacy doctrine of Eurocentric-presumed "lighter" groups being on top of the Eurocentric-presumed "darker" groups in their "caste system". You see, from the Eurocentrist standpoint, the regions that they subjectively dub as the so-called "Near East", people with relatively lighter epidermal pigmentation are more prevalent in these areas than in the more southern climes of Africa; it matters not, whether these people are still generally considerably darker than most European populations. As far as white supremacy caste system is concerned, these groups are relatively nearer to "white" Europeans than the darker or darkest ones that them white Europeans are supposed to be naturally better than. This is why whenever archaeological finds in situ African continent come to the surface, which could potentially be indicative of some highly sophisticated—presumably quite ancient—social development at first glance, the Eurocentric doctrine is to first explore such findings in terms of demic diffusion models originating from adjoining "non-African" territories before exploring an autochthonous one; only if any number of demic diffusion models fail to sufficiently explain the findings, then is an autochthonous one begrudingly tolerated or accepted, least until further down the road, new demic diffusion models come to mind. This is why for example, if one stops to think about it, notwithstanding what archaeology may say in tandem with say, linguistics and genetics, ideally Eurocentrism prefers to take for granted that any and essentially every animal domestication tradition in Africa must have initially been an imported trade from the so-called "Near East", the region that has become a Eurocentric propaganda entity of convenience, mainly because of its undisputed cases of more archaeological antecedents over that of Europe [otherwise, Europe ideally would be the first choice, as a "non-African" source].

Now, as many probably know by now, the "Near East" has been quite a fluid Eurocentric construct which has, depending on the occasion at hand, been used to cover portions of Northern Africa as well. Under this guise, huge chunks, if not all, of coastal Northern Africa cease to be part of mainland Africa, not out of geographical obscurity, but out of the information dissemination shroud, from repeated "western" mass media catchwords like the "Middle East", which is almost always used to include parts of coastal Northern Africa areas. This has happened so much so in the "western" world, that is not unreasonable to assume that some people in that part of the world are inclined to think that the so-called "Middle East" is its own continent. In this scenario, "Africa" becomes relegated to another Eurocentric-presumed catchword— for Africa's "darkies" bunch; at this point in the passage, we ought to know by now, how "darkies" fare in the Eurocentric "caste system". As soon as "Africa" is uttered, in the so-called "western" world, stereotypical images of these "darkies" come to mind at first instance, even though etymologically, the term traces its initial application on the continent in the coastal Northwestern African area.

Of course the Eurocentric dogma creeps in from time to time in "western" published journals, and as such, it boils down to a matter of the reading audience being sufficiently-researched in what they read, and thus, being able to sift out the objectively reasonable from the rest of the "noise" being radiated from these journals. Limb proportions for example, has been a recurring topic of science journals and book publications. One such that comes to mind for example, is Chris Stringer and Clive Gamble's publication, In Search of the Neanderthals: Solving the Puzzle of Human Origins. As the title suggests, the journey of investigation centers around Europe, for if one stops to think about it, the "search of the Neanderthals" is also linked to the search of "where Europeans came from" — their evolutionary journey. As a reader of this cite may know, within Eurocentric ideological circles, at one point Neanderthals were even considered as possible ancestors of contemporary Europeans; so putting this basic concept in mind, the 'western' fascination with Neanderthals becomes readily understood. In any event, limb proportions has become part of investigating the aforementioned evolutionary journey, and In Search of the Neanderthals explores this. Page 92 of the book for instance, provides us with average crural indices of sample candidates taken from different parts of the globe, and the respective temperatures of the prevailing or historic habitats of these candidates.

As a matter of basic intuition, one may know that skin or epidermal pigmentation is a function of the biological responsive measure to the level of the UV radiation, with diet playing a supplementary role; whereas in the case of body plan & limb proportions, the influencing factor is more a function of thermal regulation—optimized retention and loss of heat according to the temperature environment of the prevailing areas of habitat. In the tropics, not only are UV radiation levels higher, but so is temperature generally higher than those in temperate regions. So it should not be surprising to see a strong correlation between body plans and epidermal pigmentation.

