The earliest centers of pottery origin in the Russian Far East and Siberia: Review of chronology for the oldest Neolithic cultures

“Abstract: The earliest pottery from the Russian Far East, Osipovka and Gromatukha cultural complexes, was radiocarbon-dated to c. 13,300-12,300 years ago. In Siberia, the earliest pottery is known from the Ust-Karenga complex, dated to c. 11,200-10,800 years ago. The Osipovka and Gromatukha complexes belong to the Initial Neolithic, and they are contemporaneous with the earliest Neolithic cultures in southern China and Japan. In spite of the very early emergence of pottery in the Russian Far East, there is no evidence of agriculture at the beginning of the Neolithic, and subsistence remains based on hunting and fishing, including anadromous salmonids in the Amur River and its tributaries.” ref

The earliest Neolithic complex in Siberia: the Ust-Karenga 12 site and its significance for the Neolithisation process in Eurasia

“Abstract: The discovery of Neolithic (i.e. pottery-containing) components at the Ust-Karenga 12 site in northern Transbaikal brought to light new data on the appearance of pottery in Siberia. Excavations and geoarchaeological studies identified the pottery complex in layer 7, 14C-dated to c. 12,180–10,750 years ago (charcoal dates) and c. 11,070–10,600 years ago (pottery organics dates). The pottery is thin and plant fibre-tempered; vessels are round-bottomed and with a comb-pattern design. Ust-Karenga 12 thus preserves by far the earliest Neolithic assemblage in Siberia, and is only slightly younger than the Initial Neolithic complexes of the Amur River basin, Russian Far East (c. 13,300–12,400 years ago).” ref

I think the “kurgan Origin” is found in “Stratified Ritual Mounds”
“From the later seventh-millennium cal BCE, in west Siberia, a new site type emerged in this period, the large, stratified mound (Russian kholm), with examples reaching 50m in diameter and up to 6m in height. These Mounds are characterized by unusual features such as groups of human skulls, clay figurines, bone and antler, hearths, and post-row structures, and are interpreted as ritual or sacrificial sites.”  ref
“A kurgan is a type of tumulus constructed over a grave, often characterized by containing a single human body along with grave vessels, weapons, and horses. Some scepter graves could have been covered with a tumulus, placing the first kurgans as early as the 5th millennium BCE in Eastern Europe. Within the burial chamber at the heart of the kurgan, elite individuals were buried with grave goods and sacrificial offerings, sometimes including horses and chariots. These structures are of the earlier Neolithic period from the 4th to the 3rd millenniums BCE.” ref

I think the “kurgan Origin” is found in “Stratified Ritual Mounds”

“From the later seventh-millennium cal BCE, in west Siberia, a new site type emerged in this period, the large, stratified mound (Russian kholm), with examples reaching 50m in diameter and up to 6m in height. These Mounds are characterized by unusual features such as groups of human skulls, clay figurines, bone and antler, hearths, and post-row structures, and are interpreted as ritual or sacrificial sites.” ref

“A kurgan is a type of tumulus constructed over a grave, often characterized by containing a single human body along with grave vessels, weapons, and horses. Some scepter graves could have been covered with a tumulus, placing the first kurgans as early as the 5th millennium BCE in Eastern Europe. Within the burial chamber at the heart of the kurgan, elite individuals were buried with grave goods and sacrificial offerings, sometimes including horses and chariots. These structures are of the earlier Neolithic period from the 4th to the 3rd millenniums BCE.” ref


Ancient Fortifications in Western Siberia and Large Stratified Mounds in the 7th-millennium cal BCE

The innovations of the hunter-gatherer populations occupying the Siberian taiga 8000 years ago, including the construction of some of the oldest-known fortified sites in the world. 8000 years ago, that hunter-gatherers built fortified settlements, many centuries before comparable enclosures first appeared in Europe. The building of fortifications by forager groups has been observed sporadically elsewhere around the world in various—mainly coastal—regions from later prehistory onwards, but the very early onset of this phenomenon in inland western Siberia is unparalleled. Pit-house settlements with enclosures consisting of banks, ditches, and/or palisades appear on promontories and other topographical peaks across the West Siberian Plain from the end of the seventh-millennium cal BCE onwards. These complex settlements are part of a broader set of socio-economic and technological innovations and transformations in western Siberia and thus demarcate a phase of accelerated social change that is only partially understood. The sudden and unprecedented emergence of diversified hunter-gatherer life worlds in the west Siberian taiga 8000 years ago. As manifestations of social inequality, fortifications can also be related to (heritable) property rights, labor obligations, and the restriction of access to resources. Increasing political differentiation is not necessarily accompanied by greater wealth inequality; however, defensive architecture can also be coordinated without a centralized authority.” ref

The context of ancient fortifications in western Siberia

“Western Siberia, between the Ural Mountains and the River Yenisei, represents a particularly rich ecosystem from a hunter-gatherer-fisher perspective. Fish, aquatic birds, forest fowl, and large game such as elk and reindeer have predictable seasonal behaviors, and this abundance may have contributed to a rise in population and socio-political differentiation once the mass-harvesting strategies of such as ‘naturally stored’ resources developed. Storable and transportable goods made from these natural resources could include fish oil, fish meal, dried/smoked fish, dried birds and frozen meat—goods made and used by Indigenous groups in western Siberia to the present-day. These ‘front-loaded resources’, that is, goods that are labour-intensive to acquire and process but which can be stored and are subsequently easy to transport and prepare, would have been a target for raiders.ref

“Early Holocene pre-pottery hunter-gatherer sites (termed ‘Mesolithic’) in the regional periodization, are concentrated in the Urals region and more sparsely distributed in the low-lying expanses further east. This latter area became occupied more intensively only from the later seventh-millennium cal BCE (regionally termed ‘Neolithic’) but referred to as the pottery Mesolithic in Western terminology. Among these pioneering sites are the earliest fortified settlements in northern Eurasia, with evidence of hierarchical organization indicated by pit houses of differing sizes; eight Stone Age examples are currently known. Another new site type that emerged in this period is the large, stratified mound (Russian kholm), with examples reaching 50m in diameter and up to 6m in height. These mounds are characterized by unusual features such as groups of human skulls, clay figurines, bone and antler, hearths, and post-row structures, and are interpreted as ritual or sacrificial sites. The adoption of pottery technology by the local hunter-gatherer communities is another novel feature of this period of change in the seventh millennium BCE.ref

7th millennium BCE

Neolithic culture and technology were established in the Near East by 7000 BCE and there is increasing evidence through the millennium of its spread or introduction to Europe and the Far East. In most of the world, however, including north and western Europe, people still lived in scattered Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer communities. The Mehrgarh chalcolithic civilization began around 7000 BCE. The world population is believed to have been stable and slowly increasing. It has been estimated that there were perhaps ten million people worldwide at the end of this millennium, growing to forty million by 5000 BCE and 100 million by 1600 BCE.” ref

“Neolithic culture and technology reached modern Turkey and Greece c. 7000 BCE; and Crete about the same time. The innovations, including the introduction of farming, spread from the Middle East through Turkey and Egypt. There is evidence of domesticated sheep or goats, pigs, and cattle, together with grains of cultivated bread wheat. The domestication of pigs in Eastern Europe is believed to have begun c. 6800 BCE. The pigs may have descended from European wild boar or were probably introduced by farmers migrating from the Middle East. There is evidence, c. 6200 BCE, of farmers from the Middle East reaching the Danube and moving into Romania and Serbia. Farming gradually spread westward and northward over the next four millennia, finally reaching Great Britain and Scandinavia c. 3000 BCE to complete the transition of Europe from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic.” ref

“The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3800 BCE) began in Mesopotamia, its name derived from Tell al-‘Ubaid where the first significant excavation took place. By the end of this millennium, Jericho had become a large agricultural settlement with some eight to ten acres within its walls. Kathleen Kenyon reckoned that it was home to about three thousand people. Construction was done using stone implements to mould clay into bricks. The main crop was wheat. “Sheep and goats were domesticated in South West Asia, probably in the region of eastern Anatolia and northern Syria between 8000 and 7500 BCE, and were part of the agricultural package that was transmitted to Greece and the Balkans during the pioneering movements in the seventh millennium. From there the herding of domesticated sheep and goats was gradually taken up by foraging communities in the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the sixth and fifth millennia and became an essential part of the herder economy.ref

“In the geologic time scale, the “Northgrippian” succeeded the “Greenlandian” c. 6236 BCE (to c. 2250 BCE). The starting point for the Northgrippian is the so-called 8.2 kiloyear event, which was an abrupt climate change lasting some four centuries in which there was a marked decrease in global temperatures, possibly caused by an influx of glacial meltwater into the North Atlantic Ocean.ref

The Amnya Archaeological Complex

“Amnya I is regarded as the northernmost known Stone Age fortification in Eurasia and, based on current evidence, also one of the oldest fortified habitation sites worldwide. Located in the northern taiga of the Lower Ob’ region, the settlement occupies a sandy spit above a marshy river floodplain. Extant surface features include banks and ditches, which enclose the tip of the promontory, and 10 house pit depressions. Ten further house pits, located approximately 50m to the east, comprise the open settlement of Amnya II.” ref

“Excavations at Amnya I identified wooden palisades, confirming the defensive interpretation of two fortification lines (ditches II and III and associated features). A further, inner ditch across the tip of the promontory (ditch I) was also discovered. The pit houses are rectangular in plan and range from approximately 13 to 41m2 in size, with depths of up to 1.8m. The largest of these pit houses occupies the tip of the promontory. Construction features, including the presence of central elevated fireplaces, have led to the interpretation of these structures as long-term dwellings. Stratigraphic evidence from the house pits points to the repeated destruction of the settlement by fire, a phenomenon also observed at other early enclosed sites in the region and thought to be connected to violent conflict.” ref

“The remains of approximately 45 pottery vessels have been recovered from the Amnya complex. Both pointed, and flat-based forms are represented, reflecting two distinct typological traditions: one, potentially slightly older, type is broadly characterized by pricked/incised ornament, and the other by comb stamp decoration. On some of the house floors, both types of pottery were found together, indicating at least partial contemporaneity. Both pottery types belong to the initial phase of the early expansion of ceramic use along the riverine corridors of western Siberia. The lithic inventory largely consists of quartz but also includes flint artifacts such as microblades and ground slate tools and weapons, including among them numerous slate projectile heads. Bone fragments were preserved only in a calcined state, among which elk, reindeer, and beaver have been identified.” ref

Four radiometric radiocarbon dates from the initial excavations were interpreted as evidence for an earlier, Mesolithic phase in the eighth millennium cal BCE and a main settlement phase in the early sixth millennium cal BCE. Evidence for re-occupation during the Eneolithic period in the fourth-millennium cal BCE was also identified in some of the Amnya I house pits. Based on ceramic typology, the excavators attributed Amnya II to the Eneolithic, although earlier activity was also considered possiblere-assessment of the spatial distribution of the pottery and other material remains led to a re-interpretation of the site’s development, suggesting house 9 to be the oldest structure (containing pottery with pricked/incised decoration only), followed by houses 1 and 4 (with mixed assemblages of pottery), and finally building structures 2 and 3 (with only comb ware and unornamented pottery). The original radiocarbon dates do not exclude either interpretation.” ref

“The sequence of building activities at Amnya I and provide the first absolute dates for Amnya II, (indicates two phases of activity: 1) an initial phase of fortification at Amnya I in the final century of the seventh millennium BCE (based on charcoal from ditch I and palisade 1 and organic matter from the associated cultural layer); and 2) the main occupation phase at the beginning of the sixth millennium BCE (based on charcoal from houses 1, 2 and 8 at Amnya I and from house 2 at Amnya II). This indicates that the Early Neolithic complex comprised both a fortified settlement on the Amnya promontory (Amnya I) and a broadly contemporaneous open pit house complex 50m away (Amnya II). An Eneolithic re-occupation in the fourth-millennium cal BCE featuring pit houses and associated material culture is attested at both Amnya I and II but was not subject to new dating work.” ref

 “The results of sediment coring in the marshland at the foot of the Amnya promontory suggest that during its occupation from C. 6000 cal BCE onwards in the Atlantic period, there was a lake to the south of the site and a river on its northern side. Three radiocarbon dates indicate that lake mud deposits (gyttja) began to form in the eighth to seventh millennium cal BCE; peat started to form c. 5000 cal BCE, expanding to replace the lake during the fourth-millennium cal BCE.” ref

“What happened in western Siberia during the Early Holocene that led to the emergence of diversified hunter-gatherer life worlds featuring novel enclosed and structured settlements, as exemplified by the Amnya complex? Did a rise in intergroup conflict and persistent raiding necessitate defensive constructions? Did communal or ritual drivers, or technical innovations lead to new ways of appropriating space and landscape? And what role did climatic fluctuations and environmental change play in these developments? To approach these questions, the wider environmental and socio-cultural setting of the phenomenon must be examined.” ref

Climatic and environmental change: the framework of the 8.2 ka event

“Early fortified sites in western Siberia first appeared shortly after the 8,200 years ago cooling event, one of the most pronounced global climatic changes of the Holocene that lasted from c. 6200–6050 cal BCE. This event coincided with manifestations of increased territoriality among hunter-gatherer groups in other parts of northern Eurasia, for example, the emergence of formal cemeteries in Russian Karelia. Across Europe and Southwest Asia, adaptations of socio-economic systems have been linked to the 8.2 ka event; in north Asia, however, potential connections between climate change and human adaptation are still poorly understood. In arctic western Siberia, a rapid onset of the Holocene Thermal Maximum in the mid-seventh millennium cal BCE has been postulated, which may mask the 8.2 ka event. Further south, in the western Siberian basin, peatbogs began to develop much later, only 6000–5000 years ago, a scenario consistent with results from our pilot study of sediment cores from Amnya.” ref

“Understanding of palaeoenvironmental developments in Early Holocene western Siberia, however, remains patchy. Pottery, in particular, is seen as an important technical development, enabling new processing and storage strategies for long-lasting, high-calorie foods such as fish oil. In the study region, both the adoption of pottery and the construction of fortified sites might be seen to reflect these socio-economic developments. New dating results show that houses 2, 8 and 9 at Amnya I and house 2 at Amnya II were broadly contemporaneous. Parts of the fortification architecture (palisade 1 and ditch I) seem to be approximately 100–200 years earlier than these dwellings, whereas palisade 2 is stratigraphically later than house 8. The new dates therefore support the suggestion that the complex may have been structured as a fortified ‘citadel’ with a type of outer ‘bailey’. Such hierarchical layouts can also be observed at several other early enclosed sites in the region, including Kayukovo 1 & 2 and Imnegan 2.1.” ref

Territoriality, Social structure, and Inter-group conflict

“As territorial markers on riverbanks and lake shores, the early fortified sites in western Siberia would have ensured access to economically important places with a reliable seasonal abundance of aquatic resources. The autochthonous emergence of monumental constructions, such as ritual mounds, pit-houses, and fortifications, may mark a rearrangement of the social order towards ownership and territoriality through increased differentiation in the organization of labor and resources. By securing access to resources, by enhancing social memories and histories and by creating social relationships, monumental constructions would have embodied individual and collective objectives. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the early fortified sites in the taiga are an adaptation to increasing inter-group conflict. In this scenario, the sites would have been built either by incoming people, presumably from the south, to secure their occupation of the region, or by the local populations defending themselves against such immigrant groups.” ref

Explaining the west Siberian pathway

“Based on the current situation, we propose a model of economic intensification, possibly combined with an influx of people from beyond the region, to explain the concurrent changes observed in western Siberia c. 8000 years ago: population growth, the emergence of fortified sites, an increase in the numbers of pit house settlements, the rise of ritual monumentality—as exemplified by the kholmy mounds—and the adoption of pottery. Three possible scenarios concerning the potential role of environmental change in these developments, perhaps connected to the 8.2 ka climatic event, can be considered.” ref

“Scenario 1 assumes that the package of innovations described above developed in response to economic stress induced by climatic fluctuation (e.g. through changing oxygen regimes in water bodies, negatively affecting fish populations), and that this triggered the adjustment of economic and social systems through technological innovation. In contrast, scenario 2 proposes that environmental changes in the wake of the 8.2 ka event led to an increased abundance and/or accessibility of certain seasonal resources.” ref

“This triggered the development of new mass-harvesting strategies and improved storage practices that, in turn, enabled the accumulation of resource surplus. Management of these surpluses then led to changes in the socio-political structuring of populations and the emergence not only of wealth inequality and exclusive property rights, but also of increased community cohesion, for example through collective work on, and use of, monumental constructions.” ref

“Finally, scenario 3 rejects a deeper connection between the package of socio-economic innovations and environmental change suggesting, instead, that developments such as new fishing, fowling, processing and storage technologies were driven by other factors. These might include incoming groups, either bringing innovations with them, or triggering the development of such innovations though interactions with local populations. “The enclosed hunter-gatherer settlement of Amnya in the west Siberian taiga is one of the oldest-known fortified habitation sites in the world. Building on the results of earlier excavation, new fieldwork and a related programme of radiocarbon dating have now clarified the date of activity at the site, including the ditches, banks, palisades and the substantial pit houses, at Amnya I at c. 6000 cal BCE. For the first time, the broad contemporaneity of the adjacent open pit-house settlement Amnya II has also been demonstrated, indicating a complex hierarchical structure to the site, with an enclosed promontory and an associated undefended outer section, that mirrors the arrangements observed at contemporaneous settlements in the region.” ref

“Amnya and the, approximately eight, other known Stone Age hunter-gatherer forts in the region represent evidence of an unprecedented, autochthonous pathway towards socio-political differentiation in an unexpected part of the world. Coinciding with a sharp increase in population, these sites emerge as part of a broader package of change that took hold in the taiga c. 6000 cal BCE. This package encompassed innovations in technology (including pottery), subsistence, ritual practice and socio-political organisation, broadly resembling the main pillars of the ‘Neolithic package’ typically linked with the expansion of early farming.” ref

“This horizon of innovation suggests stark transformations in the socio-political structures of Early Holocene hunter-gatherer populations living in the taiga, including greater group cohesion, increased sedentism and territoriality, and a rise in inter-group social tensions and conflict. Within this suite of developments, fortified sites, while being functionally defensive, also signaled a new and more persistent attachment of communities to places. Working towards the creation and defense of fortified settlements would have enabled the development of stronger group unity and internal cohesion. Such developments are also inherent in the kholmy mounds as large-scale ritual structures in the landscape. The role of climatic fluctuations during the 8.2 ka event, and possible socio-economic adaptations in response to the associated environmental changes, remains unclear.” ref

“The Amnya settlement complex marks the beginning of a unique, long-term phenomenon of hunter-gatherer defensive sites in the north of Eurasia, an almost unbroken tradition that continued for almost eight millennia into the Early Modern period. This phenomenon distinguishes western Siberia from adjacent regions such as the Baikal area and north-eastern Europe where increasing territoriality was, instead, manifested in the emergence of large cemeteries. Explaining this specific cultural, economic and political pathway in a palaeoecological and cultural setting that was not markedly different from other regions at that date, such as the north-eastern European plain, is currently difficult. However, a better understanding of the west Siberian pathway is essential for the development of broader insights into early social differentiation, territoriality and conflict in non-agricultural societies and may, in turn, act as a lens through which social change in prehistory may be viewed more generally.” ref

7,000-year-old Siberian warrior, buried in a pre-kurgan,

in the Vengerovsky District of Novosibirsk region

“Novosibirsk Oblast, in southwestern Siberia, located in the south of the West Siberian Plain, at the foothills of low Salair ridge, between the Ob and Irtysh Rivers. The oblast borders Omsk Oblast in the west, Kazakhstan (Pavlodar Province) in the southwest, Tomsk Oblast in the north, Kemerovo Oblast in the east, and Altai Krai in the south. Average temperature is −19 °C (−2 °F) in January and +19 °C (66 °F) in July. Annual precipitation is 300–500 millimeters (12–20 in).” ref

“The burial mound that we have found most probably dates back to the Late Stone Age, 5-4 millennia BCE. It was previously thought that burial mounds appear at the end of the fourth to the beginning of the third millennium.’ Buried with stone axe and horn-tipped arrow, ancient human remains have archaeologists reshaping their assumptions. In a first for Siberia, a burial mound dating to the ‘New Stone Age’ has been unearthed in Novosibirsk region. In the mound were nine people, including women and children. ‘In the lower layer, they discovered a man with a stone axe and a horn-tipped arrow. ‘As this fact proves, that the burial mounds emerged much earlier than the Bronze Age, in Neolithic times.” ref

Dwellings of ancient people were also found close to the mound which may have contained a family grouping. At least in Siberia, it was thought until now that such burial mounds – signalling a new stage of development for early man – came later. It means there had been major changes in the socio-economic structure of the society. It is safe to assume that the process of destruction of collectivism, on which early tribal societies were based, began in Neolithic times. For the most part, the events that took place in the area that we now call Western Siberia were much more interesting and thought-provoking than previously thought.” ref


A kurgan is a type of tumulus constructed over a grave, often characterized by containing a single human body along with grave vessels, weapons, and horses. Originally in use on the Pontic–Caspian steppe, kurgans spread into much of Central Asia and Eastern, Southeast, Western, and Northern Europe during the 3rd millennium BCE. The earliest kurgans date to the 4th millennium BCE in the Caucasus, and some researchers associate these with the Indo-Europeans. Kurgans were built in the Eneolithic, Bronze, Iron, Antiquity, and Middle Ages, with ancient traditions still active in Southern Siberia and Central Asia.” ref

“According to the Etymological dictionary of the Ukrainian language the word “kurhan” is borrowed directly from the “Polovtsian” language (Kipchak, part of the Turkic languages) and means: fortress, embankment, high grave. The word has two possible etymologies, either from the Old Turkic root qori- “to close, to block, to guard, to protect”, or qur- “to build, to erect, furnish or stur”. According to Vasily Radlov it may be a cognate to qorγan, meaning “fortification, fortress or a castle.” The Russian noun, already attested in Old East Slavic, comes from an unidentified Turkic language. Kurgans are mounds of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves.” ref 

“Some scepter graves could have been covered with a tumulus, placing the first kurgans as early as the 5th millennium BCE in eastern Europe. However, this hypothesis is not unanimous. Kurgans were used in Ukrainian and Russian steppes, their use spreading with migration into southern, central, and northern Europe in the 3rd millennium BCE. Later, Kurgan barrows became characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, and have been found from Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria (ThraciansGetae, etc), Romania (Getae, Dacians), the Caucasus, Russia, to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and the Altay Mountains.” ref

The Kurgan hypothesis is that Proto-Indo-Europeans were the bearers of the Kurgan culture of the Black Sea and the Caucasus and west of the Urals. Introduced by Marija Gimbutas in 1956, it combines kurgan archaeology with linguistics to locate the origins of the peoples who spoke the Proto-Indo-European language. She tentatively named the culture “Kurgan” after its distinctive burial mounds and traced its diffusion into Europe. The hypothesis has had a significant impact on Indo-European studies.” ref

“Scholars who follow Gimbutas identify a “Kurgan culture” as reflecting an early Proto-Indo-European ethnicity that existed in the steppes and in southeastern Europe from the 5th millennium to the 3rd millennium BCE. In Kurgan cultures, most burials were in kurgans, either clan or individual. Most prominent leaders were buried in individual kurgans, now called “royal kurgans.” More elaborate than clan kurgans and containing grave goods, royal kurgans have attracted the most attention and publicity.” ref

Pre-Scytho-Sibirian kurgans (Bronze Age)

“In the Bronze Age, kurgans were built with stone reinforcements. Some of them are believed to be Scythian burials with built-up soil, and embankments reinforced with stone (Olhovsky, 1991). Pre-Scytho-Sibirian kurgans were surface kurgans. Wooden or stone tombs were constructed on the surface or underground and then covered with a kurgan. The kurgans of Bronze culture across Europe and Asia were similar to housing; the methods of house construction were applied to the construction of the tombs. Kurgan Ak-su – Aüly (12th–11th centuries BCE) with a tomb covered by a pyramidal timber roof under a kurgan has space surrounded by double walls serving as a bypass corridor. This design has analogies with Begazy, Sanguyr, Begasar, and Dandybay kurgans. These building traditions survived into the early Middle Ages, to the 8th–10th centuries CE.” ref

“The Bronze Pre-Scytho-Sibirian culture developed in close similarity with the cultures of Yenisei, Altai, Kazakhstan, southern, and southeast Amur regions. Some kurgans had facing or tiling. One tomb in Ukraine has 29 large limestone slabs set on end in a circle underground. They were decorated with carved geometrical ornamentation of rhombuses, triangles, crosses, and on one slab, figures of people. Another example has an earthen kurgan under a wooden cone of thick logs topped by an ornamented cornice up to 2 m in height.” ref

Scytho-Siberian kurgans (Early Iron Age)

“The Scytho-Siberian kurgans in the Early Iron Age have grandiose mounds throughout the Eurasian continent. Females were buried in about 20% of graves of the lower and middle Volga river region during the Yamna and Poltavka cultures. Two thousand years later, females dressed as warriors were buried in the same region. David Anthony notes, “About 20% of Scythian – Sarmatian “warrior graves” on the lower Don and lower Volga contained females dressed for battle as if they were men, a phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the Amazons.” A near-equal ratio of male-to-female graves was found in the eastern Manych steppes and KubanAzov steppes during the Yamna culture. In Ukraine, the ratio was intermediate between the other two regions.” ref

Scytho-Siberian monuments

“The monuments of these cultures coincide with the Scytho-Siberian world (Saka) monuments. Scytho-Siberian monuments have common features, and sometimes common genetic roots. Also associated with these spectacular burial mounds are the Pazyryk, an ancient people who lived in the Altai Mountains lying in Siberian Russia on the Ukok Plateau, near the borders with China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The archaeological site on the Ukok Plateau associated with the Pazyryk culture is included in the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site. Scytho-Siberian classification includes monuments from the 8th to the 3rd century BCE.” ref

