Unravelling Estonia’s genetic history

A new paper has been published recently with some new samples from Estonia:

The Arrival of Siberian Ancestry Connecting the Eastern Baltic to Uralic Speakers further East

Saag et al. 2019

As can be seen already from the title, the paper references the Uralic language as an important part of it. From the highlights:

  • Arrival of Siberian ancestry coincides with proposed arrival of Uralic languages

However, since I don’t want to go into linguistic implications in this post (I think it’s too early for that), and given that my knowledge of the archaeology of the area is very basic, I will just comment on the genetic findings here.

The paper brings new samples from the Bronze and Iron Ages (the latter from Ingria too, in addition to Estonia), plus some middle ages samples as a bonus. And it puts emphasis on the Siberian ancestry and the ChromY haplogroup N (N3a3a, I believe formerly known as N1c), which has been connected to Uralic expansions in the pre-aDNA era. For a graphical abstract, they provide the following image:

Note that in the Iron Age Y chromosome circle the samples from Ingria are excluded for some reason (they would be 2 additional green dots)

And here’s a graph of the autosomal analysis:

And here what I reproduced using the Global 25 (scaled) datasheets (G25) provided by Eurogenes with a few more target populations:

ROU_Mesolithic represents WHG-like admixture. POL_Globular_Amphora represents Central_MN. All values are percentages of admixture.

In short, the genetic history of Estonia can be summarised as follows:

  1. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were genetically related to the rest of European ones (WHG), and more specifically to those from the Balkans, with a late influx of other ones related to easternmost areas (EHG).
  2. The arrival of the Corded Ware Culture represents a clear discontinuity with the previous populations, as we see in other areas with the transition to a productive economy. This CWC population can be described as a mix of (in this order) Steppe Eneolithic populations (who also provide de chromY male lineages), Middle Neolithic populations from Europe and local hunter-gatherers (HG).
  3. During the Bronze Age, we see a rebound of the local HG ancestry, much like in other places in Europe after the arrival of farming.
  4. The Iron Age sees the arrival of some traces of Siberian ancestry (that was widespread by then both to the North and the South). It also sees the appearance of the ChromY N3a3a lineages associated with that Siberian ancestry (in this case to the north, not to the south), which are common in modern populations from the area and all the way to Siberia.
  5. From then to the modern population of Estonia we see some increase in Southern European/Near Eastern ancestry (not shown in the graph above).

And this is basically it from a genetic point of view. But those interested in more detailed analysis and modelling (plus options for speculating in the comments section) can head on to the next part.

Genetic modelling and other stories

Since the more generic genetic history of the region is rather simple and the paper emphasises the importance of Siberian admixture and the appearance of significant frequencies of Y haplogroup N (leaving aside linguistic debates), I’ll try to explore the models that are somehow suggested fr the said phenomenons.

The idea from pre-aDNA times, and that this paper seems to follow is that there was an expansion of a population of Siberian origin bearing Y haplogroup N. This would be something similar to the expansion of a steppe population and their male lineages R1.

To test this scenario, I assumed that in the transition from the BA to the IA, there was an influx of a population bearing ChromY N into Estonia. So let’s start with a putative population that had 50% genetic impact both in the autosome and in the Y chromosome. To test this I created a ghost population that I named Proto-finnic_ghost. What this population would represent would be one that had a 50% genetic impact in the transition from the BA to the IA. To show it in a model it fits like this:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 50%
Proto-finnic_ghost: 50%
Distance: 1e-04%

This Proto-Finnic population would have carried very high frequencies of ChromY N3a3a too, hence the impact in the male lineages seen. Now to see how this Proto-Finnic population would look like, I calculated the closest populations in G25, with this results:

As expected, Finnish and Ingrian are the two top populations, with the first ancient one being Corded_Ware_POL, with small difference. Using AncestorsMix (link on the right column, or bottom on mobile) with parameter 1 for one generation, this is what I get:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 50%
Finnish: 50%
Distance: 2.0013%

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 50%
Corded_Ware_POL: 50%
Distance: 2.0639%

Again as expected, the model with CW_POL works almost as good as the ahistorical Finnish modern population. But of course the former lacks Siberian admixture, so switching to Xmix (link in the same place as mentioned above) and adding some plausible population to provide such admixture:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 54.4%
Corded_Ware_POL: 42.2%
RUS_Bolshoy_Oleni_Ostrov: 3.4%
Distance: 1.7588%

