9TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON BIOMOLECULAR ARCHAEOLOGY, Toulouse, France, 1 - 04 June 2021
Recent studies showed that Neolithic populations in southwest Asia included distinct gene pools in the Levant, in Central Anatolia, and in the Zagros. Further, genomic comparisons suggested that all three populations adopted sedentism and farming without major admixture or replacement from other regions. Meanwhile, the population genetic characteristics of the geographic midpoint of these regions, namely upper Mesopotamia, has not been investigated so far. Here in this study, we present the first genomic data of individuals excavated from the PPNB phase of Çayönü. Çayönü, near the upper stretches of river Tigris, is one of the early settlements discovered in southeast Anatolia at the upper-most edge of Fertile Crescent. Material culture data indicate that the Çayönü population interacted intensely with nearby regions - Anatolia, Levant, and Zagros. Despite poor DNA preservation due to harsh environmental conditions, after screening the remains of 33 individuals we managed to obtain genomic data enough for population genetics analyses from 14 individuals. We revealed that Çayönü individuals were genetically similar to early Holocene groups of C Anatolia, Levant, and Zagros, with higher affinity to the C Anatolia-Levant cline. We also modelled Çayönü as a three-way admixture utilizing qpAdm and found that pre-pottery Neolithic population of Çayönü harbored ancestry from all surrounding populations. Overall, in line with archaeological evidence, Çayönü appears to have been a melting pot of neighbouring Neolithic populations during the 9th and 8th millennia BC.