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Mitochondrial DNA studies of the Pazyryk people (4th to 3rd centuries BC) from northwestern Mongolia


The discovery and excavations in 2006 by joint Russian–German–Mongolian expeditions of the Pazyryk culture burial sites (4th to 3rd centuries BC, Early Iron Age, the Scythian period) in the Altai mountains of northwestern Mongolia near the Russia border provided new material for studying various aspects of these ancient peoples lives, including human, animal and plant remains. Ice accumulation in the graves preserved the human remains, allowing biological analysis of the samples. We conducted a genetic study based on mitochondrial DNA from remains of three Pazyryk culture representatives to investigate the possible genetic relationships of this Siberian Scythian group with populations of adjacent territories. These data support possible genetic contacts between populations of Altai and other Eurasia regions in the Early Iron Age, and are in good agreement with corresponding archaeological and anthropological data. However, a large-scale study of the Pazyryk population gene pool structure must be performed to further confirm these findings.

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Mitochondrial DNA


Hyper-variable region


Restriction fragments length polymorphism


Guanidinium thiocyanate




Polymerase chain reaction


Revised Cambridge Reference Sequence


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The research was supported by grants from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (09-06-00357a) and Complex Interdisciplinary N 115 from Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The authors are grateful to I.Y. Slusarenko and K.W. Hoisner for providing the dendrochronological data.

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Correspondence to Aleksandr S. Pilipenko.

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The research was supported by grants from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (09-06-00357a 10-06-00406а), Russian Humanity Scientific Foundation (10-01-00193а) and Complex Interdisciplinary Project N 115 from Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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Pilipenko, A.S., Romaschenko, A.G., Molodin, V.I. et al. Mitochondrial DNA studies of the Pazyryk people (4th to 3rd centuries BC) from northwestern Mongolia. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 2, 231–236 (2010).

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  • Ancient DNA
  • Human mitochondrial DNA
  • Central Asia
  • Scythian
  • Iron age
  • Pazyryk culture