Human Genetics

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 395–410 | Cite as

Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people

  • Christine KeyserEmail author
  • Caroline Bouakaze
  • Eric Crubézy
  • Valery G. Nikolaev
  • Daniel Montagnon
  • Tatiana Reis
  • Bertrand Ludes
Original Investigation


To help unravel some of the early Eurasian steppe migration movements, we determined the Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial haplotypes and haplogroups of 26 ancient human specimens from the Krasnoyarsk area dated from between the middle of the second millennium BC. to the fourth century AD. In order to go further in the search of the geographic origin and physical traits of these south Siberian specimens, we also typed phenotype-informative single nucleotide polymorphisms. Our autosomal, Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analyses reveal that whereas few specimens seem to be related matrilineally or patrilineally, nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R1a1-M17 which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans. Our results also confirm that at the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlement, suggesting an eastward migration of Kurgan people across the Russo-Kazakh steppe. Finally, our data indicate that at the Bronze and Iron Age timeframe, south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people and that they might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization. To the best of our knowledge, no equivalent molecular analysis has been undertaken so far.


Tarim Basin Ancient Sample Ancient Specimen Minimal Haplotype Siberian Specimen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to Prisca Blandin-Frappin, Aurélie Marchet and Sarah Romac for their skilled technical assistance. They also thank Marie Lacan for pertinent comments during the redaction of the paper, Sophie Lienart for her work and the reviewers for constructive suggestions that help improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

439_2009_683_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (60 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (JPG 59 kb)
439_2009_683_MOESM2_ESM.rtf (31 kb)
Supplementary material 2 Supplemental data A (RTF 30 kb)
439_2009_683_MOESM3_ESM.rtf (60 kb)
Supplementary material 3 Supplemental data B (RTF 59 kb)


