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Haplogroups of Bronze Age Proto-Indo-Europeans

Author: Maciamo Hay.

In the 1950's Lithuanian-American archeologist Marija Gimbutas proposed the so-called Kurgan hypothesis, which postulates that the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language arose in the Pontic steppe. During the Yamna period, one of the world's first Bronze Age cultures, Proto-Indo-European speakers migrated west towards Europe and east towards Central Asia, then South Asia, spreading with them the Indo-European languages spoken today in most of Europe, Iran and a big part of the Indian subcontinent. The Kurgan model is the most widely accepted scenario of Indo-European origins.

Most linguists agree that PIE may have been spoken as a single language (before divergence began) around 3500 BCE, which coincides with the beginning of the Yamna culture in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and of the related Maykop culture in the northwest Caucasus. There is now compelling genetic evidence that haplogroups R1a and R1b, the most common paternal lineages in Europe, Central Asia and parts of South Asia, were mainly propagated by the Indo-European migrations during the Bronze Age. A sizeable part of European maternal lineages also seem to be of Indo-European origin, although the proportion varies a lot across Europe, but generally correlating to a large extent with the proportion of Y-haplogroups R1a and R1b.

Other paternal lineages, such as G2a3b, J2b2, and T1a, are thought to have spread the Copper Age from the Balkans to modern Ukraine, then to have been absorbed by the expansion of R1a and R1b people respectively from central Russia (Volga basin) and southern Russia (Kuban, northwest Caucasus). The first PIE expansion into Europe was the Corded Ware culture, which so far have yielded only R1a samples. R1b is thought to have invaded the Balkans, then followed the Danube until Germany, from where it spread to western Europe and Scandinavia. The Asian branch originated around the Volga basin, then expanded across the Urals with the Sintashta culture, then over most of Central Asia and southern Siberia.



Bronze Age cultures linked with the diffusion of Indo-European speakers

Check the ancient mtDNA and Y-DNA samples retrieved for early Indo-European cultures.

Ancient mitochondrial haplogroups of Proto-Indo-European cultures

MtDNA frequencies based on ancient samples from PIE cultures
Region / Haplogroup N1a HV H V J T1 T2 U2 U4 U5 K I W X R1a C4 Z1
Yamna (n=44) 2.5 0 22.5 0 2.5 9 15.5 2.5 6.5 20.5 0 6.5 2.5 6.5 2.5 0 0 0
Corded Ware (n=71) 0 0 21 1.5 11 5.5 10 4 7 13 0 14.5 3 4 4 0 0 0
Catacomb (n=28) 0 0 25 0 10.5 0 0 0 25 14.5 0 0 3.5 0 0 7 10.5 0
German Bell Beaker / Proto-Unetice (n=47) 0 2 42.5 0 2 4.5 4.5 2 6.5 19 0 8.5 2 6.5 0 0 0 0
Unetice (n=87) 0 2.5 20.5 3.5 7 2.5 8 8 2.5 15 2.5 10.5 9 4.5 4.5 0 0 0
Srubna (n=14) 0 0 35.5 0 7.5 7.5 7.5 0 0 28.5 0 7.5 7.5 0 0 0 0 0
Poltavka-Sintashta (n=10) 10 0 20 0 20 0 0 30 0 10 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0
Andronovo (n=30) 0 3.5 10 0 0 10 6.5 10 15 20 0 3.5 3.5 0 0 0 0 13.5
Y-DNA frequencies based on ancient samples from PIE cultures
Region / Haplogroup I1 I2(xI2a2) I2a2 R1a R1b G J2 J1 E1b1b T Q N Others
Yamna (n=12) 0 0 8.5 0 91.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Corded Ware (n=17) 0 0 0 70.5 11.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17.5
German Bell-Beaker / Proto-Unetice (n=9) 0 0 0 0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Srubna (n=7) 0 0 0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sintashta (n=2) 0 0 0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Andronovo & Karasuk (n=7) 0 0 0 71.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 0 14
Tagar (n=6) 0 0 0 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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