Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Catalan surnames, Y-DNA and the Sayabiga?

An interesting  new study may have some bearing on the theories discussed on this blog on the Sayabiga connection of the Agotes and Cagots of Spain, France and other areas of Western Europe.

The study Y-chromosome diversity in Catalan surname samples: insights into surname origin and frequency examines 50 Catalan surnames chosen based mainly on their current frequency in the region.  While most of the Y-DNA haplogroups discovered from the sample of 1375 men were of expected European origin with a significant number of North African/Middle Eastern examples, two haplogroups are of interest regarding the Agote/Cagot theory.

Three individuals, all from the Girona region, shared the C* haplogroup while a single person from Castells has the K* haplogroup.   All the C* individuals had the surname Llach, which translates to "lake."  The sole K* has the surname Ferrer meaning "smith."

The markers used in the test can be found at  From this table, we can see that the study tested for the M8 (C1a1) and M219 (C2) markers, so the absense of these markers translates to a solid identification of C*. 

From the corresponding Universitat Pompeu Fabra website, we can find an analysis of each of the surnames studies. Here is the entry for "Llach":

 Llach. Cognom poc abundant, típic de la Garrotxa, el Pla de l’Estany, el Gironès i Perpinyà. Se’n troba un exemple entre els immigrants francesos al fogatge de 1637.
Hem pogut obtenir resultats de tots els 26 voluntaris d’aquest cognom, que pertanyen a 8 llinatges diferents (llinatge en el sentit de grup homes descendents d’un avantpassat comú). Es tracta d’una diversitat genètica moderadament  elevada per a un cognom relativament freqüent. Veiem que els Llach de les comarques gironines pertanyen a quatre llinatges diferents (precisament, els anomenats de l’1 al 4), i també són de llinatges particulars els Llach pirinencs (el llinatge 6), del Berguedà (7) i de Castelló (8). Cal remarcar que el fundador del llinatge 1 pertanyia a l’haplogrup C*, que es troba en freqüències elevades a l’Àsia Oriental, i que a Europa difícilment es dóna més enllà d’Europa Oriental. Entre els més de 400 fundadors de llinatges que hem analitzat fins ara, aquest és l’únic C* que hem trobat.

 Here is a translation from the Anthrogenica forum (emphasis added):

Llach. An uncommon surname, typical of la Garrotxa, Pla de l’Estany, Gerona and Perpignan. We find an example among French immigrants in 1637 hearth tax.

We were able to get results from all 26 volunteers for this surname, which belong to eight different lineages (lineage group in the sense of people descended from a common ancestor). This is a moderately high genetic diversity for a relatively common name. We see that the Llachs of the Gironne [?] region belong to four different lineages ... and the individual lineages are Llach Pyrenees ( lineage 6 ) of Berguedá (7) and Castellón ( 8). Importantly, the founder of the lineage 1 belonged to haplogroup C * , which is found in high frequencies in East Asia, and in Europe there is hardly beyond Eastern Europe. Among the more than 400 founding lineages that we have analyzed so far, this is the only one we've found C * .
Children believed to be descendents of the Cagots at La fontaine Saint-Blaise à Bagnères

C* strongly linked with ISEA

In fact, we know from previous studies by Karafet et al. and Delfin et al. that C*, known as C-
RPS4Y* and CRPS4Y respectively, are strongly associated with the Insular Southeast Asian (ISEA) region. 

Karafet et al. shows only 17 out of 581 Mainland Southeast Asian samples with C*, while Western Indonesia has 40 out of 960 in Western Indonesia, 145 out of 957 in Eastern Indonesia and 2 out of 182 in Oceania.  Variance is significantly higher in Eastern Indonesia suggesting that as the place of origin in this study. 

In Delfin et al., 8.9% of Negrito peoples in the Philippines have C*, while the percentage among non-Negrito indigenous and Muslim peoples in the same country is 7.1%.

 K* also connects with ISEA

The single K* individual tested negative for L or the MNOPS groups showing a strong association with the K*, a type that also is found mostly in Insular Southeast Asia and particularly with the Philippines.  Delfin et al. also tests for the subgroups L and MNOPS and finds that 32.2% of Negrito Filipinos and  8.1% of Muslim and indigenous non-Negrito Filipinos are K*. 


The Catalan surname study may suggest that a small percentage of Y-DNA haplogroups are of ISEA origin in one of the main areas associated in this blog with the Sayabiga.  Additionally, it was closely linked with the Agotes and the adjoining region of France was connected with the Cagots.

Indeed, Girona (Gerona) was the location of a particular late study on the Cagots at the turn of the 20th century.

Of course, as the Sayabiga did not appear to be endogamous like the Gitano/Roma, we may expect that some paternal lineages may have already been "switched out" during stays in other areas associated with the Sayabiga including Basra in Iraq.  For comparison, no H1 or H1a lineages, common among the Gitano, were found in this study.

Interestingly, no examples of the O haplogroups that are so common nowadays were found in this research.  Possibly, these groups were not as predominant in certain regions as they are today, however, it is difficult to say with such a small data set. 

Unfortunately, the surnames Borja, Borgia, Borge, etc. were not included in the study as the results would have been interesting to see.  Indeed, this opens up quite a bit of territory for future research to confirm whether these findings do indeed confirm a Sayabiga link.


Paul Kekai Manansala said...

Living surnames of Agote and Cagot descendents might include the various ethnonyms used for these groups, many of which are fairly common as modern surnames.

These ethnonyms include Agote, Cagot, Capot, Capet, Chrestiaa, Gafo and Caquin among many others.