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 55.6%
Corded_Ware_POL: 42.4%
RUS_Lokomotiv_N: 2%
Distance: 1.657%

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 55.6%
Corded_Ware_POL: 42.4%
Nganassan: 2%
Distance: 1.6282%

Now, nothing of this looks very impressive or suggestive, so I went a step further and created another ghost population, this one the putative even more eastern (this would be close to the Ural mountains) ancestor of the Proto-Finnic ghost population, which would have had a 50% genetic impact in that Proto-Finnic one. This would be something like Yamnaya for Iberia BA, i.e, a population that first admixed in a 50/50 ratio with Central European ones, who in turn mixed in a 50/50 ratio with Iberian ones. That makes Iberia_BA at around 25% Yamanaya, even if the population replacement was quite higher than that. To see this putative Pre-proto-finnic ghost population in a model:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 75%
Pre-proto-finnic-ghost: 25%
Distance: 0%

And again, to check the closest populations to this Pre-proto-finnic ghost:

Rather surprisingly, we now get NW European populations at the top. Back to AncestorsMix with 2 generations:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 75%
Scotland_CA_EBA: 25%
Distance: 2.4116%

Not too bad, but again it obviously lacks Siberian ancestry, so adding plausible sources:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 64.4%
Scotland_CA_EBA: 31.4%
RUS_Bolshoy_Oleni_Ostrov: 3.4%
RUS_Lokomotiv_N: 0.8%
Distance: 1.464%

And now we’d have a model for a putative Pre-proto-Finnic (or even Proto-Uralic) populations that could be modelled as ~88% Scotland_CA_EBA + ~12% RUS_Bolshoy_Oleni_Ostrov, and who would have been close to 100% Y chromosome N and lived near the Urals, c. 2000 BC (?).

Some of you may think that nothing of this makes a lot of sense, and I can’t say I’d disagree with you. But I still wanted to do this apparently futile exercise to try to understand the logic in the suggestion (which the paper has followed) of an expansion of a population with an origin in Siberia whose legacy in modern Estonians can be seen in the traces of Siberian admixture (which arrived in the Iron Age) and their high frequency of ChromY N (which also arrived in the Iron Age). And I have failed, I admit. But that doesn’t mean the idea is wrong, and I can only wish the authors good luck in their quest for finding such population should they embark on it.

In the meantime, I’m going to suggest a different scenario that makes more sense to me personally: As far as I an see, the only evidence we have of a Siberian expansion of ChromY N lineages is through the Arctic, linked to hunter-gatherers (mostly fishermen) who later were slowly adopting some technological advances (metals, maybe some domesticates…) from their contacts with their more advanced food-producing southern neighbours. The model I would follow for the admixture and introgression of male lineages from these northern hunter-fishermen into these more advanced southern populations would not be the Steppe -> Europe R1a and R1b expansion, but rather the earlier model we found during the Neolithic, where farmers were slowly getting admixture from the hunter-gatherers and also their male lineages, which in the case of Neolithic Europe reached very high frequencies by the late Neolithic (80% plus?) even though the impact on the autosomes was much more moderate (c. 25%). And the expansion as such of those lineages (I2a mostly) and that ancestry (WHG) happened during the Paleolithic. We later see a few expansions of those lineages associated to much later populations with no direct connection to WHG, like the Dinaric I2a or the Germanic I1. The story of haplogroup N might have been similar in some ways.

Finally, regarding the non-N male lineages, we have to specify that they belong to R1a-Z282, which was found in the CWC. We don’t know yet how far east they expanded, since there is a gap in the sampling of the forest steppe from the Baltic to east of the Urals (where we already find the sister clade R1a-Z93). The question here is if Fatyanovo-Balanovo, and the later Abashevo cultures had one or the other branch of the R1a-M417 lineage. Something that I hope won’t take too long before we know.

Cultures like Volosovo (basically forest steppe hunter-gatheres), given the time and place will be mostly of EHG or West_Siberian_N genetic origin, with some dead R1 lineages or maybe some still living Q lineages in that region. I don’t think they can be plausibly considered the origin of any expansion, and less so the (hypothetical) one that reached Estonia in the Iron Age.