“This period is called the Early or Ancient Nomads epoch. “Hunnic” monuments date from the 3rd century BCE to the 6th century CE, and Turkic ones from the 6th century CE to the 13th century CE, leading up to the Mongolian epoch. The most obvious archeological remains associated with the Scythians are the great burial mounds, some over 20 m high, which dot the Ukrainian and Russian steppe belts and extend in great chains for many kilometers along ridges and watersheds. From them much has been learnt about Scythian life and art.” ref

Burial mounds are complex structures with internal chambers. Within the burial chamber at the heart of the kurgan, elite individuals were buried with grave goods and sacrificial offerings, sometimes including horses and chariots. The structures of the earlier Neolithic period from the 4th to the 3rd millenniums BCE, and Bronze Age until the 1st millennium BCE, display continuity of the archaic forming methods. They were inspired by common ritual-mythological ideas.” ref

“In all periods, the development of the kurgan structure tradition in the various ethnocultural zones is revealed by common components or typical features in the construction of the monuments. They include:

  • funeral chambers
  • tombs
  • surface and underground constructions of different configurations
  • a mound of earth or stone, with or without an entrance
  • funeral, ritual, and other traits
  • the presence of an altar in the chamber
  • stone fence
  • moat
  • bulwark
  • the presence of an entryway into the chamber, into the tomb, into the fence, or into the kurgan
  • the location of a sacrificial site on the embankments, inside the mound, inside the moat, inside the embankments, and in their links, entryways, and around the kurgan
  • the location of a fire pit in the chamber
  • a wooden roof over or under the kurgan, at the top of the kurgan, or around the kurgan
  • the location of stone statues, columns, poles and other objects; bypass passages inside the kurgan, inside tombs, or around the kurgan
  • funeral paths from the moat or bulwark.
  • Depending on the combination of these elements, each historical and cultural nomadic zone has certain architectural distinctions.” ref

“Some excavated kurgans include:

  • The Ipatovo kurgan revealed a long sequence of burials from the Maykop culture c. 4000 BCE down to the burial of an elite woman of the 3rd century BCE, excavated 1998–99.
  • Kurgan 4 at Kutuluk near Samara, Russia, dated to c. 24th century BCE, contains the skeleton of a man, estimated to have been 35 to 40 years old and about 152 cm tall. Resting on the skeleton’s bent left elbow was a copper object 65 cm long with a blade of a diamond-shaped cross-section and sharp edges, but no point, and a handle, originally probably wrapped in leather. No similar object is known from Bronze Age Eurasian steppe cultures.
  • The Maikop kurgan dates to the 3rd millennium BCE.
  • The Novovelichkovskaya kurgan of c. 2000 BCE on the Ponura River, Krasnodar region, southern Russia, contains the remains of 11 people, including an embracing couple, buried with bronze tools, stone carvings, jewelry, and ceramic vessels decorated with red ocher. The tomb is associated with the Novotitorovka culture nomads.
  • The Kostromskaya kurgan of the 7th century BCE produced a famous Scythian gold stag (now Hermitage Museum), next to the iron shield it decorated. Apart from the principal male body with his accoutrements, the burial included thirteen humans with no adornment above him, and around the edges of the burial twenty-two horses were buried in pairs. It was excavated by N. I. Veselovski in 1897.
  • The Issyk kurgan, in southern Kazakhstan, contains a skeleton, possibly female, c. 4th century BCE, with an inscribed silver cup, gold ornaments, Scythian animal art objects and headdress reminiscent of Kazakh bridal hats; discovered in 1969.
  • Kurgan 11 of the Berel cemetery, in the Bukhtarma River valley of Kazakhstan, contains a tomb of c. 300 BCE, with a dozen sacrificed horses preserved with their skin, hair, harnesses, and saddles intact, buried side by side on a bed of birch bark next to a funeral chamber containing the pillaged burial of two Scythian nobles; excavated in 1998.
  • The Tovsta Mohyla Kurgan belongs to the 4th century BC and was excavated in 1971 by the Ukrainian archaeologist Boris M. Mozolevsky. It contained the famous Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla that is now in exhibition in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, which is located inside the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, in Kyiv. This pectoral is the most famous artwork connected with the Scythians. A beautiful sword scabbard was found in the same burial pre-chamber, which was never robbed, differently from the main chamber. A second lateral burial was found intact in the same Kurgan. It belonged to a woman and her 2-year old baby girl, both very likely related to the man buried at the center of the Kurgan. She was found covered with gold, including a golden diadem and other fine golden jewels. The Tovsta Mohyla Kurgan, 60 m in diameter before the excavation, is located in present-day southern Ukraine near the city of Pokrov in the Dnipro region.
  • The Ryzhanovka kurgan, a 10-metre-high (33 ft) kurgan 125 km south of Kyiv, Ukraine, containing the tomb of a Scythian chieftain, 3rd century BC, was excavated in 1996.
  • The Solokha kurgan, in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast of Ukraine, Scythian, dates to the early 4th century BC.
  • Mamai-gora, kurgan on the banks of Kakhovka Reservoir south west of Enerhodar (near the village of Velyka Znam’yanka). Known as one of the biggest tumulus in Europe. The height of the kurgan is 80 meters. Here were found remains of people from Bronze Age, Scythians, Sarmatians, Cimmerians, and Nogai people.
  • The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, near the town of Kazanlak in central Bulgaria, is a Thracian kurgan of c. the 4th century BCE.
  • The Aleksandrovo kurgan is a Thracian kurgan of c. the 4th century BCE.
  • The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, Bulgaria, is a Thracian kurgan of c. the 3rd century BCE.
  • The Håga Kurgan, located on the outskirts of Uppsala, Sweden, is a large Nordic Bronze Age kurgan from c. 1000 BCE.
  • The Pereshchepina Kurgan is a burial memorial of the Bulgarian ruler Kubrat from c. CE 660.
  • Noin-Ula kurgan, located by the Selenga River in the northern Mongolia hills north of Ulan Bator, is the tomb of Uchjulü-Chanuy (8 BCE – CE 13), head of the Hun confederation.
  • Scythian Kurgans tombs, located in Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • The Melitopol kurgan near Melitopol was excavated, and its assemblage included Scythian gold jewelry, which is not in the collection of the Melitopol Museum of Local History.ref

Kurgans in Poland

Kurgan building has a long history in Poland. The Polish word for kurgan is kopiec or kurhan. Some excavated kurgans in Poland:

  • Burial mounds of the Unetice culture include fourteen kurgans dated to 2000–1800 BCE
  • Kraśnik Neolithic (Stone Age) kurhans
  • Tombs at Pleśnik
  • Trawiasta Buczyna — hundreds of stone kurhans dated to 1200–1000 BCE
  • Skalbmierz has kurgans dated 4000 BCE.
  • Zambrow
  • Mounds at Jawczyce were described by Bishop Nankerus in 1322. Kurgan mounds dated to the Neolithic or Bronze Age included a burial of an elderly person, probably male. Some weapons and pottery fragments were also found in the tomb.
  • Near Sieradz a tomb dated to the Trzciniec culture of c. 1500 BCE contains a man and woman buried together.
  • A kurgan burial site at Łubna-Jakusy and a kurgan cremation near Guciów are examples of Trzciniec culture of c. 1500 BCE.” ref

“In Azerbaijan, nine kurgans were found at the cemetery of Soyuqbulaq. It was dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BCE, which makes it the oldest kurgan cemetery in Transcaucasia. There is also an evidence that the Duzdağı salt deposits in the Araxes valley were already being exploited from the second half of the 5th millennium BC, which is the most ancient exploitation of rock salt.” ref

Soyuqbulaq (also, Soyuq Bulaq) is a village in the Agstafa Rayon of Azerbaijan. The nine kurgans at the cemetery of Soyuqbulaq were dated to the beginning of the fourth millennium BCE, and are similar kurgans have been found at Kavtiskhevi, Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia. Several other archaeological sites seem to belong to the same ancient cultural tradition as Soyuq Bulaq. They include Berikldeebi, Kavtiskhevi, Leilatepe, Boyuk Kesik, and Poylu, Agstafa, and are characterized by pottery assemblages “mainly or totally in the North Mesopotamian tradition.” ref

“The numerous artifacts discovered at these sites have shed light on the material and spiritual culture of this ancient people during the late Eneolithic period. Amongst the finds are stone and bone tools, metal objects, and a huge cache of clay vessels. There are also anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines made of clay or bone. Grain residues were also excavated. The residents kept cattle and other domesticated animals in these settlements. Most of these sites are associated with the Leilatepe archeological culture of the first half of the fourth millennium BCE. It is believed that this was the result of the migration of near-eastern tribes from Mesopotamia to the South Caucasus, especially to Azerbaijan.” ref  

“According to the excavators, the discovery of Soyugbulaq and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic. The roots of the Leylatepe Archaeological Culture to which the Soyugbulaq kurgans belong to, stemmed from the Ubaid culture of Central Asia. The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium BCE. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus. A number of Maikop Culture kurgans and Soyugbulaq kurgans display the same northwest to southeast grave alignment. More than that, Soyugbulaq kurgans yielded pottery forms identical to those recovered from the Maikop kurgans. These are the major factors attesting to the existence of a genetic link between the two cultures.” ref

“The earliest mining of metals started in this area already in the second half of the 4th millennium. After 3000 BCE, a significant increase in the use of metal objects occurred in this area of Caucasus, and at the Kura-Araxes sites in general. Also, the variation in copper alloys increased during this time. The rich tomb of a woman at Kvazchela is a good example of this, which is quite similar to the ‘royal tomb’ from Arslantepe. The use of an arsenical component of up to 25% in copper objects resulted in a shiny greyish, silvery color. So it’s quite possible that these unusually high arsenical alloys were intended to imitate silver. Also, the earliest evidence of silver use in the Caucasus is attested at Soyuq Bulaq at this time, although these items are still rather few. Silver also occurred for the first time in the archaeological record of Georgia during this period.” ref

“The prehistory of Georgia, its Paleolithic, ended some 10,000-12,000 years ago to be succeeded by the Mesolithic culture (Kotias Klde). Signs of Neolithic culture, and the transition from foraging and hunting to agriculture and stockraising, are found in Georgia from at least the beginning of the 6th millennium BCE. Early metallurgy started in Georgia during the 6th millennium BCE. Very early metal objects have been discovered in layers of the Neolithic Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture. From the beginning of the 4th millennium, metal use became more extensive in East Georgia and in the whole Transcaucasian region.” ref

“The so-called early Neolithic sites are chiefly found in western Georgia. These are Khutsubani, Anaseuli, Kistriki, Kobuleti, Tetramitsa, Apiancha, Makhvilauri, Kotias Klde, Paluri and others. In the 5th millennium BCE, the Kura (Mtkvari) basin also became stably populated, and settlements such as those at Tsopi, Aruchlo, and Sadakhlo along the Kura in eastern Georgia are distinguished by a long lasting cultural tradition, distinctive architecture, and considerable skill in stoneworking. Most of these sites relate to the flourishing late Neolithic/Eneolithic archaeological complex known as the Shulaveri-Shomu culture. Radiocarbon dating at Shulaveri sites indicates that the earliest settlements there date from the late sixth − early fifth millennium BCE.ref

“In the highlands of eastern Anatolia and South Caucasus, the right combination of domesticable animals and sowable grains and legumes made possible the earliest agriculture. In this sense, the region can justly be considered one of the “cradles of civilization.” The entire region is surmised to have been, in the period beginning in the last quarter of the 4th millennium BCE, inhabited by people who were possibly ethnically related and of Hurrian stock. The ethnic and cultural unity of these 2,000 years is characterized by some scholars as Chalcolithic or Eneolithic.ref

“The Hurrians (also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people who inhabited the Ancient Near East during the Bronze Age. They spoke the Hurrian language, and lived throughout northern Syriaupper Mesopotamia, and southeastern Anatolia.” ref

“The Hurro-Urartian languages are an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East, comprising only two known languages: Hurrian and Urartian. It is often assumed that the Hurro-Urartian languages (or a pre-split Proto-Hurro-Urartian language) were originally spoken by people who engaged in the Kura-Araxes cultureThere was also a strong Hurrian influence on the Hittite culture in ancient times, so many Hurrian texts are preserved from Hittite political centres. The Mitanni variety is chiefly known from the so-called “Mitanni letter” from Hurrian Tushratta to Pharaoh Amenhotep III surviving in the Amarna archives. The “Old Hurrian” variety is known from some early royal inscriptions and from religious and literary texts, especially from Hittite centers. Urartian is attested from the late 9th century BCE to the late 7th century BCE as the official written language of the state of Urartu and was probably spoken by the majority of the population in the mountainous areas around Lake Van and the upper Zab valley. It branched off from Hurrian at approximately the beginning of the second millennium BCE.” ref

“While the genetic relation between Hurrian and Urartian is undisputed, the wider connections of Hurro-Urartian to other language families are controversial. After the decipherment of Hurrian and Urartian inscriptions and documents in the 19th and early 20th century, Hurrian and Urartian were soon recognized as not related to the Semitic nor to the Indo-European languages, and to date, the most conservative view holds that Hurro-Urartian is a primary language family not demonstrably related to any other language family. Early proposals for an external genetic relationship of Hurro-Urartian variously grouped them with the Kartvelian languages, Elamite, and other non-Semitic and non-Indo-European languages of the region.” ref 

Igor Diakonoff and Sergei Starostin suggested that Hurro-Urartian and the Northeastern Caucasian language family can be included in a macro-family; this grouping was provisionally dubbed the Alarodian languages, by Diakonoff. Several studies argue that the connection is probable. Other scholars, however, doubt that the language families are related, or believe that, while a connection is possible, the evidence is far from conclusive. Uralicist and Indo-Europeanist Petri Kallio argues that the matter is hindered by the lack of consensus about how to reconstruct Proto-Northeast-Caucasian, but that Alarodian is the most promising proposal for relations with Northeast Caucasian, greater than rival proposals to link it with Northwest Caucasian or other families. Arnaud Fournet and Allan R. Bomhard argue that Hurro-Urartian is a sister family to Indo-European. The poorly attested Kassite language may have belonged to the Hurro-Urartian language family.” ref

“From c. 3400 to 2000 BCE, the region saw the development of the Kura-Araxes or Early Transcaucasian culture centered on the basins of Kura and Aras. During this era, economic stability based on cattle and sheep raising and noticeable cultural development was achieved. The local chieftains appear to have been men of wealth and power. Their burial mounds have yielded finely wrought vessels in gold and silver; a few are engraved with ritual scenes suggesting the Middle Eastern cult influence. This vast and flourishing culture was in contact with the more advanced civilization of Akkadian Mesopotamia, but went into gradual decline and stagnated c. 2300 BCE, being eventually broken up into a number of regional cultures. One of the earliest of these successor cultures is the Bedeni culture in eastern Georgia.ref

“At the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, there is evidence of considerable economic development and increased commerce among the tribes. In western Georgia, a unique culture known as Colchian developed between 1800 and 700 BCE, and in eastern Georgia the kurgan (tumulus) culture of Trialeti reached its zenith around 1500 BCE. By the last centuries of the 2nd millennium BCE, ironworking had made its appearance in the South Caucasus, and the true Iron Age began with the introduction of tools and weapons on a large scale and of superior quality to those hitherto made of copper and bronze, a change which in most of the Near East may not have come before the tenth or ninth centuries BCE. During this period, as linguists have estimated, the ethnic and linguistic unity of the Proto-Kartvelians finally broke up into several branches that now form the Kartvelian family.ref


tumulus (pl.tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrowsburial mounds or (in Siberia and Central Asia) kurgans, and may be found throughout much of the world. A cairn, which is a mound of stones built for various purposes, may also originally have been a tumulus. Tumuli are often categorised according to their external apparent shape. In this respect, a long barrow is a long tumulus, usually constructed on top of several burials, such as passage graves. A round barrow is a round tumulus, also commonly constructed on top of burials. The internal structure and architecture of both long and round barrows have a broad range; the categorization only refers to the external apparent shape. The method of inhumation may involve a dolmen, a cist, a mortuary enclosure, a mortuary house, or a chamber tomb. Examples of barrows include Duggleby Howe and Maeshowe. The word tumulus is Latin for ‘mound’ or ‘small hill’, which is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *teuh2 with extended zero grade *tum-, ‘to bulge, swell’ also found in tombtumortumescentthumbthigh, and thousand. Burial mounds are one of several funerary forms practiced by Indigenous Australians. Burial mounds were once practiced by some Aboriginals across Australia, the most eloborate burial mounds are recorded in New South WalesSouth AustraliaVictoria, and Western Australia.” ref

Preceded by assumed earlier sites in the Eastern Sahara, tumuli with megalithic monuments developed as early as 4700 BCE in the Saharan region of Niger. Fekri Hassan (2002) indicates that the megalithic monuments in the Saharan region of Niger and the Eastern Sahara may have served as antecedents for the mastabas and pyramids of ancient Egypt. The prehistoric tradition of monarchic tumuli-building is shared by both the West African Sahel and the Middle Nile regions. Ancient Egyptian pyramids of the early dynastic period and Meroitic Kush pyramids are recognized by Faraji (2022) as part of and derived from an earlier architectural SudanicSahelian” tradition of monarchic tumuli, which are characterized as “earthen pyramids” or “proto-pyramids.” Faraji (2022) characterized Nobadia as the “last pharaonic culture of the Nile Valley” and described mound tumuli as being “the first architectural symbol of the sovereign’s return and reunification with the primordial mound upon his death.ref

“Faraji (2022) indicates that there may have been a cultural expectation of “postmortem resurrection” associated with tumuli in the funerary traditions of the West African Sahel (e.g., northern Ghana, northern Nigeria, Mali) and Nile Valley (e.g., Ballana, Qustul, Kerma, Kush). Based on artifacts found in the tumuli from West Africa and Nubia, there may have been “a highly developed corporate ritual in which the family members of the deceased brought various items as offerings and tribute to the ancestors” buried in the tumuli and the tumuli may have “served as immense shrines of spiritual power for the populace to ritualize and remember their connection to the ancestral lineage as consecrated in the royal tomb.” In Niger, there are two monumental tumuli – a cairn burial (5,695 – 5,101 years ago) at Adrar Bous, and a tumulus covered with gravel (6229 – 4933 years ago) at Iwelen, in the Aïr Mountains. Tenerians did not construct the two monumental tumuli at Adrar Bous and Iwelen. Rather, Tenerians constructed cattle tumuli at a time before the two monumental tumuli were constructed.” ref

“The earliest kurgans date to the 4th millennium BCE in the Caucasus, and researchers associate these with the Indo-Europeans. Kurgans were built in the Eneolithic, Bronze, Iron, Antiquity and Middle Ages, with ancient traditions still active in Southern Siberia and Central Asia. The word kurgan is of Turkic origin, and derives from Proto-Turkic *Kur- (“to erect (a building), to establish”). In Ukraine and Russia, there are royal kurgans of Varangian chieftains, Oleg‘s Grave in Russian Staraya Ladoga, and vast, intricate Rurik’s Hill near Russian Novgorod. Other important kurgans are found in Ukraine and South Russia and are associated with much more ancient steppe peoples, notably the Scythians (e.g., Chortomlyk, Pazyryk) and early Indo-Europeans (e.g., Ipatovo kurgan) The steppe cultures found in Ukraine and South Russia naturally continue into Central Asia, in particular Kazakhstan. It is constructed over a grave, often characterized by containing a single human body along with grave vessels, weapons, and horses. Originally in use on the Pontic–Caspian steppe, kurgans spread into much of Central Asia and Eastern, Southeast, Western, and Northern Europe during the 3rd millennium BCE.ref

Archaeologists often classify tumuli according to their location, form, and date of construction (see also mound). Some British types are listed below:

  • Bank barrow
  • Bell barrow
  • Bowl barrow
  • D-shaped barrow – round barrow with a purposely flat edge at one side often defined by stone slabs.
  • Disc barrow
  • Fancy barrow – generic term for any Bronze Age barrows more elaborate than a simple hemispherical shape.
  • Long barrow
  • Oval barrow – a Neolithic long barrow consisting of an elliptical, rather than rectangular or trapezoidal mound.
  • Platform barrow – The least common of the recognised types of round barrow, consisting of a flat, wide circular mound that may be surrounded by a ditch. They occur widely across southern England with a marked concentration in East and West Sussex.
  • Pond barrow – a barrow consisting of a shallow circular depression, surrounded by a bank running around the rim of the depression, from the Bronze Age.
  • Ring barrow – a bank that encircles a number of burials.
  • Round barrow – a circular feature created by the Bronze Age peoples of Britain and also the later Romans, Vikings, and Saxons. Divided into subclasses such as saucer and bell barrow – the Six Hills are a rare Roman example.
  • Saucer barrow – a circular Bronze Age barrow that features a low, wide mound surrounded by a ditch that may have an external bank.
  • Square barrow – burial site, usually of Iron Age date, consisting of a small, square, ditched enclosure surrounding a central burial, which may also have been covered by a mound.ref

The Kurgan hypothesis 

“Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the DnieperVolga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BCE). The Kurgan model of Indo-European origins identifies the Pontic–Caspian steppe as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) urheimat, and a variety of late PIE dialects are assumed to have been spoken across this region. According to this model, the Kurgan culture gradually expanded to the entire Pontic–Caspian steppe, Kurgan IV being identified with the Yamnaya culture of around 3000 BCE.” ref

“The mobility of the Kurgan culture facilitated its expansion over the entire region and is attributed to the domestication of the horse followed by the use of early chariots. The first strong archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from the Sredny Stog culture north of the Azov Sea in Ukraine, and would correspond to an early PIE or pre-PIE nucleus of the 5th millennium BCE. Subsequent expansion beyond the steppes led to hybrid, or in Gimbutas’s terms “kurganized” cultures, such as the Globular Amphora culture to the west. From these kurganized cultures came the immigration of Proto-Greeks to the Balkans and the nomadic Indo-Iranian cultures to the east around 2500 BCE.” ref

“Cultures that Gimbutas considered as part of the “Kurgan culture”:

Bug–Dniester culture

The Bug–Dniester culture was an archaeological culture that developed in and around the Central Black Earth Region of Moldavia and Ukraine, around the Dniester and Southern Bug rivers, during the Neolithic era. Over the course of approximately 1,300 years (from the years 6300–5000 BCE), the Bug–Dniester culture went through different cultural phases; during this period of time the population remained about the same. The Neolithic phase in this region developed out of the local Mesolithic, through contact with the Chalcolithic cultures in the west and Neolithic hunter-gatherer cultures in the East (adhering to Soviet terminology, Neolithic is defined here as pottery-bearing, not agricultural).ref

“They made pottery from approximately 6200 BCE of a sort derived from the Elshanka culture of the middle Volga. Much of this pottery had pointed bottoms, designed for cooking over a fire; they were often decorated in patterns of wavy lines. This local culture was influenced by the neighboring Neolithic Körös culture, whose origins lay in the Carpathian basin. The Körös farmers had arrived in the upper valleys of the Seret and Prut in around 5800–5700 BCE. Körös pottery forms were copied by the Bug–Dniester people.” ref

“The Elshanka culture (Russian: Елшанская культура) was a Subneolithic or very early Neolithic culture that flourished in the middle Volga region in the 7th millennium BCE. The sites are mostly individual graves scattered along the Samara and Sok rivers. They revealed Europe’s oldest pottery. The culture extended along the Volga from Ulyanovsk Oblast in the north through the Samara Bend towards Khvalynsk Hills and the Buzuluk District in the south. No signs of permanent dwellings have been found. Elshanka people appear to have been hunters and fishermen who had seasonal settlements at the confluences of rivers. Most grave goods come from such settlements.” ref

“Elshanka is believed to be the source from which the art of pottery spread south and westward towards the Balkans (with one particularly important site being the Surskoy Island in the Dnieper Rapids where pottery was made from 6200 to 5800 BCE). Elshanka pots, dated from 6700 BCE onwards, usually have simple ornaments, though some have none. They were made “of a clay-rich mud collected from the bottoms of stagnant ponds, formed by the coiling method and were baken in open fires at 450-600 degrees Celsius.” ref

“A man buried at Lebyazhinka IV (a site usually assigned to the Elshanka culture) had the Haplogroup R1b. I. Vasiliev and A. Vybornov, citing the similarity of pottery, assert that Elshanka people were the descendants of the Zarzian culture who had been ousted from Central Asia by progressive desertification. Other researchers see Elshanka ceramic industry as a local attempt at reproducing Zarzian pots. A rapid cooling around 6200 BCE and influences from the Lower Volga region led the Elshanka culture to be succeeded by the Middle Volga culture (with more complex ceramic ornaments) which lasted until the 5th millennium BCE. It was succeeded in the region by the better known Samara culture.” ref

“Linguist Asko Parpola (2022) associates the Elshanka culture and the Kama culture with the early Proto-Uralic language, which would later expand eastwards and westwards with the Seima-Turbino material culture. Uralic languages would later be transmitted by language shift from groups of hunters and fishers participating in the spread of the Seima-Turbino culture towards Siberia and back to Northeastern Europe.” ref

Fortifications and fabrications: Reassessing the emergence of fortifications in Prehistoric (Turkey/Türkiye) Asia Minor

“Abstract: Fortifications have been postulated in Asia Minor from as early as the Neolithic period, and these fortifications have often been interpreted as evidence for warfare from that period onwards. Here, a reassessment of the Prehistoric data from Asia Minor is offered, and it is suggested that the earliest unequivocal military fortifications emerged in the EB II period, thus after 2600 BCE. It will be argued that the emergence of these fortifications can be linked with wider social transformations occurring simultaneously.” ref

