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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Slavs have little, if any, Scytho-Sarmatian ancestry

Here's an abstract of a new study from the David Reich Lab about ancient Slavs, titled "Genetic identification of Slavs in Migration Period Europe using an IBD sharing graph". Emphasis is mine:

Popular methods of genetic analysis relying on allele frequencies such as PCA, ADMIXTURE and qpAdm are not suitable for distinguishing many populations that were important historical actors in the Migration Period Europe. For instance, differentiating Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic people is very difficult relying on these methods, but very helpful for archaeologists given a large proportion of graves with no inventory and frequent adoption of a different culture. To overcome these problems, we applied a method based on autosomal haplotypes. Imputation of missing genotypes and phasing was performed according to a protocol by Rubinacci et al. (2021), and IBD inference was done for ancient Eurasian individuals with data available at >600,000 1240K sites. IBD links for a subset of these individuals were represented as a graph, visualized with a force-directed layout algorithm, and clusters in this graph are inferred with the Leiden algorithm. One of the clusters in the IBD graph emerged that includes nearly all individuals in the dataset annotated archaeologically as “Slavic”. According to PCA a hypothesis for the origin of this population can be proposed: it was formed by admixture of a Baltic-related group with East Germanic people and Sarmatians or Scythians. The individuals belonging to the “Slavic” IBD sharing cluster form a chronological gradient on the PCA plot, with the earliest samples close to the Baltic LBA/EIA group. Later “Slavic” individuals are shifted to the right, closer to Central and Southern Europeans and probably reflecting further admixture of Slavs with local populations during the Migration Period.

Apparently this abstract is causing a bit of confusion online because of the mention of possible Sarmatian or Scythian ancestry in Slavs.

However, it's important to understand that the authors are referring to certain Slavic or even just Slavic-related individuals, usually from culturally heterogeneous frontier settlements deep in what is now Russia.

So yes, it's possible that some of these individuals carry Sarmatian, Scythian or other exotic eastern ancestry. But even if this is true, then obviously we can't extend this inference to all ancient and modern-day Slavs.

Indeed, below is a G25/Vahaduo Principal Component Analysis (PCA) that shows why modern-day Slavic speakers can't be linked genetically to Sarmatians or Scythians. To experience a more detailed version of the PCA paste the data here into the relevant field here.

As you can see, dear reader, most of the Slavs (Belarusians, Poles, Ukrainians and many Russians) cluster with the Irish near the western end of the plot.

Some Russians are shifted significantly east of them along the "Uralic cline" and, as a result, they cluster with various Uralic speakers such as Mordovians. That's because when Slavs migrated deep into what is now northern Russia they mixed with Uralic speakers who were there before them.

Most of the Sarmatians and Scythians form a cluster southeast of the Slavs and Irish because they carry significant levels of East Asian ancestry. This type of eastern ancestry is basically missing in modern-day Slavs (see here).

Several of the Scythians cluster among the Slavs and Irish, but that's because they're genetic outliers, whose existence, if anything, suggests that some Scythians had significant Slavic-related and/or Irish-related ancestry.

Now, even though most of the Slavs do cluster with the Irish in the above PCA plot, I strongly disagree with the authors of the abstract when they claim that "differentiating Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic people is very difficult" with PCA. It's actually pretty damn easy and I've been doing it successfully for many years. For instance, see here.

See also...

Wielbark Goths were overwhelmingly of Scandinavian origin

The Caucasus is a semipermeable barrier to gene flow


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Steppe said...

@ Davidski

I am sure that the Scythian samples show a slight East Asian input and also some a little more (which period is also determining) from the Hun period with the migration to Europe, the East Asian admixture increased for some Sarmatians/Alans but decreased for others if you For example, the sample from the Crimea (Krimgoth/Hun) is more specifically a mixed race of Hunnic/Sarmatian and East Germanic and certainly some Scythians were absorbed into the local population of the respective area, for example Alans interacted with Vandals and came as far as North Africa (at FTDNA there is even a Spaniard with a Scythian branch and two Poles with
R-YP6410 Y102624 * Y99887 * YP6438 +20 SNPs
id:YF010441 POL [PL-24] Silesian
id:GMP05123 POL [PL-24]

and also some German...The Scythians of the Pazyryk culture have a much stronger East Asian signal genetically than the Aldy Bel culture or Sargat culture and of course the Sarmatians of the Urals have more BMAC input than East Asian signal
In any case, genetically speaking, the greatest inheritance from the Scythians is the Tatar peoples of Eastern Europe and Asia, Siberian populations, Kyrgyz people... and in Europe to a lesser extent Bulgarians, Romanians...

but I'm happy on to the rehearsals!

Ricardolindo said...

Could you, please, explain how?
What are the proxies for Siberian and East Asian ancestry?
I use RUS_Shamanka_EBA for both.

Davidski said...

The important difference is between Uralic-related versus other Siberian groups and East Asians.

Take a look here, where Uralic-related and other Siberian/East Asian populations form different clines.

And here, where the Siberian and East Asian ancestries are split into two different clusters that peak in different populations.

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