"Tropical body plans" are thus strongly correlated with groups that generally have considerable epidermal melanin pigmentation, while "cold-adapted" body plans would be most expected of groups relaxed in epidermal eumelanin pigmentation [also see Allen's Rule for examples]. Of course, in some rather very rare occasions, some subtropical regions are known to sport high temperatures. In these isolated incidences, one might wonder if the correlation stands; well, it certainly depends on the biohistory of a population in said habitat, i.e. when they arrived, and their evolutionary status when said arrival took place, coupled with the UV radiation intensity [see previous posts: Skin pigmentation gene alleles & Skin pigmentation gene alleles — Part 2], the "openness" of the environment [ like forest, grassland, or desert] and the supplementary role of diet. Subtropical regions adjoining or not too far from the tropics are not expected to cause much or drastic change, though some change might well be expected depending on the duration of habitation in said environment and the accumulation of micro-evolutionary processes in tandem; one might for instance, expect to see an intermediary "mean" index of certain limb proportions amongst groups in temperate regions closer to the tropics than those in temperate regions of much far off latitudes, placing said groups between those of extreme tropic and sub-tropic climes. The "Bushman" groups of southern Africa for instance retain dark skin, albeit some relaxation of epidermal eumelanin pigmentation may have occurred as part of the micro-evolutionary processes, in consideration of long residency in mainly the southern hemisphere's lower-end tropical to sub-tropical areas of Africa. Their limb proportions, at least as indicated by the mean crural index [see C. Stringer and C. Gamble's In Search of the Neanderthals] may have undergone some change, but not too drastic to the point of displaying indices as low those seen in groups that historically reside(d) in far 'latitudinally'-distant temperate areas, including amongst Europeans. Consider the following crural indices, with purportedly associated mean annual temperatures indices of [some of which suggest "historically-associated"] environments of residency:

               crural     Mean annual temp C

Lapps             79%           .25

modern Inuit      81.5%         4

Neanderthal       79%           -

Belgium           82.5%         10

S.African white   83.2%         8.5

Yugoslav          83.75%        8.4

American white    82.6%         9.8

Kalahari Bushman  83.4%         18

New Mexico Indian 84.6%         14

S.African black   86.4%         17

Arizona Indian    85.5%         18

Melanesian        84.8%%        23

Pygmy             85.1%         24.2

Egyptian          84.9%         26.1

American Black    85.25%        26 

Source: Courtesy C. Stringer and C. Gamble, In Search of the Neanderthals: Solving the Puzzle of Human Origins, pg 92.

The "Bushman" mean crural index is visibly not as low as groups associated with temperate regions [presumably in consideration of temporal divergence from ancestral populations] at greater latitudinal distances from the tropics; on the other hand, is it noticeably lower than groups accociated with latitudes that are in or much closer to the equatorial regions. The mean crural index of Neanderthal indicates that they likely displayed an extreme cold-adapted body build.

Crural indices are just one of the indicators of the likely inclination of the general body plan, and say nothing of the actual manifestation of the overall body build (body plan). Those percentages cited above are the mean values [of the leg's proximal section relative to the middle section without the feet segment], which hides the within-sample variability. The arm process [which includes the brachial index from the humerus to the radius & ulna; not in that table] has its own index to be taken into consideration, in the overall build of the body. These processes taken together, i.e. intermembral index, along with comparative measurements of its components in relation to the distal segments of the limbs, give a broader picture of the manifestation of the body build (plan), particularly in relation to the body's trunk; these indices together show that ancient Egyptians had what was dubbed as the "super-negroid" body plan. This is not surprising, considering that a portion of what is now called Egypt lies in the northern hemisphere of tropics, not to mention that Nile Valley populations were then relatively recent migrants from the tropical areas of the continent. Recalling Sonia Zakrzewski:

The nature of the body plan was also investigated by comparing the intermembral, brachial, and crural indices for these samples with values obtained from the literature. No significant differences were found in either index through time for either sex.