“Unlike other types of monuments, such as pyramids and stone henges, fortifications are usually interpreted in functional terms: as a defence technology. Further, fortifications are often connected with urbanism. First, although fortifications often have a military function, it would be erroneous to suggest that they are always best explained in terms of defensive technologies. For example, discussing fortified cities in Early Historic India, suggests that fortifications served in part to protect against floods and in part as expressions of corporate power of elites displaying their capability to organize the construction of these massive projects.” ref
“Off the shores of northern Israel, archaeologists found a 7,000-year-old wall that stretches more than 330 feet (100 meters) long. The researchers have interpreted the structure as a seawall for a Stone Age village, making it the oldest such coastal defense structure that’s ever been identified. The long wall was made up of big boulders, some of which could be more than 3 feet (1 meter) wide and weigh more than a metric ton (1,000 kg). The barrier was located on the western edge of an underwater village known as Tel Hreiz. Artifacts and the remnants of homes in the town suggest it could have supported a few hundred people, who likely relied on fishing and agricultural activities like making olive oil. When the town was built about 7,000 years ago, it was likely about 7 to 10 feet above sea level, according to the study. But the first occupants may not have known they were settling in a quickly changing landscape. When the last ice age ended, melting glaciers around the world caused sea level to rise. During the Neolithic era, water in the Mediterranean crept up about 27 inches (70 cm) over 100 years, which is faster than the global sea level is rising today. The average sea-level rise alone may not have inundated the town, but the rising water likely caused winter storm surges to damage the town with more frequency over fewer generations, the researchers say.ref
“Here it is of interest that the construction and restoration of city walls by mighty kings is an important and recurring theme in Mesopotamian literature, which suggests that ideology played an important role in the construction of fortifications. Further, many fortifications do not make sense from a military perspective. An example from the Near East consists of the fortifications of Hattuša. These impressive fortifications of the Hittite capital are indeed awe inspiring and a testimony to the engineering and organizational skills of the Hittites. However, from a military point of view the location of the heavily fortified capital makes little sense, as there are many weak points due to the nature of the terrain.” ref

“Second, fortifications and urbanism are not necessarily linked. There are cities without fortifications and fortified settlements that are not urban. Childe (1950) noted long ago that cities and towns are extremely diverse cross-culturally, and fortifications only occur in some urban settlements. However, archaeologists have often argued the reverse: that fortifications are an index for urbanism.  A classic example is the case of Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Jericho, ca. 9500-8700 BCE. Kenyon (1956) postulated a population of about 3000 people and argued that Jericho constituted a town, primarily on the basis of features interpreted by her as a city wall and an associated tower. By contrast, Braidwood (1957) argued that the site of Jericho did not possess many of the characteristics characteristic of towns.” ref 

“Importantly, later scholars have argued that the structures at Jericho were not part of a fortification system, but served to protect against floods, to symbolically protect the settlement, as ritual structures, and as a territorial marker. The Jericho case exemplifies the main issues that recur in discussions about fortifications in Prehistory: on the one hand many archaeologists have claimed to have excavated perimeter walls and have used this interpretation to claim that their site was either urban in nature or a precursor of later complex settlements and societies; on the other hand, many scholars have pointed out that fortifications need not have been military in purpose and that they can be associated with settlements that are not urban in character.” ref 

Neolithic fortified settlements in Asia Minor/Turkey, 8500-5500 BCE or 10,500 to 7,500 years ago

“In recent decades, the idea that warfare has been part of human reality from the Palaeolithic onwards has been put forward in various studies. Rosenberg (2003) has argued that the large settlements found in the early Neolithic of the Near East, including sites such as Aşıklı Höyük and Çatalhöyuk in central Anatolia, are best explained as a defensive strategy, arguing: first, that there is safety in numbers; and, second, that the clustered neighborhoods in Aşıklı Höyük and at Çatalhöyük are best explained as defence strategy. The idea that warfare is ubiquitous in human history and that fortifications can be documented from the earliest Neolithic onwards is popular among scholars working on Anatolian Prehistory. In this paper the focus will be on a limited number of sites that will serve to bring out the key issues for understanding Prehistoric fortifications.” ref 

“At Aşıklı Höyük, the earliest well-documented Neolithic site of Asia Minor dated to ca. 8500-7400 BCE, the excavators reconstruct a fortification wall surrounding the settlement. A stretch of a heavy stone wall in the east was interpreted as evidence for a perimeter wall surrounding the settlement. However, the perimeter wall extends over a small area only. It has been argued that its trajectory was one of ‘s-shaped’ curvatures (ibid.), but this interpretation is unconvincing. Thus, the evidence for a perimeter wall is problematic. Instead, the wall concerned is better interpreted as one associated with a monumental complex that was similar to the better preserved complex ‘HV’ in the west of the site. Complex ‘HV’ also has a heavy double wall along one of its sides bordering on a broad paved street, while on the interior there is a large courtyard.” ref

“The wall associated with complex ‘HV’ has been interpreted as a ‘casemate walls’ and a predecessor of later Hittite fortification technologies.  The idea that we are dealing with a casemate wall at Aşıklı Höyük can be discounted for two reasons. First, the Aşıklı Höyük example is separated by some five millennia from those of the Hittite period, and there are no examples from the intervening periods. Second, and more importantly, there are differences in the construction of the walls from both periods, and the manner in which they functioned. In particular, there is no evidence that the wall north of HV served a defensive purpose: the (relatively soft) loam wall faces outwards to street GA, whereas the (more durable) stone walls face the internal court HV.” ref
“Thus, it seems highly unlikely that we are dealing with a ‘casemate wall.’ For both Aşıklı Höyük and Çatalhöyük, the relevant levels of which are to be dated between ca. 7000-6400 BCE, it has been argued that the spatial layout of the settlement served a defensive purpose: in which contiguous blocks of houses constituted a defensive wall. This interpretation rests, however, on the flawed assumption that these settlements were built up throughout. Instead, the evidence from Aşıklı Höyük and Çatalhöyük for streets that separated neighborhoods from each other is unequivocal, and it is also clear that many of these neighborhoods could be accessed relatively easily.” ref
“For defensive purposes it would have sufficed to simply fortify the outer edge, something for which there is no convincing evidence at either site. Instead, it is plausible that the clustered neighborhoods at Aşıklı Höyük, Çatalhöyük, and other central Anatolian Neolithic sites served as the spatial manifestation of social group boundaries, a system in which interaction within groups was intense, whereas intrusions from outsiders could be easily controlled. Thus, while the clustered neighborhoods of the central Anatolian Neolithic did serve to control access, this control was socio-symbolic and operated at the level of the neighborhood rather than having a military function and serving the settlement at large.” ref

“This shift from a military to a social explanation of a spatial demarcation in the settlement is one that can be proposed for many other examples in the Prehistory of Asia Minor. This idea rests on the fact that most of these spatial boundaries make little sense as defensive structures. For example, in Ilıpınar levels 6 and 5A, to be dated between ca. 5700-5500 BCE, the settlement consisted of buildings constructed on top of a circular embankment, which was raised about a meter on the mound surface. This embankment constituted the outer boundary of the settlement, beyond which the mound sloped down steeply. A number of alleys provided access to the settlement. On the outer side of the embankment there seem to have been blank walls, with buildings entrances facing the interior of the settlement. The central space in the settlement might have been used for keeping livestock (Gerard 2001), and it is plausible that the Ilıpınar spring was also located at the center.” ref

“At Hoca Çeşme, ca. 6500-6000 BCE, a massive stone wall was found that has been interpreted as a defensive perimeter wall. However, the wall is only about a metre high, and in many parts it has a smooth surface on top suggesting that this was the intended upper surface. Further, this wall could be traced over a restricted distance only. While the wall could have demarcated a boundary, a defensive function cannot be established. The data from the Lake District Neolithic are often presented as providing uncontroversial evidence for defensive fortifications. At Kuruçay in level 11 a feature that was interpreted as a city wall with towers was found. Likewise, at Hacılar a small fortified settlement was found in level 2B, and what has been interpreted as a large fortification wall in level 1.” ref

“Recently, these fortifications have been interpreted as evidence for endemic warfare, and this has been linked to stresses caused by the climatic fluctuation known as the 8.2-kiloyear event. There are several reasons why this reconstruction is problematic. First, in the numerous local climate proxy records from Lake Beyşehir, Gölhısar Gölü, and Söğüt, no effects of the 8.2 KA event are visible, and it remains to be seen whether there were any effects of this climatic oscillation in the Lake District. Second, the fortified settlements of Hacılar 2 and 1, and Kuruçay 11 all postdate 6000 BCE, by which time the possible effects of the 8.2 KA event would have been several centuries in the past. Third, the defensive character of the Lake District fortifications can be questioned.” ref

“For example, the towers in the Kuruçay 11 ‘city wall’ had an entrance both on their exterior and interior, which would make them ill-suited for defensive purposes. Further, a very similar ‘tower’ structure was found in level 12 at Kuruçay adjacent to a building and contained a hearth and numerous grinding stones, suggesting a domestic use of this structure. It is conceivable that the Kuruçay 11 ‘fortification wall’, found over a short stretch only, encircled a compound or neighbourhood rather than the settlement at large, and that the ‘towers’ were entrance and work areas rather than defensive structures. At Hacılar 2B the fortifications appear massive. Here, a complex of structures built around a central court was found. This complex is surrounded by a perimeter wall of up to 3 meters wide and has a narrow entrance to the north.” ref

“This wall constitutes the back wall of the level 2B structures, which typically have a back room separated by two buttresses from a smaller front room. The level 2B remains have been interpreted by Mellaart as representing the complete Hacılar settlement. However, the incompletely preserved fortification wall as found only surrounds some nine buildings. Even if we double this to eighteen buildings, the scale of the settlement remains tiny. Thus, it is possible, if not proven, that we are simply dealing with a walled neighborhood or compound. One recently excavated parallel for such a multi-household compound arranged around a central court has been found recently at Ege Gübre, dating to about 6200-5900 BCE, near modern Izmir. Surrounding the courtyard, a number of stone foundations for rectangular buildings were found, measuring approximately seven by six meters.” ref

“Further, a number of round structures were found, with diameters of about three metres, all of which are located near the corners of the rectangular buildings. To the east of the compound a massive stone wall was found, which has been interpreted both as a protective measure against floods and a perimeter wall, but too little of the wall has been exposed to evaluate these interpretations. In the Hacılar 1 settlement, two room complexes were found, which were built on an area leveled for the purpose and on top of a layer of stone rubble. The complexes had formidable walls, averaging about two meters in thickness but ranging up to four. Apart from a number of narrow spaces the rooms in the complexes are mostly square, and measure about six by six metres. They generally have a number of buttresses, and most buildings lack entrances.” ref

“Mellaart (1970) reconstructed a series of settlement blocks in a defensive perimeter arrangement for Hacılar 1. This reconstruction is highly conjectural and based on very little evidence. The underlying assumption seems to be that the massive building effort at Hacılar 1 must have served a defensive purpose. However, the buildings of Hacılar 1 are not dissimilar to those of Canhasan 2A/2B and those of level 7 at Kuruçay, and in both cases, we are dealing with domestic structures, and there is no evidence of perimeter walls or other defensive features. In many of the Neolithic examples discussed so far archaeologists confronted with monumental wall features have been quick to argue that we are dealing with fortifications serving a defensive purpose.” ref

“However, in all cases discussed here, the evidence for a defensive perimeter wall surrounding the settlement is questionable. Instead we appear to be dealing with features that surround settlements or neighbourhoods and are mostly unconvincing as defensive structures. Thus, these features appear to have been symbolically and socially important and may also have served practical needs, such as keeping livestock in.” ref

Chalcolithic fortified settlements in Asia Minor, 5500-3000 BCE or 7,500 to 5,000 years ago

“What evidence for fortifications do we have for the Chalcolithic of Asia Minor? Chalcolithic Asia Minor, between about 5500 and 3000 BCE, is much less well investigated than the preceding Neolithic. Evidence for possible fortifications is available only for a few sites. Here, I will discuss Mersin-Yumuktepe, Güvercınkayası, Çadır Höyük, and Kuruçay level 6. A large plan was obtained at Mersin-Yumuktepe in the Garstang excavations for level 16, which can be dated to the early fifth millennium BCE. Level 16 was interpreted by Garstang (1953) as a fortified settlement surrounded by a massive city wall measuring about a meter across, which was offset at regular distances, had slit windows at regular intervals from which enemies could be shot at, and was complete with a city gate flanked by two towers. To the east of the city gate a series of domestic residences were built up against the city wall, each consisting of a front and a back room.” ref

“The latter seems to have been most intensively in use for domestic purposes, as manifested in a wealth of features and finds present in the rooms including bins, grinding equipment, hearths, and ceramic vessels. Garstang suggested that these back rooms might have served as living rooms of nuclear households and that they were inhabited by soldiers with their families. To the west of the city gate stood a large building with a central hall measuring about ten by four metres with a number of side rooms. This building was interpreted as an elite residence by Garstang. According to Garstang then, level 16 at Mersin-Yumuktepe consists of a small fortified community complete with a palace of sorts. Level 16 at Mersin-Yumuktepe has further been linked with the Ubaid horizon in the northern Fertile Crescent, mainly on the basis of the ceramics which have some Ubaidian features, although we are dealing with a predominantly local assemblage.” ref

“It has also been postulated that the large ‘chiefly’ building originally had a west wing now lost to erosion and would originally have resembled the tripartite buildings common in Ubaid sites across Syro-Mesopotamia (Breniquet 1995). In this Ubaid context, Garstangs interpretation of Mersin 16 does not appear implausible, given the existence of monumental buildings at various sites in Mesopotamia and the presence of fortifications at the site of Tell es-Sawwan. Recent excavations at Mersin-Yumuktepe have thrown new light on the nature of the level 16 settlement at the site, however. In ‘Area K’, at some distance south of the gate, fragmented remains were found of buildings similar to the wall-houses east of the gate.” ref

“They also had a massive stone terrace wall on the slope, with slit windows in the back wall, a back room with domestic equipment, such as a hearth, a basin, and grinding equipment, and a less sturdy front room. This find now makes it possible to estimate the interior of the ‘citadel’ of Yumuktepe at about 35 by 40 metres, which would mean we are dealing with a tiny settlement. Even more revealing was the find of a cobble-paved road down the slope from the citadel, which was flanked by terrace walls, and against which building were constructed that are very similar to the wall-houses found by Garstang. terraces, against which terraced buildings were constructed! Thus the interpretation of level 16 at Mersin-Yumuktepe as small fortified urban settlement now seems problematic. The site of Güvercinkayası, radiocarbon dated to 5210-4810 BC, is located in the western reaches of the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia (Gülçür 1997; Gülçür, Firat 2005). The settlement is placed on top of a steep rock formation which measured approximately 40 by 60 metres. On the basis of this setting it has been suggested that defence was of key importance in the Middle Chalcolithic more generally (Gülçür, Fırat 2005: 41). This interpretation can be problematised, however.” ref

“Domestic buildings at Güvercinkayası are more or less standardized in their organization of space and limited in their size range. At Köşk Höyük, about 60 kilometers from Güvercinkayası as the crow flies, a series of buildings were found on level 1 that are nearly identical to those found at Güvercinkayası and are dated contemporaneously. Whereas at Güvercinkayası, we are dealing with a small, densely built-up settlement on top of a rock outcrop, Köşk Höyük is in a much more accessible location, and there is much more open space in the settlement. Köşk Höyük does not appear to be a fortified settlement. There is no reason to assume that Güvercinkayası is the more representative site of the two, and the argument that warfare was important in the Middle Chalcolithic now seems less plausible on the basis of the Köşk Höyük data. In the Late Chalcolithic, between 4000-3000 BCE, possible evidence for fortified settlements has been found at the sites of Çadır Höyük and at Kuruçay level 6.” ref

“At Çadır Höyük Late Chalcolithic levels, radiocarbon dated to about 3600-3100 BCE, have been excavated over a substantial area. A massive wall with a stone foundation and a mudbrick superstructure of about 1.5 meters thick was encountered. According to the excavators, this wall had a gateway originally over two meters wide and extended some 1.5 meters into the settlement. Further, they identify two small rooms of ca. two by two metres on either side of the gate, and argue that these were guard rooms. However, the walls presented as evidence for a perimeter wall and gate at Çadır Höyük have been exposed over a short stretch only, are poorly preserved, and can be interpreted in many ways.” ref

In the researcher’s view, the interpretation of these features as fortifications is open to doubt. A similar situation pertains to the postulated fortifications at Kuruçay level 6, to be dated to about 3500 BCE, a substantial part of which has been excavated, including some 23 buildings. These mostly consisted of single-roomed rectangular buildings, measuring about four by seven metres. In some cases, buildings had two rooms, or a small room was added to the exterior of the rectangular structure. According to Refik Duru, the excavator of the site, there were a number of central buildings in the Kuruçay 6 settlement. These included a ‘shrine’ but also houses for postulated dignitaries, which were surrounded by a series of domestic buildings. The rear walls of these outer buildings would have constituted a ‘saw-toothed’ defense wall, with various small alleys acting as ‘gates.” ref

“This interpretation of Kuruçay 6 as a kind of small urban center is problematic, however. It is based on a very particular and unconvincing reading of the evidence, and requires some manipulation of the data. The postulated central shrine and houses for dignitaries do not differ from the other buildings in the settlement, except for the fact that building 8, ‘the shrine’, was exceptionally well preserved. Further, much of the ‘defence wall’ consists of domestic buildings walls of various phases presented as one feature. Even if the defense wall as reconstructed is accepted, many ‘ungated’ entrances to the settlement remain. Summarising the evidence for fortifications in Chalcolithic Asia Minor it appears that there is little substantial evidence for defensive fortifications in this period.” ref

“At some sites, such as Çadır Höyük and Kuruçay, the interpretations of defensive perimeter walls are based on limited or problematic data. In the case of Güvercıkayası, the location of the settlement on top of a rock outcrop could be interpreted as a defensive measure, but the nearby unfortified contemporary site of Köşk Höyük suggests that we should be careful in arguing that war played a prominent role in this period. Finally, the famous fortified citadel of Mersin-Yumuktepe 16, now appears to consist of terraced houses situated along the mound slope rather than a fortified community.” ref


The tradition of burying the dead in burial mounds (kurgans), usually consisting of a funerary chamber limited by stone or brick slabs and covered by dirt and gravel, started in the fourth millennium BCE in the northern Caucasus and then spread south to the rest of the Caucasus regions, eastern Anatolia and northwestern Iran during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The spread of the kurgan tradition, as well as the territorial, political, social, and cultural values embedded in their construction and their symbolic relation to the surrounding landscape are under debate. The workshop aims to examine chronological issues, cultural dynamics at inter-regional scale, rituals and burial patterns related to these funerary structures. The beliefs and ideologies that possibly connected the “kurgan people” over such a wide geographical area, as well as past and present theoretical frameworks, will also be discussed.” ref

Ganj Dareh, or “Treasure Valley Hill,” is a Neolithic settlement in western Iran

The oldest settlement remains on the site date back to ca. 10,000 years ago, and have yielded the earliest evidence for goat domestication in the world. Ganj Dareh is important in the study of Neolithic ceramics in Luristan and Kurdistan. This is a period beginning in the late 8th millennium BCE, and continuing to the middle of the 6th millennium BCE. Also, the evidence from two other excavated sites nearby is important, from Tepe Guran, and Tepe Sarab (shown on the map in this article). They are all located southwest of Harsin, on the Mahidasht plain, and in the Hulailan valley.” ref

 “At Ganj Dareh, two early ceramic traditions are evident. One is based on the use of clay for figurines and small geometric pieces like cones and disks. These are dated ca. 7300-6900 BCE. The other ceramic tradition originated in the use of clay for mud-walled buildings (ca. 7300 BCE). These traditions are also shared by Tepe Guran, and Tepe Sarab. Tepe Asiab is also located near Tepe Sarab, and may be the earliest of all these sites. Both sites appear to have been seasonally occupied. Another site from the same period is Chia Jani, also in Kermanshah. Chia Jani is located about 60 km southwest from Ganj Dareh. Ali Kosh is also a related site of the Neolithic period.” ref

“Researchers sequenced the genome from the petrous bone of a 30-50 year old woman from Ganj Dareh, GD13a. mtDNA analysis shows that she belonged to Haplogroup X. She is phenotypically similar to the Anatolian early farmers and Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers. Her DNA revealed that she had black hair, brown eyes and was lactose intolerant. The derived SLC45A2 variant associated with light skin was not observed in GD13a, but the derived SLC24A5 variant which is also associated with the same trait was observed. GD13a is part of the Neolithic Iranian (Iran_N) cluster.” ref

“GD13a is genetically closest to the ancient Caucasus hunter-gatherers identified from human remains from Georgia (Satsurblia Cave and Kotias Klde). She belonged to a population (Neolithic Iranians) that was genetically distinct from the Neolithic Anatolian farmers. In terms of modern populations, she shows the relative highest genetic affinity with the Baloch people, Makran Baloch, and Brahui people. Also genetically close to GD13a were ancient samples from Steppe populations (Yamanya & Afanasievo) that were part of one or more Bronze age migrations into Europe, as well as early Bronze age cultures in that continent (Corded Ware) in line with previous relationships observed for the Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers. Most Neolithic Iranian specimens from Ganj Dareh were found to belong to the paternal haplogroup R2a. The to date oldest sample of haplogroup R2a was observed in the remains of a Neolithic human from Ganj Dareh in western Iran (c. 10,162 years old). A late Neolithic sample (I1671) was found to belong to Haplogroup G2a.” ref

Caucasus hunter-gatherer

“The CHG lineage is suggested to have diverged from the ancestor of Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) probably during the Last Glacial Maximum (sometimes between 45,000 to 26,000 years ago). They further separated from the “Anatolian Hunter Gatherer” (AHG) lineage later, suggested to around 25,000 years ago during the late LGM period. The Caucasus hunter-gatherers managed to survive in isolation since the late LGM period as a distinct population, and display high genetic affinities to Mesolithic and Neolithic populations on the Iranian plateau, such as Neolithic specimens found in Ganj Dareh. The CHG display higher genetic affinities to European and Anatolian groups than Iranian hunter-gatherers do, suggesting a possible cline and geneflow into the CHG and less into Mesolithic and Neolithic Iranian groups.” ref

“The Mesolithic/Neolithic Iranian lineage and the Caucasus hunter-gatherers are inferred to derive significant amounts of their ancestry from Basal Eurasian (c. 48%), with the remainder ancestry being closer to Ancient North Eurasians (ANE; c. 52%). The CHG displayed an additional ANE-like component (c. 10%) than the Neolithic Iranians do, suggesting they may have stood in continuous contact with Eastern Hunter-Gatherers to their North. The CHG also carry around 20% additional Paleolithic Caucasus/Anatolian ancestry.” ref 

“An alternative model without the need of significant amounts of ANE ancestry has been presented by Vallini et al. 2024, suggesting that the initial Iranian hunter-gatherer-like population which is basal to the CHG formed primarily from a deep Ancient West Eurasian lineage (WEC2, at least 50%), and from varying degrees of Ancient East Eurasian and Basal Eurasian components. The Ancient West Eurasian component associated with Iranian hunter-gatherers is inferred to have diverged from the West Eurasian Core lineage (represented by Kostenki-14; WEC), with the WEC2 component staying in the region of the Iranian Plateau, while the proper WEC component expanded into Europe.” ref

“CHG ancestry was also found in an Upper Palaeolithic specimen from Satsurblia cave (dated ca. 11000 BC), and in a Mesolithic one from Kotias Klde cave, in western Georgia (dated ca. 7700 BCE). The Satsurblia individual is closest to modern populations from the South Caucasus. Margaryan et al. (2017) analysing South Caucasian ancient mitochondrial DNA found a rapid increase of the population at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, about 18,000 years ago. The same study also found continuity in descent in the maternal line for 8,000 years. According to Narasimhan et al. (2019), Iranian farmer-related people arrived before 6000 BCE in Pakistan and north-west India, before the advent of farming in northern India. They suggest the possibility that this “Iranian farmer–related ancestry […] was [also] characteristic of the northern Caucasus and Iranian plateau hunter-gatherers.” ref

“At the beginning of the Neolithic, at c. 8000 BCE, they were probably distributed across western Iran and the Caucasus, and people similar to the northern Caucasus and Iranian plateau hunter-gatherers arrived before 6000 BCE in Pakistan and north-west India. A roughly equal merger between the CHG and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers in the Pontic–Caspian steppe resulted in the formation of the Western Steppe Herders (WSHs). The WSHs formed the Yamnaya culture and subsequently expanded massively throughout Europe during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age circa 3000-2000 BCE.” ref

“The ancestry of the Yamnaya people can be mostly modeled as an admixture of Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHGs) and a Near Eastern component related to Caucasus hunter-gatherers, Iranian Chalcolithic people, or a genetically similar population. Each of those two populations contributed about half the Yamnaya DNA. According to co-author Andrea Manica of the University of Cambridge:

The question of where the Yamnaya come from has been something of a mystery up to now […] we can now answer that, as we’ve found that their genetic make-up is a mix of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and a population from this pocket of Caucasus hunter-gatherers who weathered much of the last Ice Age in apparent isolation.” ref

“According to Jones et al. (2015), Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) “genomes significantly contributed to the Yamnaya steppe herders who migrated into Europe ~3,000 BCE, supporting a formative Caucasus influence on this important Early Bronze Age culture. CHG left their imprint on modern populations from the Caucasus and also Central and South Asia possibly correlating with the arrival of Indo-Aryan languagesLazaridis et al. (2016) propose a different people, likely from Iran, as the source for the Middle Eastern ancestry of the Yamnaya people, finding that “a population related to the people of the Iran Chalcolithic contributed ~43% of the ancestry of early Bronze Age populations of the steppe“. That study asserts that these Iranian Chalcolithic people were a mixture of “the Neolithic people of western Iran, the Levant, and Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers.” ref

