search this blog

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A closer look at the maternal origins of the Corded Ware people (Juras et al. 2018)

Over at Scientific Reports at this LINK. This is a nice paper, but I'm really looking forward to the Y-DNA and genome-wide data from these new samples. What's the bet that the Yamnaya men from Ukraine will belong to Y-haplogroup R1a-M417? Bring it on soon, please. From the paper, emphasis is mine:

From around 4,000 to 2,000 BC the forest-steppe north-western Pontic region was occupied by people who shared a nomadic lifestyle, pastoral economy and barrow burial rituals. It has been shown that these groups, especially those associated with the Yamnaya culture, played an important role in shaping the gene pool of Bronze Age Europeans, which extends into present-day patterns of genetic variation in Europe. Although the genetic impact of these migrations from the forest-steppe Pontic region into central Europe have previously been addressed in several studies, the contribution of mitochondrial lineages to the people associated with the Corded Ware culture in the eastern part of the North European Plain remains contentious. In this study, we present mitochondrial genomes from 23 Late Eneolithic and Bronze Age individuals, including representatives of the north-western Pontic region and the Corded Ware culture from the eastern part of the North European Plain. We identified, for the first time in ancient populations, the rare mitochondrial haplogroup X4 in two Bronze Age Catacomb culture-associated individuals. Genetic similarity analyses show close maternal genetic affinities between populations associated with both eastern and Baltic Corded Ware culture, and the Yamnaya horizon, in contrast to larger genetic differentiation between populations associated with western Corded Ware culture and the Yamnaya horizon. This indicates that females with steppe ancestry contributed to the formation of populations associated with the eastern Corded Ware culture while more local people, likely of Neolithic farmer ancestry, contributed to the formation of populations associated with western Corded Ware culture.

We investigated the within- and between-group variability using an AMOVA analysis. Concentrating on the eastern and western Corded Ware groups, we found the best variability distribution when the individuals associated with the western Corded Ware culture (CWW in Supplementary Table S5) were grouped together with the Middle Neolithic/Bronze Age Central Europe groups, while individuals associated with the eastern and Baltic Corded Ware culture (CWPlM, CWBal), and Yamnaya horizon groups (YAW and YAE) clustered together with the eastern Europe populations (from the Middle Neolithic-Bronze Age) (4.68% of variability among groups, 3.04% among populations within groups).

By analyzing ancient mitochondrial genomes, we show that people from the eastern and western Corded Ware culture were genetically differentiated. Individuals associated with the eastern Corded Ware culture (from present day Poland and the Czech Republic) shared close maternal genetic affinity with individuals associated with the Yamnaya horizon while the genetic differentiation between individuals associated with the western Corded Ware culture (from present-day Germany) and the Yamnaya horizon was more extensive. This decreasing cline of steppe related ancestry from east to west likely reflect the direction of the steppe migration. It also indicates that more people with steppe-related ancestry, likely both females and males, contributed to the formation of the population associated with the eastern Corded Ware culture. Similarly, closer genetic affinity to populations associated with Yamnaya horizon can be observed in Baltic Corded Ware groups, which confirms earlier indications of a direct migrations from the steppe not only to the west but also to the north, into the eastern Baltic region [18,19,55]. The mitochondrial data further suggests that with increased distance from the source populations of the steppe, the contribution of local people increase, which is seen as an increase of maternal lineages of Neolithic farmer ancestry in individuals associated with the western Corded Ware culture.