The raw values in Table 6 suggest that Egyptians had the “super-negroid” body plan described by Robins (1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many “African” populations (data from Aiello and Dean, 1990). - Sonia R. Zakrzewski, Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body Proportions

There you have it: As noted above, ancient Egyptians had longer distal segments relative to the proximal segments than many other African groups, thus giving ancient Egyptians that so-called "super-negroid" body plan.

It is interesting though that Zakrzewski cites Robins (1983), because notwithstanding what the results make all too obvious, Robins offers the sort of self-denial apologia towards the facts of the results her own tests bring to light, as exemplified above about other such denials in tandem with Eurocentric or white supremacy's imperialistic "assertiveness" to what should or shouldn't be accepted. Robins (1986) for instance, tells us:

Predynastic Egyptian stature and physical proportions


An attempt has been made to estimate male and female Egyptian stature from long bone length using Trotter & Gleser negro stature formulae, previous work by the authors having shown that these rather than white formulae give more consistent results with male dynastic material. Evidence is presented that the tibia length should include the spine in the later (1958) formulae and should exclude it in the earlier (1952) formulae. It is also shown that better results are obtained if the constants in the stature formulae are modified so as to conform more exactly with the basic data published by Trotter & Gleser. When consistency has been achieved in this way, predynastic proportions are founded to be such that distal segments of the limbs are even longer in relation to the proximal segments than they are in modern negroes. Such proportions are termed "super-negroid".


...Robins (1983) and Robins & Shute (1983) have shown that more consistent results are obtained from ancient Egyptian male skeletons if Trotter & Gleser formulae for negro are used, rather than those for whites which have always been applied in the past. This does not mean that ancient Egyptians were negroes; indeed, in their art they clearly distinguished between their own facial features and skin colour and those of people from further south. It does, however, suggest that their physical proportions were more like modern negroes than those of modern whites, with limbs that were relatively long compared with the trunk, and distal segments that were long compared with the proximal segments. If ancient Egyptian males had what may be termed negroid proportions, it seems reasonable that females did likewise.

Robins tells us that test results place them anatomically with "negroes", and yet, she seeks to moot this quantifiable fact with some subjective personal interpretation of what ancient Egyptian art supposedly communicates. In other words, her answer to defying the tangible results of a scientific test, was to turn to some intangible subjective personal opinion about Egyptian art; the two are worlds apart. It is akin to saying DNA revelation can be refuted by someone's subjective opinion about what some art may or may not be communicating, as a substitute for counter quantifiable DNA evidence. Furthermore, there is nothing moot about a finding that has been reproduced time and again, as for example, attested to Zakrzewski's reaffirmation. As for the supposition made about the ancient Egyptian female proportions as it relates to their male counterparts, this too had been confirmed in Zakrzewski's work.

Upon revisiting the above mentioned Zakrzewski study, we are told:

The ancient Egyptians have been described as having a “Negroid” body plan (Robins, 1983). Variations in the proximal to distal segments of each limb were therefore examined. Of the ratios considered, only maximum humerus length to maximum ulna length (XLH/XLU) showed statistically significant change through time. This change was a relative decrease in the length of the humerus as compared with the ulna, suggesting the development of an increasingly African body plan with time. This may also be the result of Nubian mercenaries being included in the sample from Gebelein.

Given the screwed up basis of "Nubian" in "western" discourse, one has to independently reaffirm what's actually being referenced. Now, if by 'Nubian', Zakrzewski is referring to people originating from beyond ancient Egypt's southern political border, and in what is now part of Sudan, then in the above, it appears that Zakrzewski is hinting on the so-called "super-negroid" body plan amongst them [so-called "Nubians"] as well. You know how it is; whenever anything is "increasingly African" in ancient Egypt, the presumed change has to somehow be attributed to an outside source preferably from south of Egypt, where a fictitious "black Africa" is "supposed to begin", according to dogmatic-preferences within Eurocentric circles. In any event, the results of Zakrzewski could not hide the fact that the rest of the Egyptian specimens tell the same story, aside from samples from Gebelein: the so-called "super-negroid" body plan! To reiterate from previous citation above,...

