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Monday, April 26, 2021

Uralians of the Sargat horizon

Many years ago, well before the start of the ancient DNA revolution, someone made the very clever inference that the N-Tat Y-chromosome marker was closely associated with the expansion of Uralic languages.

Since then, N-Tat has been renamed several times over, to the point that I no longer know what it's called, but the aforementioned inference has turned into a very solid consensus backed up by a wide range of studies focusing on modern and ancient DNA.

Nowadays, Y-haplogroup N-L1026, a subclade of N-Tat, is seen as the main genetic signal of the Uralic expansions, along, of course, with Nganasan-related genome-wide genetic ancestry.

A recent paper at Science Advances by Gnecchi-Ruscone et al. featured the first ever genome-wide samples from the Sargat horizon, which is an Iron Age archeological formation in western Siberia normally associated with the Ugric branch of the Uralic language family. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, the authors failed to investigate this widely accepted connection.

If we go by the Y-haplogroup classifications in the paper, which may or may not be the smart thing to do, at least two of the Sargat horizon males belong to N-L1026, and one also to the more derived N-Z1936 subclade, which has been found in the remains of Hungarian Conquerers from Medieval Hungary. Of course, Hungarian is an Ugric language generally thought to have been introduced into the Carpathian Basin by the Hungarian Conquerers who originally came from western Siberia.

That's probably enough to corroborate the association between the Sargat horizon and the spread of Ugric/Uralic languages, but let's also take a quick look at the autosomal DNA of these Sargat individuals. Firstly, here's a Principal Component Analysis (PCA), based on Global25 data and produced with the Vahaduo G25 Views online tool. The results are self-explanatory.

Interestingly, I can't get a decent statistical fit when I try to reproduce the four-way qpWave/qpAdm model done by Gnecchi-Ruscone et al., probably mostly because my right pops or outgroups are different. This suggests to me that there's something important missing in their model.

MNG_Khovsgol_LBA 0.203±0.045
RUS_Ekven_IA 0.183±0.044
RUS_Sintashta_MLBA 0.545±0.014
TKM_Gonur1_BA 0.068±0.013
chisq 16.805
tail prob 0.0186971
Full output

So how about if I replace RUS_Ekven_IA with kra001, the oldest Nganasan-like individual in the ancient DNA record (see here), and MNG_Khovsgol_LBA with KAZ_Mereke_MBA, to add a more local stream of ancestry?

KAZ_Mereke_MBA 0.135±0.017
kra001 0.301±0.007
RUS_Sintashta_MLBA 0.499±0.023
TKM_Gonur1_BA 0.066±0.015
chisq 8.872
tail prob 0.262001
Full output

That's a better statistical fit and also, I'd say, a more realistic model, at least in terms of distal ancestry proportions. Note that Nganasan-related ancestry makes up 30% of the genome-wide genetic structure of the Sargat samples, which again corroborates the view that Uralic languages were spoken within the Sargat horizon.

Update 28/04/21: This is the best qpAdm model that I could find for Sargat_IA, at least in terms of the chisq and tail prob. It shows that the Sargat population was in large part very similar to that of KAZ_Pazyryk_IA.

KAZ_Mereke_MBA 0.032±0.016
KAZ_Pazyryk_IA 0.698±0.016
RUS_Sintashta_MLBA 0.236±0.021
TKM_Gonur1_BA 0.034±0.014

chisq 2.023
tail prob 0.958561
Full output

It's missing kra001, because KAZ_Pazyryk_IA packs enough kra001-related ancestry for the job.

KAZ_Mereke_MBA 0.144±0.018
kra001 0.429±0.008
RUS_Sintashta_MLBA 0.378±0.026
TKM_Gonur1_BA 0.049±0.018

chisq 8.899
tail prob 0.259983
Full output

The fact that KAZ_Pazyryk_IA can be modeled with significant kra001-related ancestry isn't surprising, considering that its territory was located in Siberia. However, my model doesn't necessarily prove that the Sargat population was largely or even partly of Pazyryk origin. Indeed, N-L1026 hasn't yet appeared in any Pazyryk remains.

See also...

The Uralic cline with kra001 - no projection this time

First taste of Early Medieval DNA from the Ural region

Hungarian Conquerors were rich in Y-haplogroup N

More on the association between Uralic expansions and Y-haplogroup N

It was always going to be this way

On the association between Uralic expansions and Y-haplogroup N

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The history of the Scythians (Gnecchi-Ruscone et al. 2021)

Over at Science Advances at this LINK. Many of the samples from this paper are in the Global25 datasheets. Look for the relevant population and individual IDs from the paper.

The Scythians were a multitude of horse-warrior nomad cultures dwelling in the Eurasian steppe during the first millennium BCE. Because of the lack of first-hand written records, little is known about the origins and relations among the different cultures. To address these questions, we produced genome-wide data for 111 ancient individuals retrieved from 39 archaeological sites from the first millennia BCE and CE across the Central Asian Steppe. We uncovered major admixture events in the Late Bronze Age forming the genetic substratum for two main Iron Age gene-pools emerging around the Altai and the Urals respectively. Their demise was mirrored by new genetic turnovers, linked to the spread of the eastern nomad empires in the first centuries CE. Compared to the high genetic heterogeneity of the past, the homogenization of the present-day Kazakhs gene pool is notable, likely a result of 400 years of strict exogamous social rules.

Gnecchi-Ruscone et al. 2021, Ancient genomic time transect from the Central Asian Steppe unravels the history of the Scythians, Science Advances, Sci Adv 7 (13), eabe4414, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe4414

See also...

Uralians of the Sargat horizon

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Bacho Kiro surprise (Hajdinjak et al. 2021)

Over at Nature at this LINK. The paper focuses on Neanderthal ancestry in Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) humans from what is now Bulgaria. But, to me, much more interesting is the claim by its authors that present-day East Asians harbor ancient European, or, at least, European-related ancestry. From the paper, emphasis is mine:

When we explored models of population history that are compatible with the observations above using admixture graphs [28], we found that the IUP Bacho Kiro Cave individuals were related to populations that contributed ancestry to the Tianyuan individual in China as well as, to a lesser extent, to the GoyetQ116-1 and Ust’Ishim individuals (all |Z| < 3; Fig. 2d, Supplementary Information 6). This resolves the previously unclear relationship between the GoyetQ116-1 and Tianyuan individuals [13] without the need for gene flow between these two geographically distant individuals.


In conclusion, the Bacho Kiro Cave genomes show that several distinct modern human populations existed during the early Upper Palaeolithic in Eurasia. Some of these populations, represented by the Oase1 and Ust’Ishim individuals, show no detectable affinities to later populations, whereas groups related to the IUP Bacho Kiro Cave individuals contributed to later populations with Asian ancestry as well as some western Eurasian humans such as the GoyetQ116-1 individual in Belgium. This is consistent with the fact that IUP archaeological assemblages are found from central and eastern Europe to present-day Mongolia [5,15,16] (Fig. 1), and a putative IUP dispersal that reached from eastern Europe to East Asia. Eventually populations related to the IUP Bacho Kiro Cave individuals disappeared in western Eurasia without leaving a detectable genetic contribution to later populations, as indicated by the fact that later individuals, including BK1653 at Bacho Kiro Cave, were closer to present-day European populations than to present-day Asian populations [29,30].

Hajdinjak, M., Mafessoni, F., Skov, L. et al. Initial Upper Palaeolithic humans in Europe had recent Neanderthal ancestry. Nature 592, 253–257 (2021).

See also...

Ust'-Ishim belongs to K-M526