During the Neolithic, the North Pontic Region (NPR) was home to major prehistoric cultural conglomerates, among them—the Dnieper-Donets cultural complex (DD). The DD culture has been studied in approximately 200 sites in Ukraine and Byelorussia, including settlements and large collective cemeteries of the Mariupol-type (M-t).1 The main feature of M-t cemeteries is inhumation burial in the supine position. This burial rite differs from most local Mesolithic burial traditions and is characteristic of the ‘Euro-Siberian’ zone of extended burials, which are found from Lake Baikal and the forest and forest-steppe zones of the East European Plain to the northern part of Central Europe and Scandinavia.2,3
The overall conclusion about the genetic composition of the builders of M-t cemeteries is that they were a genetically heterogeneous population that contained admixtures of mtDNA lineages from neighboring geographic regions as well as from the territories stretching far east. The noticeable anthropological influences of DD on local post-Neolithic populations suggest the possibility of genetic continuity in populations succeeding the people who built the M-t cemeteries. The genetic relationship between Neolithic DD populations and Copper-Bronze Age inhabitants of the North Pontic steppe is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 7 June 2012; doi: 10.1038/jhg.2012.69
Mitochondrial haplogroup C in ancient mitochondrial DNA from Ukraine extends the presence of East Eurasian genetic lineages in Neolithic Central and Eastern Europe
Alexey G Nikitin et al.
Recent studies of ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages have revealed the presence of East Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups in the Central European Neolithic. Here we report the finding of East Eurasian lineages in ancient mtDNA from two Neolithic cemeteries of the North Pontic Region (NPR) in Ukraine. In our study, comprehensive haplotyping information was obtained for 7 out of 18 specimens. Although the majority of identified mtDNA haplogroups belonged to the traditional West Eurasian lineages of H and U, three specimens were determined to belong to the lineages of mtDNA haplogroup C. This find extends the presence of East Eurasian lineages in Neolithic Europe from the Carpathian Mountains to the northern shores of the Black Sea and provides the first genetic account of Neolithic mtDNA lineages from the NPR.