“Gallego-Llorente et al. (2016) conclude that Iranian populations are not a likelier source of the ‘southern’ component in the Yamnaya than Caucasus hunter-gatherers. Wang et al. (2018) analyzed genetic data of the North Caucasus of fossils dated between the 4th and 1st millennia BCE and found a correlation with modern groups of the South Caucasus, concluding that “unlike today – the Caucasus acted as a bridge rather than an insurmountable barrier to human movement.” ref

“While some argue that the Pre-Proto-Indo-European language may have originated among a CHG-rich population in Western Asia, others, such as David W. Anthony, suggest that the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs living in Eastern Europe. Beyond contributing to the population of mainland Europe through Bronze Age pastoralists of the Yamnaya, CHG also appears to have arrived on its own in the Aegean without Eastern European hunter–gatherer (EHG) ancestry and provided approximately 9–32% of ancestry to the Minoans. The origin of this CHG component might have been Central Anatolia.” ref

“Israeli Archaeologists Find Earliest Evidence of War in Southern Levant. Industrial production of aerodynamically efficient slingstones almost 8,000 years ago in what is today’s Israel wasn’t done to hunt animals. Almost 8,000 years ago, people in the Galilee and Sharon plain were preparing for war. This postulation is based on the mass production of shaped slingstones at four sites in Israel, starting in the Late Pottery Neolithic – though who they were attacking, or defending against, and why the production of these stone bullets ceased after about a thousand years is anybody’s guess. The current thinking is they were fighting against other local peoples, not invading hordes. That would come later.” ref

“The collections, most recently found at ‘En Esur and ‘En Tzippori but also at two other sites, are the earliest evidence of “formal” slingstones in the southern Levant, say Gil Haklay, Enno Bron, Dr. Dina Shalem, Dr. Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov, archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority, reporting in the journal ‘Atiqot. The slingstones were shaped to be biconical, meaning they were bullet-shaped if bullets had two tipped ends. Put otherwise, they look like very big olives, or eggs if there is something wrong with your bird. That double-cone shape is more aerodynamically efficient than just round stones, the archaeologists explain.” ref

These weren’t the first slingstones in the world, just the earliest found in the southern Levant. Based on the archaeological evidence, the technique of shaping such projectiles emerged in Mesopotamia, spread to western Anatolia in today’s Turkey, from there to the Northern Levant and then to the southern Levant, Haklay explains to Haaretz by phone. Prehistoric contact between these regions has long been established, including through the discovery of obsidian from Turkey in Israel – including in a settlement by Jerusalem from 9,000 years ago.” ref

“In the southern Levant we find it with the Wadi Rabah culture from about 7,800 to 7,600 years ago, and it peaks 7,200 years ago. In the northern Levant we see the slingstones centuries before that – they look the same but they were made of clay,” Haklay says. Not burned ceramic clay but sun-dried clay, he adds. It was in the southern Levant that the stone slingstones appear. “Slingstones used pretty much everywhere in different periods were found throughout prehistory,” Haklay says. “People apparently reached the same solution independently because it’s the optimal way.” ref

“The Levantine biconical projectiles were quite uniform, averaging just over 5 centimeters (2 inches) in length and 60 grams (2 ounces) in weight. Made of local dolomite or limestone rock, or basalt, they are similar in shape to recognized slingstones from later times around the world. “Similar slingstones have been found at other sites in the country, mainly from the Hula Valley and the Galilee in the north to the northern Sharon, but this is the first time they have been found in excavations in such large concentrations,” the team said in a statement. This postulated evidence of warfare at ‘En Esur in the plain and ‘En Tzippori in the Lower Galilee is the earliest known in the whole of the southern Levant and certainly modern Israel, though not the world. The earliest known war zone is in Sudan and dates to about 13,000 years ago.” ref

“The biconical slingstones produced in the southern Levant starting about 7,800 years ago would remain in use for about a thousand years. Then such items abruptly disappeared from the archaeological record, the team says. The legend of David and Goliath from the Iron Age, and giant “flint spheroids” weighing a quarter-kilo apiece found in biblical Lachish, are all well and good. However, respectable “formalized” slingstones would only reappear in the local archaeological record in the Hellenistic period, the authors explain. Come the Late Roman period, the technique would be perfected by the manufacture of “whistling” slingstones, carved to shriek as they traveled, the better to unnerve the enemy. But we digress. Does that mean the locals stopped lobbing stones at one another? It does not.” ref

“The legend of David and Goliath from the Iron Age, and giant “flint spheroids” weighing a quarter-kilo apiece found in biblical Lachish, are all well and good. However, respectable “formalized” slingstones would only reappear in the local archaeological record in the Hellenistic period, the authors explain. Come the Late Roman period, the technique would be perfected by the manufacture of “whistling” slingstones, carved to shriek as they traveled, the better to unnerve the enemy. But we digress. The study discusses 424 slingstones found at ‘En Esur and ‘En Tzippori from the Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic. The logical inference of the amounts and circumstances support the thesis that these were weaponry, and the uniformity of the product suggests systematic production: formalization, standardization, and investment in the manufacture, the team explains.” ref

“Of the 424 slingstones, most were complete, some were chinked. The sheer effort invested in the industrial production of slingstones with smoothed surfaces suggests a communal effort to produce ammunition, the archaeologists posit – a transition from individual to large-scale production. Note they are not saying these two sites were the only places where such bullets were discovered from the period. Two other major collections of slingstones from the same period have also been found in the region, and smaller numbers of the shaped stones have been found throughout central and northern Israel. ‘En Esur seems to be the southern “border” of the region in which slingshots were systematically used. But for what?” ref

7,000 to 5,000 years ago because of violence genetics dropped to 1 man for every 17 women

An abrupt population bottleneck specific to human males has been inferred across several Old World (Africa, Europe, Asia) populations 5000–7000 years ago. Previous studies also show trauma marks present on skulls clearly indicate the fighters used axes, clubs, and arrows to kill each other. Scientists from Stanford used mathematical models and computer simulations, in which men fought and died – allowing them to test their theory on the ‘Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck’. According to genetic patterns, researchers found the decline was only noticed in men – particularly on the Y chromosome, which is passed on from father to son. The war was so severe that it caused the male population to plummet to extremely low levels, reaching an astonishing one-twentieth of its original level. This results in the loss of Y chromosomes as they slowly deteriorate over time and eventually may get wiped out from the genome.” ref

“Once upon a time, 4,000 to 8,000 years after humanity invented agriculture, something very strange happened to human reproduction. Across the globe, for every 17 women who were reproducing, passing on genes that are still around today—only one man did the same. Another member of the research team, a biological anthropologist, hypothesizes that somehow, only a few men accumulated lots of wealth and power, leaving nothing for others. These men could then pass their wealth on to their sons, perpetuating this pattern of elitist reproductive success. Then, as more thousands of years passed, the numbers of men reproducing, compared to women, rose again. In more recent history, as a global average, about four or five women reproduced for every one man.” ref

“Violence in the ancient Middle East spiked with the formation of states and empires, battered skulls reveal.” ref

“This 8000-year-old skeleton of a hunter-gatherer, found in a Spanish cave, is genetically similar to skeletons found in central and Eastern Europe. Europe’s first farmers carried out brutal acts against their neighbors. A mass grave in Germany underscores what some archaeologists have long suspected: The first farmers were far from peaceful tillers of the soil. In a newly discovered form of Neolithic violence, attackers 7000 years ago systematically broke the shinbones of their 26 victims, many of them children, before dumping their bodies in a pit. The first farmers, who spread west from Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) to arrive in central Europe 7500 years ago, lived more settled lives than the nomadic fishing and foraging peoples they displaced.” ref

“They built houses, cultivated plants, and decorated pottery. However, researchers have long debated whether these Neolithic farming communities also engaged in warfare and other types of systemized violence. The discovery of two Neolithic mass graves in Germany and Austria led many archaeologists to discount peaceful accounts of these early European farmers. The graves contained more than 100 bodies that bore the marks of a violent attack. Other researchers, however, continued to hold that violence among Neolithic people was rare, and they dismissed these massacre sites as peculiarities. The skulls showed signs of lethal blows, and more than 50% of the shin bones recovered from the grave were broken. “The fractures we found here were clearly fresh.” ref

“Torture focuses on the parts of the body with the most nerve cells—feet, [genitals], hands, and head.” He suspects instead that the assailants smashed the shins of the villagers after they’d killed them to disable their ghosts, preventing them from pursuing their killers. Aside from the trauma to the lower leg bones, the newest site closely resembles the two known mass graves from this period. In all three cases, whole villages—which usually numbered only 30 to 40 people—were apparently wiped out. Most of the inhabitants were killed, except young women, who were probably kidnapped. Once may be an accident, twice may be a coincidence, but thrice is a pattern. These newest findings are “another nail in the coffin” of those who have claimed that war was rare among Neolithic farming communities.” ref

Prehistoric Skeletons Discovered Inside 7,000-Year-Old Stone Tomb in Oman;

Human-Made Structure Is One of the Oldest Ever Found in the Country

“The tomb is situated close to Nafūn in the central Al Wusta province of the country. Archaeologists think that it is from between 4600 to 5000 BCE. Though it is a stony desert, the burial area is located beside the coast, and there are no other Bronze Age or older graves found across this region. This stone tomb is among the oldest human-made structures that have ever been spotted across the entire country. The rocks are coated with over 500 depictions of donkeys, horses, camels, and also turtles.” ref

“On top of this, there are also more than 200 inscriptions in the South Arabic dialect that have yet to be decoded. The walls of the stone tomb consisted of thin stone slab rows, known as ashlars. There were also two round burial chambers that were chunked into individualized compartments. There were also many bone clusters within the chambers that showed that the dead bodies were already decomposing prior to being placed inside the tomb. Skulls were placed close to the exterior walls, while the lengthy bones pointed towards the chamber’s center.ref


dolmen or portal tomb is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone or “table”. Most date from the Late Neolithic period (4000–3000 BCE) and were sometimes covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus (burial mound). Small pad-stones may be wedged between the cap and supporting stones to achieve a level appearance. In many instances, the covering has eroded away, leaving only the stone “skeleton.” ref

“It remains unclear when, why and by whom the earliest dolmens were made.[dubious ] The oldest known are found in Western Europe, dating from c. 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists still do not know who erected these dolmens, which makes it difficult to know why they did it. They are generally all regarded as tombs or burial chambers, despite the absence of clear evidence for this. Human remains, sometimes accompanied by artefacts, have been found in or close to the dolmens which could be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating. However, it has been impossible to prove that these remains date from the time when the stones were originally set in place.” ref

Dolmens can be found in the Levant, some along the Jordan Rift Valley (Upper Galilee in Israel, the Golan Heights, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and southeast TurkeyDolmens in the Levant belong to a different, unrelated tradition to that of Europe, although they are often treated “as part of a trans-regional phenomenon that spanned the Taurus mountains to the Arabian peninsula.” In the Levant, they are of Early Bronze rather than Late Neolithical age. They are mostly found along the Jordan Rift Valley’s eastern escarpment, and in the hills of the Galilee, in clusters near Early Bronze I proto-urban settlements (3700–3000 BCE), additionally restricted by geology to areas allowing the quarrying of slabs of megalithic size. In the Levant, geological constraints led to a local burial tradition with a variety of tomb forms, dolmens being one of them.ref

Dolmen (somewhat similar to kurgans) sites


Megalithic tombs are found from the Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea and North Sea coasts south to Spain and Portugal. Hunebedden are chamber tombs similar to dolmens and date to the middle Neolithic (Funnelbeaker culture, 4th millennium BCE). They consist of a kerb surrounding an oval mound, which covered a rectangular chamber of stones with the entrance on one of the long sides. Some have a more complex layout and include an entrance passage giving them a T-shape. Various menhirs and dolmens are located around the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. Pottery uncovered in these structures allowed the attribution of the monuments to the Ġgantija and Mnajdra temples culture of the early Neolithic Age.” ref

“Dolmen sites fringe the Irish Sea and are found in south-east Ireland, Wales, Devon and Cornwall. In Ireland, most dolmens are found on the west coast, particularly in Connemara and the Burren, which includes some of the better-known examples, such as Poulnabrone dolmen. Examples such as the Annadorn dolmen have also been found in Northern Ireland, where they may have co-existed with the court cairn tombs. In Mecklenburg and Pomerania/Pomorze in Germany and Poland, and in Drenthe in the Netherlands, large numbers of these graves were disturbed when harbours, towns, and cities were built. The boulders were used in construction and road building. Others, such as the Harhoog, in Sylt, were moved to new locations.” ref

“There are still many thousands left today in Europe. In Turkey, there are some dolmens in the Regions of Lalapasa and Suloglu in the Province of Edirne and the Regions of Kofçaz, Kırklareli and Demirköy in the Province of Kırklareli, in the Eastern Thrace. They have been studied by Prof. Dr. Engin Beksaç, since 2004. And also, some of so-called monuments are in the different regions of Anatolia, in Turkey.” ref


“Over 3,000 dolmens and other structures can be found in the North-Western Caucasus region in Russia, where more and more dolmens are discovered in the mountains each year. These dolmens are related to the Maykop culture. This great city of dolmens was built along the shores of the Black Sea from Maykop down to Sochi. The inhabitants were metal workers. The dolmens were vaults or safes of stone, with a narrow circular entrance that could be tapped with a round screw of stone. Supposedly the dolmens were used to hide and protect metal objects: gold, silver, bronze, jewels and some other treasure. Trade of these objects was done with Persia, Assyria, Egypt and Crete. The Dolmen City was pillaged and sacked by Scythian invaders in the early first millennium BC. The metal workers were enslaved.” ref

Middle East and Iran

Dolmens can be found in the Levant, some along the Jordan Rift Valley (Upper Galilee in Israel, the Golan Heights, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and southeast TurkeyDolmens in the Levant are a different, unrelated tradition to that of Europe, although they are often treated “as part of a trans-regional phenomenon that spanned the Taurus mountains to the Arabian peninsula.” In the Levant, they are of Early Bronze rather than Late Neolithical age. They are mostly found along the Jordan Rift Valley’s eastern escarpment, and in the hills of the Galilee, in clusters near Early Bronze I proto-urban settlements (3700–3000 BCE), additionally restricted by geology to areas allowing the quarrying of slabs of megalithic size. In the Levant, geological constraints led to a local burial tradition with a variety of tomb forms, dolmens being one of them.” ref

“Numerous large dolmens are in the Israeli national park at Gamla in the Golan Heights. In northern Jordan, there are many examples of flint dolmens in the historical villages of Johfiyeh and Natifah. The greatest number of dolmens in Jordan are around Madaba, like the ones at Al-Faiha village, 10 km (6.2 mi) to the west of Madaba city. Two dolmens are in Hisban, and the most have been found in Wadi Zarqa Ma’in at Murayghat, which are being destroyed by gravel quarries. In Iran some dolmens can be seen in Meshgin Shahr County at Shahr Yeri or Pirazmian.” ref


Korean dolmens exhibit a morphology distinct from the Atlantic European dolmen. The largest concentration of dolmens in the world is found on the Korean Peninsula. With an estimated 35,000 dolmens, Korea alone accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s total. The largest distribution of these is on the west coast area of South Korea, an area that would eventually become host to the Mahan confederacy and be united under the rule of the ancient kingdom of Baekje at one time. The Korean word for dolmen is goindol (Korean고인돌) “supported stone”. Serious studies of the Korean megalithic monuments were not undertaken until relatively recently, well after much research had already been conducted on dolmens in other regions of the world. Since 1945, new research has been conducted by Korean scholars. In 1981 a curator of National Museum of Korea, Gon’gil Ji, classified Korean dolmens into two general types: northern and southern.” ref

“The boundary between them falls at the Bukhan River although examples of both types are found on either side. Northern style dolmens stand above ground with a four sided chamber and a megalithic roof (also referred to as “table type”), while southern style dolmens are normally built into the ground and contain a stone chest or pit covered by a rock slab. Korean dolmens can also be divided into three main types: the table type, the go-table type and the unsupported capstone type. The dolmen in Ganghwa is a northern-type, table-shaped dolmen and is the biggest stone of this kind in South Korea, measuring 2.6 by 7.1 by 5.5 m (8.5 by 23.3 by 18.0 ft). There are many sub-types and different styles. Southern type dolmens are associated with burials but the reason for building northern style dolmens is uncertain.” ref

“Due to the vast numbers and great variation in styles, no absolute chronology of Korean dolmens has yet been established. It is generally accepted that the Korean megalithic culture emerged from the late Neolithic age, during which agriculture developed on the peninsula, and flourished throughout the Bronze Age. Some dolmens depict astronomical formations, dated up to 3000 BCE effectively the first star-chart in the world. How and why Korea has produced so many dolmens is still poorly understood. There is no current conclusive theory on the origin of Korea’s megalithic culture, and so it is difficult to determine the true cultural character of Korean dolmens. Some dolmens are also found in Manchuria and the Shandong Peninsula. Off the peninsula, similar specimens can be found in smaller numbers, but they are often considerably larger than the Korean dolmens. It is a mystery why this culture flourished so extensively only on the Korean peninsula and its vicinity in Northeast Asia.” ref


“The list of dolmens in India, from north to south, is.

  • Andhra Pradesh:
  • Dannanapeta megalithic dolmen near Amadalavalasa town, world’s large single capstone dolmen with 36 ft in length and 14 ft in width and 2 ft thickness, is of early Iron Age.
  • Karnataka:
  • Pandavara Betta (Pandavar Gudda hill) has more than 50 dolmens. Pandavara Betta is at a distance of 35 km from Sakleshpur. Lord Shiva’s Betta Byraveshwara Temple is located atop Pandavar Gudda Hill. Dolmen site on the Pandavar Gudda Hill is 7 km (4.3 mi) from Somwarpet towards Shaniwar Sante in Madikeri (Coorg) district.
  • Hire Benakal or Hirebennnukullu (ಹಿರೇಬೆಣಕಲ್ಲು in Kannada) is a megalithic site in Koppal district, some 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of the town of Gangavati. Dated to the 800 BCE to 200 BCE period, it contains roughly 400 megalithic funerary monuments, that have been dated to the transition period between the Neolithic period and the Iron Age. Known locally (in the Kannada language) as Elllu Guddugulllu (or ‘the seven hills’), their specific name is Moryar Guḍḍa (or ‘The hill of the Moryas”). Hirebenakal is reported to be the largest necropolis among the 2,000 odd megalithic sites found in South India, most of them in the state of Karnataka.
  • Konnur (Tapaswi Maradi) has more than 3 dolmens. Tapaswi Maradi is at a distance of 5 km from Gokak Falls.
  • Kerala:
  • Marayur, there are dozens of dolmens belonging to the Stone Age and Iron Age.
  • Tamil Nadu:
  • Moral Pari near Mallachandram had more than 100 dolmens. The site is located 19 km (12 mi) from Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.
  • Madhya Pradesh:
  • Bhimbetka rock shelters
  • Maharashtra:
  • Hirapur dolmen
  • Telangana: Following dolmen graves were identified:
  • Dharmasagar in Hanamkonda district, one dolmen is located in the Dharmasar Hillock near Dharmasagar reservoir.
  • Eturnagaram in Mulugu district, dolmen are located in the forest in Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Tadvai in Bhupalpally district, the archaeology department found the megalithic dolmens at the forest near Tadwai.
  • Thatikonda in Jangaon district, dolmen were found by the historical researcher Ratnakar Reddy.” ref

Funnelbeaker Culture with Dolmens

“The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens. Originally, the structures were probably covered with a mound of earth, and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany. The megalithic structures of Ireland, France, and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that contained food along with amber jewelry and flint-axes.” ref

“The Funnel(-neck-)beaker culture, c. 4300–2800 BCE, was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers. These predecessors were the (Danubian) Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north. The Funnelbeaker Culture introduced farming and husbandry as major food sources to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.” ref

“The Funnelbeaker Culture techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia (Funnelbeaker Culture-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group in the Netherlands between the Zuiderzee and lower Elbe that originated in the Swifterbant culture, an eastern group centered on the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (Funnelbeaker Culture-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale.” ref

“Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged. In the late 4th millennium BCE, the Globular Amphora culture (GAC) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern Funnelbeaker Culture groups, reducing the Funnelbeaker Culture area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger Funnelbeaker Culture in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BCE. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the Funnelbeaker Culture era. The Funnelbeaker culture is named for its characteristic ceramics, beakers, and amphorae with funnel-shaped tops, which were found in dolmen burials.” ref

“The Funnelbeaker culture emerged in northern modern-day Germany c. 4100 BCE. Archaeological evidence strongly suggests that it originated through a migration of colonists from the Michelsberg culture of Central Europe. The Michelsberg culture is archaeologically and genetically strongly differentiated from the preceding post-Linear Pottery cultures of Central Europe, being distinguished by increased levels of hunter-gatherer ancestry. Its people were probably descended from farmers migrating into Central Europe out of Iberia and modern-day France, who in turn were descended from farmers of the Cardial Ware cultures who had migrated westwards from the Balkans along the Mediterranean coast. Connections between the Funnelbeakers and these farmers of the Atlantic coast is supported by genetic evidence.” ref

“Michelsberg culture: The settlement has been described as representing “the beginnings of urbanism,” already in 4000 BCE. The overall site was 45 hectares in size with an internal settlement covering 26 hectares, containing numerous rectangular houses and surrounded by a rampart. A large tumulus (burial mound) was built at the center of the settlement between 4200–4100 BCE, indicating the influence of the Castellic culture in Brittany, where giant burial mounds containing megalithic tombs (such as Tumiac and Saint-Michel) were built c. 4500 BCE for elite males described by some researchers as ‘divine kings.” ref

“The Michelsberg culture Castellic mounds contained large quantities of jade axes (the jade originally imported from the Italian Alps), as well jewelry made from callaïs (variscite and turquoise) imported from south-western Spain. Jade axes have similarly been found at the Kappellenberg, attesting to an exchange network of prestige goods associated with elites as well as the trade in salt. The Kappellenberg tumulus and jade axes indicate that “a socio-political hierarchization process linked to the emergence of high-ranking elites” was underway in the Rhine valley at the same time as similar developments were occurring in Brittany (Castellic culture) and the Paris basin (Cerny culture). The settlement at Schierstein might have housed up to several thousand inhabitants.” ref

Beau et al. 2017 examined the remains 22 Michelsberg people buried at Gougenheim, France. The 21 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to the maternal haplogroups H (7 samples), K (4 samples), J (2 samples), W (1 samples), N (1 sample), U (3 samples) and T (2 samples).[21] The examined individuals displayed genetic links to earlier farming populations of the Paris Basin, and were genetically very different from previous post-LBK cultures of the region, suggesting that the Michelsberg culture emerged through a migration of people from west. They displayed genetic links to other farmers of Western Europe, and carried substantial amounts of hunter-gatherer ancestry. The authors of the study proposed that migrations of people associated with the Michelsberg culture may have been responsible for the resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry observed in Central Europe during the Middle Neolithic.” ref

Lipson et al. 2017 examined the remains of 4 individuals buried c. 4000–3000 BCE at the Blätterhöhle site in modern-day Germany, ascribed to the Michelsberg culture and its successor, the Wartberg culture. The 3 samples of Y-DNA extracted belonged to the paternal haplogroups R1b1R1, and I2a1, while the 4 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to the maternal haplogroups U5b2a2J1c1b1H5, and U5b2b2. The individuals carried the high amount of about 40–50% Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) ancestry, with one individual displaying as much as c. 75%. Brunel et al. 2020 examined the remains of 18 individuals ascribed to the Michelsberg culture. The 2 samples of Y-DNA belonged to the paternal haplogroup I, while the 16 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to types of the maternal haplogroups H (3 samples), K (9 samples), X (1 sample), T (2 samples) and U (1 sample).” ref

“After its establishment, the Funnelbeaker culture rapidly spread into southern Scandinavia and Poland, in what appears to have been a well-organized colonizing venture. In southern Scandinavia, it replaced the Ertebølle culture, which had maintained a Mesolithic lifestyle for about 1500 years after farming arrived in Central Europe. The emergence of the Neolithic British Isles through maritime colonization by Michelsberg-related groups occurred almost at the same time as the expansion of the Funnelbeaker culture into Scandinavia, suggesting that these events may be connected. Although they were largely of Early European Farmer (EEF) descent, people of the Funnelbeaker culture had a relatively high amount of hunter-gatherer admixture, particularly in Scandinavia, suggesting that hunter-gatherer populations were partially incorporated into it during its expansion into this region. People of the Funnelbeaker culture often had between 30% and 50% hunter-gatherer ancestry, depending on the region.” ref

“During later phases of the Neolithic, the Funnelbeaker culture re-expanded out of Scandinavia southwards into Central Europe, establishing several regional varieties. This expansion appears to have been accompanied by significant human migration. The southward expansion of the Funnelbeaker culture was accompanied by a substantial increase in hunter-gatherer lineages in Central Europe. The Funnelbeaker communities in Central Europe which emerged were probably quite genetically and ethnically mixed, and archaeological evidence suggests that they were relatively violent. From the middle of the 4th millennium BCE, the Funnelbeaker culture was gradually replaced by the Globular Amphora culture on its southeastern fringes, and began to decline in Scandinavia.” ref

“In the early 3rd millennium BCE, the Corded Ware culture appeared in Northern Europe. Its peoples were of marked steppe-related ancestry and traced their origins in cultures further east. This period is distinguished by the construction of numerous defensive palisades in Funnelbeaker territory, which may be a sign of violent conflict between the Funnelbeakers, Corded Ware, and Pitted Ware. By 2650 BCE, the Funnelbeaker culture had been replaced by the Corded Ware culture. Genetic studies suggest that Funnelbeaker women were incorporated into the Corded Ware culture through intermixing with incoming Corded Ware males, and that people of the Corded Ware culture continued to use Funnelbeaker megaliths as burial grounds. Subsequent cultures of Late Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age Central Europe display strong maternal genetic affinity with the Funnelbeaker culture.” ref

