The population of SW Asia
Posted by Fredsvenn on June 5, 2016
The Sumerians spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believe they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian because names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the early Ubaid period (5300 – 4700 BC C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia.
The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there.
The Ubaid period pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries. The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware.
According to this theory, farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.
Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral. The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the pre-Arab people of Dilmun, associated with modern Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.
The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.
Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.
It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.
Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins ofSumerian civilisation.
Whatever the ethnic origins of this group this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.
Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.
In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvial plain although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BCE when it is replaced by the Uruk period.
The Ubaid period in the south was associated with intensive irrigated hydraulic agriculture, and the use of the plough, both introduced from the north, possibly through the earlier Choga Mami, Hadji Muhammed and Samara cultures.
Spreading from Eridu the Ubaid culture extended from the Middle of the Tigris and Euphrates to the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then spread down past Bahrein to the copper deposits at Oman.
The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BCE, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.
At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. That might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event, one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch at the end of the Older Peron, an episode of a global sea-level (i.e. eustatic) high-stand during the Holocene Epoch.
Modern understanding of the various factors involved in quantifying eustatic sea level, particularly processes relating to ocean siphoning and glacio-hydro-isostatic adjustment, claim that such previous instances of purported high-stands were not globally coherent, and do not constitute episodes of eustatic sea level higher than present.
The 5.9 kiloyear event was one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch. It occurred around 3900 BC and ended the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiating the most recent desiccation of the Sahara.
It also triggered migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organized, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory.
A model by Claussen et al. (1999) suggested rapid desertification, associated with vegetation-atmosphere interactions following a cooling event, Bond event 4. Bond et al. (1997) identified a North Atlantic cooling episode 5900 years ago from ice-rafted debris as well as other such now called Bond events, which indicate the existence of a quasiperiodic cycle of Atlantic cooling eventa approximately every 1470 years ± 500 years.
For some reason, all the earlier arid events (including the 8.2 kiloyear event) were followed by recovery, as is attested by the wealth of evidence of humid conditions in the Sahara between 10,000 and 6,000 BP. However, it appears that the 5.9 kiloyear event was followed by a partial recovery at best, with accelerated desiccation in the millennium that followed.
For example, Cremaschi (1998) describes evidence of rapid aridification in Tadrart Acacus of southwestern Libya, in the form of increased aeolian erosion, sand incursions and the collapse of the roofs of rock shelters. The 5.9 kiloyear event was also recorded as a cold event in the Erhai Lake (China) sediments.
In the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the 5.9 kiloyear event may have contributed to an increase in relatively greater social complexity and have corresponded to an end of the local Ubaid period.
Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language ancestral to historical Semitic languages of the Middle East. The Semitic language family is considered a component of the larger Afroasiatic macro-family of languages. Some geneticists and archaeologists argued for a back migration of proto-Afroasiatic speakers from Southwestern Asia to Africa as far as 10.000 BC.
The Natufians spoke possibly a proto-Afroasiatic language just prior to its disintegration into sub-languages. The hypothesis is supported by the Afro-Asiatic terms for early livestock and crops in both Anatolia and Iran.
Locations which have been proposed for the origin of Proto-Semitic include northern Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant with a 2009 study proposing that it may have originated around 3750 BCE.
Recent Bayesian analysis identified an origin for Proto-Semitic language in the Levant around 3750 BC with a later single introduction from what is now Southern Arabia into the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia) around 800 BC.
The earliest attestations of a Semitic language are in Akkadian, dating to ca. the 2300 BC and Eblaite, but earlier evidence of Akkadian comes from personal names in Sumerian texts circa 2800 BC. Researchers in Egypt also claim to have discovered Canaanite snake spells that “date from between 3000 and 2400 BC”.
The specific appearance of the donkey (an African animal) in Proto-Semitic but total absence of any reference to wheeled vehicles rather narrowly dates Proto-Semitic to between 3,800 BC and 3,500 BC.
Kitchen et al. (2009) estimated through a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis that Semitic languages originated in the Levant around 3,750 BCE, during the Early Bronze Age. It evolved into three groups: East Semitic (an extinct branch that comprised Akkadian), Central Semitic (which gave rise to Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew and Arabic), and South Semitic (South Arabian and Ethiopian).
