Ancestry and demography and descendants of Iron Age nomads of the Eurasian Steppe.

  • publication
  • 04-03-2017

Unterländer M, Palstra F, Lazaridis I, Pilipenko A, Hofmanová Z, Groß M, Sell C, Blöcher J, Kirsanow K, Rohland N, Rieger B, Kaiser E, Schier W, Pozdniakov D, Khokhlov A, Georges M, Wilde S, Powell A, Heyer E, Currat M, Reich D, Samashev Z, Parzinger H, Molodin VI, Burger J. Nat Commun 2017 Mar;8():14615. ncomms14615. 10.1038/ncomms14615.

During the 1(st) millennium before the Common Era (BCE), nomadic tribes associated with the Iron Age Scythian culture spread over the Eurasian Steppe, covering a territory of more than 3,500 km in breadth. To understand the demographic processes behind the spread of the Scythian culture, we analysed genomic data from eight individuals and a mitochondrial dataset of 96 individuals originating in eastern and western parts of the Eurasian Steppe. Genomic inference reveals that Scythians in the east and the west of the steppe zone can best be described as a mixture of Yamnaya-related ancestry and an East Asian component. Demographic modelling suggests independent origins for eastern and western groups with ongoing gene-flow between them, plausibly explaining the striking uniformity of their material culture. We also find evidence that significant gene-flow from east to west Eurasia must have occurred early during the Iron Age.

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