“The Funnelbeaker culture ranges from the Elbe catchment in Germany and Bohemia with a western extension into the Netherlands, to southern Scandinavia (Denmark up to Uppland in Sweden and the Oslofjord in Norway) in the north, and to the Vistula catchment in Poland and the area between Dnister and Western Bug headwaters in Ukraine in the east. Variants of the Funnelbeaker culture in or near the Elbe catchment area include the Tiefstich pottery group in northern Germany as well as the cultures of the Baalberge group (TRB-MES II and III; MES = Mittelelbe-Saale), the Salzmünde and Walternienburg and Bernburg (all TRB-MES IV) whose centers were in Saxony-Anhalt.” ref

“The Funnelbeaker Culture preserves the oldest dated evidence of wheeled vehicles in middle Europe. One example is the engraving on a ceramic tureen from Bronocice in Poland on the northern edge of the Beskidy Mountains (northern Carpathian ring), which is indirectly dated to the time span from 3636 to 3373 BCE and is the oldest evidence for covered carriages in Central Europe. They were drawn by cattle, presumably oxen whose remains were found with the pot. Today it is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Cracow (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie), Poland. At Flintbek in northern Germany cart tracks dating from c. 3400 BCE were discovered underneath a megalithic long barrow. This is the earliest known direct evidence for wheeled vehicles in the world (i.e. not models or images).” ref

“Houses were centered on a monumental grave, a symbol of social cohesion. Burial practices were varied, depending on region and changed over time. Inhumation seems to have been the rule. The oldest graves consisted of wooden chambered cairns inside long barrows, but were later made in the form of passage graves and dolmens. Originally, the structures were probably covered with a mound of earth and the entrance was blocked by a stone. The Funnelbeaker culture marks the appearance of megalithic tombs at the coasts of the Baltic and of the North sea, an example of which are the Sieben Steinhäuser in northern Germany. The megalithic structures of Ireland, France and Portugal are somewhat older and have been connected to earlier archeological cultures of those areas. At graves, the people sacrificed ceramic vessels that contained food along with amber jewelry and flint-axes.” ref

Flint-axes and vessels were also deposited in streams and lakes near the farmlands, and virtually all of Sweden’s 10,000 flint axes that have been found from this culture were probably sacrificed in water. They also constructed large cult centers surrounded by pales, earthworks, and moats. The largest one is found at Sarup on Fyn. It comprises 85,000 m2 and is estimated to have taken 8000 workdays. Another cult center at Stävie near Lund comprises 30,000 m2. In the past, a number of other archaeologists proposed that the Corded Ware culture was a purely local development of the Funnelbeaker culture, but genetic evidence has since demonstrated that this was not the case.” ref

All genetic finds in the following are assigned to the Funnelbeaker culture. Malmström et al. 2009 examined 3 skeletons from Gökhem, Sweden which belonged to the maternal haplogroups H, J, and TSkoglund et al. 2012 examined another skeleton from Gökhem, Sweden. He was found to be a carrier of the maternal haplogroup H. He was mostly genetically similar to modern Southern Europeans, while people of the Pitted Ware culture and other hunter-gatherers examined were found to be most genetically similar to modern Northern EuropeansBrandt et al. 2013 found that the Funnelbeaker culture of Scandinavia had a higher amount of hunter-gatherer maternal lineages than other cultures of Middle Neolithic Europe. They also found that the emergence of the Bernburg culture, a late variant of the Funnelbeaker culture in Central Europe, was accompanied by a genetic shift towards the population of Northern Europe, which was detected by significantly increased amount of hunter-gatherer lineages.” ref

Skoglund et al. 2014 again examined 3 skeletons from Gökhem, Sweden c. 5050-4750 BCE. The 3 samples belonged to the maternal haplogroups H1c, K1e, and H24. The study found hunter-gatherer admixture among the Funnelbeakers, but no evidence of Funnebeaker admixture among the Pitted Ware. Malmström et al. 2015 examined 9 skeletons from Resmo, Sweden and Gökhem, Sweden c. 3300-2600 BCE. The 8 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to various subtypes of maternal haplogroup J, H/R, N, K, and T. The examined Funnelbeakers were closely related to Central European farmers, and different from people of the contemporary Pitted Ware culture. The striking diversity of the maternal lineages suggested that maternal kinship was of little importance in Funnelbeaker society. The evidence suggested that the Neolithization of Scandinavia was accompanied by significant human migration.” ref

Haak et al. 2015 analyzed 3 skeletons of the Baalberge group of the Funnelbeaker culture. Two samples belonged to Y-haplogroup I and R1b1a, while the 3 samples of mtDNA belonged to haplogroup H1e1a, HV, and T2e1. A male of the Salzmünde/Bernburg groups of the Funnelbeaker culture buried in Esperstedt, c. 3360-3086 BCE, carried the Y-haplogroup I2a1b1a1 and the maternal haplogroup T2bLipson et al. 2017 examined 3 skeletons ascribed to the Salzmünde group of the Funnelbeaker culture. The 2 samples belonged to Y-haplogroup G2a2a1 and IJK, while the 3 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to haplogroup H2 (2 samples) and U3a1.” ref

Mittnik et al. 2018 examined an early Funnelbeaker female skeleton from Kvärlöv, Sweden ca. 3945–3647 BCE. She carried maternal haplogroup T2b. She was closely related to people of the Linear Pottery culture, but with increased level of hunter-gatherer admixture, which is comparable to other Middle Neolithic and Chalcolithic farmers of Europe. Genetic continuity with later Funnelbeaker samples was detected. Her hunter-gatherer admixture appeared to have been derived from a Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) or Baltic Hunter-Gatherer source rather than a Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG) source. Slight traces of Funnelbeaker ancestry was detected among the Pitted Ware culture (PWC).” ref

Sánchez-Quinto et al. 2019 examined 9 skeletons from a megalith in Ansarve on the island of Gotland, Sweden c. 3500-2580 BCE. The 4 samples Y-haplogroups I2a1b1a1 (3 samples) and I2a1b, while the 9 samples of mtDNA belonged to the maternal haplogroups K1a, K1a2b, T2b8, J1c5, HV0a, J1c8a and K2b1a (2 samples). They were found to be mostly of Early European Farmer (EEF) descent, but with significant hunter-gatherer ancestry, which appeared to be primarily male-derived. Their paternal lineage I is of hunter-gatherer origin, and people examined from contemporary megaliths in other parts of western Europe also belonged to this lineage. The uniformity of the paternal lineages suggested that these peoples belonged to a patrilineal and socially stratified society. They were found to be more closely related peoples of Neolithic Britain than peoples of Neolithic Central Europe, suggesting that they derived much of their ancestry from people who migrated along the European Atlantic coast.” ref

Malmström et al. 2019 examined 2 skeletons from Rössberga, Östergötland, Sweden c. 3330-2920 BCE. The 1 sample Y-haplogroup IJ-M429*, while the 2 samples of mtDNA extracted belonged to haplogroup J1c5 and U3a’c. They were found to be genetically related to Central European farmers of the Middle Neolithic, and were clearly differentiated from people of the contemporary Pitted Ware culture and the succeeding Battle Axe culture. People buried in Funnelbeaker megaliths during the time of the Battle Axe culture were found to be most closely related to Battle Axe people. Traces of Funnelbeaker admixture were, however, detected among the Battle Axe people. The evidence suggested that the Battle Axe culture entered Scandinavia through a migration from Eastern Europe, after which Battle Axe males mixed with Funnelbeaker females.” ref

Malmström et al. 2020 found that the Funnelbeaker culture was mostly of Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry. Among Funnelbeakers in Scandinavia, hunter-gatherer ancestry was estimated to be at about 50%, while in Central Europe, it was at about 40%, with the remaining being EEF. Samples from the latest phases of the Funnelbeaker culture contained higher amounts of hunter-gatherer ancestry. The hunter-gatherers of the Pitted Ware culture, who displaced the Funnelbeakers throughout the coasts of southern Scandinavia, were found to carry a slight amount of Funnelbeaker admixture. A 2024 study found that the Funnelbeaker culture population was of Neolithic Anatolian origin and replaced the previous hunter-gatherer population without much gene flow. The Neolithic Funnelbeaker population persisted for around 1,000 years until people with Steppe-derived ancestry started to arrive from Eastern Europe.” ref

Old bones or early graves? Megalithic burial sequences in southern Sweden based on 14C dating

“Abstract: Megalithic tombs have since long been a focus of debate within the archaeological research field, not least regarding their emergence, use life and the various bursts of building activity in different regions and periods. The aim of this study is to investigate the temporal span of the main burial sequences in the conventional megalithic grave types of southern Sweden, with special focus on the less studied gallery graves. In Scandinavia, megalithic tombs are divided into three main types: dolmens, passage graves and gallery graves. Here, this prevailing typological seriation was tested. The study was based on 374 14C dates from unique individuals selected from 66 tombs. The form, layout and dating of the different types of tombs were studied in order to examine regional and chronological variation in the use of megaliths. By comparing sum plots, KDE models, individual 14C dates and typology of artefacts, the existing chronologies were evaluated. The 14C dates from dolmens and passage graves more or less agreed with the conventional chronology, while the presence of early skeletons in gallery graves was unexpected. The results indicate that megalithic graves appeared more or less simultaneously in southern Sweden and were first used around 3500–3300 cal BCE. The dolmens and passage graves were used contemporaneously, although the proportion of early dates supports a slightly earlier start of the dolmens. Some of the gallery graves may also have been introduced at this time, although reburial of old bones cannot be ruled out.” ref


Around 7,000 years ago, dogs with Iranian-related ancestry spread across the Near East

“The ancient dog DNA was sourced from 32 different animals, from 100 to 10,900 years old, from Siberia, Europe and the Near East. Five of those dog genomes had been previously sequenced; the team sequenced 27 new genomes for the most complete ancient dog DNA study yet. These were compared to a selection of modern dog genomes from around the world. This is how the team found there were at least five distinct dog lineages as early as 11,000 years ago – they describe these as Neolithic Levant, Mesolithic Karelia, Mesolithic Baikal, ancient America, and New Guinea singing dog. So the domestication process had to have started long before that point. And traces of those lineages can be found in today’s dogs.” ref

Thousands of stone structures dotting the landscape of the Arabian peninsula, Some up to 10,000 years old?

To date, there has been little found in the way of fossils or the kind of deeply buried, layered deposits that can open a window onto the history of a place. First evidence of ancient human occupation found in giant lava tube cave in Saudi Arabia. The first thing you notice when venturing into the tube’s dark and meandering tunnels is the sheer number of animal remains. The floor is strewn with piles of bones containing thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of exceptionally preserved fossils. Researchers excavated in the mouth of the eastern passage, near a series of semi-circular stone structures of an unknown age or function. The excavation uncovered more stone artifacts – all made from fine-grained green obsidian – as well as animal bones and charcoal. Most of the stone artifacts came from a discrete sediment layer roughly 75 centimeters beneath the surface. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal, and dating of the sediments using a method known as optically stimulated luminescence dating, revealed this main occupation phase likely occurred between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago.” ref

“Researchers also found some interesting objects in the surrounding landscape. These included more stone artifacts and circular structures, as well as a so-called “I-type” structure. These constructions are believed to date to around 7,000 years ago, based on their association with large rectangular structures known as mustatils, which we believe were used for ritual animal sacrifices. Researchers found the first rock art discovered in the area, including depictions of herding scenes of cattle, sheep, and goats, and even hunting scenes involving dogs. This art has similarities with other rock art in Arabia from the Neolithic and the later Bronze Age. It includes overlapping engravings, suggesting people visited the area repeatedly over thousands of years.” ref

“Human remains were found at Umm Jirsan, which we dated to the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. By analyzing the carbon and nitrogen in these remains, we found these people’s diets were consistently high in protein – though they ate more fruit and cereals over time. Interestingly, this change in diet appears to coincide with the arrival of oasis agriculture in the region. This saw the emergence of sophisticated farming and water management techniques that enabled people to settle in the deserts more permanently and cultivate plants such as dates and figs. Umm Jirsan sits along a “funerary avenue” connecting two major oases. These funerary avenues, which consist of chains of tombs stretching hundreds of kilometers, are believed to have been routes used by Bronze Age pastoralists as they transported their herds between water sources.” ref

The mustatils: cult and monumentality in Neolithic north-western Arabia

“North-western Arabia is marked by thousands of prehistoric stone structures. Of these, the monumental, rectilinear type known as mustatils has received only limited attention. Recent fieldwork in AlUla and Khaybar Counties, Saudi Arabia, demonstrates that these monuments are architecturally more complex than previously supposed, featuring chambers, entranceways and orthostats. These structures can now be interpreted as ritual installations dating back to the late sixth millennium BCE, with recent excavations revealing the earliest evidence for a cattle cult in the Arabian Peninsula. As such, mustatils are amongst the earliest stone monuments in Arabia and globally one of the oldest monumental building traditions yet identified.” ref

“Thousands of stone structures have been identified across this region and the wider Arabian Peninsula. Collectively known as the ‘works of the old men,’ these structures date from the Middle Holocene (c. 6500–2800 BCE) through to the present, with many hypothesized to be territorial markers. The structures range in form from burial cairns, tower and ‘pendant’ tombs, to megalithic feature, to monumental animal traps and open-air structures. Of the aforementioned features, the ‘gates’ have received limited attention. Confined to north-western Arabia, these monumental structures are marked by an approximately rectangular form, comprising two parallel short walls/platforms linked by two perpendicularly set, parallel long walls; some examples have a central dividing wall(s) (Figure 1).ref

“Ranging from 20–620m in length, more than 1000 of these structures are currently known across approximately 200 000km2 of north-western Saudi Arabia (between latitude 22.989 and 28.064° and longitude 36.875° and 42.700°), with particular concentrations in AlUla and Khaybar Counties (Figure 2). The term ‘gate’ was coined due to their resemblance to traditional European fieldgates. These features have recently been renamed as mustatils, due to their general shape—mustatil (مستطيل ) being the Arabic for ‘rectangle’—and to avoid nomenclatorial confusion. The large size of many of these structures, combined with their frequency, suggests that they were an important component of the ancient Arabian cultural landscape.ref

6,000 to 6,200 years old dog burial, in a monumental collective tomb in the northwest Arabian Peninsula 

This wasn’t just any dog. It seems to have been an old one with arthritis. One may surmise that to survive in that condition in that environment, the animal was cherished, and was the earliest-known domestic dog in the Arabian Peninsula. It’s far from the earliest dog in the Middle East or region, but it’s the oldest such find in the culturally isolated prehistoric Arabian Peninsula by over a thousand years. A new theory suggests dogs were first domesticated in Siberia 23,000 years ago; in any case it’s clear that by the Natufian prehistoric period that predated agriculture, domesticated dogs had reached the Levant. In Israel, joint human- have been found from the . In prehistoric Jordan, dogs . Now we find that they spread to isolated communities in the Saudi peninsula by about 6,000 years ago and likely much earlier. Two monumental tombs have been identified and at least one served for collective burials over the ages. The tombs were dated to about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago in the peninsula’s Al-Ula county, a period of transition from the Neolithic to the  (copper age). The two tombs, both above ground, are in the Saudi kingdom’s northwest but are 130 kilometers (81 miles) apart. The Harrat Uwayrid site is in the upland volcanic land and the other is in the eastern sandstone badlands.” ref

“Sadly, the tombs have been looted, both very recently and in antiquity, it seems. But enough evidence of similarity could be gleaned to indicate a wide culture and cohesive funerary tradition – not least monumentality in burial structures – which the authors believe is connected with territoriality. They also note that the evidence from before the first millennium BCE suggests that the region’s cultural horizon was “overwhelmingly local” in origin, which is quite the contrast with the rest of the heaving prehistoric Middle East.The site is abundant in prehistoric evidence, including funerary monuments from simple cairns to tower tombs, and pendants, built over standing stone circle structures that could consist of one circle or two concentric ones surrounding a central standing stone or stones. ( too.) At Harrat Uwayrid, the archaeologists counted no less than 27 standing stone circles that apparently date to about 7,000 to 8,000 years ago. A stand-alone monumental cist tomb, built of large basalt slabs, which unfortunately was robbed very recently (and also, it seems deep in antiquity). The latter-day looters left behind the bones, which despite the difficulty in dating skeletons baked in the desert could be dated to the fourth millennium BCE. Insofar as could be ascertained at this point, the cist tomb contained three men, three women, a teenager, and four children ages 3 to 12. All the bodies were disarranged.ref

6,000 to 6,200 years old Shell mounds of the Farasān Islands, Saudi Arabia

Numerous shell mounds are present on the Islands, dating back to about 6000 years ago. They are associated with a rapidly changing littoral environment and provide a high resolution case study of how coastal populations adjusted to dynamic coastline changes and the nature of the resulting archaeological record. Over 1000 shell mound deposits identified and test pits excavated into two of the mounds demonstrating anthropogenic origins. The number of recorded sites has now risen to over 3000, many of them substantial mounds. These sites therefore represent one of the largest concentrations of shell midden sites in the world.” ref

“The Samara culture is an Eneolithic (Copper Age) culture dating to the turn of the 5th millennium BCE, at the Samara Bend of the Volga River (modern Russia). The Samara culture is regarded as related to contemporaneous or subsequent prehistoric cultures of the Pontic–Caspian steppe, such as the KhvalynskRepin, and Yamna (or Yamnaya) cultures.” ref

“The Samara culture at the Samara bend region of the middle Volga, at the northern edge of the steppe zone. Related sites are Varfolomeyevka on the Russian-Kazakh border (5500 BCE), which has parallels in Dzhangar (Kalmykia), and Mykol’ske, on the Dnieper. The later stages of the Samara culture are contemporaneous with its successor culture in the region, the early Khvalynsk culture (4700–3800 BCE), while the archaeological findings seem related to those of the Dniepr-Donets II culture (5200/5000–4400/4200 BCE).” ref

“The valley of the Samara river contains sites from earlier cultures as well (including the Elshanka culture), which are descriptively termed “Samara cultures” or “Samara valley cultures”. Some of these sites are currently under excavation. “The Samara culture” as a proper name, however, is reserved for the early eneolithic of the region.” ref

“The Elshanka culture was a Subneolithic or very early Neolithic culture that flourished in the middle Volga region in the 7th millennium BCE. The sites are mostly individual graves scattered along the Samara and Sok rivers. They revealed Europe’s oldest pottery. No signs of permanent dwellings have been found. Elshanka people appear to have been hunters and fishermen who had seasonal settlements at the confluences of rivers. Most grave goods come from such settlements. A man buried at Lebyazhinka IV (a site usually assigned to the Elshanka culture) had the Haplogroup R1b. I. Vasiliev and A. Vybornov, citing the similarity of pottery, assert that Elshanka people were the descendants of the Zarzian culture who had been ousted from Central Asia by progressive desertification. A rapid cooling around 6200 BC and influences from the Lower Volga region led the Elshanka culture to be succeeded by the Middle Volga culture (with more complex ceramic ornaments) which lasted until the 5th millennium BCE. It was succeeded in the region by the better known Samara culture.” ref

“The Samara culture is characterized by the remains of animal sacrifice, which occur over most of the sites. There is no indisputable evidence of riding, but there were horse burials, the earliest in the Old World. Typically the head and hooves of cattle, sheep, and horses are placed in shallow bowls over the human grave, smothered with ochre. Some have seen the beginning of the horse sacrifice in these remains, but this interpretation has not been more definitely substantiated. It is known that the Indo-Europeans sacrificed both animals and people, like many other cultures.” ref

“The Samara culture graves found are shallow pits for single individuals, but two or three individuals might be placed there. Some of the graves are covered with a stone cairn or a low earthen mound, the very first predecessor of the kurgan. The later, fully developed kurgan was a hill on which the deceased chief might ascend to the sky god, but whether these early mounds had that significance is unknown. Grave offerings included ornaments depicting horses. The graves also had an overburden of horse remains; it cannot yet be determined decisively if these horses were domesticated and ridden or not, but they were certainly used as a meat-animal.ref

“Most controversial are bone plaques of horses or double oxen heads, which were pierced. The graves yield well-made daggers of flint and bone, placed at the arm or head of the deceased, one in the grave of a small boy. Weapons in the graves of children are common later. Other weapons are bone spearheads and flint arrowheads. Other carved bone figurines and pendants were found in the graves. Genetic analyses of a male buried at Lebyazhinka found that he belonged to a population often referred to as “Samara hunter-gatherers”, a group closely associated with Eastern Hunter-Gatherers. The male sample carried Y-haplogroup R1b1a1a and mitochondrial haplogroup U5a1d.” ref

Khvalynsk culture with Q1a DNA related to Yeniseian languages

Q-M242 is believed to have arisen around the Altai Mountains area (or South Central Siberia), approximately 17,000 to 31,700 years ago. In the indigenous people of North America, Q-M242 is found in Na-Dené speakers at an average rate of 68%. The highest frequency is 92.3% in Navajo, followed by 78.1% in Apache, 87% in SC Apache, and about 80% in North American Eskimo (InuitYupik)–Aleut populations. (Q-M3 occupies 46% among Q in North America). Haplogroup Q-M242 has been found in approximately 94% of Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica and South America. On the other hand, a 4000-year-old Saqqaq individual belonging to Q1a-MEH2* has been found in Greenland. Surprisingly, he turned out to be genetically more closely related to Far East Siberians such as Koryaks and Chukchi people rather than Native Americans. Today, the frequency of Q runs at 53.7% (122/227: 70 Q-NWT01, 52 Q-M3) in Greenland, showing the highest in east Sermersooq at 82% and the lowest in Qeqqata at 30%. In Siberia, the regions between Altai and Lake Baikal, which are famous for many prehistoric cultures and as the most likely birthplace of haplogroup Q, exhibit high frequencies of Q-M242.” ref

Tuva, which is located on the east side of Altai Republic and west of Lake Baikal as well as on the north side of Mongolia, shows higher frequency of Q-M242. Q-M242 originated in Asia (Altai region), and is widely distributed across it. Q-M242 is found in RussiaSiberia (Kets, SelkupsSiberian Yupik peopleNivkhsChukchi peopleYukaghirsTuvansAltai peopleKoryaks,), MongoliaChinaUyghurs, Tibet, KoreaJapanIndonesiaVietnamThailandIndiaPakistanAfghanistanIranIraqSaudi ArabiaTurkmenistanUzbekistan, and so on. The highest frequencies of Q-M242 in Eurasia are witnessed in Kets (central Siberia) at 93.8% (45/48) and in Selkups (north Siberia) at 66.4% (87/131). Russian ethnographers believe that their ancient places were farther south, in the area of the Altai and Sayan Mountains (Altai-Sayan region). Their populations are currently small in number, being just under 1,500 and 5,000 respectively. In linguistic anthropology, the Ket language is significant as it is currently the only surviving one in the Yeniseian language family which has been linked by some scholars to the Native American Na-Dené languages and, more controversially, the language of the Huns. In far eastern Siberia, Q-M242 is found in 35.3% of Nivkhs (Gilyaks) in the lower Amur River, 33.3% of Chukchi people, and 39.2% of Siberian Yupik people in Chukotka (Chukchi Peninsula). It is found in 30.8% of Yukaghirs who live in the basin of the Kolyma River, which is located northwest of Kamchatka. It is also found in 15% (Q1a* 9%, Q-M3 6%) of Koryaks in Kamchatka.” ref

  • “Q1a (L472, MEH2) : found among the Koryaks of eastern Siberia
    • Q1a1 (F1096)
      • Q1a1a (F746)
        • Q1a1a1 (M120) : observed in Mongolia, Japan and India
      • Q1a1b (M25) : observed in Mongolia, Siberia, northern India, the Middle East, Italy, and Ireland
        • Q1a1b1 (L712): found in Central & Eastern Europe (probably Hunnic and/or Mongolian)
          • Q1a1b1a (L713)
    • Q1a2 (L56, M346): found in Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia and Hungary
      • Q1a2a (L53): found among the Mongols
        • Q1a2a1 (L54): found in Mesolthic western Russia
          • Q1a2a1a (CTS11969)
            • Q1a2a1a1 (M3): the main subclade of Native Americans
            • Q1a2a1a2 (L804): found in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain
              • Q1a2a1a2a (L807): observed in Britain
            • Q1a2a1b (Z780): found among Native Americans, notably in Mexico
            • Q1a2a1c (L330): the main subclade of the Mongols, also found among the Kazakhs and Uzbeks, as well as in Ukraine, Turkey, and Greece (probably Mongolian and Turkic)
      • Q1a2b (L940): found in Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Russia, Georgia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany
        • Q1a2b1 (L527): found almost exclusively in Scandinavia and places settled by the Vikings
        • Q1a2b2 (L938): observed in Anatolia, Lithuania, Britain, and Portugal
          • Q1a2b2a (L939): observed in Britain
      • Q1a2c (M323)
  • Q1b (L275): found among the Tatars of Russia, in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
    • Q1b1 (M378): observed in Kazakhstan, India and Germany
      • Q1b1a (L245): found in the Middle East, among the Jews, in Central Europe and in Sicily
        • Q1b1a1 (L272.1): found in Sicily (probably Phoenician)” ref

“Many of clades of haplogroup Q1a are believed to have been brought by the Huns, the Mongols and the Turks, who all originated in the Altai region and around modern Mongolia. Haplogroup Q has been identified in Iron Age remains from Hunnic sites in Mongolia by Petkovski et al. (2006) and in Xinjiang by Kang et al. (2013). Modern Mongols belong to various subclades of Q1a, including by order of frequency Q1a2a1c (L330), Q1a1a1 (M120), Q1a1b (M25) and Q1a2a2 (YP4004). Among those, the M25 subclade has been found in the North Caucasus (1000 year-old BZ640 subclade), in Poland and Hungary (1750 year-old BZ1000 subclade), in northern Ireland (YP1669 subclade), in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan (Y16840 subclade) and in Arabia (F5005 subclade).” ref