Interestingly, hg U4c1 found in the Yamnaya individual (poz224) has so-far been found only in two Bell Beaker- associated individuals [61] and one Late Bronze Age individual from Armenia [14], which might suggest a steppe origin for hg U4c1. A steppe origin can possibly also be assigned to hg U4a2f, found in one individual (poz282) but not reported in any other ancient populations to date, and to U5a1- the ancestral lineage of U5a1b, reported for individual poz232, which was identified not only in Corded Ware culture-associated population from central and eastern Europe [55,61] but also in representatives of Catacomb culture from the north Pontic region [24], Yamnaya from Bulgaria and Russia [17,46], Srubnaya [23] and Andronovo [62] -associated groups. Hg U2e, reported for Late Eneolithic individual (poz090), was also identified in western Corded Ware culture-associated individual23 and in succeeding Sintashta14, Potapovka and Andronovo [23] groups, suggesting possible genetic continuity of U2e1 in the western part of the north Pontic region.

Hgs W3a1 and W3a1a, found in two Yamnaya individuals from this study (poz208 and poz222), were also identified in Yamnaya-associated individuals from the Russia Samara region [17] and later in Únětice and Bell Beaker groups from Germany [61,63], supporting the idea of an eastern European steppe origin of these haplotypes and their contribution to the Yamnaya migration toward the central Europe. The W3a1 lineage was not identified in Neolithic times and, thus, we assume that it appeared in the steppe region for the first time during the Bronze Age. Notably, hgs W1 and W5, which predate the Bronze Age in Europe, were found only in individuals associated with the early Neolithic farmers from Starčevo in Hungary (hg W5)64, early Neolithic farmers from Anatolia (hg W1-T119C) [23], and from the Schöningen group (hg W1c)61 and Globular Amphora culture from Poland (hg W5) [45].

Juras et al., Mitochondrial genomes reveal an east to west cline of steppe ancestry in Corded Ware populations, Scientific Reports, 02 August 2018, DOI:

See also...

The staging point, obviously

Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but...


Ric Hern said...

I wonder why the Bell Beaker Culture pulls so much towards the Bernburg Culture ?

Ric Hern said...

I get the feeling that Western Corded Ware and Bell Beaker originated due to the Suvorovo Expansion....and Eastern Corded Ware expanded later and both originated from the same area just at different times.

Synome said...

Do we think that more data from these samples (Y results, autosomal) will help tease out the origins of the steppe Beakers? Besides the origins of Corded Ware, that's the question which comes to mind when I look at this map.

I know some folks are waiting with baited breath to see certain R1b subclades pop up. With each Yamnaya/CWC/BB study, the hope springs anew.

EastPole said...

“What's the bet that the Yamnaya men from Ukraine will belong to Y-haplogroup R1a-M417?”

What's the bet that the R1a-M417 Yamnaya West men from Ukraine will be autosomaly closer to Late Sredny Stog Dereivka than to Yamnaya East.?

“Due to overlapping dating of the samples and their common origin, the western Yamnaya horizon group encompassed individuals associated with Yamnaya culture and Late Eneolithic from this study, and additional comparative samples from present day Ukraine and Bulgaria”

Late Eneolithic is Post-Stog.

It is probable that:


Because both men and women of CWPlM are from YAW,




This would explain the presence of YAE like samples in CWBal which probably had similar origin.
i.e. I am thinking of the following model:

The IE problem is now like this: CWC was IE, it came from YAW, therefore YAW was IE.
YAW was a mix of SS and YAE.
Who was PIE: YAE or SS?
I think SS.
You think YAE. What are your arguments?

Davidski said...


What's the bet that the R1a-M417 Yamnaya West men from Ukraine will be autosomaly closer to Late Sredny Stog Dereivka than to Yamnaya East?

I don't know about that, because some of the Baltic Corded Ware samples are genetically closer to Yamnaya East than to Sredny Stog, including Gyvakarai1 who belongs to R1a-M417.

Also, keep in mind that Ukraine_Eneolithic (Sredny Stog II) I6561 shows a much higher level of Yamnaya-related ancestry than the other Ukraine_Eneolithic samples, which might mean that there were several waves of R1a-M417 into Ukraine from eastern Sredny Stog or Khvakynsk, or the border area between them, and maybe from Yamnaya East.

The details are yet to be worked out, but like I've always been saying here, there are only two realistic options...

