Wednesday, August 19, 2015
No significant genetic substructures within (eastern) Yamnaya
It's interesting and perhaps important that there's practically no difference between the two sets of Yamnaya samples published to date, despite the fact that they're from regions separated by ~1,000 kilometers. Yamnaya_Rise is from between the Black and Caspian seas, while Yamnaya_Haak from just north of the Caspian.
Note the lack of significant Z scores (around 3 or more) in these D-stats. Although the almost significant Z score with Loschbour, a Mesolithic Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) from Luxembourg, does look somewhat curious.
It's difficult to know what all of this means exactly without seeing any ancient samples from archaeological cultures that preceded Yamnaya on the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. However, it could mean that the Yamnaya nomads arrived north of the Caspian from the south, which is also what preliminary Y-chromosome data is hinting at (see here).
Yamnaya was succeeded northeast of the Caspian by its offshoot, the Poltavka Culture, which in turn was replaced by the Sintashta Culture. The most widely accepted theory, based on archaeological data, is that Sintashta formed from a chain of cultures derived from the late Corded Ware horizon of East-Central Europe. This is backed up by the D-stats below, which suggest some western admixture in Sintashta that is missing in Yamnaya.
In this analysis I used samples from the Allentoft et al. (Rise Project), Haak et al. and Lazaridis et al. datasets, all of which are publicly available. The latter two are found at the Reich Lab site here.
A multidimensional approach