Q descends from haplogroup P, which is also the ancestor of haplogroups R1a and R1b. Haplogroup Q quickly split into two main branches: Q1a and Q1b. The northern Q1a tribes expanded over Siberia as the climate warmed up after the LGM. Some Q1a crossed the still frozen Bering Strait to the American continent some time between 16,500 and 13,000 years ago. Q1b tribes stayed in Central Asia and later migrated south towards the Middle East. Many of clades of haplogroup Q1a are believed to have been brought by the Huns, the Mongols and the Turks, who all originated in the Altai region and around modern Mongolia. Haplogroup Q has been identified in Iron Age remains from Hunnic sites in Mongolia by Petkovski et al. (2006) and in Xinjiang by Kang et al. (2013). Modern Mongols belong to various subclades of Q1a, including by order of frequency Q1a2a1c (L330), Q1a1a1 (M120), Q1a1b (M25) and Q1a2a2 (YP4004). Among those, the M25 subclade has been found in the North Caucasus (1000 year-old BZ640 subclade), in Poland and Hungary (1750 year-old BZ1000 subclade), in northern Ireland (YP1669 subclade), in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan (Y16840 subclade) and in Arabia (F5005 subclade).” ref 

“The oldest evidence to date of the presence of haplogroup Q is Europe are Q1a2-L56 samples from Mesolithic Latvia tested by Mathieson et al. (2017), from Mesolthic western Russia tested by Saag et al. (2021) (L54+), and from the Khvalynsk culture (5200-4000 BCE), excavated in the middle Volga region and tested by Mathieson et al. (2016). The Khvalynsk culture is ancestral to the Yamna culture, which represents the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age homeland of the Proto-Indo-European speakers. Q1a2 could have travelled alongside haplogroup R1a-Z284 (via Poland) or R1b-U106 (via the Danube) to Scandinavia, or have been present there since the Mesolithic, as in Latvia. Both scenarios are possible as modern Scandinavians belong to two distinct branches of L56: Y4827 and L804. In either cases, all modern carriers of each branch seem to descend from a single ancestor who lived only some 3,000 years ago, during what was then the Nordic Bronze Age. In contrast with Q1b1, Q1b2 (Y1150) is found almost exclusively in the Indian subcontinent. The two Q1b branch split from each others some 15,000 years ago, during the Late Paleolithic period. Data is still sparse about this subclade, but is it reasonable to assume that it has been in South Asia at least since the end of the last Ice Age, long before the Indo-European migrations.” ref

“The maternal equivalents of that Siberian Q1a2 in prehistoric Eastern Europe are probably mtDNA haplogroups C4a and C5, which have been found Mesolithic Karelia (north-western Russia), in the Neolithic Dnieper-Donets culture in Ukraine, and in the Bronze Age Catacomb culture in the Pontic Steppe. Nowadays mtDNA C is mostly found among Siberians, Mongols and Native Americans, who happen to share Y-haplogroup Q1a2 on the paternal side. The analysis of prehistoric genomes from Eastern Europe did confirm the presence of a small percentage of Amerindian-related autosomal admixture. Oddly enough, the L804 branch, which descends from the same Northeast Siberian branch as the Native American M3, is now found exclusively in Germanic countries, including Scandinavia, Germany, Britain and northern France. Like the other Scandinavian branch (L527>Y4827), its genetic diversity suggests that this lineage expanded from a single ancestor living approximately 3,000 years ago, presumably in Scandinavia, in what would have been the Nordic Bronze Age. At present it remains unclear when and how Q1a2-L804 reached Europe in the first place, but it might have been a very long time ago, during the late glacial period or the Mesolithic period. It may well have arrived at the same time as Q-Y4827. Alternatively, L804 might have come as a minor lineage accompanying haplogroup N1c1 from Mongolia until it reached Northeast Europe during the Neolithic period, some 7,000 years ago.” ref

While Q1a is more Mongolian, Siberian and Native American, Q1b1 (F1213) appears to have originated in Central Asia and migrated early to South Asia and the Middle East. The highest frequency of Q1b1 in Europe is found among Ashkenazi Jews (5%) and Sephardic Jews (2%), suggesting that Q1b was present in the Levant before the Jewish disapora 2,000 years ago. In fact, Jewish Q1b all belong to the Y2200 subclade, which was formed some 2,600 years ago. Other subclades of Q1b1 are found throughout the Middle East, including, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon (2%), and in isolated places settled by the Phoenicians in southern Europe (Crete, Sicily, south-west Iberia). This means that Q1b must have been present in the Levant at latest around 1200 BCE, a very long time before the Hunnic migrations. One hypothesis is that Q1b reached the Middle East alongside haplogroup R1a-Z93 with the Indo-Iranian migrations from Central Asia during the Late Bronze Age. The age estimate for the Middle Eastern Q1b1a (L245) branch is 4,500 years, which corresponds roughly to the beginning of the Proto-Indo-Iranian expansion to Central Asia. The other branch, Q1b1b (Y2265) is found in Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan and India, a distribution that also agrees with an Indo-Iranian dispersal.” ref

“Q1b1 was probably not one of the original lineages of Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe since it is almost completely absent from Balto-Slavic and Germanic countries. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that Q1b1 was indigenous to the Ural mountains or Central Asia and was absorbed by the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-Europeans there during the Bronze Age, either during the Sintashta or Andronovo culture, then spread with the Indo-Aryans to India, Iran, and the Near East. Q1b1 probably settled in the Levant at the same time as R1a-Z93, as both lineages are found among the Jews and the Lebanese and in places historically colonized by the Phoenicians. Autosomal analyses have confirmed that all Levantine people (Jews, Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians) possess about 0.5% of Northeast Asian (Mongoloid) admixture. Since these populations lack Mongoloid mtDNA, the presence of Northeast Asian admixture can only be explained by the 2% of Q1b1 among Levantine men, the only paternal lineage of Mongoloid origin in the region.” ref

The Khvalynsk culture is a Middle Copper Age Eneolithic culture (c. 4,900 – 3,500 BCE) of the middle Volga region. It takes its name from Khvalynsk in Saratov Oblast. The Khvalynsk culture is found from the Samara Bend in the north (the location of some of the most important sites such as Krivoluchye) to the North Caucasus in the south, from the Sea of Azov in the west to the Ural River in the east. It was preceded by the Early Eneolithic Samara cultureA number of calibrated C-14 readings obtained from material in the graves of the type site date the culture certainly to the approximate window, 5,000–4,500 BCE. This material is from Khvalynsk I, or Early Khvalynsk. Khvalynsk II, or Late Khvalynsk, is Late Eneolithic. Asko Parpola regards Khvalynsk culture to be c. 5,000 to 3,800 BCE.” ref

“Nina Morgunova regards Khvalynsk I as Early Eneolithic, contemporary with the second stage of Samara culture called Ivanovka and Toksky stage, which pottery was influenced by Khvalynsk culture, as calibrated period of this second stage of Samara culture is 4,850–3,640 BCE. Marija Gimbutas, however, believed Samara was earlier and placed Khvalynsk I in the Developed Eneolithic. Not enough Samara culture dates and sites exist to settle the question. After c. 4,500 BCE, Khvalynsk culture united the lower and middle Volga sites keeping domesticated sheep, goats, cattle, and maybe horses. The Khvalynsk type site is a cemetery, 30 m by 26 m, containing about 158 skeletons, mainly in single graves, but some two to five together. They were buried on their backs with knees contracted. Twelve of the graves were covered with stone cairns. Sacrificial areas were found similar to those at Samara, containing horse, cattle and sheep remains. An individual grave was found in 1929 at Krivoluchie with grave goods and the remains placed on ochre, face up, knees contracted.” ref

Khvalynsk evidences the further development of the kurgan. It began in the Samara with individual graves or small groups sometimes under stone. In the Khvalynsk culture one finds group graves, which can only be communal on some basis, whether familial or local or both is not clear. Although there are disparities in the wealth of the grave goods, there seems to be no special marker for the chief. This deficit does not exclude the possibility of a chief. In the later kurgans, one finds that the kurgan is exclusively reserved for a chief and his retinue, with ordinary people excluded. This development suggests a growing disparity of wealth, which in turn implies a growth in the wealth of the whole community and an increase in population. The explosion of the kurgan culture out of its western steppe homeland must be associated with an expansion of population. The causes of this success and expansion remain obscure.” ref

“We do know that metal was available both in the Caucasus and in the southern Urals. The Khvalynsk graves included metal rings and spiral metal rings. However, there is no indication of any use beyond ornamental. The quality of stone weapons and implements reaches a high point. The Krivoluchie grave, which Gimbutas viewed as that of a chief, contained a long flint dagger and tanged arrowheads, all carefully retouched on both faces. In addition, there is a porphyry axe-head with lugs and a haft hole. These artifacts are of types that not too long after appeared in metal. There is also plenty of evidence of personal jewelry: beads of shell, stone and animal teeth, bracelets of stone or bone, pendants of boar tusk. The animals whose teeth came to decorate the putative Indo-Europeans are boar, bear, wolf, deer and others. Some of these teeth must have been difficult to acquire, a labor perhaps that led to a value being placed upon them. Whether they were money is not known.” ref

“The hard goods leave no record of any great richness. There is some evidence that wealth may have consisted of perishable goods. In fact, in many similar cultures of later times, wealth was reckoned in livestock. A recent study of the surface of the pottery (also of many cultures), which recorded contact with perishable material while the clay was wet, indicates contact with cords and embroidered woven cloth, which the investigators suggest were used to decorate the pot. Early examination of physical remains of the Khvalynsk people determined that they were Caucasoid. A similar physical type prevails among the Sredny Stog culture and the Yamnaya culture, whose peoples were powerfully built. Khvalynsk people were, however, not as powerfully built as the Sredny Stog and Yamnaya. The people of the Dnieper-Donets culture further west, on the other hand, were even more powerfully built than the Yamnaya.” ref

“Recent genetic studies have shown that males of the Khvalynsk culture carried primarily the paternal haplogroup R1b, although a few samples of R1aI2a2Q1a, and J have been detected. They belonged to the Western Steppe Herder (WSH) cluster, which is a mixture of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) and Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) ancestry. This admixture appears to have happened on the eastern Pontic–Caspian steppe starting around 5,000 BCE. Mathieson et al. (2015, 2018) found in three Eneolithic males buried near Khvalynsk between 5,200 BC and 4,000 BCE the Y-haplogroups R1b1a and R1a1, and the mt-haplogroups H2a1, U5a1i, and Q1a and a subclade of U4.” ref

“A male from the contemporary Sredny Stog culture was found to have 80% WSH ancestry of a similar type to the Khvalynsk people, and 20% Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry. Among the later Yamnaya culture, males carry exclusively R1b and I2. A similar pattern is observable among males of the earlier Dnieper-Donets culture, who carried only R and I and whose ancestry was exclusively EHG with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture. The presence of EEF and CHG mtDNA and exclusively EHG and WHG Y-DNA among the Yamnaya and related WSHs suggest that EEF and CHG admixture among them was the result of mixing between EHG and WHG males, and EEF and CHG females. This suggests that the leading clans among the Yamnaya were of EHG paternal origin. According to David W. Anthony, this implies that the Indo-European languages were the result of “a dominant language spoken by EHGs that absorbed Caucasus-like elements in phonology, morphology, and lexicon” (spoken by CHGs) Other studies have suggested that the Indo-European language family may have originated not in Eastern Europe, but among West Asian (CHG-like) populations south of the Caucasus.” ref

Q1a 17,000 years ago on the Yenisei River, were the Ket relate to as well, also with Q1a DNA

“Afontova-Gora-2, Yenisei River Bank, Krasnoyarsk (South Central Siberia of Russia), 17,000 years ago: Q1a1-F1215 (mtDNA R). Q1a in the Altai (West Mongolia): Tsagaan Asga and Takhilgat Uzuur-5 Kurgan sites, westernmost Mongolian Altai, 2900-4800 years old: 4 R1a1a1b2-Z93, 3 Q1a2a1-L54, 1 Q-M242, and 1 C-M130. And in China at Hengbei site (Peng kingdom cemetery of Western Zhou period), Jiang CountyShanxi, 2800-3000YBP: 9 Q1a1-M120, 2 O2a-M95, 1 N, 4 O3a2-P201, 2 O3, and 4 O*” ref

Afontova Gora

“Afontova Gora is a Late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Siberian complex of archaeological sites located on the left bank of the Yenisey River near the city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Afontova Gora has cultural and genetic links to the people from Mal’ta–Buret’. mtDNA analysis revealed that Afontova Gora 3 belonged to the mitochondrial Haplogroup R1b. The complex was first excavated in 1884 by Ivan Savenkov [ru]. The Afontova Gora complex consists of multiple stratigraphic layers, of five or more campsites. The campsites shows evidence of mammoth hunting and were likely the result of an eastward expansion of mammoth hunters. The human fossils discovered at Afontova Gora, a male and a girl, dated to 17,000~15,000 years ago. The individual showed close genetic affinities to Mal’ta 1 (Mal’ta boy). Afontova Gora 2 also showed greater genetic affinity for the Karitiana people or Caritiana are an indigenous people of Brazil, than for the Han Chinese.” ref

Afontova Gora 2Afontova Gora 3, and Mal’ta 1 (Mal’ta boy) shared common descent and were clustered together in a Mal’ta cluster. Genetically, Afontova Gora 3 is not closer to Afontova Gora 2 when compared to Mal’ta 1. When compared to Mal’ta 1, the Afontova Gora 3 lineage apparently contributed more to modern humans and is genetically closer to Native Americans. Phenotypic analysis shows that Afontova Gora 3 carries the derived rs12821256 allele associated with, and likely causal for, blond hair color, making Afontova Gora 3 the earliest individual known to carry this derived allele. The allele was found in three later members of the largely  Ancient North Eurasian ancestry-derived Eastern Hunter-Gatherers populations from Samara, Motala, and Ukraine c. 10,000 years ago, suggesting that it originated in the Ancient North Eurasian population before spreading to western Eurasia.” ref

“A 2021 genetic study on the Tarim mummies found that they were primarily descended from a population represented by the Afontova Gora 3 specimen (AG3), genetically displaying “high affinity” with it. The genetic profile of the Afontova Gora 3 individual represented about 72% of the ancestry of the Tarim mummies, while the remaining 28% of their ancestry was derived from Baikal EBA (Early Bronze Age Baikal populations). The Tarim mummies are thus one of the rare Holocene populations who derive most of their ancestry from the Ancient North Eurasians (ANE, specifically the Mal’ta and Afontova Gora populations), despite their distance in time (around 14,000 years). More than any other ancient populations, they can be considered as “the best representatives” of the Ancient North Eurasians.” ref

“After the ancestors of West Eurasians and East Eurasians diverged more than 40,000 years ago, lighter skin tones evolved independently in a subset of each of the two populations. The light skin variants of SLC24A5 and SLC45A2 were present in Anatolia by 9,000 years ago, where they became associated with the Neolithic Revolution. From here, their carriers spread Neolithic farming across Europe. Lighter skin and blond hair also evolved in the Ancient North Eurasian population. A further wave of lighter-skinned populations across Europe (and elsewhere) is associated with the Yamnaya culture and the Indo-European migrations bearing Ancient North Eurasian ancestry and the KITLG allele for blond hair.” ref

“Huang et al. 2021 found the existence of “selective pressure on light pigmentation in the ancestral population of Europeans and East Asians”, prior to their divergence from each other. Skin pigmentation was also found to be affected by directional selection towards darker skin among Africans, as well as lighter skin among Eurasians. Crawford et al. (2017) similarly found evidence for selection towards light pigmentation prior to the divergence of West Eurasians and East Asians. A study conducted by Fregel, Rosa et al. (2018), showed that Late Neolithic Moroccans had the European derived SLC24A5 mutation and other alleles that predispose individuals to lighter skin and eye color. The A111T mutation in the SLC24A5 gene predominates in populations with Western Eurasian ancestry. The geographical distribution shows that it is nearly fixed in all of Europe and most of the Middle East, extending east to some populations in present-day Pakistan and Northern India.” ref 

Red hair has long been associated with Celtic people. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans described the Celts as redheads. The Romans extended the description to Germanic people, at least those they most frequently encountered in southern and western Germany. It still holds true today. Although red hair is an almost exclusively northern and central European phenomenon, isolated cases have also been found in the Middle East, Central Asia (notably among the Tajiks), as well as in some of the Tarim mummies from Xinjiang, in north-western China. The Udmurts, an Uralic tribe living in the northern Volga basin of Russia, between Kazan and Perm, are the only non-Western Europeans to have a high incidence of red hair (over 10%). So what do all these people have in common? Surely the Udmurts and Tajiks aren’t Celts, nor Germans. Yet, as we will see, all these people share a common ancestry that can be traced back to a single Y-chromosomal haplogroup: R1b.” ref

Southwest Norway may well be the clue to the origin of red hair. It has been discovered recently, thanks to genetic genealogy, that the higher incidence of both dark hair and red hair (as opposed to blond) in southwest Norway coincided with a higher percentage of the paternal lineage known as haplogroup R1b-L21, including its subclade R1b-M222, typical of northwestern Ireland and Scotland (the so-called lineage of Niall of the Nine Hostages). It is now almost certain that native Irish and Scottish Celts were taken (probably as slaves) to southwest Norway by the Vikings, and that they increased the frequency of red hair there. What is immediately apparent to genetic genealogists is that the map of red hair correlates with the frequency of haplogroup R1b in northern and western Europe. It doesn’t really correlate with the percentage of R1b in southern Europe, for the simple reason that red hair is more visible among people carrying various other genes involved in light skin and hair pigmentation.” ref

At equal latitude, the frequency of red hair correlates amazingly well with the percentage of R1b lineages. The 45th parallel north, running through central France, northern Italy, and Croatia, appears to be a major natural boundary for red hair frequencies. Under the 45th parallel, the UV rays become so strong that it is no longer an advantage to have red hair and very fair skin. Under the 41th parallel, redheads become extremely rare, even in high R1b areas. Even as far back as Neolithic times, the 45th parallel roughly divided the Mediterranean Cardium Pottery culture from the Central European Linear Pottery culture. Slavic, Baltic, and Finnish people are predominantly descended from peoples belonging to haplogroups R1aN1c1, and I1. Their limited R1b ancestry means that the MC1R mutation is much rarer in these populations. This is why, despite their light skin and hair pigmentation and living at the same latitude as Northwest Europeans, almost none of them have red hair, apart from a few Poles or Czechs with partial German ancestry.” ref

Developing pottery, or more probably acquiring the skills from Middle Eastern neighbors (notably tribes belonging to haplogroup G2a), part of the R1b tribe migrated across the Caucasus to take advantage of the vast expanses of grassland for their herds. This is where the Proto-Indo-European culture would have emerged, and spread to the native R1a tribes of the Eurasian steppe, with whom the R1b people blended to a moderate level (the reason why there is always a minority of R1b among predominantly R1a populations today, anywhere from Eastern Europe to Siberia and India).” ref

“The domestication of the horse in the Volga-Ural region circa 4000-3500 BCE, combined with the emergence of bronze working in the North Caucasus around 3300 BCE, would lead to the spectacular expansion of R1b and R1a lineages, an adventure that would lead these Proto-Indo-European speakers to the Atlantic fringe of Europe to the west, to Siberia to the east, and all the way from Egypt to India to the south. From 3500 BCE, the vast majority of the R1b migrated westward along the Black Sea coast, to the metal-rich Balkans, where they mixed with the local inhabitants of Chalcolithic “Old Europe”. A small number of R1b accompanied R1a to Siberia and Central Asia, which is why red hair very occasionally turns up in R1a-dominant populations of those areas (who usually still have a minority of R1b among their lineages, although some tribes may have lost them due to the founder effect).” ref

Dnieper–Donets culture with C4 DNA 

The Dnieper–Donets culture complex (DDCC) (ca. 5th—4th millennium BCE) is a Mesolithic and later Neolithic archaeological culture found north of the Black Sea and dating to ca. 5000-4200 BCE. It has many parallels with the Samara culture, and was succeeded by the Sredny Stog culture. David Anthony (2007: 155) dated the beginning of the Dnieper–Donets culture I roughly between 5800/5200 BCE. It quickly expanded in all directions, eventually absorbing all other local Neolithic groups. By 5200 BCE the Dnieper–Donets culture II followed, which ended between 4400/4200 BCE. The Dnieper–Donets culture was distributed in the steppe and forest-steppe areas north of the Black Sea. Throughout its existence, rapid population growth and an expansion towards the steppe is noticeable.” ref

“There are parallels with the contemporaneous Samara culture to the north. Striking similarities with the Khvalynsk culture and the Sredny Stog culture have also been detected. A much larger horizon from the upper Vistula to the lower half of Dnieper to the mid-to-lower Volga has therefore been drawn. Influences from the DDCC and the Sredny Stog culture on the Funnelbeaker culture have been suggested. An origin of the Funnelbeaker culture from the Dnieper–Donets culture has been suggested, but this is very controversial. The Dnieper–Donets culture was contemporary with the Bug–Dniester culture. It is clearly distinct from the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. The Dnieper–Donets culture was originally a hunter-gatherer culture. The economic evidence from the earliest stages is almost exclusively from hunting and fishing.” ref

From around 5200 BCE, the Dnieper-Donets people began keeping cattlesheep and goats. Other domestic animals kept included pigshorses and dogs. During the following centuries, domestic animals from the Dnieper further and further east towards the VolgaUral steppes, where they appeared ca. 4700-4600 BCE. Some scholars suggest that from about 4200 BCE, the Dnieper–Donets culture adopted agriculture. The presence of exotic goods in Dnieper-Donets graves indicates exchange relationships with the Caucasus. The Dnieper–Donets culture produced no female figurines.” ref

The Dnieper–Donets culture is well known for about thirty of its cemeteries that have been discovered. This includes several large collective cemeteries of the Mariupol type. These contain around 800 individuals. It is evident that funerals were complex events that had several phases. Burials are mostly in large pits where the deceased were periodically placed and covered with ocher. In some cases, the deceased may have been exposed for a time before their bones were collected and buried. In most cases, however, the deceased were buried in the flesh without exposure. Deceased Dnieper-Donets people sometimes had only their skulls buried, but most often the entire bodies. The variants of Dnieper-Donets burial often appear in the same pits. Animal bones has also been found in the graves.” ref

“Certain Dnieper-Donets burials are accompanied with copper, crystal or porphyry ornaments, shell beads, bird-stone tubes, polished stone maces or ornamental plaques made of boar’s tusk. The items, along with the presence of animal bones and sophisticated burial methods, appear to have been a symbol of power. Certain deceased children were buried with such items, which indicates that wealth was inherited in Dnieper-Donets society. Very similar boar-tusk plaques and copper ornaments have been found at contemporary graves of the Samara culture in the middle Volga area. Maces of a different type than those of Dnieper-Donets have also been found. The wide adoption of such a status symbol attests to the existence of the institute of power in DDCC. Individual, double and triple burials have also been found at DDCC cemeteries. These have been attributed to the earlier period of DDCC. Radiocarbon dates confirm the earlier chronology of individual DDCC burials compared to collective graves in large pits. Dnieper–Donets burials have been found near the settlement of Deriivka, which is associated with the Sredny Stog culture.” ref

The Dnieper–Donets culture continued using Mesolothic technology, but later phases see the appearance of polished stone axes, later flint and the disappearance of microliths. These tools were sometimes deposited in graves. Dnieper-Donets pottery was initially pointed based, but in later phases flat-based wares emerge. Their pottery is completely different from those made by the nearby Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. The importance of pottery appears to have increased throughout the existence of the Dnieper–Donets culture, which implies a more sedentary lifestyle. The early use of typical point base pottery interrelates with other Mesolithic cultures that are peripheral to the expanse of the Neolithic farmer cultures. The special shape of this pottery has been related to transport by logboat in wetland areas. Especially related are Swifterbant in the Netherlands, Ellerbek and Ertebølle in Northern Germany and Scandinavia, “Ceramic Mesolithic” pottery of Belgium and Northern France (including non-Linear pottery such as La Hoguette, Bliquy, Villeneuve-Saint-Germain), the Roucadour culture in Southwest France and the river and lake areas of Northern Poland and Russia.” ref

“According to David W. Anthony, the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs living in Eastern Europe, such as the Dnieper-Donets people. He (2007) also argues that the Dnieper-Donets people almost certainly spoke a different language from the people of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. The areas of the upper Dniester in which the Dnieper–Donets culture was situated have mostly Baltic river names. That and the close relationship between the Dnieper–Donets culture and contemporary cultures of northeast Europe have caused the Dnieper–Donets culture to be identified with the later Balts. The precise role of the culture and its language to the derivation of the Pontic-Caspian cultures, such as Sredny Stog and Yamnaya culture, is open to debate, but the display of recurrent traits points to longstanding mutual contacts or to underlying genetic relations.” ref

“The physical remains recovered from graves of the Dnieper–Donets culture have been classified as “Proto-Europoid“. They are predominantly characterized as late Cro-Magnons with large and more massive features than the gracile Mediterranean peoples of the Balkan Neolithic. Males averaged 172 cm in height, which is much taller than contemporary Neolithic populations. Its rugged physical traits are thought to have genetically influenced later Indo-European peoplesPhysical anthropologists have pointed out similarities in the physical type of the Dnieper-Donets people with the Mesolithic peoples of Northern EuropeThe peoples of the neighboring Sredny Stog culture, which eventually succeeded the Dnieper–Donets culture, were of a more gracile appearance.” ref

“The authors reported mtDNA haplogroups of two individuals from the Mykilske (Nikols’skoye in Russian) and Yasynuvatka (Yasinovatka) DDCC cemeteries. Haplogroups of west Eurasian (H, U3, U5a1a) and east Eurasian (C, C4a) descent have been identified. The authors linked the appearance of east Eurasian haplogroups with potential influence from northern Lake Baikal area.ref

