Mitochondrial sequence variation in ancient horses from the Carpathian Basin and possible modern relatives
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Movements of human populations leave their traces in the genetic makeup of the areas affected; the same applies to the horses that move with their owners This study is concerned with the mitochondrial control region genotypes of 31 archaeological horse remains, excavated from pre-conquest Avar and post-conquest Hungarian burial sites in the Carpathian Basin dating from the sixth to the tenth century. To investigate relationships to other ancient and recent breeds, modern Hucul and Akhal Teke samples were also collected, and mtDNA control region (CR) sequences from 76 breeds representing 921 individual specimens were combined with our sequence data. Phylogenetic relationships among horse mtDNA CR haplotypes were estimated using both genetic distance and the non-dichotomous network method. Both methods indicated a separation between horses of the Avars and the Hungarians. Our results show that the ethnic changes induced by the Hungarian Conquest were accompanied by a corresponding change in the stables of the Carpathian Basin.
KeywordsHorse mtDNA control region Carpathian Basin Genetic variation Ancient DNA
We thank Istvan Vörös, archaeozoologist of the Hungarian National Museum, for the early Hungarian Horse samples, and for his professional advice, József Szentpéteri and László Költő, archeologists of the Hungarian National Museum, for the Avar samples and valuable scientific literature. We greatfully acknowledge András Szontagh’s gift of the Turkoman Akhal Teke hair roots, and thank Nyéki József, director of Mahóca Akhal Teke stud in Hungary for the magnanimous help and for samples, and Gábor Salamon, executive of the Aggtelek National Park, for the Hucul horse samples. Also we thank Mária Radó, Gabriella Lehőcz and Andrea Blasko for helpful discussions.
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