1) Corded Ware is basically a northern variant of Yamnaya

2) Both Corded Ware and Yamnaya descend from the same Eneolithic steppe groups, namely Khvalynsk, Repin and Sredny Stog.

There isn't much of a difference between these two scenarios, and I couldn't care less which one is true, but it'll be interesting to find out.

Davidski said...


Apologies for keeping the comment moderation on full time, but several banned commentators keep trying to come back.

Please note that once you are banned and make it onto the "Banned commentators list" there is no coming back.

Also, I still occasionally see people trying to post as "unknown" or "anonymous". I won't allow such IDs to be used. No matter what you say or who you are, your comment won't appear here.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

Samuel Andrews said...


Hungarian Yamnaya appears to be of the same stock as eastern Yamnaya (R1b Z2103+). I'm basing that on the Hungarian Beaker guy with R1b Z2103 and 76% Steppe ancestry. From Bell Beaker to Andronovo, ancient DNA shows that early Indo European cultures represented ethnic groups that were geographically widespread but genetically uniform and with a single Y chromsome

Everyone in the "Z93 cultures" from Russia to Siberia came from the same R1a Z93 stock. Everyone in Kurgan Bell Beaker from Poland to Ireland belonged to the same R1b P312 stock.

I don't know anything about archeaology ok...but I'd be surprised if the Yamnaya culture is an exception to the rule made by other early IE cultures. My bet, is from Hungary to Russia, Yamnaya represented single ethnic group R1b Z2103 too.

Samuel Andrews said...

Here's a simple rule for everyone: In almost every circumstance it is completely useless to apply statistical analysis to mtDNA (or Y DNA) data.

Studying mtDNA is meticulous. You must "do it by hand." There's no way around it. No mathematical formula can find the answers for you.

The conclusion of this paper is that eastern Corded Ware was genetically distinct from western Corded Ware and had more Steppe ancestry. This conclusion should be taken with a grain of salt. We don't have nearly enough samples from Corded Ware to conclude this anyway.

I respect the authors of this study. They are just doing what their profession commands them to do; produces sophisticated statistics which make an intriguing new finding. But, with so few mtDNA samples you shouldn't expect to discover anything exciting.

Samuel Andrews said...

My mtDNA knowledge is kind of rusty. As far as I can see there isn't anything new or exciting in these results.

The X4 in Catacomb is interesting. X4 is an almost non-existent basal clade of X. Armenia-1, Palestine-1.

One Babyno culture result indicates it is of partial "R1a Z93" origin. One had J2b1a-16274. Today, this lineage is a common founder effect in both the Kalash & Pathan. One Babyno sample is a perfect match with one of the Corded Ware sample in this today: both are H1e+16318.

Samuel Andrews said...

poz090, 3350-3200 BC, Ukraine, is the second ancient example of U2e1a1. The other is from LNBA (not Beaker) Germany.

U2e1a1 is rare but its modern distribution mimics other lineages common in ancient Steppe cultures.

H15a1 popped up in COrded Ware. It has also appeared in Yamnaya. Based on modern mtDNA I have been suspecting that in Europe H15 is of Steppe origin. Many non-U mtDNA in Steppe cultures have a very Iran-Neolithic (Iran, SC Asia) distribution in modern pops: J1b1, W3, I1, T1a1. H15 does too. Interestingly, H15a1 peaks in Armenia.

Davidski said...

@Samuel Andrews

Isn't U2e1a1 found in one Bell Beaker and one Corded Ware?

Bell Beaker I5023 Osterhofen-Altenmarkt

Corded Ware I1541 Esperstedt

Samuel Andrews said...

Thanks for the correction. I should have double checked on that one.

Santosh said...

Indian archeogenetics now accept that the indus valley people as ASI (Dravidian). Aryans came later. Todays article in outlook magazine about Rakhigharh DNA

Synome said...

