The correlation between languages and genes: the Usko-Mediterranean peoples

Hum Immunol. 2001 Sep;62(9):1051-61. doi: 10.1016/s0198-8859(01)00300-7.


The usko-Mediterraneans peoples are defined as ancient and present day populations that have lived in the Mediterranean/Middle-East/Caucasus area and have spoken a Basque related language. The present day existing populations show an HLA genetic relatedness which is more or less close according to geographical distance. The Greek sample is an outlying in all genetic analyses, because Greeks have a significant genetic input from sub-Saharan Ethiopians and Blacks. This probably occurred in Pharaonic times. Present day comparisons between genes and languages show a lack of correlation: Macedonian, Palestinians, Kurds, part of Berbers, Armenians, and Turks belong to the old Mediterranean substratum, but they do not speak a language included in the old Mediterranean Dene-Caucasian group. This is due to an "elite"-imposed culture and language. Other ethnic groups speak an "old Mediterranean language" or "usko-Mediterranean language" modified by Roman Latin (i.e., Spanish, Italians), or by other not fully explained processes (Jews). Therefore, the correlation between genes and languages may exist at a macrogeographical level, but not when more precise microgeographical studies are done, as shown in the present "usko-Mediterranean" peoples model.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Africa, Northern
  • Atlantic Islands
  • Culture
  • Genes, MHC Class I*
  • Genes, MHC Class II*
  • Greece
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Spain
  • Turkey


  • HLA Antigens