More than 5,000 years ago, groups of shepherds on horseback were launched from the steppes of Eastern Europe to the conquest of the rest of the continent. The horsemen, known today as yamnayas, carried with them a technological innovation: carts with wheels that facilitated the rapid occupation of new lands. 4,500 years ago, the descendants of these inhabitants of the steppes arrived in the Iberian Peninsula and wiped the locals off the map, according to new research from an international team of scientists. "The collision of these two populations was not friendly, but the men arrived from abroad displaced the local men almost completely," according to the American geneticist David Reich, who presented his results on September 22 at an event organized by the magazine New Scientist.
The arrival of the invaders to what is now Spain and Portugal had "a rapid and widespread genetic impact," according to the Spanish geneticist Íñigo Olalde, two weeks ago at a scientific congress in Jena (Germany). Subsequent populations of the Bronze Age had 40% of the genetic information and "100% of their Y chromosomes from these migrants", according to Olalde's talk. Since the Y chromosome is inherited from the parents, "this means that the men who arrived had a preferential access to the local women, over and over again," Reich described in the act of New Scientist.
The populations of the steppes arrived with a superior technology: better weapons and domesticated horses
The new study, which analyzes the DNA of the remains of 153 individuals unearthed in the Iberian Peninsula, is pending publication in one of the most important scientific journals in the world. Neither Reich nor Olalde, both from Harvard University (USA), want to offer more details at the moment. The geneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology of Barcelona, has also participated in the work.
Three years ago, another investigation by Reich's team suggested that the Indo-European languages - the family to which most European languages belong - spread on the wheels of the Yamnaya and their descendants. The prehistorian Roberto Risch, of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, explained to this newspaper that the excavation in the Murcia site of La Bastida brought to light an "immense surprise".
"We have realized that the Iberian peninsula was not only colonized by the first Neolithic migration of 8,000 or 9,000 years ago, but also by a much later one, 4,500 years ago, and bearer of a very different culture," Risch said. War hatchets and four-wheeled carts appear on the earth layers of 4,500 years ago. "The tombs of men have since hoarded almost all the armament, the adornments and the samples of wealth, and archeology reveals marked signs of a hierarchical society that broke with the old egalitarianism of the early Neolithic," Risch described.
The new results of David Reich's group also agree with another previous study. Last year, the team of geneticists Dan Bradley, of the Trinity College of Dublin, and Rui Martiniano, of the University of Cambridge, announced "a discontinuity" of the Y chromosome during the Bronze Age in the Iberian Peninsula, after analyzing the DNA of the remains of 14 people found in deposits in Portugal. "As to why this replacement of the Y chromosome happened, it could be speculated that these populations of the steppes had superior technology, with better weapons and also domesticated horses, which could have given them some advantage in the war," Martinist now hypothesizes. .