November 22, 2010

Ancient mtDNA from Sargat culture

From the paper:
The Sargat culture was located in the forest-steppe region of southwestern Siberia, near what is now the border of Russia and northern Kazakhstan, from around the 5th century BC until the 5th century AD. It is associated with a number of similar archaeological cultures in the region from the same period or slightly preceding it, for example, the Gorokhovo, Iktul, and Baitovo. The Sargat culture is also known for containing a number of kurgan burials (Koryakova and Daire 2000; Matveeva 2000; Andrey Shpitonkov et al., personal communication, 2004), and roughly half of all graves contain the remains of horse harnesses (Koryakova 2000). On the basis of archaeological evidence, the Sargat culture has been ascribed to a zone of intermixture between the Iranian steppe peoples to the south, such as the Saka or Sarmatians, and native Ugrian and/or Siberian populations (Koryakova and Daire 2000; Matveeva 2000; Andrey Shpitonkov et al., personal communication, 2004). Previous craniological research has also suggested some intrusion of Iranian peoples from the south (Matveeva 2000).

I've written before about the intrusion of Iranian speakers into Uralic territory, so this is a nice confirmation of the fact:
The southern sites were both successful in all phases to varying degrees. The results can be seen in Table 2. The three Kurtuguz individuals belonged to haplogroups A, C, and Z.


The four Sopininsky samples represent two different graves, corresponding to two individuals. The kurgan burial included a tooth and a rib sample, which resulted in a sequence belonging to haplogroup T (more specifically, T1). This sequence is a relatively uncommon variant of T/T1 having the mutation 16243C. The "at grave included a tooth and a metatarsal sample, both of which yielded a sequence belonging to haplogroup Z, with one ampli!cation showing a double peak (C/T) at position 16224.
From the paper:
Furthermore, the speci!c subtype T1 tends to be found farther east and is common in Central Asian and modern Turkic populations (Lalueza-Fox et al. 2004), who inhabit much of the same territory as the ancient Saka, Sarmatian, Andronovo, and other putative Iranian peoples of the 2nd and 1st millennia BC.
The haplogroups of the other samples—A, C, and the two variants of Z—are typical of Siberian populations. Haplogroups A, C, and Z are common in northern Asia, particularly north of the Altai Mountains and the Amur River (i.e.,Siberia), and they decrease in frequency as one moves south, with haplogroup Z being rare at best (as one might expect, there is one individual of haplogroup Z present in the Iranian sample discussed earlier, three members of haplogroup C, and only three individuals with a variant of haplogroup A). In fact, haplogroups A, C, and Z along with haplogroups D, G, and Y constitute approximately 75% of the haplogroups of Siberia (Derenko et al. 2007; Mishmar et al. 2003).
The authors make a good point that this T in Siberians cannot be the result of Slavic expansion, as that postdates these ancient DNA samples. So, the picture seems reasonably consistent with what I know about Siberian prehistory, namely the presence of a Paleolithic substratum of east Eurasian origin, that was modified at its fringes by movements of Scytho-Sarmatian type of people of the steppes, and, more recently, by the expansion of the Russian Empire.

Human Biology
, Volume 82, Number 2, April 2010

Investigation of Ancient DNA from Western Siberia and the Sargat Culture

Casey C. Bennett, Frederika A. Kaestle

Mitochondrial DNA from 14 archaeological samples at the Ural State University in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was extracted to test the feasibility of ancient DNA work on their collection. These samples come from a number of sites that fall into two groupings. Seven samples are from three sites, dating to the 8th-12th century AD, that belong to a northern group of what are thought to be Ugrians, who lived along the Ural Mountains in northwestern Siberia. The remaining seven samples are from two sites that belong to a southern group representing the Sargat culture, dating between roughly the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD, from southwestern Siberia near the Ural Mountains and the present-day Kazakhstan border. The samples are derived from several burial types, including kurgan burials. They also represent a number of different skeletal elements and a range of observed preservation. The northern sites repeatedly failed to amplify after multiple extraction and amplification attempts, but the samples from the southern sites were successfully extracted and amplified. The sequences obtained from the southern sites support the hypothesis that the Sargat culture was a potential zone of intermixture between native Ugrian and/or Siberian populations and steppe peoples from the south, possibly early Iranian or Indo-Iranian, which has been previously suggested by archaeological analysis.


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