The final note about why I left any linguistic speculation out of this I hope is now clear: because Uralic languages are attested late, and we don’t have enough data to say much about the origin and spread. Genetics, as seen above, can’t tell us much. Uralic could have arrived to their modern speakers in many ways that genetics can’t show with this level of resolution. If we were to infer from genetics where did the language of Estonians come from with the current data, we’d find ourselves with only one reasonable option, unrelated both to Siberian ancestry and to ChromY N. A second, less reasonable one, would imply Baltic hunter-gatherers. So for now I’m personally going to wait patiently for this question to be solved -with some luck- in the next few years.

UPDATE May 27th:

I was looking at the Bolshoy Oleni Ostrov (BOO) samples, which apparently already belong to ChromY Hg N3a3’6. If that’s the case, I don’t see the need for any complicated scenario or putative invasion/replacement in the Estonian IA population coming from the east, since as per one of the models above, nothing else is needed to model them:

Baltic_EST_IA
Baltic_EST_BA: 54.4%
Corded_Ware_POL: 42.2%
RUS_Bolshoy_Oleni_Ostrov: 3.4%
Distance: 1.7588%

These BOO samples are from the Bronze Age:

Contemporary samples from Estonia don’t have any BOO-related admixture, but BOO samples do have some 10% admixture from more southern farming populations.

We’ll have to wait for more aDNA from the forest steppe, but nothing seems to indicate so far that a population from around Moscow during the first half of the 1st mill. BC will have higher levels of Siberian admixture or Hg N3a3’6. If anything, I’d rather expect them to have less, but we’ll see.

The later Levänluhta samples (300-900 AD) from West Finland are largely a mixture of the Estonia_IA population and the BOO one:

So as far as the data shows, it’s mostly an ongoing admixture between the Corded Ware descended farmers from the south and the Siberian populations from the north, both in the autosomes and in the male lineages.

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37 thoughts on “Unravelling Estonia’s genetic history

  1. I didn’t get to show the South European/Near Eastern admixture in modern Estonians, so here it is:

    Estonian
    Baltic_EST_MA: 57.7%
    Baltic_EST_IA: 23%
    Baltic_EST_BA :12.1%
    GRC_Mycenaean: 5.8%
    RUS_Bolshoy_Oleni_Ostrov: 0.7%
    ARM_MBA: 0.7%
    RUS_Lokomotiv_N: 0%
    Anatolia_Isparta_EBA: 0%
    Distance: 1.7692%

  2. One thing that’s odd about the association of N1c and Uralic speakers are the respective distributions of VL29 and Z1936 in Fennoscandia and the Baltic area. Those separated already 5k BP, didn’t they? So we would likely be talking about at least two differentiated groups of N1c migrant males.

    The geographically proximate Maris and Udmurts are even further removed it seems.

  3. Your analysis is not futile excercise, because it shows how western the West Uralic (50%) and Proto-Uralic population (25%) must be.

    IMO, the most important thing about this study is that it supports the origin of Proto-Uralic in the forest Volga area as suggested by Finnish linguists in particular. Archaeology, linguistics, genes and yDNA all point to this conclusion.

    Of course, the problem is that we do not have any ancient data from the relevant cultures in the forest Volga area. We do not have ancient DNA from sites related to Seima-Turbino immediately east of the Urals either.

    In any case, I hope that this study will put an end to the ideas cherished by many that Proto-Uralic was spoken by Nganasan-like hunter-gatherers on tundra. This thinking is so condescending and out-of-place in a world that should respects minorities.

  4. @ Alberto
    How can we link western Uralic with Ungric speakers ? What is the genetic & archaeological link ?

    @ Marko
    That’s a good point, although a TMRCA of 5000 ybP could mean an expansion b/w 3 – 2000 BC. That”s a Bronze Age time frame

    @ Kristiina
    I agree. There is a imbalance, even academic bias, toward Indo-European, and then for northern & western I.E.
    With such approach, we could always be at the risk of formulating somewhat myopic models.

  5. Ugric languages (Hungarian, Khanty, Mansi) belong to the Eastern Uralic group. My guess is that they are more influenced by the Seima-Turbino culture and have connections to the Altai area. Khanty and Mansi are today spoken in Western Siberia, and there is therefore a lot of old Western Siberian ancestry as well as Altaian Andronovo ancestry in both groups.

