Sunday, August 4, 2013

Korčula : Dalmatia (Croatia)

The island was first settled by Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples. There is archaeological evidence at the sites of Vela Spila (Big Cave) and at Jakas Cave near the village of Zrnovo. The finds of Vela Spila are on display at the Center for Culture in Vela Luka. The fate of these peoples is not know but the sites do provide a window into their way of life.

The second wave of human settlement was by Illyrians. It is believed that the Illyrians arrived in Balkans approximately 1000 BC.They were semi-nomadic tribal people living from agriculture. There are numerous old stone buildings and fortresses (gradine) left behind by the Illyrians.

The Great Migrations of the 6th and 7th centuries brought Slavic and Avar invasions into this region. As the so-called barbarians began settling on the coast, the Romanised local coastal population had to take refuge on the islands. Along the Dalmatian coast the Croatian Slavic peoples poured out of the interior and seized control of the area where the Neretva River enters the Adriatic, as well as the island of Korčula (Corcyra),which protects the river mouth.

  • Sample :

Full size
  •  Analyzis :

- Lepto type : rather long "horse-like" face, long and straight but not convex nose, variable complexion (from fair to dark)

This is one of the two main Yugoslav types : darker types might be more associated with people from Serbia in popular culture - particularly when it comes to women - but they are actually as frequent in Croatia as in Serbia.

- Brachy type : robust general "cromagnoid" features, puffy nose, rather fair complexion (light eyes, "pinkish" skin)

I had already identified such types in coastal Slovenia and in Slovene-speaking areas of Italy : to my eyes, it is a peculiar local South Slavic coastal type that clearly exhibits a distinct eastern flavour, or at least non-Med tendency.

Consistent genetic samples of the various Balkanic ethnicities cannot be found yet I'm quite persuaded Slavic migrations had a strong impact in the Balkans and that somehow Slavic-speaking Balkans constitute a discontinuity inbetween NE Italy and Albania. At least, Slovene people were proved to be closer to Austrians than to Italians.

My own personal theory is that autochtonous Illyrian people mixed with Slavic invadors (coming from an area around modern-day Poland ?) and thus their genepool was modified with Neolithic/Med influences being lowered.

  • Morphotypes :


  1. I don't think there's any good reason to think that this typological affinities with Central and North Europe (rather than East Europe: they look more "English" or "German" than "Polish" or "Russian") have anything to do with Slavic immigration, which left almost no mark in haploid genetics (there's more R1a in Greek Macedonia than in all the rest of the Balcans, Slavic or not, for example). Also you see those types in non-Slavic areas like Romania: it's not privative of Slavic speakers at all.

    I rather think that the reality is the opposite: that the Balcanic typology shaped to some degree that of other parts of Europe, especially in Neolithic times, what can be tracked with Y-DNA and mtDNA (also from West Asia but largely from the Balcans). It may well have been the original Balcanic diversity what projected some of the differences (for example: E1b-V13 people from Albania and Greece vs I2 people from further North). So some of these types may have expanded with continental (Balcano-Danubian) Neolithic to Central and NW Europe, while others (the (quasi-)Dinaric or the Gracil-Mediterranean types) expanded preferably with the Cardium-Impressed Pottery culture of the Mediterranean. There are many open questions in any case, so this is just a tentative outline.

    Before even reading your comments I was already thinking: so good for the alleged N-S cline in Europe (almost only found in autosomal analysis, much more likely to suffer from artifacts and sampling biases): these people look much like Northern Europeans and not at all like Western Mediterraneans, especially not like Iberians (except maybe some vague affinities of the quasi-Dinaric type), and this happens in all the Balcans, including the distinctive Albanian-Greek area (for different reasons maybe but still different).

    In any case, the only people I see somewhat easy to confuse with SW Europeans could be: B3 and C7 (both could be though Basque-akin or some other North Iberian - A2 also?, what about A6: not Basque-like but Iberian-like?), of the rest only very vague quasi-Dinaric similitudes (A7, C4 and D1 but not quite it, just a generic trend).

    While less familiar with Italian types (a bit more with North Italians, for family reasons), I also fail to see any obvious Italian affinity. The dominant affinity is clearly North or NW European - and this is not something of just Korcula: all the Balcans (excepted Albania-Greece to some extent) are like that: it's full of tall blond-tending people and this can't be attributed to "Slavic migrations", not even to the older and surely more influential Indoeuropean (Kurgan) migrations either.

  2. You may be right but if anything subsequent Slavic migrations just confirmed the "northern" orientation of the area, phenotypically wise.

    I very much agree with you that these people don't look "Western" : now and then I may find some similarities with NE Italians though (Friulians).


I've chosen to let people comment freely on my posts. Nevertheless, you'll lose your time taunting me and calling me a fascist (which I'm really not) : I pray you to read my introduction which will reassure that my intentions genuinely aim at achieving amateurish knowledge. I understand that you may not share my passion for the history of the peopling of the World, just don't let me know as clear conscience gained by bashing a humble documentary work is useless.