I hope I'm not derailing too much, but check out this quote from the Outlook article:

“The Rakhigarhi samples have a significant amount of ‘Iranian farmer’ ancestry,” says Rai. “In India’s present-day population, only the south Indians have Iranian farmer ancestry. You won’t find Iranian farmer DNA in the north Indian population.”

...pardon? I hope this is a misquote by the author of the article.

Santosh said...

@Synome don't read too much into the article. After all it is just a magazine article. Definitely a misquote.

Davidski said...

@Santosh & Synome

It's a misunderstanding of some sort, obviously, so let's just wait for the paper. But I think we all know what to expect; basically a South Indian/Dravidian-like sample or samples very similar, if not identical, to the Bronze Age Indus Periphery individuals from Central Asia.

Ric Hern said...

@ EastPole

My argument is that there were many migrations between Derievka and Samara and Derievka and the Lower Don since the Mesolithic due to periodic aridification in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. So all these people could have contributed to the formation of PIE.

But the Derievka area seems to be central to these migrations and developments and less effected by too arid or too moist periods ?

If CHG already started to mix with Mesolithic Steppe people the basic words and characteristics of PIE could have been established during this time with more technology related words following during the Neolithic and Eneolithic with most sharing taking place during the aridification periods when people seemed to cluster together in areas with more stable resources and distribution of words and characteristics to smaller related populations during the Wet periods which basically leveled out the different dialects to eventually form the form of PIE that was spoken during the Earlier dispersals outside the Pontic-Caspian Steppe area.

That is why I think both R1a and R1b in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe area were PIE people.

Dmytro said...

@ Ric

"That is why I think both R1a and R1b in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe area were PIE people."

With a few others (I2a2 certainly) tossed in here and there...

EastPole said...

@Ric Hern
Language can develop on relatively small territory only. Original PIE homeland area was not much greater than 500000 km2.
Even Yamnaya was too big for PIE homeland and probably various dialects of that language had already been spoken there (if it was PIE homeland).
I don’t like arid semi-desert North Caucasus steppe PIE homeland theory because of what I know about elements of culture and religion common to Indo-Iranians, Slavs and Greeks.
Central to that culture/religion were: fire cult (heavenly and earthly as twin brothers), poetry and alcohol consumption for religious purposes. PIE were drinking mead/beer with hops(homel/haoma/soma). Iranians and Greeks later switched to wine/Dionysus. Soma/fire was entering the hearts of the poets leading them to the gods, they were finding words and making verses which led them to the experience of sun in the heart, to the experience of unity with heavenly sun and stars etc. It was a religion based on experience, not on revelation and scriptures.
This explains why it was necessary for PIE to develop highly advanced poetic language.
The beauty of poetry and soma drinking at the rituals helped also other members of the PIE community to experience what poets were singing about. Without this experience there was no PIE religion and culture and also no PIE language.
So substantial amounts of Soma were required to keep this culture thriving.
This is why I like fertile forest-steppe SS as the most likely PIE homeland theory.
PIE language, religion and culture originated in the fertile area where steppe people were in contact with Neolithic Farmers. Of course SS people also had horses and cows etc., but honey seems to be crucial to the development of their unique culture and religion. There are also other arguments which point to the northern limits of agriculture as PIE homeland.

Look where honey was produced in Neolithic:

Look where hops were growing during Neolithic:

I have already written about poetry here:

It possible that the link between Slavic, Indo-Iranian and Greek poetry may be later than PIE. That is the Greek religion and poetry were influenced by Hyperboreans. But Hyperboreans were most likely direct successors of PIE still living in PIE homeland north of the Scythians.
Therefore I think PIE homeland, i.e. area where women and men from different cultures mingled creating new culture, new language, new religion and then expanding to India, to Greece etc., were in the forest steppe Vistula-Dnieper-Don area:

Whether it was R1a or R1b I don’t know. I am neither R1a nor R1b and have no horse in this race. So let’s wait for aDNA.

