New genetic study on the Crusaders and Lebanon

Ice Tea

Ice Tea

Active Member
A Transient Pulse of Genetic Admixture from the Crusaders in the Near East
Identified from Ancient Genome Sequences


During the medieval period, hundreds of thousands of Europeans migrated to the Near East to take part in the Crusades, and many of them settled in the newly established Christian states along the Eastern Mediterranean coast. Here, we present a genetic snapshot of these events and their aftermath by sequencing the whole genomes of 13 individuals who lived in what is today known as Lebanon between the 3rd and 13th centuries CE. These include nine individuals from the “Crusaders’ pit” in Sidon, a mass burial in South Lebanon identified from the archaeology as the grave of Crusaders killed during a battle in the 13th century CE. We show that all of the Crusaders’ pit individuals were males; some were Western Europeans from diverse origins, some were locals (genetically indistinguishable from present-day Lebanese), and two individuals were a mixture of European and Near Eastern ancestries, providing direct evidence that the Crusaders admixed with the local population. However, these mixtures appear to have had limited genetic consequences since signals of admixture with Europeans are not significant in any Lebanese group today—in particular, Lebanese Christians are today genetically similar to local people who lived during the Roman period which preceded the Crusades by more than four centuries.



We first identified the biological sex of our samples by determining the ratio of sequences aligning to the X and Y chromosomes and found that all individuals in the Crusaders’ pit were genetically males. We then projected the ancient Lebanese samples onto a principal component analysis (PCA) plot based on modern West Eurasians of the HO dataset (Figures 1 and S5). The PCA plot revealed a previously described, structure differentiating between Europeans and Near Easterners on the first principal component with a cline in both regions over the second component. We found that all individuals from Lebanon’s Roman period (Lebanon_RP) clustered with Near Easterners and were close to present-day Lebanese. In contrast, the Crusaders’ pit individuals were more diverse and we classified them into three groups based on their PCA position. First, a group of four individuals appeared to be local Near Easterners since they clustered with the Roman period and present-day Lebanese. Second, three individuals appeared to be Europeans and clustered with different European populations (two clustered with Spaniards and were close to Basque, French, and Northern Italians, and the third clustered with Sardinians). Third, two individuals appeared to have an intermediate position between Europeans and Near Easterners: individual SI-41 overlapped with Neolithic Anatolians on the PCA and was distant from any modern West Eurasian population, and individual SI-53 overlapped with Ashkenazi Jews and South Italians.

[...]

Individual SI-53 clustered on the PCA with Ashkenazi Jews, Sicilians, and Southern Italians and therefore we wanted to test whether SI-53 could have descended directly from one of these populations who were previously reported to be admixed, with the implication that admixture in SI-53 could then have occurred before the Crusaders’ time and in Europe instead of in the Near East. However, our results (Table S6) show that the Europeans have in general a distinct admixture pattern from the one observed in SI-53; among the populations tested, Ashkenazi Jews’ Near Eastern ancestry is mostly related to Near Eastern Jews, Sicilians’ European ancestry is related to Italians, and Southern Italians have Northern Italians as top sources of their European ancestry. We note here that the reference populations tested are not necessarily the precise parental populations; any genetically equivalent populations could have been involved, but the admixture patterns in SI-41 and SI-53 suggest our data (1) provide direct genetic evidence of admixture between Crusaders and Near Easterners, (2) consequently show admixture could have been common (at least in Sidon), as two out of nine sequenced individuals were admixed, (3) show that admixture with the Near Easterners was not limited to only Levantine Christians but also involved people genetically related to Saudis and Bedouins, and (4) provide support for our previous assumption that 800 years ago the Near Easterners were already genetically structured in a way that allows us to differentiate coastal Levantines from inland people such as Bedouins and Saudis.

 
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  • Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    [...]

    Remarkably, the significant genetic changes in the Lebanese following the Crusades appear to have been not from the Crusaders and were not in the Lebanese Christians, but were mostly restricted to the Lebanese Muslims. We analyzed admixture LD in the Lebanese in order to date the time when admixture occurred in their history. We found two signals; the first admixture can be detected with overlapping dates in both Lebanese Christians (850–150 BCE, Z = 6.95) and Lebanese Muslims (900 BCE–500 CE, Z = 3.02) and is consistent with finding this admixture in our ancient Roman period samples 240–400 calCE. However, the second admixture was specific to Lebanese Muslims (Figures S12A and S12B ) occurring around 1550–1700 CE (Z = 3.69) and can be detected when Africans and East Asians are used as reference populations. The time of this admixture coincides with the Ottoman Turkish rule over Lebanon and we propose that the Turks, who themselves carry East Asian ancestry (Figure S12C) from their Seljuk ancestors, brought this ancestry to the Lebanese Muslims. The African ancestry was introduced into the Lebanese Muslims most likely via the slave trade in the Ottoman Empire and the prohibition of non-Muslims from owning slaves during this period.

    In this report, we have presented new whole-genome sequence data from ancient individuals who lived during times when major historical events were unfolding in the Near East. Our samples from the Crusaders period are evidence of a remarkable genetic diversity that coexisted in this region—Europeans, Near Easterners, and their mixed descendants—but this heterogeneity was transient in the genomic history of the Near East, since, with the exception of some Y chromosome lineages, present-day populations derive most of their ancestry from local people who preceded the Crusades. Ancient DNA from the warm Near East is still problematic to retrieve, and in addition our samples from the Crusaders’ pit were crudely buried and partly burned, but our study shows that recovering such aDNA is feasible and that the historical and genetic insights from it are exceptional and not possible from modern DNA alone.
     