  6. @Rob

    I think it can be elaborated further though, B211 associated with Udmurts and Mari splits 7-8k BP. Finnish and Baltic Y-DNA looks closer to Eskimo, Chukotko-Kamchatkan and Buryats Y-DNA than to Volga clades.

    Perhaps someone more familiar with North Asia has an explanation.

  7. @Marko

    Yes, the distribution of the N subclades in modern populations is quite random. Even restricting ourselves to N3a3’6, which Rob mentions, the subclades include speakers of Chokotko-Kamchatkan, Eskimo-Akeut, Altaic (different sub-branches), Finnic and IE. Which to me suggests an Arctic expansion of these lineages that later permeated to their southern neighbours. But as you say, they leave out Uralic speakers from the Urals like Urmurt and Mari.

  8. @Kristiina

    I hoped that the data from the paper would indeed put an end to those old ideas, but unfortunately they seemed to be following them in their suggestions about linguistics.

    That’s why I made that exercise to try to reproduce their suggested model. And I found it futile (in the sense of coming to strange, implausible models), but I hope overall useful to show that the model doesn’t work. At least not with the current data.

  9. @Marko, Alberto
    We have now yDNA from Chukotka:
    Ust’-Belaya II, Chukotka, Russia
    I1526 4410 – 4100 calBP (c. 2000 BC) Q1a2a

    Old Bering Sea, Uelen, Chukotka
    I1524 1180 – 830 calBP Q1a2a1a1

    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO241 40 AD Q1a1
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO242 200 AD Q1b1
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO243 230 BC Q1
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO246 300 AD Q1b1
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO247 50 AD Q1b1a1a2
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO248 90 BC Q1a1b
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO249 40 AD C2b1a1b2
    Ekven Iron Age Chukotka NEO253 240 AD C2b

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/448829v1.supplementary-material

    As you see, there is no yDNA N in Chukotka during that period which means that it probably arrived later, e.g. during the medieval period.

    Buryat yDNA N is almost only in one young clade:
    N-F4205 (under VL29) 46/111 buryats
    N2a1-B478 (Samoyedic N1b) 1 /111
    N2a1-L1419 (Volgaic N1b) 2/111
    The rest is Mongolic C and O.

    This situation reflects the following historical events:
    The name “Buriyad” is mentioned as one of the forest people for the first time in The Secret History of the Mongols (possibly 1240).[8] It says Jochi, the eldest son of Genghis Khan, marched north to subjugate the Buryats in 1207.
    …the territories around Lake Baikal belonged to Mongolia, Buryats were subject to Tusheet Khan and Setsen Khan of Khalkha Mongolia. When the Russians expanded into Transbaikalia (eastern Siberia) in 1609, the Cossacks found only a small core of tribal groups speaking a Mongol dialect called Buryat and paying tribute to the Khalkha.[12] However, they were powerful enough to compel the Ket and Samoyed peoples on the Kan and the Evenks on the lower Angara to pay tribute. The ancestors of most modern Buryats were speaking a variety of Turkic-Tungusic dialects at that time. In addition to genuine Buryat-Mongol tribes (Bulagad, Khori, Ekhired, Khongoodor) that merged with the Buryats, the Buryats also assimilated other groups, including some Oirats, the Khalkha, Tungus (Evenks) and others. (Wikipedia)

    Buryats are an originally Turkic speaking population that was invaded by Mongols during the Middle Ages and turned to Mongolic.

  10. It is possible that the rise of the Mongols caused the migration of ancestors of Yakuts from South Siberia to Yakutia and ancestors of Samoyeds from Altai-Sayan towards the north.

    However, Uralic N-L708 haplotypes have not been found in BA or BA/IA Altai. Therefore, there is no need to presume that Buryat N haplos were in the Baikal area during the Bronze Age. By contrast, the Yakut N type, N-M2019, was recently found among Hungarian conquerors, and in this analysis K2/51 (N1a1a1a1a4) was defined 100% EU.

