Pierre Zalloua and the Genographic Consortium have been hard at work trying to retrace the steps of the Phoenician civilization which dominated trade in the Mediterranean 2 to 3 thousand years ago. From their homeland in the Levant, they established colonies and trading posts throughout the Mediterranean eventually disappearing into history. Zalloua et al are attempting to find some genetic trace of the phoenicians by examining the Y chromosome of men from areas of known Phoenician settlement. Their results link haplogroup J2 and 6 specific Y chomosome haplotypes as having contributed >6% to the present day Y chromosome gene pool of the specific populations studied. The paper focuses on Malta, Tunisia and Southern Spain as phoenician influenced regions spreading from a Phoenician Heartland in present-day Lebanon. Some of the highest levels of Haplogroup J2 are provided in the supplemental data including 28% J2 in the area defined as the Phoenician Heartland, 22% in the neighbouring periphery regions, 37% in Cyprus, 32% in Malta, 14% in Coastal Tunisia and 11% in Southern Spain. Tunisia, in the eyes of the authors provided a valuable contrast:
The excess of J2, PCS1+, PCS2+, and PCS3+ (Phoenician Colonization Genetic Signatures) in coastal Tunisia, the site of Carthage, compared with inland Tunisia is particularly salient, because these lineages are considerably more rare in North Africa than in Southern Europe. It also suggests that the Roman destruction of Carthage did not eliminate the Carthaginian gene pool. Further support for the PCS+ haplotypes' spread with the Phoenicians is illustrated by their generally high frequency among the Phoenician contact sites across the Mediterranean basin (Figures 1D–1F).
The authors used a variety of control tests to estimate the impact of Neolithic, Greek and other population migrations the the studied regions. They noted that only one Haplogroup, J2 consistently scored significantly in all their Phoenician-colony tests across the range of colonization sites. They also identified 6 specific 7 marker haplotypes they believed associated with the Phoenician expansion but acknlowledged that the limited phylogenetic resolution of the haplotypes (their small size) would pick up signatures not necessarily involved with Phoenician expansion. They also hope that future identification of SNP's may lead to the discovery of some rare but distinctly Phoenician genetic signatures. The link to the full paper is on the left side in the links section.