Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe

New preprint confirming what those of us who were paying attention were able to infer years ago:
We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost four hundred thousand polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of western and far eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000-5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ~8,000-7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary, and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000 year old Siberian6. By ~6,000-5,000 years ago, a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry had occurred throughout much of Europe, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ~4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ~3/4 of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ~3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for the theory of a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe. [. . .]

R1a and R1b are the most common haplogroups in many European populations today 18,19 , and our results suggest that they spread into Europe from the East after 3,000 BCE. Two hunter-gatherers from Russia included in our study belonged to R1a (Karelia) and R1b (Samara), the earliest documented ancient samples of either haplogroup discovered to date. These two hunter-gatherers did not belong to the derived lineages M417 within R1a and M269 within R1b that are predominant in Europeans today 18,19 , but all 7 Yamnaya males did belong to the M269 subclade 18 of haplogroup R1b.


spagetiMeatball said...

Dienekes is still holding out.

Anonymous said...

Do we know anything about eye color, hair color, etc.? Or what modern population is most similar to the ancient steppe invaders?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the the Hunter-Gatherers from Karelia be N1? Odd.

(awesome blog btw, shame it doesn't seem to be too active)

n/a said...

"Dienekes is still holding out."

Yes, it's pretty funny.

"Do we know anything about eye color, hair color, etc.?"

This will apparently be discussed in a separate paper.

"Shouldn't the the Hunter-Gatherers from Karelia be N1? Odd."

The sample is from 7500 years ago. Proto-Uralic (or pre-Proto-Uralic) speakers would have been farther east at this point.

Anonymous said...

The study says nothing about the PIE homeland.

We caution that the location of the Proto-Indo-European homeland that also gave rise to the Indo-European languages of Asia, as well as the Indo-European languages of southeastern Europe, cannot be determined from the data reported here. Studying the mixture in the Yamnaya themselves, and understanding the genetic relationships among a broader set of ancient and present-day Indo-European speakers, may lead to new insight about the shared homeland.

Anonymous said...

New study:

Note also the presence of the typically Uralic Y-haplogroup N1c in a couple of the younger samples.

Source: Chekunova et al., The first results of genetic typing of local population and ancient human bones in Upper Dvina region.

Anonymous said...

"Do we know anything about eye color, hair color, etc.?"

The Yamna samples tested from Wilde et al 2014 had only a small minority with alleles for light eyes and light skin. (only 5 out of 25)

Reminds me of an article from John V. Day who said that the steppe skulls do not match modern europeans today at all.

What I notice is that southern europe, except for the slavic-invaded balkans, only have a small amount of R1a and that the samples from the Yamna site (where R1b was found) are very different from the ones in south siberia, who were much lighter. We could be looking at a second migration after the Yamna one of R1a individuals into Ukraine and parts of northern europe, completely in line with Herodotus claims about the light-haired Scythians being recent arrivals in europe during the times of classical antiquity.