  11. @ Alberto, Marko

    Yes, that does make the association of hg N1c with FU problematic, as there’s no linear link. Still, I guess its a too inviting position.
    The corollary of CWC being Fino-Uralic opens up a series of knock-on effects for the perceived wisdom .
    I suspect that in order to solve the FU question, the PIE question has to be solved satisfactorily. So in a twist of Irony, genomes from Greece & Italy & Anatolia will solve the F-U homeland debate 😉

  12. I think that in order to resolve the Uralic question even more important is to get ancient DNA from the forest Volga. We have plenty of ancient DNA from presumed IE cultures, and it is a pity that the core Uralic area continues to be unsampled.

    Therefore, in a situation in which we lack ancient data, I do not understand how you can say that there is no clear link between yDNA N and Uralic. When we get the data, the link may become very clear.

  13. @ Kristiina
    I did not mean theres no link, rather a linear, simple link between N sub-clades and FU. I thought that was yours & Alberto’s points here

  14. I personally don’t have any strong position regarding the origin of Uralic languages. That’s why I didn’t want to speculate about it.

    The only thing that I found surprising is that in a genetic study they did speculate with this small amount of data. But what’s more, instead of speculating about the very obvious option offered by their genetic data (an origin in he CWC), they speculated about one with very little support from their data (an origin linked to Siberian ancestry and haplogroup N). And this is just based on the assumption that Uralic must come from Siberia and the assumption that CWC must be Indo-European. But then, what’s the point of getting ancient DNA?

    As far as I can see, Siberian ancestry and haplogroup N were “around” (talking about the very north or Eurasia), carried by people who were basically hunter-gatherers. And it seems to have permeated through many different populations who were also around North Eurasia. Unless we get clear evidence of a putative Proto-Uralic population carrying N1c and expanding to the right places at the right time, I can’t take for granted that N is linked to the spread of any specific language. Nor Siberian ancestry. They’re both too generalised in modern DNA.

  15. @Rob Yes, that’s right!

    One cannot claim that there is a simple yDNA N haplotype founder effect that covers the Uralic N, which would indeed be the case if an elite dominance model was true.

  16. @Alberto
    All populations were originally hunter-gatherers. There was a gradual diffusion of new ways of life and inventions from central areas to the peripheric areas. If a haplogroup happened to be in a central area, it adopted the new techniques earlier. IMO, Proto-Uralic represents the Bronze Age innovations in the forest Volga and that’s why it spread to more peripheric areas of North Asia.

  17. @Kristiina

    Yes, all were originally hunter-gatherers. But who had already transitioned to a food producing and more advanced society c. 2000 BC in the forest steppe?

    Apart from the cultures related to Corded Ware, there’s only another option: the Seima-Turbino phenomenon. A very interesting one that deserves a post of its own (I may write up one if I have time, but it will probably be after the SC Asian paper, which shouldn’t be too far away). But as I will explain then, I don’t think they’re going to match the sort of population that would be required here. But we’ll see. Maybe DNA comes soon enough fro that culture too.

  18. @Kristiina

    Yes, that’s a very interesting paper that I would have liked to comment about. But since I may not have time for it, I’d make a few remarks here.

    These new dates push back the Seima-Turbino phenomenon by a few centuries. David Anthony had already pushed them back to c. 1900 BC, but now the dates are a bit older, coinciding in the forest steppe (Rostovka cemetery) with late Abashevo and Sintashta periods. These S-T people had high quality tin bronzes at the time where Abashevo and Sintashta worked arsenic bronze, thanks to the tin deposits near the Altai. More importantly, they used the more sophisticated lost wax casting technique, unknown to the Abashevo and Sintashta cultures. David Anthony (2007), says this (emphasis mine):

    Socketed spearheads were made on Sintashta anvils by bending a bronze sheet around a socket form and then forging the seam (figure 16.15). Seima-Turbino socketed spearheads were made by pouring molten metal into a mold that created a seamless cast socket around a suspended core, making a hollow interior, a much more sophisticated operation, and easier to do with tin-bronze than with arsenical bronze. Axes were made in a similar way, tin-bronze with a hollow interior, cast around a suspended core. Lost-wax and hollow-mold casting methods probably were learned from the BMAC civilization, the only reasonably nearby source (perhaps through a skilled captive?).

