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Thread: Sicily MyHeritage results: is "Greek" pinpointing ancestry from outside of Greece?

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    Default Sicily MyHeritage results: is "Greek" pinpointing ancestry from outside of Greece?

    Here is a spreadsheet of all the Sicilian MyHeritage results. I arranged them from most to least European, with the range being 82% from one person from Catania in eastern Sicily at the highest, to 42.8% (!!) at the lowest in one result from Palermo. Four people scored below 60% European, all from either Palermo or Agrigento in the western part of the island, with one person from Palermo scoring 33% West Asian alone.



    What I really want to analyze is the "Greek" component. This is the map of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily, where you can see they are centered along the east and southern coasts, while inland Sicily is mostly indigenous tribes or sparsely populated, while Palermo and Trapani have a strong Phoenician presence which explains why the three least "European" results here scoring under 60% European are from Palermo, and why the phenotypes in that part of Sicily tend to show the most MENA influences.



    To me, the most surprising parts of this are the surprisingly low "Greek" scores for Catania, and the surprisingly high ones for most people from Palermo and Trapani. The high Greek scores in Palermo and Trapani, some of them over 50% of the total ancestry with one Trapanese person scoring over 70%, at least at first seem unaccountable for unless "Greek" is also pinpointing origins outside of Greece's borders.

    The following scenarios to me might explain the high Greek scores in these areas:

    1. Greeks could have spread far beyond their initial towns of settlement on the southern and eastern coasts.
    Some historical sources, and in fact the dominant historical narrative, proposes that the Greeks initially settled the coasts of Sicily and then spread inland, pushing the native inhabitants further into the center of the island until they ceased to be distinct ethnic groups. The implication here is that not only did the Greeks transfer their culture but also their genes, where the ancestry from the Siculi, Elymians, and Sicanians was diluted further and further by Greek genes. This theory is continent on the idea that the Sicanians, Siculi, and Elymians would probably have scored some mixture of Sardinian, Italian, and West Asian DNA given that they were said to be linked to, respectively, the western Mediterranean, Italy, and Anatolia. For the Greek DNA to be so widespread, however, it would have involved massive numbers of Greeks populating all Sicily and there is no estimate as of now of how large the transplanted Greek population was relative to the other ethnic groups on the island. Still, we know that when the Romans conquered Sicily, it was almost entirely Greek-speaking, which would also imply the Phoenicians' descendants were also Hellenized. This could mean that some of what is being read as "Greek" in western Sicily is genuinely from Greece.

    2. The period of Byzantine conquest saw a massive number of Greeks settling Sicily, not adhering to the original areas of Greek settlement.
    This is pretty much a similar line of thinking to the above, except it dates the Greek settlement in western and central Sicily to the Byzantine conquest. The challenge here is that Sicily was not under Byzantine rule for long, due to the conquest of the Arabs and Berbers, and only the eastern coast remained under Byzantine rule (including Catania and Enna which, oddly, are not scoring that much Greek on MyHeritage for whichever reason). While the Catania/Enna results do not score as much Greek as expected, the results from Messina do, and I would be inclined to believe the "Greek" results scored in all three regions are more genuinely reflecting actual Greek ancestry than those in western Sicily. Still, we do not know for sure as there are several ways in which Greek input could have reached Palermo and Trapani.

    3. The few Greek colonies in western Sicily -- Himera in Palermo and Selinunte in Trapani -- were more demographically numerous than anticipated and the population dispersed rapidly westward.
    The only Greek colony in Palermo province was Himera (today's Termini Imerese) and the only one in Trapani was Selinunte (modern Castelvetrano). The challenge here is that the Palermo result scoring only 17.3% Greek is from Termini Imerese. Still, that could be an example of just one result that is a bit "off" as I do recall seeing another result which was around 50% Greek, 10% Italian and 40% different types of MENA which was from that town. Still, there were FEW Greek colonies in the area and this could be another possible source of genuine Greek origins in Palermo or Trapani.

    4. "Greek" on Myheritage is pinpointing origins from outside of Greece's borders.
    To me this is the most likely scenario. We do not know what the ancient Sicanians or Elymians were like, but given the DNA evidence we have it is almost certain the Sicanians were NOT from Iberia unlike what is often hypothesized. The Sicilian Bell Beaker results we have are very similar to the Mycenaeans and Minoans, only with what might be a slightly higher affinity to Sardinia than what we would have seen in Mycenaean Greece. Similarly, the Elymians were an Anatolian ethnic group who may have shared ancestry with both Greeks and Anatolian/Caucasian peoples or been part of a transitional zone between them, so it very well could be that "Greek" is picking up ancestry from both the Elymians and Sicanians. As Albanians and even Balkan Slavs can score "Greek" it is also possible that Arbereshe peoples contributed to the Greek component in western Sicily, which is where most of their communities, both assimilated and isolated today, reside. I've even seen some Levantines scoring up to 20% Greek which might reflect ancient East Mediterranean ancestry, so some of that Greek being scored in Palermo/Trapani, though likely not THAT much of it, could even be from the Phoenicians in addition to much if not most of their West Asian and Middle Eastern score. With that said I do believe every Sicilian is likely part Greek regardless of their MyHeritage results so surely SOME of it is genuine for for west Sicily, but I think a lot of Greek-like peoples have also lived on the island and "Greek" could be reflecting some of their ancestry, too.

    5. MyHeritage just is not accurate.
    I don't think this is the answer, but maybe it is and I wasted 20 minutes typing this all up.

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    What do people think of this?

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    I think that it is probably a combination of various things -points one and two in particular. it makes sense to me that newer migrations would mirror older ones, because of simple geography.


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