J1-P58, the Central Semitic branch of J1, is by far the most widespread subclade of J1. It is a typically Semitic haplogroup, making up most of the population of the Arabian Peninsula, where it accounts for approximately 40% to 75% of male lineages. It appears to have expanded from the southern Levant (Israel, Palestine, Jordan) across the Arabian Peninsula during the Bronze Age, from approximately 3,500 to 2,500 BCE.
J1-P58 is thought to have expanded from eastern Anatolia and the southern Caucasus to the Taurus and Zagros Mountains, then Mesopotamia, and eventually the Arabian peninsula at the end of the last Ice Age (12,000 years ago) with the seasonal migrations of goat and sheep pastoralists. It is during the Neolithic that subclades like L860 and L93 would have reached the mountainous parts of the southern Arabian peninsula (Yemen, Oman), whereas L816 and L862 remained in the Fertile Crescent.
The first J1 men lived in the Late Upper Paleolithic, shortly before the end of the last Ice Age. The oldest identified J1 sample to date comes from Satsurblia cave (c. 13200 BCE) in Georgia (Jones et al. (2015)), placing the origins of haplogroup J1 in all likelihood in the region around the Caucasus, Zagros, Taurus and eastern Anatolia during the Upper Paleolithic.
Like many other successful lineages from the Middle East, J1 is thought to have undergone a major population expansion during the Neolithic period. Chiaroni et al. (2010) found that the greatest genetic diversity of J1 haplotypes was found in eastern Anatolia, near Lake Van in central Kurdistan.
Eastern Anatolia and the Zagros Mountains are the region where goats and sheep were first domesticated, some 11,000 years ago. Chiaroni et al. estimated that J1-P58 started expanding 9,000 to 10,000 years ago as pastoralists from the Fertile Crescent. Although they did not analyze the other branches, it is likely that all surviving J1a1b (L136) lineages share the same origin as goat and sheep herders from the Taurus and Zagros mountains.
The mountainous terrain of the Caucasus, Anatolia and modern Iran, which wasn’t suitable for early cereal farming, was an ideal ground for goat and sheep herding and catalyzed the propagation of J1 pastoralists.
Having colonised most of Anatolia, J1 herders would have settled the mountainous regions of Europe, including the southern Balkans, the Carpathians, central and southern Italy (Apennines, Sicily, Sardinia), southern France (especially Auvergne), and most of the Iberian Peninsula. Hotspots of J1 in northern Spain (Cantabria, Asturias) appear to be essentially lineages descended from these Southwest Asian Neolithic herders.
Most J1 Europeans belong to the J1-Z1828 branch, which is also found in Anatolia and the Caucasus, but not in Arabic countries. The Z1842 subclade of Z1828 is the most common variety of J1 in Armenia and Georgia. There are also two other minor European branches: J1-Z2223, which has been found in Anatolia and Western Europe, and J1-M365.1, also found a bit everywhere across Western Europe.
Their very upstream position in the phylogenetic tree and their scarcity in the Middle East suggest that these were among the earliest J1 lineages to leave the Middle East, perhaps as Late Paleolithic or Mesolithic hunter-gatherers that wandered outside Anatolia and, pushed by successive waves of migrations from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, ended up in Western Europe.
Within the Middle East, SNP analysis shows that the J1-L136 branch migrated south from eastern Anatolia and split in four directions: Anatolia/Europe (PF7263), the Levant, the southern Zagros (and southern Mesopotamia?), and the mountainous south-western corner of the Arabian peninsula (mostly in Yemen), bypassing the Arabian Desert.
That latter group, consisting essentially of J1-P56 lineages, crossed the Red Sea to settle Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia. The climate would have been considerably less arid than today during the Neolithic period, allowing for a relatively easy transmigration across the Middle East with herds of goats.
Neolithic J1 goat herders were almost certainly not homogenous tribes consisting exclusively of J1 lineages, but in all likelihood a blend of J1 and T1 lineages. So much is evident from the presence of both J1 and T1 in north-east Africa, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, but also in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus and the mountainous parts of southern Europe.
It is unclear whether goats were domesticated by a tribe that already comprised both J1 and T1 lineages, or if the merger between the two groups happened during the Neolithic expansion, when two separate tribes would have bumped into each others, intermixed, and thereafter propagated together.
Camels were domesticated in Somalia and southern Arabia c. 3,000 BCE, but did not become widely used in the southern Levant before approximately 1,100 BCE. Camels played an important role in the further diffusion of J1-P58 lineages, notably with the Bedouins in the desertic parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Bedouins now make up a substantial percentage of the population of Sudan (33%), Libya (15%), the United Arab Emirates (8%), and Saudi Arabia (5%).