Ric Hern said...


"Language can develop on relatively small territory only." And "Therefore I think PIE homeland....were in the forest steppe Vistula-Dnieper-Don area"

But isn't that a huge area as well ?

Ric Hern said...

@ EastPole

Most of the migrations in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe seems to have avoided the North Caspian and deserts that only stretched about only halfway towards the Black Sea....?

EastPole said...

@Ric Hern
“But isn't that a huge area as well ?”

Linguists say not much greater than 500000 km2
Poland’s area is 312,696 km2

Philippe said...

Does anyone know which Iron Age cultures are associated with Slavs?

Davidski said...


Does anyone know which Iron Age cultures are associated with Slavs?

Those derived from the Trzciniec culture, which was itself derived from eastern Corded Ware.

Trzciniec culture

Trzciniec culture samples have already been sequenced. They're labeled Baltic_BA in the Mittnik et al. paper. All the males belong to R1a.

The genetic history of Northern Europe (or rather the South Baltic)

Samuel Andrews said...

@Davidski, Do you think R1a+ east/west Slavs have much of any ancestry from people other than proto Slavs (eg, East Germans).

Davidski said...

Some do, it depends. There's quite a bit of R1b-U106 in some Slavic speaking regions, and this can't be from Proto-Slavs. We'll know more about this soon when more ancient Slavic and Germanic genomes are sequenced, including those of Goths.

Philippe said...

Thanks. Do you think Slavs have much Scythian or Sarmatian ancestry?

old europe said...


Here is an interesting study on eneolithic ukraine (SS culture)

You can read this about SS and Khvalynsk:

Similarity of the Khvalynsk ceramics with pottery of the Late Lower Don and Early Sredniy Stog cultures, as well as with separate vessels of the Orlovka culture allow me to assume, that its formation was connected with human migration about 5200-5150 BC, caused by gradual climate dryness. Probably, that aridity forced a part of the Early Sredniy Stog population from the steppe Don region to move in northern areas along valleys of the Don, Medveditsa and Volga. Some population reached the Voronezh basin and left materials at the Universitetskaja 3, Cherkasskaja and Kopanischenskaja sites (fig.123). Vessels with lower necks at these settlements are very similar to the oldest Sredniy Stog pottery (the fourth layer of Razdorskoe).

On the right bank of Volga the migrants met the local population of the Neolithic Orlovka culture, and probably assimilated its separate groups, as well as some southern groups of the Samara culture. As a result of those complicated processes the Khvalynsk culture was formed. According to the dates of Khvalynsk 2 cemetery (Table 18), that process came to the end about 5150-5100 BC.

Seems that caspian steppe culture (khvalynsk and after it Yamnaya) were formed from a movement eastward of SS culture.

But according to the same author this is the origin of SS

Quote from the conclusion

"The transition from the Neolithic to Eneolithic in the Eastern European steppe was connected with the intensive contacts of people of the Azov-Dnieper, Low Don, Pricaspiy, Samara, Orlovka and Sredniy Stog cultures with the Balkan population and first with the Hamangia culture. The results of these contacts were some imports: adornments from copper, cornelian, marine shells and pots in the steppe sites and plates from the bone and nacre, pendants from teeth of red deer in the Hamangia graves. The Hamangia infuence in the burial rites of the steppe population was very important and caused to use stone in graves and above them, pits with alcove, new adornments of burial clothes. The strongest impact we have fxed for the population in northern area of the Sea of Azov, where the radical changes in the burial rite and the formation of a new Sredniy Stog culture took place. It was connected with the adoption of new religious elements connected with the formation of the centre of steppe metal working."

For an evaluation of the importance of Baden and Globular amphora culture on the steppe ( till the Don region) see this

Davidski said...


Do you think Slavs have much Scythian or Sarmatian ancestry?

A couple per cent at best.