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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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Admixture history and recent southern origins of Siberian populations

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Republication from BioRxiv

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siberia

Fig.1. Admixture results for K=6 showing the approximate location of the populations  included in this study. The names of the populations are coloured according to their
linguistic affiliation as follows: red = Mongolic, blue = Turkic, dark green = North
Tungusic, light green = South Tungusic (Hezhen) and Manchu (Xibo), brown = Ugric,
orange = Samoyedic, black = Yenisseic, azure = Yukaghirs, maroon = Chukotko-
Kamchatkan, pink = Eskimo-Aleut, purple = Indo-European, teal = Sino-Tibetan and
Japonic. Where two subgroups are from the same geographic location, only one of the subgroups is shown (full results are presented in Fig.S1). Note that for reasons of space the location of the two distinct Yakut subgroups does not correspond to their true location. Each color indicates a different ancestry component referred to in the text as “(light) green” or European, “yellow” or Western Siberian, “blue” or Central Siberian, “pink” or Asian,  “red” or Far Eastern, “dark green” or Eskimo.

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Irina Pugach, Rostislav Matveev, Viktor Spitsyn, Sergey Makarov, Innokentiy Novgorodov, Vladimir Osakovsky, Mark Stoneking, Brigitte Pakendorf

THE JUAN JUAN KHANATE (NOMAD PEOPLES OF THE EURASIAN STEPPES)

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archer2

(photo found at Pinterest, Copyright: The Bulgarian School of horseback archery)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The vast Asiatic steppes from Manchuria to the Ural River had always been the cradle of nomadic peoples of intense mobility and warlike character. Dashing from this cradle, they used to debouche in order to gradually form nomadic “empires” (sometimes as far as the Hungarian plains) and invade the territories of sedentary peoples such as China, India, Iran, the Greco-Roman regions of the Mediterranean and later the Christian countries of Europe. The European World was equally exposed to the lethal hordes of these horseback warriors of the steppes, as well as the Chinese, the Indian and the Iranian World, paying a heavy toll in human lives and material damage, from the Early Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages. The Iranian Saka (Eastern Scythians) were perhaps the first nomadic people who formed a powerful tribal union (rather a confederation) in Central Asia, the “Great Horde of the Saka” (Ma-Saka-ta), whose name the ancient Greeks linguistically Hellenized and quoted in their writings as Massagetae. This tribal union was followed by other nomadic confederations of Tocharian, Turkic, Mongol, Tungusic, Yeniseic and other origins, such as the Wu Sun (Wusun), the Hsiung Nu (Xiongnu, the Huns?), the Yue Chih (Yuezhi), the Hsien-pi (Xianbei), until the emergence of the Juan Juan (Rouran, Avars).

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