The two most common Jewish subclades of J1 downstream of P58 are Z18297 and ZS227. The latter includes the Cohanim haplotype. Most of the other branches under P58 could be described as Semitic, although only FGC12 seems to be genuinely linked to the medieval Arabic expansion from Saudi Arabia.
Based on very limited data, the main Lebanese subclades of J1 appear to be J1-Z640 and J1-YSC76. Both subclades have also been found in Sicily, Andalusia and Portugal, which suggests that they were already found among the Phoenicians. However, since the Arabs conquered the same regions as those colonised by the Phoenicians, it is too early to reach such a conclusion. Subclades found in Sardinia are very useful as practically all J1-P58 on the island were supposedly brought by the Phoenicians.
Looking at the map of J1-P58, it is easy to assume that P58 is a marker of Arabic ancestry because it reaches its maximum frequency in and around the Arabian Peninsula. That would be an oversimplification.
It is important to make a clear distinction between people who speak Arabic and those who are genetically Arabic. These are two completely different things. For comparison, people who speak languages descended from Latin (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian) are not necessarily descended from the ancient Romans of the Latium. Even those who do may not have more than a tiny fraction of their genome which was inherited from actual Roman ancestors. This is why most Romance-language speakers today cannot be considered as genetically Roman.
Most present-day Arabic speakers outside the Arabian Peninsula are likewise only very partially or not all Arabic genetically. In the northern half of the Middle East, most of the people who call themselves Arabs of today are in fact mainly descendants of other historic peoples, such as the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, or even the Hurrians. Most of these peoples are predominantly J2, with many minority haplogroups (E1b1b, G, J1, L, Q, R1a, R1b, and T).
The confusion comes from the fact that the Arabic language, which appeared a little more than 1,500 years ago, is much more recent than the haplogroup J1 (31,000 years old) or even the P58 subclade (14,000 years old). Even theJ1-L858 subclade (5,000 years old), associated with Southwest Asian people, very clearly predates the Arabic language.
The common ancestor of the J1-L858 men alive today dates back to approximately 4500 years ago, a time that corresponds to the development of the the oldest Semitic languages, like Akkadian and Amorite. In fact, L858 is not specific to the Arabian Peninsula, but is also found among the Jews (especially Z640 subclade), Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqi, among others.
In other words L858 cover all the region where ancient Semitic languages were spoken, well before Arabic even existed. That is why L858 should be seen as more widely Semitic and not just Arabic, even if the many Levantines and Mesopotamians were later arabicised.
The true lineage of the historic Arab people (so mainly from Jordan and Saudi Arabia) is J1-FGC12 (aka S21237). This subclade started expanding in the Arabian Peninsula a bit over 3,000 years ago and did experience a tremedous expansion in the last 1,300 years. Nowadays these more genuinely Arabic J1-FGC12 lineages are found throughout the Arabic-speaking world, but they only represent a small minority of lineages in any region but the Arabian Peninsula.
The other subclades of J1 cannot be considered to be the paternal descendants of first speakers of Arabic. These other J1 lineages were arabicized alongside other haplogroups (J2, Q1b, etc.) during the Islamic expansion from the 7th century onward.
More importantly, J1-FGC12 is not the only haplogroup that spread with the Arabic expansion linked to the diffusion of Islam. Nowadays only 40% of Saudis and 30% of Jordanians belong to J1 (most but not all to FGC12).
E1b1b-M34 is another important Arabic lineage, being found in 25% of Jordanians and 10% of Saudis. Like J1-P58, E-M34 it is also shared with their Semitic cousins, the Jews. Haplogroup E1b1b is considered the prime candidate for the origin and dispersal of Afro-Asiatic languages across northern and eastern Africa and south-west Asia.
E-M123 is like its closest relatives within the larger E-M215 haplogroup, it is found in both Africa and Eurasia. It is less common but widely scattered, with significant populations in specific parts of the Horn of Africa, the Levant, Arabia, Iberia, and Anatolia E-M123 is mostly known for its major subclade E-M34, which dominates this clade. The Semitic languages appear to have originated within a subclade of the M34 branch of E1b1b.
E-M34 is the main Middle Eastern variety of E1b1b and is thought to have arrived with the Proto-Semitic people in the Late Copper to Early Bronze Age. The Phoenicians would have spread E-M34 to Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Ibiza and southern Iberia.