    This connection to BMAC is also corroborated by the find of Lapis Lazuli in one of the burials (Anthony, D. idem, “One grave (gr. 2) contained a lapis lazuli bead from Afghanistan, probably traded through the BMAC, strung with beads of nephrite, probably from the Baikal region.“)

    The S-T people were apparently at conflict with Abashevo (at least at times). From the paper you linked:

    From the Abashevo Culture, the 14C date of Pepkinskii Kurgan grave 2 was also used (Middle Volga River basin; Kuznetsov 2003). This grave is a collective burial of 27 adult men showing the signs of violent death – the majority of individuals were hit by stone arrowheads most similar to ones found at the Turbino cemetery, one of the main sites related to the Seima-Turbino phenomenon (Khalikov et al. 1966).

    So who were the S-T people exactly? We don’t really know. They had connection to the Altai and from there to BMAC (probably through the Inner Asia Mountain Corridor). In the Altai we had the Okunevo Culture, which may or may not be related. The connections to BMAC were probably mediated by those nomadic population from which we have a sample (Dali_EBA, mostly West_Siberian_N-like with some BMAC admixture). In the forest steppe itself, we’d have West_Siberia_N/Botai-like people too, or if further west EHG-like. Their male lineages would probably be Q and maybe R.

    None of these profiles are too relevant genetically speaking. So it’s difficult to know if this S-T phenomenon had any genetic relevance or it was just a trade network. And then there’s the dating. Here’s a nice site where you can check the spread of the phenomenon following their characteristic spearheads:

    http://www.bronsereplika.no/Bronze%20Age%20Spear%20II.html

    As can be seen, this phenomenon predates by 1000 years the arrival of Siberian ancestry and Haplogroup N to Estonia. It was indeed a very fast spread, which probably meant it was mostly trade or metal smiths who moved, not whole populations. I really don’t know how to fit S-T in subsequent cultures.

    As a side note, the spearheads found in the Mycenaean shaft graves were once thought to be connected to the steppe. While these connections are now obsolete, it’s interesting to see that their best matches seem to be in the Levant:

    When it comes to the origin of the Mycenaean spearhead, I believe that it was a novelty inspired by spearheads from Byblos and Ugarit in the Levant. Here they met quite large specimens, and here sometimes a collar/ring was used. On this basis they created their own large and robust type of spearhead. It is also at Byblos and Ugarit we find the best examples of the use of complex niello and inlay techniques (on the kopeshes/sickle-swords group II), comparable to those seen on the Lion-Hunt dagger and other objects in the shaft-graves.

  19. Could’t they also be the ancestors of Turks?

    In any case, I am quite sure indeed that N haplotypes will appear in Seima Turbino sites. However, it may be restricted to certain haplotypes, and we cannot be sure that it is these guys that spoke Proto-Uralic.

  20. @Kristiina said
    “Could’t they also be the ancestors of Turks?”

    Yes!!!

    I have long believed that the S-M phenomenon is related to Proto Turks, and I even defended it on some blogs.

    You can understand why I think like that by reading these articles

    http://chuvashlar.blogspot.com.tr/2012/10/back-to-turkic-languages-in-nutshell.html?m=1
    http://chuvashlar.blogspot.com.tr/2012/10/the-origins-of-bulgaro-turkic-languages.html?m=1
    http://chuvashlar.blogspot.com.tr/2012/10/the-lexicostatistics-and_7.html?m=1
    http://chuvashlar.blogspot.com.tr/2012/10/the-internal-classification-migration.html?m=1

    There are a series of articles written on the internet with a consistent and different perspective on the origins of the Turkic people.

    These articles using archeology, history and paleolinguistics and they show that the urheimat of Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic language was in the baraba forest steppe(same location of earliest S-M) in the Western Siberia.

  21. The new Seima-Turbino dates are intriguing. They imply that tin-bronzes were present in W. Siberia earlier than in C. Europe. CE tin-bronze making in earnest only started slightly before 2000 BC (Unetice, Singen), which more-less corresponds to the opening of Cornish tin mines – and Iberia apparently had little to do with these processes and for quite some time continued its arsenic bronze tradition (same with the Caucasus, for lack of local tin deposits).

