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Arch Hellen Med, 30(4), July-August 2013, 456-466


A European population in Minoan Bronze Age Crete

J.R. Hughey,1 P. Paschou,2 P. Drineas,3 D. Mastropaolo,4 D.M. Lotakis,4 P.A. Navas,4
M. Michalodimitrakis,5 J.A. Stamatoyannopoulos,6 G. Stamatoyannopoulos6

1Hartnell College, Salinas, CA 93901, USA,
2Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece,
3Department of Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA,
4Division of Medical Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA,
5Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece,
6Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

The first advanced Bronze Age civilization of Europe was established by the Minoans about 5,000 YBP. Since Sir Arthur Evans exposed the Minoan civic center of Knossos, archeologists have speculated on the origin of the founders of the civilization. Evans proposed a North African origin; Cycladic, Balkan, Anatolian and Middle Eastern origins have also been proposed. To address the question of the origin of the Minoans analysis was made of mitochondrial DNA from Minoan osseous remains from a cave ossuary in the Lassithi plateau of Crete dated at 4,400−3,700 YBP. Shared haplotypes, principal component and pairwise distance analyses refute the Evans North African hypothesis. It was found that the Minoans show the strongest relationships with Neolithic and modern European populations and with the modern inhabitants of the Lassithi plateau. These data are compatible with the hypothesis of an autochthonous development of the Minoan civilization by the descendants of the Neolithic settlers of the island.

Key words: Continental European diaspora, Minoan, Modern Cretans, Neolithic, Origin.

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