E-M123 is most commonly found in Ethiopia (5-20%), where it appears to have originated. Its main subclade E-M34probably emerged in the southern Levant, where it reaches its maximum frequency (10-12% among the Palestinians and the Jews, 8% among the Bedouins, 5% in Lebanon), then expanded in every direction across North Africa (3-5%), the Middle East and South Asia, Anatolia (3-6%) and southern Europe, particularly Italy (1 to 8%).
The distribution pattern of E-M123 is patchy and this has led to discussion about how this can be explained. Cruciani et al. (2004) proposed that although the clade has its roots in northeastern Africa, it has likely come to Ethiopia via Egypt, and then the Middle East. Luis et al. (2004) came to the same conclusion by comparing different data sets. Luis proposes that this male line may have traveled south from the Fertile Crescent with farming technology.
Haplogroup E1b1b (formerly known as E3b) represents the last major direct migration from Africa into Europe. It is believed to have first appeared in the Horn of Africa approximately 26,000 years ago and dispersed to North Africa and the Near East during the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. E1b1b lineages are closely linked to the diffusion of Afroasiatic languages.
The highest genetic diversity of haplogroup E1b1b is observed in Northeast Africa, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia, which also have the monopoly of older and rarer branches like M281, V6 or V92.
Ethiopians and Somalians belong mostly to the V22 and V32 (downstream of V12) subclades, but possess also a minority of M81, M123 and V42 subclades. Among the main subclades of E1b1b only V13 and V65 are absent from the Horn of Africa, and probably originated in northern Africa (V65) or the southern Levant (V13).
One specific deeper subclade is surely associated with the development of Arabic language and with J1-FGC12, but it hasn’t been identified yet. Note that E-M34 itself is many thousands of years old and is also found in non-Semitic countries, including Turkey, Greece, Italy, France and Spain.
In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period, a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia lying chronologically between the Halaf period and the Ubaid period, and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.
Previously, the Syrian plains were not considered as the homeland of Halaf culture, and the Halafians were seen either as hill people who descended from the nearby mountains of southeastern Anatolia, or herdsmen from northern Iraq. However, those views changed with the recent archaeology.
The new archaeology demonstrated that Halaf culture was not sudden and was not the result of foreign people, but rather a continuous process of indigenous cultural changes in northern Syria, that spread to the other regions.
Halaf pottery has been found in other parts of northern Mesopotamia, such as at Nineveh and Tepe Gawra, Chagar Bazar and at many sites in Anatolia suggesting that it was widely used in the region. The Halaf people used tools made of stone and clay. Copper was also known, but was not used for tools.
Halaf culture ended after entering the so-called Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period by 5000 BC. Many Halafians settlements were abandoned, and the remaining ones showed Ubaidian characters. The new period is named Northern Ubaid to distinguish it from the proper Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia, and two explanations were presented for the transformation.
The first maintain an invasion and a replacement of the Halafians by the Ubaidians, however, there is no hiatus between the Halaf and northern Ubaid which exclude the invasion theory. The most plausible theory is a Halafian adoption of the Ubaid culture, which is supported by most scholars including Oates, Breniquet and Akkermans.
The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Azerbaijan belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, mostly in Agdam District, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.
Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. The excavation of these kurgans demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.
The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). Other sites belonging to the same culture in the Karabakh valley of Azerbaijan are Chinar-Tepe, Shomulu-Tepe, and Abdal-Aziz-Tepe. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.
It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.
The appearance of Leilatepe tradition’s carriers in the Caucasus marked the appearance of the ﬁrst local Caucasian metallurgy. This is attributed to migrants from Uruk, arriving around 4500 BCE. Leilatepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. Yet later, the quality of metallurgy declined with the Kura–Araxes culture.
It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattlein northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs.
With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals. The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming.
Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.
The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos Taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.
The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.
The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups. One branch (M335) remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.
A second branch migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.
The third branch (P297), crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.
It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In the latter case, M73 might not be an Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.
R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.
Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. The oldest known J2 sample at present comes from Kotias Klde in Georgia and dates from c. 9700 BCE, confirming that haplogroup J2 was already found around the Caucasus during the Mesolithic period.
Its present geographic distribution argues in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent. This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros Mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b).
A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.
Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, thePhoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.
There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük.
Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).
The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation.
Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.