5th—4th millennium BCE Dnieper–Donets culture and East Eurasian lineages (of C haplogroup, like C4a related to Tungusic peoples of Siberia) in ancient mtDNA from the North Pontic Region

C4a2a1g – is seen in the Ket, a Yeniseian-speaking people in Siberia 

C4 is also related to “Transeurasian” (Altaic) languages

 “Haplogroup C is found in Northeast Asia (including Siberia) and the Americas. In Eurasia, Haplogroup C is especially frequent among populations of arctic Siberia, such as NganasansDolgansYakutsEvenksEvensYukaghirs, and Koryaks. Haplogroup C is one of five mtDNA haplogroups found in the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the others being ABD, and X. The subclades C1b, C1c, C1d, and C4c are found in the first people of the Americas. C1a is found only in Asia. In 2014, a study discovered a new mtDNA subclade C1f from the remains of 3 people found in north-western Russia and dated to 7,500 years ago. It has not been detected in modern populations. The study proposed the hypothesis that the sister C1e and C1f.” ref

C4 – Upper Palaeolithic (14050 – 13770 ybp) Ust-Kyakhta (Buryatia), Late Neolithic-Bronze Age Irkutsk Oblast, Late Neolithic-Iron Age Yakutia, Tubalar (Ederbes), Todzhin (Toora-Hem, Iiy, Adir-Kezhig), Yukaghir (Andrushkino), Yukaghir/Chuvan (Markovo), Russian, Myanmar

  • C4a’b’c – Irkutsk Oblast (6815 years ago), India (Jenu Kuruba)
    • C4a – China (Guangdong, Han from Beijing)
      • C4a1 – Mongol from Chifeng and Hulunbuir, Tashkurgan (Kyrgyz, Sarikoli, Wakhi), Czech Republic, Denmark
        • C4a1a – Korea, China, Uyghur, Buryat (South Siberia), Denmark, Sweden, France, Scotland, Canada
          • C4a1a1
            • C4a1a1a
              • C4a1a1a1 – Lepcha, Sherpa (Nepal)
              • C4a1a1a2 – Lachungpa
              • C4a1a1a3 – Wancho
            • C4a1a1b – Poland, Finland (Hamina)
          • C-T195C! – Ireland, Scotland, England, USA, Hungary (Szeged region), Poland, Belarus, Russia (Russian, Buryat), Turkey, Pakistan (Hazara), India (Jammu and Kashmir), China (Bargut and Mongol in Inner Mongolia, etc.), Korea
            • C4a1a2 – China
              • C4a1a2a – China (Han from Ili, Han from Henan, etc.)
              • C4a1a2b
                • C4a1a2b1 – China
                • C4a1a2b2 – Uyghur
            • C4a1a3 – Bronze Age Irkutsk Oblast (Ust’-Belaya, Khaptsagai, Silinskij, Chastaja Padi), Russian (Kemerovo Oblast), Koryak, Yukaghir, Yakut, Evenk (Nyukzha, Chumikan, Nelkan/Dzhigda), Even (Sakkyryyr, Sebjan, Tompo, Markovo, Kamchatka), Udinsk Buryat (Kushun), Todzhin (Toora-Hem, Adir-Kezhig), Altai Kizhi, Iran (Qashqai), Sweden
              • C4a1a3a – Yakut, Buryat (Buryat Republic, Irkutsk Oblast), Bargut, Nentsi
                • C4a1a3a1 – Yakut, Nganasan (Vadei of Taimyr Peninsula)
                  • C4a1a3a1a – Evenk (Taimyr, Stony Tunguska)
                  • C4a1a3a1b – Tofalar
              • C4a1a3b – Bargut, Uyghur
                • C4a1a3b1 – Chelkan, Tubalar
              • C4a1a3c – Evenk (Taimyr Peninsula, Stony Tunguska)
              • C4a1a3d – Yakut
            • C4a1a4 – Buryat, Kazakhstan
              • C4a1a4a – Evenk (Okhotsk region), Shor
          • C4a1a5 – Teleut, Ladakh
          • C4a1a6
            • C4a1a6a – Russia (Bashkortostan, Khamnigan), Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz), Inner Mongolia (Bargut, Buryat)
            • C4a1a6b – Buryat (South Siberia, Inner Mongolia), Uyghur
          • C4a1a7 – Denmark
        • C4a1b – China, Thailand (Palaung)
        • C4a1c – Russia (Bashkortostan, Adygei), Iran (Azerbaijanian), China (Xibo, Mongol from Tianjin)ref

“Chaubey and van Driem propose that the dispersal of ancient Altaic language communities is reflected by the early Holocene dissemination of haplogroup C2 (M217): “If the paternal lineage C2 (M217) is correlated with Altaic linguistic affinity, as appears to be the case for Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic, then Japanese is no Father Tongue, and neither is Korean. This Y-chromosomal haplogroup accounts for 11% of Korean paternal lineages, and the frequency of the lineage is even more reduced in Japan. Yet this molecular marker may still be a tracer for the introduction of Altaic language to the archipelago, where the paternal lineage has persisted, albeit in a frequency of just 6%.” ref

Juha Janhunen hypothesized that the ancestral languages of Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Korean, and Japanese were spoken in a relatively small area comprising present-day North Korea, Southern Manchuria, and Southeastern Mongolia. András Róna-Tas remarked that a relationship between Altaic and Japanese, if it ever existed, must be more remote than the relationship of any two of the Indo-European languages. Supporters of the Altaic hypothesis formerly set the date of the Proto-Altaic language at around 4000 BCE, but today at around 5000 or 6000 BCE. This would make Altaic a language family older than Indo-European (around 3000 to 4000 BCE according to mainstream hypotheses) but considerably younger than Afroasiatic (c. 10,000  or 11,000 to 16,000 BCE according to different sources).” ref

“Mathieson et al. (2018) analyzed 32 individuals from three Eneolithic cemeteries at Deriivka, Vilnyanka, and Vovnigi, which Anthony (2019a) ascribed to the Dnieper–Donets culture. These individuals belonged exclusively to the paternal haplogroups R and I (mostly R1b and I2), and almost exclusively to the maternal haplogroup U (mostly U5, U4 and U2). This suggests that the Dnieper-Donets people were “distinct, locally derived population” of mostly of Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG) descent, with Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) admixture. The WHG admixture appears to have increased in the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. Unlike the Yamnaya culture, whose genetic cluster is known as Western Steppe Herder (WSH), in the Dnieper–Donets culture no Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) or Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry has been detected.” ref 

“At the same time, several Eneolithic individuals from the Deriivka I cemetery carried Anatolian Neolithic Farmer (ANF) – derived, as well as WSH ancestry. At the Vilnyanka cemetery, all the males belong to the paternal haplogroup I, which is common among WHGs. David W. Anthony suggests that this influx of WHG ancestry might be the result of EEFs pushing WHGs out of their territories to the east, where WHG males might have mated with EHG females. Dnieper-Donets males and Yamnaya males carry the same paternal haplogroups (R1b and I2a), suggesting that the CHG and EEF admixture among the Yamnaya came through EHG and WHG males mixing with EEF and CHG females. According to Anthony, this suggests that the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs living in Eastern Europe.” ref

The Dnieper–Donets culture was succeeded by the Sredny Stog culture, its eastern neighbor, with whom it co-existed for a time before being finally absorbed. The Dnieper–Donets culture and the Sredny Stog culture were in turn succeeded by the Yamnaya culture. The Mikhaylovka culture, the Novodanilovka group, and the Kemi Oba culture displays evidence of continuity from the Dnieper–Donets culture.” ref

     Y-DNA Q1 and Mt-DNA C4 – are seen in the Ket, a Yeniseian-speaking people in Siberia

“The Kets, an ethnic group in the Yenisei River basin, Russia, are considered the last nomadic hunter-gatherers of Siberia, and Ket language has no transparent affiliation with any language family. We investigated connections between the Kets and Siberian and North American populations, with emphasis on the Mal’ta and Paleo-Eskimo ancient genomes using original data from 46 unrelated samples of Kets and 42 samples of their neighboring ethnic groups (Uralic-speaking Nganasans, Enets, and Selkups). We genotyped over 130,000 autosomal SNPs, determined mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal haplogroups, and performed high-coverage genome sequencing of two Ket individuals. We established that the Kets belong to the cluster of Siberian populations related to PaleoEskimos. Unlike other members of this cluster (Nganasans, Ulchi, Yukaghirs, and Evens), Kets and closely related Selkups have a high degree of Mal’ta ancestry.” ref

“The Kets (an ethnic group in the Yenisei River basin, Russia) are among the least studied native Siberians. Ket language lacks transparent affiliation with any major language family, and is clearly distinct from surrounding Uralic, Turkic and Tungusic languages. Moreover, until their forced settlement in 1930s, Kets were considered the last nomadic hunter-gatherers of North Asia outside the Pacific Rim. Ket language, albeit almost extinct, is the only language of the Yeniseian family that survived into the 21st century. According to toponymic evidence, prior to the 17th century speakers of this language family occupied vast territories of Western and Central Siberia, from northern Mongolia in the south to the middle Yenisei River in the north and from the Irtysh River in the west to the Angara River in the east. Most Yeniseian-speaking tribes used to live south of the current Ket settlements.” ref

“Ancestors of the Yeniseian people were tentatively associated with the Karasuk Culture (3200-2700 years ago) of the upper Yenisei. Over centuries, Kets and other Yeniseian people suffered relocation, extinction and loss of language and culture. First, they were under a constant pressure from the reindeer herders to the north (Enets and Nenets) and east (Evenks) and the Turkic-speaking pastoralists to the south. Second, the Russian conquest of Siberia, which started at the end of the 16th century, exposed the natives to new diseases, such as the 17th-century smallpox epidemic. Third, in the 20th century USSR resettled the Kets in Russian-style villages, thus interrupting their nomadic life-style.” ref

“Almost all Yeniseian speaking tribes (Arin, Assan, Baikot, Pumpokol, Yarin, Yastin) have disappeared by now. Under pressure of disease and conflict, the Kets have been gradually migrating north along the Yenisei River, and now reside in several villages in the Turukhansk district (Krasnoyarsk region); around 1,200 people in total. Yeniseian linguistic substrate is evident in many contemporary Turkic languages of South Siberia: Altaian, Khakas, Shor, Tubalar, Tuvinian, and in Mongolic Buryat language. As these languages are spoken in river basins with Yeniseian river names, the Yeniseian tribes were likely to have mixed with these ethnic groups (and with the Southern Samoyedic groups Kamasins and Mators, now extinct) at different times.” ref

“Until the 20th century, Kets, being nomadic hunters and fishers in a vast Siberian boreal forest, had little contact with other ethnic groups, which is manifested by the paucity of loanwords in Ket language. However, since the collapse of the exogamous marriage system following smallpox epidemics in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Kets have been marrying Selkups, Uralic-speaking reindeer herders. Moreover, during the 20th century, the settled Kets have been increasingly mixing with the Russians and native Siberian people, which resulted in the irrevocable loss of the Ket language, genotype, and culture. Recently, a tentative link was proposed between the Yeniseian language family and the Na-Dene family of Northwest North America (composed of Tlingit, Eyak, and numerous Athabaskan languages), thus forming a Dene-Yeniseian macrofamily.” ref

“The Dene-Yeniseian-linkage is viewed by some as the first relatively reliable trans-Beringian language connection, with important implications on timing of the alleged Dene-Yeniseian population split, the direction of the subsequent migration (from or to America), the possible language shifts and population admixture. So far, no large-scale population study was conducted with samples from each of the presently occupied Ket villages. Previously, six Ket individuals were genotyped and two of them sequenced. These studies concluded that the Kets do not differ from surrounding Siberian populations, which is rather surprising, given their unique language and ancient hunter-gatherer life-style. In order to clarify this issue, in 2013 and 2014, we collected 57 (46 unrelated) samples of Kets and 42 unrelated samples of their neighboring Uralic-speaking ethnic groups (Nganasans inhabiting the Taymyr Peninsula, and Enets and Selkups living further south along the Yenisei). Using data, reserchers investigated connections between Kets and several modern and ancient Siberian and North American populations (including the Mal’ta and Saqqaq ancient genomes). In addition, we estimated Neanderthal contribution in Kets’ genome and in specific gene groups.” ref

“Mal’ta is a ~24,000 years old Siberian genome, recently described as a representative of Ancient North Eurasians, ANE, a previously unknown northeastern branch of the Eurasian Paleolithic population. ANE contributed roughly 30% of the gene pool of Native Americans of the first settlement wave and reshaped the genetic landscape of Central and Western Europe in the Bronze Age around 5,000-4,000 years ago, when ANE genetic pool was introduced into Europe via the expansion of the Corded Ware culture.” ref

“A global maximum of ANE ancestry occurs in Native Americans, with lower levels in peoples of more recent Beringian
origin, i.e. indigenous populations of Chukotka, Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, and the American Arctic. In modern Europe, ANE genetic contribution is the highest in the Baltic region, on the East European Plain, and in the North Caucasus. However, little is known about the distribution of ANE ancestry in its Siberian homeland. According to a single f4 statistic, the Kets had the third highest value of ANE genetic contribution among all Siberian ethnic groups, preceded only by Chukchi and Koryaks. Thus, we suggest that the Kets might represent the peak of ANE ancestry in Siberia; the hypothesis we tested extensively in this study.” ref

“Saqqaq genome (~4,000 years ago) from Greenland represents the Saqqaq archeological culture (4,500-2,800 years ago). This culture forms a continuum with Dorset and Norton cultures (2,500-1,000 years ago). Together, they are termed PaleoEskimo. Paleo-Eskimos were culturally and genetically distinct from modern Inuits and Eskimos. The Saqqaq culture is part of the wider Arctic Small Tool tradition (ASTt) that had rapidly spread across Beringia and the American Arctic coastal (but not the interior) regions after 4,800 years ago, bringing pottery, bow and arrow technology to the northern North America. According to the archaeological data, the likely source of this spread was located in Siberia, namely in the Lena River basin (probably, the Bel’kachi culture).” ref

“On genetic grounds, Paleo-Eskimos were also argued to represent a separate migration into America. ASTt spread coincided the arrival of mitochondrial haplogroup D2 into America and the spread of haplogroup D2a; the Saqqaq individual bore haplogroup D2a1. The closest modern relatives of Saqqaq occur among Beringian populations (Chukchi, Koryaks, Inuits) and Siberian Nganasans. In addition, Saqqaq has been linked to Na-Dene-speaking Chipewyans (16% contribution to this population modeled with admixture graphs).” ref

“However, mitochondrial haplogroup data argues against the proximity of Paleo-Eskimos to contemporary Na-Dene people, primarily due to the very high frequency of haplogroup A in the latter. Archeological evidence seems to support this argument. There is no archaeological evidence of considerable trans-Beringian population movements between the inundation of the Bering Platform around 13,000-11,000 years ago and 4,800 years ago. Therefore, it is unlikely that the hypothetical Dene-Yeniseian language family has separated prior to 11,000 years ago, according to current concepts of language evolution. ASTt could be the vehicle spreading Dene-Yeniseian languages and genes from Siberia to Alaska and to the American Arctic.” ref

“However, as argued based on language phylogenetic trees(Sicoli and Holton 2014) in the framework of the Beringian standstill model, the Dene-Yeniseian languages have originated in Beringia and spread in both directions. Irrespective of the migration direction and their relationship to contemporary Na-Dene groups, Paleo-Eskimos are the primary target for investigating genetic relationship with the Kets. In this study, we claim the following: (1) Kets and Selkups form a clade closely related to Nganasans; (2) Nganasans, Kets, Selkups, Ulchi, Yukaghirs, and possibly Evens form a group of populations related to Paleo-Eskimos; (3) unlike the other members of this group, Kets (and Selkups to a lesser extent) derive roughly 30-60% of their ancestry from ancient North Eurasians, and represent the peak of ancient North Eurasian ancestry among all investigated modern Eurasian populations west of Chukotka and Kamchatka.” ref

“The Ket and Selkup populations were closely related according to multiple analyses and formed a clade with Nganasans.
Nganasans appeared as the closest relatives of both populations according to statistics f3(Yoruba; Ket, X), f3(Yoruba; Selkup, X), and f4(Ket, Chimp; Y, X) computed on various datasets. Statistic f3(O; A, X1) measures relative amount of genetic drift shared between the test population A and a reference population X1, given an outgroup population O, distant from A and X1. Statistic f4(X, O; A, B) tests whether A and B are equidistant from X, given a sufficiently distant outgroup O: in that case the statistic is close to zero. Otherwise, the statistic shows whether X is more closely related to A or to B.” ref

Nganasans who relate to the Ket genetically are likely the origin group for the Uralic language family

“By using linguistic, paleoclimatic and archaeological data, a group of scholars around Grünthal et al. 2022, including Juha Janhunen, traced back the Proto-Uralic homeland to a region East of the Urals, in Siberia, specifically somewhere close to the Minusinsk Basin, and reject a homeland in the Volga/Kama region. They further noted that a number of traits of Uralic are “distinctive in western Eurasia. … typological properties are eastern-looking overall, fitting comfortably into northeast Asia, Siberia, or the North Pacific Rim“. Uralic-speakers may have spread westwards with the Seima-Turbino route. Péter Hajdú [hu] has suggested a homeland in western and northwestern Siberia. Juha Janhunen suggests a homeland in between the Ob and Yenisei drainage areas in Central Siberia. All Uralic languages are thought to have descended, through independent processes of language change, from Proto-Uralic.” ref 

“Nganasans were consistently scored as the top or one of five top hits for Kets, in addition to Selkups, Yukaghirs, and Beringian populations, and Yukaghirs, Evenks, Ulchi, as well as Dolgans were recovered as top hits for Nganasans in different datasets. Nganasans, Ulchi, and Yukaghirs appeared as the closest Siberian relatives of the Saqqaq Paleo-Eskimo (not counting the populations of Chukotka and Kamchatka, e.g., Chukchi, Eskimos, Itelmens, and Koryaks), according to statistics f3(Yoruba; Saqqaq, X) and f4(Saqqaq, Chimp; Y, X) and in agreement
with previous results. In line with these results, Nganasans, Kets, Selkups, Evens, and Yukaghirs formed a clade in a maximum likelihood tree constructed with TreeMix on a HumanOrigins-based dataset of 194,750 SNPs. The migration edge appeared between the Saqqaq branch and the base of this clade, showing 34% of Siberian ancestry in Saqqaq.” ref

“TreeMix analysis predicted 37-59% Ket ancestry in the Saqqaq and Late Dorset Paleo-Eskimo genomes on a larger genome-based dataset of 347,466 SNPs and its version without transitions (185,382 SNPs). As the dataset lacked Nganasan or Yukaghir genomes (not available at the time of study), Kets were the only representative of the Nganasan-related Siberian clade in this dataset. In line with this result, Saqqaq and Late Dorset appeared as the top hits for Kets, followed by Native American groups, according to statistic f3(Yoruba; Ket, X) applied on the full-genome dataset. These results were reproduced with f3(Yoruba; Ket, X) and f4(Ket, Yoruba; Y, X) on the dataset without transitions, using both Ket genomes (Ket884 and Ket891) or only Ket891.” ref

“In addition, all possible population pairs (X, Y) were tested with f4(Saqqaq, Yoruba; Y, X) on the fullgenome dataset. Compared to Kets, Saqqaq was significantly closer only to Greenlanders (Z-score of -2.9) and Late Dorset (Z-score of -13.9). The respective Z-scores on the dataset without transitions were -2 and -11.7. In our ADMIXTURE analyses on all datasets, the Saqqaq individual featured the following components: Eskimo (Beringian), Siberian, and South-East Asian. This order is in perfect agreement with the original study of the Saqqaq genome. Although the Ket-Uralic component was low in Saqqaq (6.3-8.6%), it appeared in all analyzed datasets.” ref

“Moreover, PC3 vs. PC4 plots for two HumanOrigins-based datasets placed Saqqaq close to Ket, Selkup, Mansi, Yukaghir, and Even individuals. Three former populations showed considerable levels of the Ket-Uralic admixture component (>14%). These analyses also support the fact that Kets belong to a cluster of Siberian populations most closely related to Saqqaq. Accepting the model that Saqqaq represents a mixture of Beringian and Siberian populations (e.g., see the Ket-Saqqaq and Greenlander-Saqqaq migration edges), and the tree topology in which Native American and Beringian populations form a clade relative to Kets, Nganasans, and Yukaghirs, we can estimate the percentage of Siberian ancestry in Saqqaq using f4-ratios: According to this method, the Siberian ancestry in Saqqaq ranged from 63% to 67%, using various outgroups in the genome-based dataset without transitions. A similar estimate, 59%, was obtained by TreeMix on the original genome-based dataset. In summary, we conclude that Kets and Selkups belong to a group of Siberian populations most closely related to ancient Paleo-Eskimos, represented by the Saqqaq genome.” ref

Ket people with Y-DNA Q1 and Mt-DNA C4 are Yeniseian-speaking 

“Unlike the other members of the Nganasan-related clade, Kets and, to a lesser extent, Selkups have a high proportion of Mal’ta ancestry, alternatively referred to as ancient North Eurasian ancestry. As calculated by statistic f3(Yoruba; Mal’ta, X) on the full-genome dataset, Ket891 is placed in the gradient of genetic drift shared with Mal’ta, ahead of all Native Americans of the first settlement wave and second after Motala12, an approximately 8,000-year-old hunter-gatherer genome from Sweden(Lazaridis, Patterson et al. 2014). Notably, ancient North Eurasian ancestry in Motala12 was estimated at ~22%. This fact may explain that Motala12 is the best hit for Mal’ta in our f3 statistic set-up. In the full-genome dataset without transitions (main source of ancient DNA biases), the Ket891 genome was the fourth best hit for Mal’ta, after Motala12, Karitiana, and Mixe. Also, the Kets were consistently placed at the top of the Eurasian spectrum of f3(Yoruba; Mal’ta, X) values or within the American spectrum by statistics f3(Yoruba; Mal’ta, Ket891) and f3(Yoruba; Mal’ta, Ket884+891) computed for two datasets combining the Ket genomes and SNP array data.” ref

“These results were consistent with calculations of f4 statistic in two configurations: (X, Chimp; Mal’ta, Stuttgart) or (X, Papuan; Sardinian, Mal’ta), reproducing the previously used statistics. Based on all analyses, we can tentatively model Kets as a two-way mixture of East Asians and ancient North Eurasians (ANE). Therefore, ANE ancestry in Kets can be estimated using various f4-ratios from 27% to 62% (depending on the dataset and reference populations), vs. 2% in Nganasans, 30 ‒ 39% in Karitiana, and 23 ‒ 28% in Mayans. Integrating data by different methods, we conservatively estimate that Kets have the highest degree of ANE ancestry among all investigated modern Eurasian populations west of Chukotka and Kamchatka. We speculate that ANE ancestry in Kets was acquired in the Altai region, where the Bronze Age Okunevo culture was located, with a surprisingly close association with Mal’ta. Later, Yeniseian-speaking people occupied this region until the 16th-18th centuries. We suggest that Mal’ta ancestry was introduced into Uralic-speaking Selkups later, starting to mix with Kets extensively in the 17th and 18th centuries.” ref

“Kets are a Yeniseian-speaking people in Siberia. During the Russian Empire, they were known as Ostyaks, without differentiating them from several other Siberian people. Later, they became known as Yenisei Ostyaks because they lived in the middle and lower basin of the Yenisei River in the Krasnoyarsk Krai district of Russia. The modern Kets lived along the eastern middle stretch of the river before being assimilated politically into Russia between the 17th and 19th centuries. The Ket people share their origin with other Yeniseian people and are closely related to other Indigenous people of Siberia and Indigenous peoples of the Americas. They belong mostly to Y-DNA haplogroup Q-M242.” ref

“According to a 2016 study, the Ket and other Yeniseian people originated likely somewhere near the Altai Mountains or near Lake Baikal. It is suggested that parts of the Altaians are predominantly of Yeniseian origin and closely related to the Ket people. The Ket people are also closely related to several Native American groups. According to this study, the Yeniseians are linked to the Paleo-Eskimo groups. The Kets are thought to be the only survivors of an ancient nomadic people believed to have originally inhabited central and southern Siberia. In the 1960s, the Yugh people were distinguished as a separate, though similar, group.ref

The Ket was incorporated into the Russian state in the 17th century. Their efforts to resist were unsuccessful as the Russians deported them to different places in an attempt to break up their resistance. This broke up their strictly organized patriarchal social system and their way of life disintegrated. Today, Kets are the descendants of fishermen and hunter tribes of the Yenisei taiga, who adopted some of the cultural ways of those original Ket-speaking tribes of South Siberia. The earlier tribes engaged in hunting, fishing, and reindeer breeding in the northern areas.” ref

The Ket language has been linked to the Na-Dené languages of North America in the Dené–Yeniseian language family. This link has led to some collaboration between the Ket and northern Athabaskan peoples. Although a potential link to the Na-Dené languages has been identified, this link is not accepted by all linguists. Ket means “man” (plural deng “men, people”). The Kets of the Kas, Sym and Dubches rivers use jugun as a self-designation. In 1788, Peter Simon Pallas was the earliest scholar to publish observations about the Ket language in a travel diary. Edward J. Vajda, a professor of Modern and Classical languages, spent a year in Siberia studying the Ket people, and found a relationship between the Ket language and the Na-Dene languages, of which Navajo is the most prominent and widely spoken.ref

“The Kets have a rich and varied culture, filled with an abundance of Siberian mythology, including shamanistic practices and oral traditions. Siberia, the area of Russia in which the Kets reside, has long been identified as the originating place of the Shaman or Shamanism. The shamans of the Ket people have been identified as practitioners of healing as well as other local ritualistic spiritual practices. Supposedly, there were several types of Ket shamans, differing in function (sacral rites, curing), power, and associated animals (deer, bear).” ref

