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Yamnaya nomads left a strong genetic mark on Europeans and Asians

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By Ann Gibbons

Republication from www.sciencemag

The Bronze Age came to Europe and Asia 5000 years ago, leaving a trail of metal tools, axes, and jewelry that stretches from Siberia to Scandinavia. But was this powerful new technology an idea that spread from the Middle East to European and Asian people, or was it brought in by foreigners? Two of the largest studies of ancient DNA from Bronze Age and Iron Age people have now found that outsiders deserve the credit: Nomadic herders from the steppes of today’s Russia and Ukraine brought their culture and, possibly, languages with them—and made a relatively recent and lasting imprint on the genetic makeup of Europeans and Asians.

In the studies, published online today in Nature, two rival teams of geneticists analyzed the DNA from 170 individuals who lived at key archaeological sites in Europe and Asia 5000 to 3000 years ago. Both teams found strong evidence that a wave of nomadic herders known as the Yamnaya from the Pontic-Caspian, a vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea and as far east as the Caspian Sea, swept into Europe sometime between 5000 and 4800 years ago; along the way, they may have brought with them Proto-Indo-European, the mysterious ancestral tongue from which all of today’s 400 Indo-European languages spring. These herders interbred with local farmers and created the Corded Ware culture of central Europe, named for the twisted cord imprint on its pottery. Their genes were passed down to northern and central Europeans living today, as one of the teams posted on a preprint server earlier this year and published today.

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Analysis of ancient mitochondrial DNA gives insights into population movements in the Tarim Basin, China

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Republication from Biomed central

Afanasievo-Tarim

Fig. 1

Map of Eurasia showing the location of the Xiaohe cemetery, the Tarim Basin, the ancient Silk Road routes and the areas occupied by cultures associated with the settlement of the Tarim Basin. This figure is drawn according to literatures

 

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2Fs12863-015-0237-5/MediaObjects/12863_2015_237_Fig2_HTML.gif

 

Fig. 2

a Fourth layer of the Xiaohe cemetery showing a large number of large phallus and vulva posts; b A well-preserved boat coffin; c Female mummy with European features; d Double-layered coffin excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery

 

Chunxiang Li, Chao Ning, Erika Hagelberg, Hongjie Li, Yongbin Zhao,  Wenying Li, Idelisi Abuduresule, Hong Zhu and Hui Zhou

BMC Genetics201516:78

DOI: 10.1186/s12863-015-0237-5

Abstract

Background

The Tarim Basin in western China, known for its amazingly well-preserved mummies, has been for thousands of years an important crossroad between the eastern and western parts of Eurasia. Despite its key position in communications and migration, and highly diverse peoples, languages and cultures, its prehistory is poorly understood. To shed light on the origin of the populations of the Tarim Basin, we analysed mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in human skeletal remains excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery, used by the local community between 4000 and 3500 years before present, and possibly representing some of the earliest settlers.

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Collateral relatives of Amerindians among the Bronze Age populace of Siberia?

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Republication from Pub Med

siberia map[maps added by the republisher]

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999 Feb;108(2):193-204.

Abstract

Nonmetric and metric traits were studied in cranial series representing prehistoric and modern populations of America and Siberia. Frequencies of the infraorbital pattern type II (longitudinal infraorbital suture overlaid by the zygomatic bone) are universally lower in Amerindians than in Siberians. The os japonicum posterior trace, too, is much less frequent in America than in Siberia. The only two Siberian groups with an almost Amerindian combination are late third to early second millennium BC populations from Okunev and Sopka, southern Siberia. The multivariate analysis of five nonmetric facial traits and ten facial measurements in 15 cranial series reveals two independent tendencies.

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A History of Slavery and Genocide Is Hidden in Modern DNA

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Republication from ‘Tracing Knowledge…’
Amerikanisches_Mittelmeer_NASA

Genetic testing of people with Caribbean ancestry reveals evidence of indigenous population collapse and specific waves of slave trade. Image via Wikimedia Commons/NASA

Featuring article
A History of Slavery and Genocide Is Hidden in Modern DNA
November 15, 2013 | Posted By: Joseph Stromberg | Original online publication Smithsonian.com

There are plenty of ways to study history. You can conduct archaeological digs, examining the artifacts and structures buried under the ground to learn about past lifestyles. You can read historical texts, perusing the written record to better understand events that occurred long ago.

But an international group of medical researchers led by Andrés Moreno-Estrada and Carlos Bustamante of Stanford and Eden Martin of the University of Miami are looking instead at a decidedly unconventional historical record: human DNA.

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