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Yamnaya nomadic herders may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local people

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Republication from www.sciencemag.org

 

[map of Yamnaya culture from Wikimedia commons]

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Call it an ancient thousand man march. Early Bronze Age men from the vast grasslands of the Eurasian steppe swept into Europe on horseback about 5000 years ago—and may have left most women behind. This mostly male migration may have persisted for several generations, sending men into the arms of European women who interbred with them, and leaving a lasting impact on the genomes of living Europeans.

“It looks like males migrating in war, with horses and wagons,” says lead author and population geneticist Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University in Sweden.

 

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Andronovo culture heavy charioteer warrior c. 1500 BC

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Image copyright: A.I. Solovyev

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This is another rare representation by the Russian archaeologist A.I. Solovyev, of a heavy charioteer warrior of the Indoeuropean Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BC) which flourished mainly in western Siberia and Kazakhstan, although the first archaeological evidence of this civilisation comes from a small area southwest of Krasnoyarsk. Its southern varieties were extended to modern Uzbekistan, Kirghizistan and Turkmenistan. Minusinsk Basin is specifically a region were the Andronovo culture evolved considerably.

The Andronovo culture, named after the homonymous modern village, was the cradle of the Proto-Indo-Iranian IE group which later was divided to the Indo-Aryan and the Iranian subgroup. The Proto-Indo-Aryans gradually invaded and settled in the larger part of the Indian subcontinent although some of their tribes moved to the west, to the Zagros Mountains and the Black Sea steppes. The Proto-Iranians were divided into two branches. The southern branch – archaeologically represented along with the Indo-Aryans by Neo-Andronovo varieties and the Srubnaya culture – gradually invaded and settled in the regions of modern Iran, Afghanistan, western Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Zagros Mountains area, becoming the ancestors of the Sogdians, Medes, Persians, Bactrians and many other ancient peoples. The northern Iranian branch – archaeologically represented by the Karasuk culture being a local variety of the Andronovo– became the ancestors of the numerous Saka, Scythian and Sarmatian tribes.

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Karasuk culture warrior (2nd half of 2nd millenn. BC)

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Image copyright: A.I. Solovyev

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This is a rather rare representation by A.I. Solovyev, of a warrior of the Indoeuropean Karasuk culture (c. 1500–700 BC) which flourished in South Siberia and Central Asia. Its core region was located in the Minusinsk Basin, on the Yenisey River and on the upper reaches of the Ob River. This culture was probably the cradle of the northern branch of the Proto-Iranians who became the ancestors of the Sakas, Scythians, Sarmatians, Dahae, Parni (Proto-Parthians), Alans and other nomad Iranian peoples.  Karasuk culture came from local varieties of the older Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BC) that was ancestral to the Proto-Indo-Iranian group.

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