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    Xynus87

    New Member
    It's very weird that Lebanese Muslims score more crusader admixture than Christians. I always thought the opposite would be true. Lebanese Muslism score more African and Central Asian as well so that may be due to Turkish or Steppe admixture.
     
    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    So in summary,

    Lebanese Christians are very similar and the closest to Roman-era Lebanese. Not surprising, considering Lebanese Christians have already being proved to be very close to the ancient Canaanites in a previous study.

    Crusader/European admixture is very faint, but seems to be fairly distributed among all groups in the region. No, Christians are not descendants of Crusaders like some Islamists claim.


    Lebanese Christians fought ALONGSIDE the European Crusaders against their Muslim enemies, since people who resemble modern Lebanese Christians were buried together with Europeans in the same pit.


    Lebanese Muslims didn't diverge genetically from Christians until the Ottoman Empire, not the Arabian/Muslim conquest as previously thought. In fact Muslims seem to be fairly recently admixed (1550-1700 CE) with Ottomans, which includes some African from the slave trade. The Druze remained isolated tho and are practically identical to Christians.
     
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    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    It's very weird that Lebanese Muslims score more crusader admixture than Christians. I always thought the opposite would be true. Lebanese Muslism score more African and Central Asian as well so that may be due to Turkish or Steppe admixture.

    Because the Ottoman admixture most likely includes Turkic, Circasian, Bosnian/Albanian/Janissaries, African etc. Probably why Muslims have a much wider variance in appearance than Christians.
     
    Jo

    Jo

    Administrator
    Master Penguin
    Is this related?

    BEIRUT: The first genetic study of the Crusaders, carried out on remains found in Sidon, has confirmed that the warriors traveled from western Europe to modern-day Lebanon, had mixed families with local people, and died together in battle.

    The results, published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, also confirmed that the presence of the Crusaders was short-lived, as no significant traces of European DNA are found in modern-day Lebanese.

    A statement from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a British nonprofit genomics and genetics research organization, said that the finding was made from a Sidon burial pit of 25 skeletons dating back to the 13th century. All of the skeletons were male and showed signs of having been killed violently in battle.

    [...]

    “After the fighting had finished, the mixed generation married into the local population and the genetic traces of the Crusaders were quickly lost,” Marc Haber, also of the institute, was quoted as saying.

    More: DNA shows Crusaders had families and descendants in Lebanon
     
    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    Is this related?

    BEIRUT: The first genetic study of the Crusaders, carried out on remains found in Sidon, has confirmed that the warriors traveled from western Europe to modern-day Lebanon, had mixed families with local people, and died together in battle.

    The results, published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, also confirmed that the presence of the Crusaders was short-lived, as no significant traces of European DNA are found in modern-day Lebanese.

    A statement from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a British nonprofit genomics and genetics research organization, said that the finding was made from a Sidon burial pit of 25 skeletons dating back to the 13th century. All of the skeletons were male and showed signs of having been killed violently in battle.

    [...]

    “After the fighting had finished, the mixed generation married into the local population and the genetic traces of the Crusaders were quickly lost,” Marc Haber, also of the institute, was quoted as saying.

    More: DNA shows Crusaders had families and descendants in Lebanon

    Yes. And the Crusaders in Sidon seem to have been from Spain and the island of Sardinia in Italy. Interestingly enough, the mixed offspring resembles modern Askhenazi Jews.

    But yes, there's no significant genetic traces of the Crusaders left since they eventually were absorbed into the general population, but whatever is left is found in both Christians and Muslims. This proves that Lebanese Muslims most likely descend from Crusade-era Christians who were forced to convert after the Mamluks took over, because the main genetic difference between Christians and Muslims is Ottoman-era admixture in Muslims.
     
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    Manifesto

    Manifesto

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Yes. And the Crusaders in Sidon seem to have been from Spain and the island of Sardinia in Italy. Interestingly enough, the mixed offspring resembles modern Askhenazi Jews.

    But yes, there's no significant genetic traces of the Crusaders left since they eventually were absorbed into the general population, but whatever is left is found in both Christians and Muslims. This proves that Lebanese Muslims most likely descend from Crusade-era Christians who were forced to convert after the Mamluks took over, because the main genetic difference between Christians and Muslims is Ottoman-era admixture in Muslims.
    Blonde hair and blue eyes do not necessarily indicate Crusader ancestry.
    Those features have always been present amongst the Levantine population, though of course not as prevalent as black hair and brown eyes.
     
    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    So here's the closest modern populations to one of the Roman-era Lebanese samples from the study.

    Lebanon_Roman

    [1] "1. CLOSEST SINGLE ITEM DISTANCE%"

    1. Lebanese_Christian 1.966675
    2. Lebanese_Druze 2.821432
    3. Samaritan 3.079191
    4. Lebanese_Muslim 3.566580
    5. Cypriot 3.677382
    6. Iraqi_Jew 3.969464
    7. Syrian_Jew 4.179164
    8. Romaniote_Jew 4.879896
    9. Tunisian_Jew 5.101439
    10. Libyan_Jew 5.261906
    11. Syrian 4.869798
    12. Palestinian 5.133929
    13. Assyrian 5.815836
    14. Sephardic_Jew 5.845857
    15. Greek_Central_Anatolia 5.992671
    16. Italian_Jew 6.076658
    17. Moroccan_Jew 6.515897
    18. Greek_Crete 7.089731
    19. Ashkenazi_Jew 7.248527
    20. Sicilian_East 8.415908
    21. Italian_South 8.567254
    22. Turkish_Adana 8.928470
    23. Sicilian_West 9.173264
    24. Egyptian 11.237458
     
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