The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many “African” populations (data from Aiello and Dean, 1990). This pattern is supported by Figure 7 a plot of population mean femoral and tibial lengths; (data from Ruff, 1994), which indicates that the Egyptians generally have tropical body plans.

The keywords: the Egyptians generally have tropical body plans.

...essentially meaning that this is so, even without considering any so-called "Nubian" presence, which is a too often used Eurocentric excuse to explain away any findings that render Egyptians too "negroid".

In other developments, relevant to the ongoing subject matter, the following was just recently been published:

Near Eastern Neolithic genetic input in a small oasis of the Egyptian Western Desert

Martina Kujanová 1 2, Luísa Pereira 3 4 *, Verónica Fernandes 3, Joana B. Pereira 3, Viktor erný


The Egyptian Western Desert lies on an important geographic intersection between Africa and Asia. Genetic diversity of this region has been shaped, in part, by climatic changes in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene epochs marked by oscillating humid and arid periods. We present here a whole genome analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and high-resolution molecular analysis of nonrecombining Y-chromosomal (NRY) gene pools of a demographically small but autochthonous population from the Egyptian Western Desert oasis el-Hayez. Notwithstanding signs of expected genetic drift, we still found clear genetic evidence of a strong Near Eastern input that can be dated into the Neolithic. This is revealed by high frequencies and high internal variability of several mtDNA lineages from haplogroup T. The whole genome sequencing strategy and molecular dating allowed us to detect the accumulation of local mtDNA diversity to 5,138 ± 3,633 YBP. Similarly, theY-chromosome gene pool reveals high frequencies of the Near Eastern J1 and the North African E1b1b1b lineages, both generally known to have expanded within North Africa during the Neolithic. These results provide another piece of evidence of the relatively young population history of North Africa.

Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009

In response to the above, sure the small sample size is an issue [as apparent from the large margins of error], but look, the coalescence times simply tell us when the lineage itself expanded; it doesn't quite tell us when a lineage entered from locale A to locale B, without elaborate cluster information on how lineage 'X'—unique and respective in distribution pattern to locale A and locale B—could have entered say, locale B from locale A.

The present authors ignore Bovine-remains anthropology and DNA data, none of which is consistent with this:

"The complete mtDNA characterization of 35 unrelated individuals from el-Hayez revealed a local expansion in the last 6,000 years of two lineages belonging to the T1 Neolithic Near Eastern haplogroup. This suggests input of Near Eastern lineages during the Neolithic period in contradiction to the hypothesis that Northeastern Africa was an independent place of cattle domestication, as suggested by thee cultural context."

Human skeleton, Y or mtDNA is no substitute for actual cattle markers. It's just common sense. For instance, we have from previous analysis, which has been reaffirmed over and over again via lingustic examinations of domesticate terms, cattle DNA, and cattle remains [for example, also see: Fred Wendorf & Romuald Schild (Evolutionary Anthropology 3(4), 1994), Are the early Holocene cattle in the Eastern Sahara domestic or wild?],...

The Origins of African Cattle

The origins of cattle domestication and the dispersal of pastoralism in Africa have been contentiously debated in recent years. It has generally been assumed that domestic cattle were introduced into Africa from the Near East. Olivier Hanotte and colleagues [Science 296 [2002]], however, present genetic evidence of an indigenous origin for the earliest African domestic cattle, the humpless taurine [Bos Taurus]. They argue that cattle were domesticated in Africa prior to the introduction of two excotic domesticates: humped zebu cattle [B. indicus] from Asia and a genetic variant of taurine cattle from the Near East and Europe. Hanotte et al. used allele frequencies from 50 populations of modern cattle across the African continent to examine genetic variation. Their results reveal three ancient genetic signatures and each signature’s center of origin or region of entry. The native African taurine breed was independently domesticated in northeastern Africa, perhaps the eastern Sahara, and later migrated with pastoralist or crop-livestock farmers west and south. Asian zebu cattle were introduced along the east coast of Africa and in Madagascar and were most likely transported along a marine route from the Indian subcontinent. Finally, Near Eastern and European taurine cattle were primarily introduced along the shores of North Africa during the colonial period. These findings provide a genetic record of African cattle origins and migrations that have far-reaching implications for human migrations and the adaptive strategies used by African populations. They also require us to reexamine the models of domestication more broadly. - M. A. Kennedy

Archaeological attestations of the considerable distinct time frames of the Levantine agricultural Neolithic economy and that of the Nile Valley is also simply ignored, in lieu for an admittedly small sample of uniparental markers.