  1. Anderson S, Bankier AT, Barrell BG et al (1981) Sequence and organisation of the human mitochondrial genome. Nature 290:457–465PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews RM, Kubacka I, Chinnery PF et al (1999) Reanalysis and revision of the Cambridge reference sequence for human mitochondrial DNA. Nat Genet 23:147PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandelt HJ (2005) Mosaics of ancient mitochondrial DNA: positive indicators of nonauthenticity. Eur J Hum Genet 13:1106–1112PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belyaeva O, Bermisheva M, Khrunin A et al (2003) Mitochondrial DNA variations in Russian and Belorussian populations. Hum Biol 75:647–660PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bouakaze C, Keyser C, Amory S et al (2007) First successful assay of Y-SNP typing by SnaPshot minisequencing on ancient DNA. Int J Legal Med 121:493–499PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouakaze C, Keyser C, Crubézy E et al (2009) Pigment phenotype and biogeographical ancestry from ancient skeletal remains: inferences from multiplexed autosomal SNP analysis. Int J Legal Med (in press)Google Scholar
  7. Cooper A, Poinar HN (2000) Ancient DNA: do it right or not at all. Science 289:1139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Derenko M, Malyarchuk B, Denisova GA et al (2006) Contrasting patterns of Y-chromosome variation in South Siberian populations from Baikal and Altai–Sayan regions. Hum Genet 118:591–604PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eiberg H, Troelsen J, Nielsen M et al (2008) Blue eye color in humans may be caused by a perfectly associated founder mutation in a regulatory element located within the HERC2 gene inhibiting OCA2 expression. Hum Genet 123:177–187PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao S, Cui Y, Yang Y et al (2008) Mitochondrial DNA analysis of human remains from the Yuansha site in Xinjiang. China Sci China Ser C Life Sci 51:205–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilbert TP, Bandelt HJ, Hofreiter M et al (2005) Assessing ancient DNA studies. Trends Ecol Evol 20:541–544PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gimbutas M (1970) Proto-Indo-European culture: the Kurgan culture during the fifth, fourth and third millennia BC. In: Cardona G, Hoenigswald HM, Seen AM (eds) Indo-European and Indo-Europeans. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, pp 155–195Google Scholar
  13. Haak W, Brandt G, de Jong HN et al (2008) Ancient DNA, strontium isotopes, and osteological analyses shed light on social and kinship organization of the Later Stone Age. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 47:18226–18231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hemphill BE, Mallory JP (2004) Horse-mounted invaders from the Russo-Kazakh steppe or agricultural colonists from western Central Asia? A craniometric investigation of the Bronze Age settlement of Xinjiang. Am J Phys Anthrop 124:199–222PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hofreiter M, Serre D, Poinar HN et al (2001) Ancient DNA. Nat Rev Genet 2:353–359PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jobling MA, Tyler-Smith C (2003) The human Y chromosome: an evolutionary marker comes of age. Nat Rev Genet 4:598–612PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Karafet TM, Mendez FL, Meilerman MB et al (2008) New binary polymorphisms reshape and increase resolution of the human Y chromosomal haplogroup tree. Genome Res 18:830–838PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keyser-Tracqui C, Ludes B (2005) Methods for the study of ancient DNA. Methods Mol Biol 297:253–264PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Keyser-Tracqui C, Crubézy E, Ludes B (2003) Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis of a 2,000-year-old necropolis in the Egyin Gol valley of Mongolia. Am J Hum Genet 73:247–260PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kharkov VN, Stepanov VA, Borinskaya SA et al (2004) Gene pool structure of eastern Ukrainians as inferred from the Y-chromosome haplogroups. Russ J Genet 40:415–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kharkov VN, Stepanov VA, Medvedeva OF et al (2007) Gene pool differences between northern and southern Altaians inferred from the data on Y-chromosomal haplogroups. Russ J Genet 43:551–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Koryakova LN, Epimakhov AV (2007) The Urals and Western Siberia in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  23. Kozintsev AG, Gromov AV, Moiseyev VG (1999) Collateral relatives of American Indians among the Bronze Age populations of Siberia? Am J Phys Anthropol 108:193–204PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kravchenko SA, Slominsky PA, Bets LA et al (2002) Polymorphism of STR loci of the Y chromosome in three populations of eastern slavs from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Russ J Genet 38:80–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lalueza-Fox C, Sampietro ML, Gilbert MTP et al (2004) Unravelling migrations in the steppe: mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient Central Asians. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:941–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lamberg-Karlovsky CC (2002) Archaeology and language. The Indo-Iranians. Curr Anthropol 43:63–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lebedynsky I (2003) Les nomades. Errance, ParisGoogle Scholar
  28. Mair VH (2005) Gene, geography and glottochronology: The Tarim Basin during late prehistory and history. Journal of Indo-European Monograph Series, 50. Institute for the study of man, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  29. Mallory JP, Mair VH (2000) The Tarim mummies. Thames and Hudson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Malyarchuk BA (2004) Differentiation of the mitochondrial subhaplogroup U4 in the populations of Eastern Europe, Ural, and Western Siberia: implication to the genetic history of the uralic populations. Russ J Genet 40:1281–1287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Melchior L, Gilbert MT, Kivisild T et al (2008) Rare mtDNA haplogroups and genetic differences in rich and poor Danish Iron-Age villages. Am J Phys Anthropol 135:206–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moiseyev VG (2006) Nonmetric traits in early iron age cranial series from western and southern Siberia. Archaeol Ethnol Anthropol Eurasia 25:145–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Passarino G, Semino O, Magri C et al (2001) The 49a, f haplotype 11 is a new marker of the EU19 lineage that traces migrations from northern regions of the Black Sea. Hum Immunol 62:922–932PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pericić M, Lauc LB, Klarić IM et al (2005) High-resolution phylogenetic analysis of southeastern Europe traces major episodes of paternal gene flow among Slavic populations. Mol Biol Evol 22:1964–1975PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pike DA (2006) Phylogenetic networks for the human mtDNA haplogroup T. J Genet Geneal 2:1–11Google Scholar
  36. Ricaut FX, Keyser-Tracqui C, Cammaert L et al (2004) Genetic analysis and ethnic affinities from two Scytho-Siberian skeletons. Am J Phys Anthropol 123:351–360PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richards M, Macaulay V, Hickey E et al (2000) Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. Am J Hum Genet 67:1251–1276PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Rosser ZH, Zerjal T, Hurles ME et al (2000) Y-chromosomal diversity in Europe is clinal and influenced primarily by geography rather than by language. Am J Hum Genet 67:1526–1543PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sampietro ML, Gilbert MTP, Lao O et al (2006) Tracking down human contamination in ancient human teeth. Mol Biol Evol 23:1801–1807PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Semino O, Passarino G, Oefner PJ et al (2000) The genetic legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in extant Europeans: a Y chromosome perspective. Science 290:1155–1159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smith CI, Chamberlain AT, Riley MS et al (2003) The thermal history of human fossils and the likelihood of successful DNA amplification. J Hum Evol 45:203–217PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tömöry G, Csányi B, Bogácsi-Szabó E et al (2007) Comparison of maternal lineage and biogeographic analyses of ancient and modern Hungarian populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 134:354–368PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Underhill PA, Kivisild T (2007) Use of Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA population structure in tracing human migrations. Annu Rev Genet 41:539–564PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Geel B, Bokovenko NA, Burova ND et al (2004) Climate change and the expansion of the Scythian culture after 850 BC: a hypothesis. J Archaeol Sci 31:1735–1742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wells RS, Yuldasheva N, Ruzibakiev R et al (2001) The Eurasian heartland: a continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:10244–10249PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Y Chromosome Consortium (2002) A nomenclature system for the tree of human Y-chromosomal binary haplogroups. Genom Res 12:339–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yao YG, Kong QP, Bandelt HJ et al (2002) Phylogeographic differentiation of mitochondrial DNA in Han Chinese. Am J Hum Genet 70:635–651PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zerjal T, Pandya A, Santos FR (1999) The use of Y-chromosomal DNA variation to investigate population history: recent male spread in Asia and Europe. In: Papiha SS, Deka R, Chakraborty R et al (eds) Genomic diversity: applications in human population genetics. Plenum, New York, pp 91–101Google Scholar
  49. Zerjal T, Wells RS, Yuldasheva N et al (2002) A genetic landscape reshaped by recent events: Y-chromosomal insights into Central Asia. Am J Hum Genet 71:466–482PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Keyser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Caroline Bouakaze
    • 1
  • Eric Crubézy
    • 2
  • Valery G. Nikolaev
    • 3
  • Daniel Montagnon
    • 1
  • Tatiana Reis
    • 3
  • Bertrand Ludes
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Anthropologie MoléculaireInstitut de Médecine Légale, Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.AMIS, CNRSUniversité de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  3. 3.State Medical University of KrasnoyarskKrasnoyarskRussia

Personalised recommendations