    I wonder where Seima-Turbino People learnt about tin-bronze making. A CE impetus, transmitted via Abashevo/ Sintashta, looks unlikely considering the new dates. The Troad? Can’t really figure out a parsimonious link.. The same applies to the NW Levante. We may really be dealing with an autochtonous invention here (of course benefitting from BMAC metalurgical knowledge as concerns, e.g. lost wax casting) that btw should not only have spread into Siberia, but certainly also into China and possibly even South East Asia.

  22. lost wax technique is from mehrgarh period 3 dated 4500 BC to 3600 BC

    https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13356

    but bhirrana in india is considered older

    bhirrana period 1a dated 7500 BC to 6000 BC had crucible fragments with molten copper

    bhirrana period 1b dated 6000 BC to 4500 BC had copper arrowhead see plate 31 page numbered 24 near the end for image

    https://www.scribd.com/document/260613722/Origin-of-Early-Harappan-Cultures-in-the-Sarasvati-Valley-Recent-Archaeological-Evidence-and-Radiometric-Dates

  23. @FrankN
    The latest paper about S-M metallurgy proved that origin of krotov(main S-M culture) technology was a indigenous development from preceeding Odinov culture.

    Also, oldest tin bronze items on Baraba steppe goes back to Ust tartas culture(4000-3000 BC)

    So,tin bronze technology of Baraba steppe was a local progress.

    “Evidence of secondary metal-working at the Krotovo settlements of Vengerovo-2 and Abramovo-10, located more than 100 km from each other, points to the unification of the manufacturing process. These sites revealed similar types of casting areas, furnaces, and utility and waste pits, which were constructed following the standard technical tradition inherited from the preceding Odinovo culture of the Baraba forest-steppe (Stary Tartas-5 contained a furnace with one of the walls paved with large fragments of the ceramic vessel’s body (Molodin, Nesterova, Mylnikova, 2014)); similar crucibles (Fig. 11) demonstrating local traditions (Molodin, Durakov, Mylnikova et al., 2012; Durakov, Kobeleva, 2017: 23–24); and clear features of serial production (reusable molds designed for mass production, exceeding the needs of the site’s population).Traces of the well-developed bronze-casting production at the Middle Irtysh settlements point to the conclusion that the Seima-Turbino artifacts, which can be regarded an epochal phenomenon in this region, were undoubtedly manufactured by the indigenous Krotovo people, rather than by migrants. This inference is supported by the Seima-Turbino bronze artifacts discovered at the sites of the period under study.”

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327831316_THE_ADAPTATION_OF_THE_SEIMA-TURBINO_TRADITION_TO_THE_BRONZE_AGE_CULTURES_IN_THE_SOUTH_OF_THE_WEST_SIBERIAN_PLAIN

  24. We have ancient mtDNA from Baraba Steppe in Western Siberia. It would be great to get the respective yDNAs

    To sum up
    Early Ust Tartas period
    C, Z, A, D, U4, U5a, U2e
    Odinovo EBA
    D, C, Z, U5a
    Krotovo EBA
    C, A, G2a, U5a, T
    Andronovo
    C, A, U5a, T
    It is a mixture of Western mtDNAs and Siberian mtDNAs from the earliest period to Andronovo, and western mtDNAs increase significantly after Andronovo period.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285639978_Migrations_in_the_south_of_the_West_Siberian_Plain_during_the_Bronze_Age_4th-2nd_millennium_BC_Archaeological_paleogenetic_and_anthropological_data/figures?lo=1

  25. I have no idea what could be the linguistic affiliation of the Seima-Turbino people (if they even were one single population). By the place and time where the main sites are found, I don’t think it’s likely that they have a “European” genetic profile that could fit with many Uralics or an “East Asian” one that could fit with many Turks. But this is really just guessing on my part. We’ll have to wait for samples to really know how they fit into the picture.

  26. @Bo Olsson

    Highly unlikely.

    There isn’t a sign of proper metallurgy in any culture that was in contact with the Balkans. There isn’t enough evidence for metallurgy in Pre-Maykop North Caucasus or the Steppes despite them having strong contacts with the Balkans. In fact, metallurgy first appears in those areas with the Maykop culture.

    IMO, the assignments are sus and have long been criticized.

