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Concept: Anatolia


Farming and sedentism first appeared in southwestern Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes. Conspicuous uncertainties remain about the relative roles of migration, cultural diffusion, and admixture with local foragers in the early Neolithization of Europe. Here we present paleogenomic data for five Neolithic individuals from northern Greece and northwestern Turkey spanning the time and region of the earliest spread of farming into Europe. We use a novel approach to recalibrate raw reads and call genotypes from ancient DNA and observe striking genetic similarity both among Aegean early farmers and with those from across Europe. Our study demonstrates a direct genetic link between Mediterranean and Central European early farmers and those of Greece and Anatolia, extending the European Neolithic migratory chain all the way back to southwestern Asia.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Europe, Asia, Turkey, Neolithic, Anatolia, Greece, Black Sea


The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter-gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. Modern Greeks resemble the Mycenaeans, but with some additional dilution of the Early Neolithic ancestry. Our results support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of its earliest civilizations.

Concepts: Europe, Turkey, Russia, Anatolia, Greece, Ottoman Empire, Minoan civilization, Bronze Age


Over the last century the North Anatolian Fault Zone in Turkey has produced a remarkable sequence of large earthquakes. These events have now left an earthquake gap south of Istanbul and beneath the Marmara Sea, a gap that has not been filled for 250 years. Here we investigate the nature of the eastern end of this gap using microearthquakes recorded by seismographs primarily on the Princes Islands offshore Istanbul. This segment lies at the western terminus of the 1999 Mw7.4 Izmit earthquake. Starting from there, we identify a 30-km-long fault patch that is entirely aseismic down to a depth of 10 km. Our evidence indicates that this patch is locked and is therefore a potential nucleation point for another Marmara segment earthquake-a potential that has significant natural hazards implications for the roughly 13 million Istanbul residents immediately to its north.

Concepts: Turkey, Earthquake, Istanbul, Anatolia, Sea of Marmara, North Anatolian Fault, İzmit, 1999 İzmit earthquake


Ethnopharmacological relevance: This study aimed to document traditional uses of medicinal plants in the Marmaris district of south-west Anatolia and to compare this information with our current knowledge of plant medicine in Turkey and the Mediterranean countries. Materials and methods: We collected the information through semi-structured interviews with 98 informants (51 men, 47 women). In addition, the relative importance value of species was determined and informant consensus factor (FIC) was calculated for the medicinal plants included in the study. RESULTS: We report the medicinal uses of 64 plant species belonging to 35 families, including the uses of 9 essential oils. Most of the medicinal plants used in the Marmaris district belong to the families Lamiaceae (13 species) and Asteraceae (4 species). The most commonly used plant species are Salvia fruticosa, Origanum onites, Lavandula stoechas, Mentha pulegium and Satureja thymbra. For the purposes of making essential oils, Salvia fruticosa is the plant species most commonly used. Two of the plants we report on (Liquidambar orientalis, Phlomis lycia) are endemic to Turkey and the East Agean Islands. Sideritis libanotica subsp. linearis is endemic to Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. Thymus cilicicus is endemic to Turkey, East Agean Islands, Lebanon and Syria. For six plant species (Narcissus tazetta, Lagenaria siceraria, Hypericum montbrettii, Phlomis grandiflora var. grandiflora, Polygonum bellardii, Crataegus aronia var. aronia) we report new different ethnobotanical uses not previously reported in Turkey. CONCLUSIONS: Some plants are used for medicinal purposes both in Marmaris and in other parts of Turkey and in the Mediterranean countries, either for the same or for different purposes. This paper helps preserve valuable information that may otherwise be lost to future generations.

Concepts: Species, Mediterranean Sea, Shrub, Lamiaceae, Medicinal plants, Essential oil, Anatolia, Lavender


This work was implemented to study the physicochemical and biological characteristics of the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish straits (TSS: Bosporus and Dardanelles straits) for the period 2010-2013 and to calculate winter and summer fluxes of nutrients (nitrates, phosphates) between the Aegean and Black Seas through the TSS. The brackish Black Sea waters reach the Dardanelles Strait with modified biochemical properties. The salinity and phosphates of the surface waters increased westwards. Biologically labile nutrients of Black Sea origin are utilized through biological processes in the Marmara Sea. On the other hand, increase of nutrients due to land based sources has led to eutrophication problems in the area. The sub surface water layer of Mediterranean origin is oxygen depleted (saturation<30%) and rich in nutrients. Higher oxygen values indicated water mixing of the Sea of Marmara during winter 2012. Ammonium was the predominant form of inorganic nitrogen. The study area has been classified from Moderate to Bad trophic status. İzmit Bay also faced serious eutrophication problems together with hypoxic conditions below the halocline. Nutrient fluxes through the TSS showed temporal variation in the upper and lower layers related to changes in both nutrient concentrations and the water mass volume fluxes. Surface nitrates and phosphates outflux from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea was higher than the influx from the Black Sea through Bosporus strait, indicating high enrichment of nutrients in the Sea of Marmara from anthropogenic sources.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Istanbul, Anatolia, Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Bosphorus


Zooarcheological evidence suggests that pigs were domesticated in Southwest Asia ∼8,500 BC. They then spread across the Middle and Near East and westward into Europe alongside early agriculturalists. European pigs were either domesticated independently or appeared so as a result of admixture between introduced pigs and European wild boar. These pigs not only replaced those with Near Eastern signatures in Europe, they subsequently also replaced indigenous domestic pigs in the Near East. The specific details of these processes, however, remain unknown. To address questions related to early pig domestication, dispersal, and turnover in the Near East, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA and dental geometric morphometric variation in 393 ancient pig specimens representing 48 archeological sites (from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Medieval period) from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Our results firstly reveal the genetic signature of early domestic pigs in Eastern Turkey. We also demonstrate that these early pigs differed genetically from those in western Anatolia that were introduced to Europe during the Neolithic expansion. In addition, we present a significantly more refined chronology for the introduction of European domestic pigs into Asia Minor that took place during the Bronze Age, nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously detected. By the 5(th) century AD, European signatures completely replaced the endemic lineages possibly coinciding with the demographic and societal changes during the Anatolian Bronze and Iron Ages.

