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Thread: Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe

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    Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe

    Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe Associated with the Beginning and End of the Scythian Dominance

    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers....act_id=3346985

    The Early Iron Age nomadic Scythians have been described as a confederation of tribes of different origins, based on ancient DNA evidence. It is still unclear how much of the Scythian dominance in the Eurasian Steppe was due to movements of people and how much reflected cultural diffusion and elite dominance. We present new whole-genome sequences of 31 ancient Western and Eastern Steppe individuals including Scythians as well as samples pre- and postdating them, allowing us to set the Scythians in a temporal context (in the Western/Ponto-Caspian Steppe). We detect an increase of eastern (Altaian) affinity along with a decrease in Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) ancestry in the Early Iron Age Ponto- Caspian gene pool at the start of the Scythian dominance. On the other hand, samples of the Chernyakhiv culture postdating the Scythians in Ukraine have a significantly higher proportion of Near Eastern ancestry than other samples of this study. Our results agree with the Gothic source of the Chernyakhiv culture and support the hypothesis that the Scythian dominance did involve a demic component.
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    It's great to have some data from Chernyakhov - the three women were quite different from each other, one resembling Central Europeans and the others South- and East Slavs respectively. This strengthens earlier hints at the relatively heterogenous nature of the Goths.

    The Cimmerians seem to be shifted towards the east compared to earlier Catacomb and Srubna groups. I guess we cant learn much more than that due to the dearth of information about those nomads.

    The Scythians have an even stronger eastern shift. The most interesting samples belong to the Central Kazakh group of the Tasmola culture, which is one of the earliest identifiable Saka-Scythian archaeological complexes (imho this should be close to the Scythian 'homeland', if such a thing ever existed). This group is very heterogenous.

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    Looks to me that that might partly explain all the dispute about the linguistic and ethnic affinities of the Scythians in the internet forums, particularly between Turkic people and the mainstream views mostly informed by Western authors. I have been trying to model the ancestry of Kazakh aDna (and vicinities in the Tian Shan and Russia), and one pattern is really striking: until the LBA very little East Eurasian-derived ancestry; in the IA, much more heterogeneity, but with West Eurasian ancestry still very prevalent in most samples, except - I think importantly - in the easternmost Scythians (Aldy-Bel, Pazyryk, Zevakino-Chilikta), which has samples with a lot more East Eurasian ancestry from the IA (~600 B.C.) onwards. However, tellingly, the average amount of East Eurasian ancestry only becomes consistently high (higher or similar to the West Eurasian) in the majority of the samples of Kazakhstan after roughly the times of the Huns, which to me indicates that a much less mixed population movement went into the region and changed its genetic landscape even more. What am I trying to say? That that probably explains why so many Turkic peoples insist that they are the true heirs of the Scythians. The Scythian-specific culture might have been a mostly (certainly not totally) northeastern Iranic-speaking cultural horizon in intense contacts with the Proto-Turks (and pre-Proto-Turks) since early on, because their expansion came from the east not far from the Altai and Sayan mountains, so they might've become pretty close culturally when the Turks arose as an expansive (macro-)ethnicity, and they became even more closely connected when they started a westward expansion that gradually absorbed the Scythians into their realm, so that they might've carried their "banner" on even if they were linguistically distinct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Looks to me that that might partly explain all the dispute about the linguistic and ethnic affinities of the Scythians in the internet forums, particularly between Turkic people and the mainstream views mostly informed by Western authors. I have been trying to model the ancestry of Kazakh aDna (and vicinities in the Tian Shan and Russia), and one pattern is really striking: until the LBA very little East Eurasian-derived ancestry; in the IA, much more heterogeneity, but with West Eurasian ancestry still very prevalent in most samples, except - I think importantly - in the easternmost Scythians (Aldy-Bel, Pazyryk, Zevakino-Chilikta), which has samples with a lot more East Eurasian ancestry from the IA (~600 B.C.) onwards. However, tellingly, the average amount of East Eurasian ancestry only becomes consistently high (higher or similar to the West Eurasian) in the majority of the samples of Kazakhstan after roughly the times of the Huns, which to me indicates that a much less mixed population movement went into the region and changed its genetic landscape even more. What am I trying to say? That that probably explains why so many Turkic peoples insist that they are the true heirs of the Scythians. The Scythian-specific culture might have been a mostly (certainly not totally) northeastern Iranic-speaking cultural horizon in intense contacts with the Proto-Turks (and pre-Proto-Turks) since early on, because their expansion came from the east not far from the Altai and Sayan mountains, so they might've become pretty close culturally when the Turks arose as an expansive (macro-)ethnicity, and they became even more closely connected when they started a westward expansion that gradually absorbed the Scythians into their realm, so that they might've carried their "banner" on even if they were linguistically distinct.
    I think the migrants into the southern-central steppe might not have been only Turkic. The Burusho are probably the remnant of one such movement from the north. N1b-P34 in Pazyryk is also interesting - looks more Samoyedic than Turkic, with some notable exceptions.

    Some of the admixture might predate the break up of the East Iranic steppe tribes. What else could cause the eastern shift in Sarmartians, early Scythians and even one of the Cimmerians?

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    I don't actually understand Turkic ethnogenesis though. Is the extreme northern homeland often posited for them actually supported by evidence?

    Haplogroup pools of present day Turkic ethnoses look almost completely disjunct to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markod View Post
    I think the migrants into the southern-central steppe might not have been only Turkic. The Burusho are probably the remnant of one such movement from the north. N1b-P34 in Pazyryk is also interesting - looks more Samoyedic than Turkic, with some notable exceptions.