    If you’re interested in some criticisms:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276327319_Context_is_everything_Comments_on_Radivojevic_et_al_2013

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ernst_Pernicka/publication/249932266_Eneolithic_and_Early_Bronze_Age_copper_artefacts_from_the_Balkans_and_their_relation_to_Serbian_copper_ores/links/00b4952c51ec55501c000000/Eneolithic-and-Early-Bronze-Age-copper-artefacts-from-the-Balkans-and-their-relation-to-Serbian-copper-ores.pdf

  27. @ Vara
    I think the Boric article suggests that the association of Tin-Bronze with the said 5th millennium date is problematic; not that there was no metallurgy in Europe before Majkop.

  28. @Rob

    The Boric article was simply a reply to the idea that Bronze was a Central European innovation.

    In sites associated with the Balkan trade (SS and Meshoko), it was mostly copper beads and bracelets in both. I mean that can count as metallurgy but it’s far far from the first Bronze Culture. The early axes of the Balkans were found in a shallow depth and all have of them no relation to the eneolithic copper mines of the region. Copper-Tin alloys probably have their origins somewhere in the Near East.

  29. Vara
    I don’t think that’s correct
    Pernicka’s article outlines that there must have been other ores utilised besides RG; which accounts for the heterogeneity of the isotopic signatures- not there was no mines in use. It in fact suggests metallurgy was widely known, because it was not the product of one single mine or corporate group.
    Copper axes have certainly come from closed contexts & individually carbon dated burials of 5th & early 4th millennium. They retains pure copper technology cf arsenic alloy of Majkop; which ultimately also diffused into Europe

  30. I updated the post with a closer look at the Bolshoy Oleni Ostrov samples and added further comments.

  31. Alberto, gradual BOO introgression into CW farmers was my initial thought when I read the paper. If this can be corroborated, what are the options? Either Uralic must be much older than previously thought and was spread by Mesolithic hunters, or it is more closely associated with CWC.

  32. @Marko

    Yes, that’s what the current evidence shows: in the autosomes a very small amount of BOO related ancestry, but much higher (presumably, still too few samples to get reliable statistics) in the Y chromosome. The fact that said Y chromosome was already present in BOO makes it unnecessary to speculate about it coming from the Urals (though not impossible, of course), even less to connect it with Uralic language when Uralic speakers east of Karelia belong to other, long split branches (and the populations who do carry it east of Karelia are Turkic, Mongolian, Eskimo-Aleut, Chukotko-Kamchatkan… speakers).

    So I don’t know or want to speculate about the origin of Uralic language until we don’t get more data, but from a strictly genetic point of view I don’t see any significant post-CWC connection between Estonia and the Urals (once again, with the currently available data, which is far from complete).

  33. @ Alberto & Marko
    I agree that this might still be a work in progress
    However I might suggest that the apparently long -aged divergence between various N lineages in Uralic lineages is only a genealogical one; which isn’t necessarily a physcical one. In other words, long-diverged (genealogically) lineages moved together in the MLBA toward the west from a common source – & not from opposite ends of Eurasoa

  34. @Rob

    Yes, I agree with that. There is no need for the original population that caused the N Hg expansion to belong to a single clade. They could carry a variety of them and then each clan that expanded into one specific area took one of those clades with them.

    The evidence we have from west of the Urals is from EHG carrying R lineages, and east of the Urals/Central Asia it looks more like Q lineages dominated, with genetic profiles like the Botai people. Maybe the Seima-Turbino phenomenon that had some connection all the way to Lake Baikal could have been responsible for spreading the ancestry we find in BOO.

    We’ll have to wait for samples from S-T, Volosovo/Garino Bor, etc… to really start to understand how things went wit Hg N.

  35. A GAC like movement is probably what we will see in the forest steppe during the relavant timeframe. They, were speaking, imo, a language more similar to what is reconstructed as ‘northwestern’ IE but more archaic, in some regards Celtic like (but not ancestral or closely related to Celtic).

    WHGs (esp. Gravettians) were likely speaking languages typologically similar to early IE.

    It makes more sense to associate ‘ANE’, ‘CHG’ etc with the non-IE like elements. Steppe EMBA people could have been speaking a language, in some regards, more similar to Dagestanian.

    An afroasiatic like language, typologically, could have influenced late PIE, if the feminine gender was an innovation.

    Instead of accepting Kortlandt’s view, we can assume that adstrates made Late IE languages and Finnic, for example, diverge.

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