Concepts: Middle East, Europe, Asia, Domestic pig, Turkey, Western Asia, Neolithic, Anatolia


The zooarchaeological research presented here investigates Neolithic and Chalcolithic (ca. 6500-5000 cal. BC) animal exploitation strategies at Uğurlu Höyük on the Turkish island of Gökçeada in the northeastern Aegean Sea. Toward this end, we first discuss the results of our analysis of the zooarchaeological assemblages from Uğurlu Höyük and then consider the data within a wider regional explanatory framework using a diachronic approach, comparing them with those from western and northwestern Anatolian sites. The first settlers of Gökçeada were farmers who introduced domestic sheep, goats, cattle and pigs to the island as early as 6500 years BC. Our results align well with recently published zooarchaeological data on the westward spread of domestic animals across Turkey and the Neolithization of southeast Europe. Using an island site as a case study, we independently confirm that the dispersal of early farming was a polynucleated and multidirectional phenomenon that did not sweep across the land, replace everything on its way, and deliver the same “Neolithic package” everywhere. Instead, this complex process generated a diversity of human-animal interactions. Thus, studying the dispersal of early farmers from southwest Asia into southeast Europe via Anatolia requires a rigorous methodological approach to develop a fine-resolution picture of the variability seen in human adaptations and dispersals within complex and rapidly changing environmental and cultural settings. For this, the whole spectrum of human-animal interactions must be fully documented for each sub-region of southwest Asia and the circum-Mediterranean.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Europe, Asia, Turkey, Anatolia, Greece, Black Sea, Aegean Sea


Anatolia and the Near East have long been recognized as the epicenter of the Neolithic expansion through archaeological evidence. Recent archaeogenetic studies on Neolithic European human remains have shown that the Neolithic expansion in Europe was driven westward and northward by migration from a supposed Near Eastern origin [1-5]. However, this expansion and the establishment of numerous culture complexes in the Aegean and Balkans did not occur until 8,500 before present (BP), over 2,000 years after the initial settlements in the Neolithic core area [6-9]. We present ancient genome-wide sequence data from 6,700-year-old human remains excavated from a Neolithic context in Kumtepe, located in northwestern Anatolia near the well-known (and younger) site Troy [10]. Kumtepe is one of the settlements that emerged around 7,000 BP, after the initial expansion wave brought Neolithic practices to Europe. We show that this individual displays genetic similarities to the early European Neolithic gene pool and modern-day Sardinians, as well as a genetic affinity to modern-day populations from the Near East and the Caucasus. Furthermore, modern-day Anatolians carry signatures of several admixture events from different populations that have diluted this early Neolithic farmer component, explaining why modern-day Sardinian populations, instead of modern-day Anatolian populations, are genetically more similar to the people that drove the Neolithic expansion into Europe. Anatolia’s central geographic location appears to have served as a connecting point, allowing a complex contact network with other areas of the Near East and Europe throughout, and after, the Neolithic.

Concepts: Genetics, Europe, Asia, Turkey, Neolithic, Anatolia, Ottoman Empire, Neolithic Europe


Active vector surveillance provides an efficient tool for monitoring the presence or spread of emerging or re-emerging vector-borne viruses. This study was undertaken to investigate the circulation of flaviviruses. Mosquitoes were collected from 58 locations in 10 provinces across the Aegean, Thrace and Mediterranean Anatolian regions of Turkey in 2014 and 2015. Following morphological identification, mosquitoes were pooled and screened by nested and real-time PCR assays. Detected viruses were further characterised by sequencing. Positive pools were inoculated onto cell lines for virus isolation. Next generation sequencing was employed for genomic characterisation of the isolates.

Concepts: DNA, Microbiology, Mosquito, Ribavirin, Viruses, Turkey, West Nile virus, Anatolia


The debate on the origins of Etruscans, documented in central Italy between the eighth century BC and the first century AD, dates back to antiquity. Herodotus described them as a group of immigrants from Lydia, in Western Anatolia, whereas for Dionysius of Halicarnassus they were an indigenous population. Dionysius' view is shared by most modern archeologists, but the observation of similarities between the (modern) mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) of Turks and Tuscans was interpreted as supporting an Anatolian origin of the Etruscans. However, ancient DNA evidence shows that only some isolates, and not the bulk of the modern Tuscan population, are genetically related to the Etruscans. In this study, we tested alternative models of Etruscan origins by Approximate Bayesian Computation methods, comparing levels of genetic diversity in the mtDNAs of modern and ancient populations with those obtained by millions of computer simulations. The results show that the observed genetic similarities between modern Tuscans and Anatolians cannot be attributed to an immigration wave from the East leading to the onset of the Etruscan culture in Italy. Genetic links between Tuscany and Anatolia do exist, but date back to a remote stage of prehistory, possibly but not necessarily to the spread of farmers during the Neolithic period. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: DNA, Italy, Anatolia, Ancient Rome, Tuscany, Rome, Etruscan civilization, Etruscan language