    Some of the admixture might predate the break up of the East Iranic steppe tribes. What else could cause the eastern shift in Sarmartians, early Scythians and even one of the Cimmerians?
    Yes, I also think the influxes of more East Eurasian-shifted populations was not only Turkic, the Iranic influence in Uralic languages points to close contacts, as well as the very "Scythian-like" genetic profile of the Hungarian Conquerors. However, I think the overwhelming Turkification of the "cis-Altai/Tian-Shan" steppes probably beginning around the 5th century B.C. and intensifying in the Common Era must suggest that the bulk of those migrants were either Turkic or adopted Turkic as an inter-ethnic (in multiethnic tribal confederations) lingua franca, eventually their descendants shifting to it as their native language.

    Do you know how early is the Northeastern Iranic branch dated? I'd presume at least as early as the LBA, probably before the East Eurasian influence was really significant.

    I read in one of these papers about Scytho-Sarmatian aDNA (now I forgot which of them) that the Kazakh steppe became much colder and drier after roughly 1200 B.C. (LBA) and the steppe peoples mostly abandoned the open steppe and migrated to the "fringes" of forest-steppe, river valleys and so on (maybe also southward into South-Central Asia and even South Asia, accounting for the continued increase of steppe ancestry after those Swat Valley samples dated to ~1200 B.C.?). Then in ~800 B.C. the climate improved and the steppes became more humid and productive again, and many territories were re-peopled by those who had retreated. But I notice a large increase in East Eurasian ancestry in the IA samples of the region, so maybe this time it wasn't just a movement of the Pontic-Caspian-derived herders, but also of the "new" and increasingly competitive East Siberian herders (didn't that genetic paper about the first Notheastern Asian herders say something about full pastoralism developing late there only in the LBA or something like that?). That might explain why suddenly the Scythians, Cimmerians and even Sarmatians (much less as a rule, I think so) were much more East Eurasian-shifted. People from the east took lands that were not well occupied before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markod View Post
    I don't actually understand Turkic ethnogenesis though. Is the extreme northern homeland often posited for them actually supported by evidence?

    Haplogroup pools of present day Turkic ethnoses look almost completely disjunct to me.
    Yes, it often seems to me that the Proto-Turks arose from a multiethnic confederation of many tribes with different lineages, and one of them prevailed for some reason (maybe it was the language of the first to get many new economic and technological benefits from the south and west, but their competitive edge faded out eventually as others acquired the package, too?). Anyway, it's really complex, it looks like it was an even more complex and multilayered dynamic than that of the IE ethnogenesis.

    I read a very reasonable and IMO pretty convincing study of a (Russian? Now I don't remember well) linguist about clues of the Proto-Turkic homeland in its vocabulary, and I thought the conclusions looked pretty plausible: not in the steppe, but in the relatively narrow strip of forest-steppe and deciduous forest north of it, roughly between the Irtysh and Ob rivers, north/northwest of the Sayan mountains. I think that could be a bit extended eastward toward the Upper Yenisei river. That homeland would make the "Scythian connections" easily explainable if you consider where the Scythian cultural package increasingly seems to have come from.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Yes, I also think the influxes of more East Eurasian-shifted populations was not only Turkic, the Iranic influence in Uralic languages points to close contacts, as well as the very "Scythian-like" genetic profile of the Hungarian Conquerors. However, I think the overwhelming Turkification of the "cis-Altai/Tian-Shan" steppes probably beginning around the 5th century B.C. and intensifying in the Common Era must suggest that the bulk of those migrants were either Turkic or adopted Turkic as an inter-ethnic (in multiethnic tribal confederations) lingua franca, eventually their descendants shifting to it as their native language.

    Do you know how early is the Northeastern Iranic branch dated? I'd presume at least as early as the LBA, probably before the East Eurasian influence was really significant.

    I read in one of these papers about Scytho-Sarmatian aDNA (now I forgot which of them) that the Kazakh steppe became much colder and drier after roughly 1200 B.C. (LBA) and the steppe peoples mostly abandoned the open steppe and migrated to the "fringes" of forest-steppe, river valleys and so on (maybe also southward into South-Central Asia and even South Asia, accounting for the continued increase of steppe ancestry after those Swat Valley samples dated to ~1200 B.C.?). Then in ~800 B.C. the climate improved and the steppes became more humid and productive again, and many territories were re-peopled by those who had retreated. But I notice a large increase in East Eurasian ancestry in the IA samples of the region, so maybe this time it wasn't just a movement of the Pontic-Caspian-derived herders, but also of the "new" and increasingly competitive East Siberian herders (didn't that genetic paper about the first Notheastern Asian herders say something about full pastoralism developing late there only in the LBA or something like that?). That might explain why suddenly the Scythians, Cimmerians and even Sarmatians (much less as a rule, I think so) were much more East Eurasian-shifted. People from the east took lands that were not well occupied before.
    Related to those climactic changes you mention, it seems to me that this might be the key site to understand the development of the nomads:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begazy-Dandybai_culture

    It looks like pure herding economies became unviable in the early 2. millennium Kazakh steppe and small-scale irrigitation agriculture became widely established. About half a thousand years later the reverse happens, and with the shift to long-range herding we see the development of the Tasmola sites sampled here with their typically Scythian characteristics. I think this might explain why those nomadic groups made their appearance in the Near East and Europe one after another.

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    Iranists and Eurocentrists lost the tounge game. As expected. Unterländer 2017 told us the same, but everybody ignored that.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpakut View Post
    Iranists and Eurocentrists lost the tounge game. As expected. Unterländer 2017 told us the same, but everybody ignored that.

    And the other X-centrists? What is your point here? Not very clear. Are you not trying to put some "banner" on a complicated cultural process of gestation?

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