The largest study of DNA samples of 1,970 present and ancient individuals confirms the “Basque genetic uniqueness” in Europe. This was completed through a study led by Principal Investigator at Pompeo Fabra University and at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology, David Coma, which includes “the most comprehensive geographic specimen of the Basque population to date, with over 600,000 genetic markers worldwide. A complete genome per individual.” .
According to the researchers, this explains the long “periods of isolation” and their “lack of gene flow,” meaning the lack of mixing with other populations since the Iron Age. “The Basques are not Martians,” Comas assures the newspaper. Country.
The mystery of Basque origin
According to the Spanish newspaper, there are many historical examples in which Basque origins fascinated the scientific community since the nineteenth century or served to advance political agendas: among other things, you name the French anthropologist Paul Broca, who studies the alleged. The peculiarities of what was then considered a primitive race, he entered the Zarutz cemetery one night in 1862 to steal skulls; As recalls Juan José Ibaritex, Basque Prime Minister until 2009, who declared that the Basque people “have been around for 7,000 years” to promote their separatist project; So is the head of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Zapier Arzaluz, who declared in 2000 that the Basques are “the oldest inhabitants of Europe”, with their “own roots” since prehistoric times.
A farmer from the Basque Country in 1949.
Not because of “an external origin in relation to the other Iberian population”
However, the study tells a different story. After comparing the population of the Basque Country to the current European population and with ancient DNA data, the researchers concluded that “the Basques have a similar genetic makeup to the rest of the population of Western Europe, but show slight differences.”
Consequently, these “distinct characteristics” at the genetic level would not be the result of “external (Basque) origin compared to other Iberian populations”.
These differences, according to the authors, are due to “a lack of gene flow since the Iron Age, that is, there has been less mixing with other populations.” This study, in which linguists and geneticists participated, was published in the journal Current biology.
This study also allows researchers to hypothesize that Basque dialects “may have originated long before the Iron Age, and that is why they are linked to genetic makeup.”
“The cultural language barrier can encourage the isolation of the Basque population from later population contacts, such as the influence of the Roman Empire or the Islamic occupation of the peninsula, and it has even acted as an internal barrier in some cases due to the use of dialects.” Read the statement issued by Pompeo Fabra University.
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