Predynastic Nile Valley human remains data is also ignored [as cited in Barry Kemp's publication - Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, Robins (1983), and Zakrzewski's Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body Proportions]...

Early Dynastic Periods. When the Elephantine results were added to a broader pooling of the physical characteristics drawn from a wide geographic region which includes Africa, the Mediterranean and the Near East quite strong affinities emerge between Elephantine and populations from Nubia, supporting a strong south-north cline.

2. Moving to the opposite geographical extremity, the very small sample populations available from northern Egypt from before the 1st Dynasty (Merimda, Maadi and Wadi Digla) turn out to be significantly different from sample populations from early Palestine and Byblos, suggesting a lack of common ancestors over a long time. If there was a south-north cline of variation along the Nile valley it did not, from this limited evidence, continue smoothly into southern Palestine. The limb-length proportions of males from the Egyptian sites group them with Africans rather than with Europeans. - Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization

Anatomy of a Civilization has its own shortcomings elsewhere of course, but that's another topic for another day.

Linguistic indicators [as cited by Keita] shows that words for Levantine domesticates are not loan words from the so-called 'Near East'; recap:

Ovacaprines appear in the western desert before the Nile valley proper (Wendorf and Schild 2001). However,it is significant that ancient Egyptian words for the major Near Eastern domesticates - Sheep, goat, barley, and wheat - are not loans from either Semitic, Sumerian, or Indo-European. This argues against a mass settler colonization (at replacement levels) of the Nile valley from the Near East at this time. This is in contrast with some words for domesticates in some early Semitic languages, which are likely Sumerian loan words(Diakonoff 1981).

This evidence indicates that northern Nile valley peoples apparently incorporated the Near Eastern domesticates into a Nilotic foraging subsistence tradition on their own terms (Wetterstrom 1993). There was apparently no “Neolithic revolution” brought by settler colonization, but a gradual process of neolithicization (Midant-Reynes 2000).

As for the Y-DNA, Semino et al. 2004 gave a detailed layout of differentiation between Neolithic era J and post-Neolithic J dispersions; their data suggests that most of those J lineages in northern Africa which have counterparts in the so-called Near East, are post-Neolithic or recent dispersions. Much of the latter had been linked to Arab expansionist adventures into those areas.

To recap from above, the authors — i.e. Kujanová et al., of the work under study — say:

"Surprisingly, no other U-lineage (one U3b) is present, in particular U6, which is otherwise frequent throughout North Africa but more so in Western North Africa.

Indeed. Hg U6 seems to factor prominently in these "Neolithic" or else "Paleolithic demic diffusions into northern Africa" proposals [also see: Mitochondrial DNA M1 haplogroup: A Response To Ana M. Gonzalez et al. 2007], but time and again, its distribution pattern just doesn't seem to comply. Several different studies of the western oasis' populations tell the same story: the virtual rarity or absence of Hg U6, which is interesting given that this region is right on the path of the Sinai corridor through which any hypothetical so-called "Near Eastern" proto-U6 is expected to pass, in parallel with a hypothetical ancestor of Hg M1.

Is it possible that there were predynastic human movements into north Africa proper via the Sinai corridor? Yes, it's certainly possible and conceivable, but these events apparently didn't have the sort of impact, magnitude or oomph on the manifestation of autochthonous predynastic Nile Valley cultural development into the dynastic period that the usual "demic diffusion into Nile Valley" crowd would rather like to see. Prevailing and overwhelming evidence just doesn't bear it out, which is apparently a bad thing for business in the bubble of white supremacists, whatever stripes they come in, be it so-called 'liberals' or outright reactionaries.