International Meeting of the Research Network in Palaeogenetics of the CNRS and of the Institut Jacques Monod location:Paris date:14-16 September 2009
The archaeological site of Sagalassos is located in SW-Turkey, near the present town of Aglasun (Burdur province), in the western part of the Taurus mountain range. The town laid out on terraces at altitudes between 1,450 and 1,600 m; human settlements are attested in that area since the 14th century B.C. Over the centuries, Sagalassos gradually developed into an important regional centre and experienced its most flourishing period under the Roman Imperial rule. The final decline was triggered by a earthquake in 518 A.D. and the plague of 541-542 A.D., which wiped out half of the population. In the 7th century AD the town was finally abandoned.
Human bone and tooth samples from 57 individuals (dated between the 11th and 13th century AD by AMS carbon dating of human bones) belonging to the same low social status population group have been so far genetically analyzed. Extraction of DNA and amplification of the two hypervariable segments (HVS-I and HVS-II) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region were successful and reproducible in 28 out the 57 individuals. The sample as a whole is characterized by a typical West-Eurasian mtDNA variation, with the haplogroup H being the most represented (25%). Comparative analyses with more than 4,000 sequences from eurasian populations points to a high genetic affinity with Southeastern Mediterranean. More particularly an affinity is observed at the genealogical level with mtDNA lineages from the Balkan area, more in detail Macedonia, Northern Greece and Bosnia. This might represent a genetic signature of the settlements installed by the Seleucides (330-150 B.P.) from Macedonia in Northern Pisidia. No contribution of Central Asian mtDNA pool has been so far observed.
In conclusion, it appears that recent historical events have contributed to shaping the mitochondrial gene pool of the Sagalassos population. Future efforts will be addressed to investigate more human and animal samples, and to improve classification of the human lineages through the analysis of SNPs in the coding region of mtDNA.