“Also, among Kets, (as with several other Siberian peoples such as the Karagas) there are examples of the use of skeleton symbolics. Hoppál interprets it as a symbol of shamanic rebirth, although it may also symbolize the bones of the loon (the helper animal of the shaman, joining the air and underwater worlds, just like the story of the shaman who traveled both to the sky and the underworld). The skeleton-like overlay represented shamanic rebirth among some other Siberian cultures as well. Of great importance to Kets are spirit images, described as “an animal shoulder bone wrapped in a scrap of cloth simulating clothing.” One adult Ket, who had been careless with a cigarette, said, “It’s a shame I don’t have my doll. My house burnt down together with my dolls.” Kets regard their spirit images as household deities, which sleep in the daytime and protect them at night.” ref

Vyacheslav Ivanov and Vladimir Toporov compared Ket mythology with those of speakers of Uralic languages, assuming in the studies that they are modeling semiotic systems in the compared mythologies. They have also made typological comparisons. Among other comparisons, possibly from Uralic mythological analogies, the mythologies of Ob-Ugric peoples and Samoyedic peoples are mentioned. Other authors have discussed analogies (similar folklore motifs, purely typological considerations, and certain binary pairs in symbolics) may be related to a dualistic organization of society – some dualistic features can be found in comparisons with these peoples. However, for Kets, neither dualistic organization of society nor cosmological dualism have been researched thoroughly. If such features existed at all, they have either weakened or remained largely undiscovered.ref 

“There are some reports of a division into two exogamous patrilinear moieties, folklore on conflicts of mythological figures, and cooperation of two beings in the creation of the land, the motif of the earth-diver. This motif is present in several cultures in different variants. In one example, the creator of the world is helped by a waterfowl as the bird dives under the water and fetches earth so that the creator can make land out of it. In some cultures, the creator and the earth-fetching being (sometimes called a devil, or taking the shape of a loon) compete with one another; in other cultures (including the Ket variant), they do not compete at all, but rather collaborate. However, if dualistic cosmologies are defined in a broad sense, and not restricted to certain concrete motifs, then their existence is more widespread; they exist not only among some Uralic-speaking peoples, but in examples on every inhabited continent.ref

Ket Shamanism

“Abstract: This article surveys what is known about traditional shamanism among the Ket people living in the Yenisei River area of central Siberia. It pro-vides an overview of practices, beliefs, paraphernalia, and linguistic aspects of Ket shamanism. The article also outlines how Ket shamanism came to the attention of the outside world. It also describes the current state of shamanism among the Ket living in Turukhansk District, citing information gathered on the authors expedition to the Yenisei and Yelogui rivers.” ref

The Ket family groups who nomadized across broad areas near the Yenisei River and its tributaries in Russia’s Turukhansk District were the last hunter-gatherers of Inner Eurasia. Traditional ethnographic accounts categorize them as “Paleosiberians” or “Paleoasiatics,” together with North Pacific Rim sea-mammal hunters and fishers such as the Yukagir, Yupik, Itelmen, Nivkh, and Ainu, although Ket origins and language appear to be completely distinct from these peoples. The usefulness of the terms “Paleosiberians” or “Paleoasiatics as a generic economic descriptor for all North Asian non-pastoral hunting groups is diminished by the inclusion of the reindeer-breeding Chukchi and Korak in this designation. Unlike the reindeer-herders who surround them on all sides, the Ket traditionally had only one domesticate, the dog, an animal used in hunting and for pulling small loads. A few southern Ket groups briefly acquired reindeer from their Selkup neighbors during the 20th century. Only during the Soviet collectivization campaign of the 1930s were the Ket first settled in Russian-style villages, after which many families still continued to spend much of the year as before, moving between winter and summer hunting grounds rather than living in one place.ref

“Evidence from river names suggests the Ket and their now extinct southern relatives (the Yugh, Kott, Arin, Assan and Pumpokol) lived in the forests between the Upper Yenisei and the southern tip of Lake Baikal before being pushed gradually northward by the intrusion of pastoral peoples. Though distinct from the reindeer-breeding tribes of western and southern Siberia both linguistically and anthropologically, the Ket maintained centuries of contact with neighboring Samoyedic and Turkic tribes, often intermarrying with them. Consequently, all central Siberian peoples, including the Ket, share many parallels in their spiritual culture and traditional healing practices. Though Ket shamanism reveals a number of unique aspects, the features held in common with other West Siberian forest peoples such as the Selkup, Khanty, and South Siberian Turks (Khakas, Altai, Shor), places it squarely within the cultural heritage of spiritual traditions from aboriginal central Siberia.ref

“Ket spiritual life in open practice, and even this picture was probably nothing more than a remnant of the culture as it had existed before the social dislocations brought on by the importation of European diseases and the imposition of yasak (fur tax) beginning in the 17th century. Nevertheless, the salvage ethnographic studies conducted by Alekseenko beginning in the late 1950s illuminated many previously unknown facets of Ket shamanism. Other studies conducted during the second half of the 20th century also include mention of previously undocumented elements pertaining to Ket shamanism, notably Kreinovich’s (1969) description of the traditional economic life-cycle of the Ket nomadizing in the vicinity of the Mountain Tunguska River. Nikolaev (1985: 90–109) traces the ethnic origins of different aspects of Ket culture, some apparently connected with the forest, others with steppe pastoral peoples farther to the south. Ivanov and Toporov (1969) compare Ket mythological elements with other Native Siberian traditions. Werner (2006: 51–63) analyzes shamanism along with other aspects of traditional Ket culture using comparisons of Ket vocabulary with that recorded from the extinct southern Yeniseian languages. Werner’s work is invaluable for its compilation of shamanic lexicon—special words used by shamans during their songs and séances. The annotated bibliography in Vajda (2001) provides descriptive commentary on all publications dealing with Ket shamanism.ref

“Anuchin (1914: 11) reported that the Ket possessed “amazingly few healing resources as well as an unexpectedly sparse knowledge of plant lore, given the fact that they were forest hunter-gatherers. Plant lore is also weakly represented in the Ket language, and even the best speakers of Ket today have but a limited repertoire of names for individual herbaceous plants. Because healing practices among the Ket were documented only in the 20th century, however, it is possible that some earlier traditions simply disappeared without being recorded. One reason for the lack of medical practice is that the Ket attributed all illnesses not to physical problems with the human body itself but rather to the condition of its ulvei (or ulbei, depending on dialectal pronunciation)—the immortal life essence thought to be associated with every human. The Ket believed every person possessed an ulvei, a word that literally means ‘water-wind’ and often translated as ‘soul (Russian dusha) in descriptions of Ket spiritual culture.ref

“According to Ket traditional belief, every person was animated by seven spirits, the number seven figuring prominently throughout Ket folklore and belief. Among these seven, the ulvei was absolutely essential to the person’s well being. The rest were acquired from eating various plants and animals and little is known about their individual characteristics. Unlike the other spirits, which could inhabit plants and animals as well as humans, the ulvei could only animate a human being or a bear, the latter being regarded as a lost human relative. According to Pavel Sutlin,4 the ulvei possessed the form of a small person. A similarly anthropomorphic image of the ulvei appears in Anuchin (1914: 10), who relates how the evil witch Hosedam imprisoned the ulvei of the great shaman Doh by nailing its hands and feet to a tree, after which Doh lost his shadow and was unable to remain on the earth, thereafter dwelling instead in the second layer of the sky. Illness typically occurred when an ulvei wandered too far from its owner.ref

“Chills were perceived as a sign that the ulvei had become lost in a cold place, while fever resulted if the ulvei became overheated. Serious illness such as paralysis or coma indicated that the ulvei had lost its way completely or had been captured by Hosedam, the evil witch of the north who devoured lost human souls. Long-term absence of the ulvei eventually caused the death of its human host. When a person died, his ulvei could pass into the sky or descend to the underworld, later returning to inhabit another individual. One of the shaman’s duties at funerals was to divine whether the ulvei had gone to the sky or to the underworld. An ulvei outside a human body experienced neither torment nor ecstasy, but simply waited in a sort of limbo for the next incarnation, which occurs when it entered the body of an unborn baby near the time of birth by passing through the sex organs (Anuchin 1914: 10). The shaman was able to locate a missing ulvei and return it to its owner, thus curing severe illness. This quest was one of the main purposes of the shamans singing and dancing.ref

“The shaman was also able to discover why an ulvei was ill or out of sorts, in which case the person it inhabited would show the same symptoms. Hosedam, evil goddess of the north, hunted and devoured ulvei that wandered too far, causing the illness and death of their owners. It was the primary task of the shaman to retrieve stolen souls and lead them back, thus curing the patient. Hosedam and her legion of servants were the shaman’s principle adversaries. Two categories of people in Ket society were traditionally involved in healing the sick. These were the shaman (known as sening) and the sorcerer (bangos, or bangoket, a term meaning ‘earth person’). The sening operated exclusively through magical intervention involving contact with the spirit world and did not resort to the use of natural medicines, while the bangos treated the sick with the help of talismans containing various plants and minerals. Certain categories of shamans were connected with the upper, heavenly world and were helped by the myriad spirits (esdeng) who dwelled in the seven layers of the sky.ref

“The bangos by contrast, was confined to the earthly realm and also had knowledge of the underworld. Such people were said to be able to see no higher than the flight of a bat, but could peer far down into the earth (Anuchin 1914: 19). The bat, mole, and snake were animals associated with bangos activity. The sening was able to ascend up to the sky or fly far across the earth in order to commune with the spirit world, and each sening had his unique path, which was kept secret from that of other shamans. According to Anuchin (1914: 25), there were no “black” or evil shamans among the Ket, whereas a bangos could cast both good and bad spells on people. The bangos was thought to be able either to cure or induce rheumatism in people, for example. Both sening and bangos claimed to be able to foretell the future and predicts good fortune for hunters. This suggests that sening and bangos were social roles, rather than invariably distinct personages or entirely unrelated spiritual traditions. Anuchin (1914: 32) reports that of 14 shamans operating among the Ket during his 1906–1908 expedition, a number of them functioned as bangos, as well.ref

“The latter role was most effective on moonless nights, whereas sening began their séances in the evening, preferably when both sun and moon were simultaneously visible in the sky. In general, the sening and bangos magic was kept in separate spheres, and even bangos talismans were disallowed during shamanic séances (Anuchin 1914: 19). Unfortunately, no detailed study of the bangos was ever conducted and it is possible that this social role represents the survival of a more ancient healing tradition. To recapture lost or stolen ulvei and return them to their owners, the shaman resorted to a trance-like state that assisted his flight into other realms. During my stay on the Yelogui River in August, 2009, one elderly woman told me that shamans used to eat the fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, which is called hango in Ket, in order to achieve the proper state.ref

“It was the shaman’s task, assisted by his spirit helpers, to fight Hosedam or any other malevolent beings that stood in the way of accomplishing this feat. According to Ket lore, the great shamans of the past were able to induce Hosedam to regurgitate the souls she had swallowed, after which they could be reunited with their owner. If the owner had already died, the ulvei would become free to be born into a new human baby. The great Ket culture hero Alba, a figure with folkloric parallels among the South Siberian Turks (Ivanov and Toporov 1969; Nikolaev 1985), was said to have freed many souls by inducing vomiting and diarrhea in Hosedam. But generally, only shamans had the capacity to traverse the dangerous northwest trail into the realm of the northern witch to battle her for control of the ulvei.” ref
“The shaman’s ability to undergo the shamanic trance and travel to the spirit world was thus considered crucial to the health of the group. Chronic maladies were thought to be caused by a rock getting into the sick person. The shaman was able to remove the rock with the help of the spirit of the gray crane (tau), which could extract the object with its long beak. The loon (bit) was also regarded as a shamanic bird due to its ability to dive from the air into the water to get food. Shamans employed their loon spirits to find and regain wayward ulvei from the underworld realm.ref
“Among the Ket, both men and women could become shamans. Anuchin (1914: 23) claims that the shamanic gift was passed on to a member of the opposite sex in the next generation so that it alternated between males and females in the same family line. Alekseenko, however, noted that while the shamans gift was inherited within the confines of a single family group, the preponderance of shamans were men, as were all great shamans, so that a strict gender-based intergenerational skewing does not appear to have been a universal norm, at least not in the 20th century.” ref
Ket people were very patriarchal, and Ket Shamanism seems more male-centric, whereas other Siberian shamanism seems more female-centric. (Proto-Indo-Europeans as well were patriarchal: The Roots of Indo-European Patriarchy: Indo-European Female Figures and the Principles of Energy by Miriam Robbins Dexter)
A large minority of people in North Asia, particularly in Siberia, follow the religio-cultural practices of shamanism. Some researchers regard Siberia as the heartland of shamanism. The people of Siberia comprise a variety of ethnic groups, many of whom continue to observe shamanistic practices in modern times. Many classical ethnographers recorded the sources of the idea of “shamanism” among Siberian peoples.
  • ‘shaman’: saman (Nedigal, Nanay, Ulcha, Orok), sama (Manchu). The variant /šaman/ (i.e., pronounced “shaman”) is Evenk (whence it was borrowed into Russian).
  • ‘shaman’: alman, olman, wolmen (Yukagir)
  • ‘shaman’: [qam] (Tatar, Shor, Oyrat), [xam] (Tuva, Tofalar)
  • The Buryat word for shaman is бөө (böö) [bøː], from early Mongolian böge. Itself borrowed from Proto-Turkic *bögü (“sage, wizard”)
  • ‘shaman’: ńajt (Khanty, Mansi), from Proto-Uralic *nojta (c.f. Sámi noaidi)
  • ‘shamaness’: [iduɣan] (Mongol), [udaɣan] (Yakut), udagan (Buryat), udugan (Evenki, Lamut), odogan (Nedigal). Related forms found in various Siberian languages include utagan, ubakan, utygan, utügun, iduan, or duana. All these are related to the Mongolian name of Etügen, the hearth goddess, and Etügen Eke ‘Mother Earth’. Maria Czaplicka points out that Siberian languages use words for male shamans from diverse roots, but the words for female shaman are almost all from the same root. She connects this with the theory that women’s practice of shamanism was established earlier than men’s, that “shamans were originally female.” ref


Proto-Yeniseian or Proto-Yeniseic is the unattested reconstructed proto-language from which all Yeniseian languages are thought to descend from. It is uncertain whether Proto-Yeniseian had a similar tone/pitch accent system as Ket. Many studies about Proto-Yeniseian phonology have been done, however there are still many things unclear about Proto-Yeniseian. The probable location of the Yeniseian homeland is proposed on the basis of geographic names and genetic studies, which suggests a homeland in Southern Siberia. According to Vajda, Proto-Yeniseian had the following phonemes, expressed in IPA symbols.” ref

  • *xuɬ ‘water’
  • *xuše ‘birch tree
  • *am ‘mother’
  • *ejn ‘wedge’
  • *qed ‘man’
  • *bes ‘rabbit’
  • *don ‘knife’
  • *kus ‘horse’
  • *pub ‘son’
  • *bus ‘penis’
  • *satʳ ‘crucian (fish)
  • *baŋ ‘land’
  • *tijk ‘snow’
  • *bejx ‘wind’
  • *tɬiwdʳ ‘lard’, ‘oil’
  • *ɬaɢa ‘star’

Ket language

The Ket language, or more specifically Imbak and formerly known as Yenisei Ostyak, is a Siberian language long thought to be an isolate, the sole surviving language of a Yeniseian language family. It is spoken along the middle Yenisei basin by the Ket people. Ket has three dialects: Southern, Central, and Northern. All the dialects are very similar to each other and Kets from different groups are able to understand each other. The most common southern dialect was used for the standardized written Ket. The three remaining Ket-majority localities natively speak different dialects. Southern Ket is spoken in Kellog, Central Ket in Surgutikha, and Northern Ket in Maduika. It is one of the few languages to lack both /p/ and /ɡ/, along with ArapahoGoliath, and Efik, as well as classical Arabic and some modern Arabic dialects. Nouns have nominative basic case (subjects and direct objects) and a system of secondary cases for spatial relations. The three noun classes are: masculine, feminine, and inanimate. Unlike neighboring languages of Siberia, Ket makes use of verbal prefixes. Ket has two verbal declensions, one prefixed with d- and one with b-. The second-person singular prefixes on intransitive verbs are [ku-, ɡu-]. Ket has many loanwords from Russian, such as mora ‘sea’; there are also loanwords from other languages such as Selkup, for example: the word qopta ‘ox’ comes from the Selkup word qobda. Ket also has some Mongolian words, such as saˀj ‘tea’ from Mongolian tsaj. There are also words from Evenki, for example: the word saˀl ‘tobacco’ is possibly borrowed from Evenki sâr ‘tobacco.” ref

I feel that the Yeniseian language connection to proto-indo-european seems more likely to me, but as the Transeurasian languages seem to have started around 9,000 years ago and people from the heartland of transeurasian languages in the West Liao river basin in northeast China area later to involve the Hongshan culture (around 6,700 to 4,900 years ago) known/related for/to spreading the transeurasian languages into Korea and then Japan. This area of the transeurasian languages origin also is related to a migration just a little before 9,000 years ago (Haplogroups N1a2b-P43 and N1a2a-F1101 about 9300 years ago), that went to the Yeniseian languages origin area of Lake Baikal, in South Siberia, and thus it may have taken pre-proto-transeurasian languages. If this happened then there may have been a language transfer of so kind into the Yeniseian languages, there may also have been an influence of pre-proto-Yeniseian languages into the transeurasian languages as well.

The relationship between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Yeniseian

“The Yeniseian language family is native to Central Siberia and consists of one extant language – Ket, and five extinct – Yug, Kottish, Arin, Assan, Pumpokol. These languages share many contact-induced similarities with the South Siberian Turkic languages, Samoyedic languages and Evenki. These include long-distance nasal harmony, the development of former affricates to stops, and the use of postpositions or grammatical enclitics as clausal subordinators. Yeniseian nominal enclitics closely approximate the case systems of geographically contiguous families. Despite these similarities, Yeniseian stands out among the languages of Siberia in a few typological respects, such as the presence of tone, the prefixing verb inflection, and highly complex morphophonology. This language family has highly elaborate verbal morphology and has been described as having up to four tones or no tones at all. To this day no relationship to other language family has been definitively proven, although many attempts were made. One of this attempts, the Dene-Yeniseian family, first proposed by Alfredo Trombetti and supported with evidence by Edward Vajda, has gained massive, but not universal, acclaim.” ref

“The Genetic Evidence The Kets belong predominantly to haplogroup Q (93.8%) (6) and Proto-Indo-Europeans are thought to have mostly belonged to haplogroups R1b and R1a. The Yamnaya culture of Eastern Europe, which mainstream scholars identify with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, was exclusively R1b. This culture was made up of Eastern Hunter Gatherers and Caucasian Hunter Gatherers, the former one being associated with the Mal’ta–Buret’ culture of Central Siberia, which was located west of Lake Baikal and roughly in the same area where historically the Yeniseian languages were spoken. The Mal’ta–Buret’ culture is dated to 24,000 BCE to 15,000 BCE and is known for the only known sample of basal Y-DNA R*.” ref

“The genetic makeup of this culture was found to be very similar to the ones of Yamnaya culture and Ket people. Haplogroup Q and R are siblings and come from the same parent haplogroup – P. It is possible that the languages spoken by the people bearing these two haplogroups were also genetically related. The linguistic evidence No linguist has tried (to my knowledge) until now to connect Proto-Yeniseian and Proto-Indo[1]European and it’s not hard to understand why. Apart from the fact that the homelands of these two language families are so far away from each other geographically and chronologically, they have some important typological differences. Some similarities still exist, for example, both Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Yeniseian had an SOV word order. Ket has an active stative alignment while the reconstructed ancestor of Proto-Indo-European, the Pre-Proto-Indo-European language, shows many features known to correlate with active alignment like the animate vs. inanimate distinction, related to the distinction between active and inactive or stative verb arguments.” ref

“Another distinctive feature of Yeniseian is morphological predictability, which enables a linguist to build a form, departing from a root, the known morphological inventory and morphological rules, and get it right without having seen the correct form before. In most of Eurasia the only language family that matches Yeniseian in this respect is Indo[1]European. I didn’t attempt to find sound correspondences because some of the reconstructions on both sides, especially for PY, are uncertain. Sometimes, linguists can’t even agree on the phonemes of some modern Ket words. Nevertheless, one can find at first glance some correspondences, for example intervocalic in PIE corresponds to in PY, final corresponds to, corresponds to and corresponds to. The following list consists of a Proto-Indo-European lemma and a Proto-Yeniseian cognate. Sometimes additional evidence from Indo-European languages is given. For Proto-Yeniseian I used Sergei Starostin’s reconstructions, but also modern Ket words and Heinrich Werner’s reconstructions if available.” ref 

“The abbreviations PIE and PY are used for Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Yeniseian, respectively. ˇ

  1. PIE *dʰewh₂- [smoke] = PY *duʔ(χ)- [smoke], Ket: duʔ ; Werner *duʔ
  2. PIE *sénos [old] = PY *siń [old, withered], Ket: ś īń / ś i:ń
  3. PIE *(s)dʰonu [fir tree] = PY *dɨńe [fir tree], Ket: dɨ̄ń
  4. PIE *temH- [dark] = PY *tum- [black], Ket: tūm ; Werner *th um
  5. PIE *dʰeh₁- [to do, put, place] = PY *di(j) [to lie down, put down], Ket: dij
  6. PIE *ǵenh₁- [to produce, to beget, to give birth] = PY *ǯeʔŋ [people], Ket: dɛʔŋ
  7. PIE *gen- [to compress] = PY *ǯǟŋ [to knead, rub], Ket: da:ŋ4 ; Werner *d’aʔǝŋǝ
  8. PIE *gel- [to be cold, to freeze] = PY *ǯVr1- (~-l) [cold, frost], Kottish: čal ; Werner *t’al
  9. PIE *ǵʰes- [hand; to take] = PY *kas- (~g-) [take], Ket: kɔ:ś i 4
  10. PIE *ǵónu [knee] = PY *qōń- (~χ-,-ɔ̄-) [cartilage], Ket: qɔń 4 ; Werner *qɔʔǝn’ǝ
  11. PIE *gʷen- [woman] = PY *qVm- (~χ-) [woman], Ket: qīm
  12. PIE *gʷṓws [cattle] = PY *kuʔs [horse], Ket: kuʔś[cow] ; Werner *kuʔs
  13. PIE *kh₂em- (Latin camur, Iranian *kamarā-) – [to bend, to curve] = PY *gamur- [crooked], Kottish kamur
  14. PIE *temp- [to extend, to stretch] = PY *t[e]mbVl-́ [root], Kottish: thempul
  15. PIE *ḱi- ~ *ḱe- ~ *ḱo [here, this] = PY *si- / *su- [stem of demonstrative pronouns], Ket ś i:ŋ / ś īŋ [here] ; Werner *si-, *se- / *sǝ-, *so- / *su
  16. PIE *só, séh₂, tód [this, that] = PY *tu- [demonstrative stem], Ket tuda6 [this]
  17. PIE *kom or *ku, *kʷom [to, towards], which gave Proto-Slavic *kъ(n) = PY *ka- / *kǝ- [demonstrative stem], Ket: kań īŋǝ 1 / kań iŋǝ 6 [(towards) there]
  18. PIE *peh₂w- [few, little] = PY *pVl- (~-ŕ-,-r1-) [child], Arin: alpolá t, Pumpokol: phá lla and PY *poʔl [short], Ket: hɔʔĺ; Werner *ph oʔl
  19. PIE *seh₂y- [to be fierce, afflict] = PY *s[e]ji [furuncle; wound], Ket: ś ibaŋ6 , ś ivaŋ6 ; Werner *sei
  20. PIE *derḱ- [to see] = PY *de-s [eye], Ket: dēś ; Werner *des
  21. PIE *ḱers- [to run] = PY *ses [river], Ket: śēśWerner *set / *tet
  22. PIE *bʰel-, *bʰelǵʰ- [to swell] = PY *boks[e]ji (~-ɔ-) [pimple], Ket: bɔkśá . Compound with the second component *s[e]ji [wound, sore]
  23. PIE *ḱeres- [rough hair, bristle] = PY *sǟs [fur from reindeer’s legs], Ket: śaś 4 Werner *seʔǝsǝ
  24. PIE *h₂eHs- [to burn, to glow] = PY *xus- [warm], Ket: ūś ; Werner *usǝ or PY *ʔes [God, sky], Ket: ēś ; Werner *es
  25. PIE *sekʷe-, *skʷē- [to tell, talk] = PY *saga- [to say, speak], Ket: sagabet́(Castr.), sáɣa-bet (Werner)
  26. PIE *ten- [to stretch, to extend] = PY *ta(ʔ)ŋaj [to pull, stretch], Ket: táŋaj / táŋej
  27. PIE *gerh₂- [to cry hoarsely, crane] = PY *guriraK [crane], Kottish: kurīrax
  28. PIE *peyH- [fat, milk] = PY*pɔʔɔle ́ [fat], Ket: hōlé ; Werner *ph olǝ
  29. PIE *h₁ésh₂r̥[blood] = PY *sur [red, blood], Ket: śūlaḿ 1 ; Werner *suʎ
  30. PIE *dʰéǵʰōm [earth, human] = PY *keʔt [man, person], Ket: kɛʔt / kɛʔd
  31. PIE *gʷel- [throat] = PY *kǝrVd (~g-,-ʒ) [throat], Ket: kʌlit́ 6 / kʌlat́ 6 ; Werner *kǝrVd (~g-,- ʒ)
  32. PIE *dʰegʷʰ- [to burn] = PY *doʔq ( ~ -χ), Ket: -dɔq (-rɔq) to burn (trans.)
  33. PIE *h₁es- [to be] = PY *hVs- [to be], Ket: uśeŋ5,6 ; Werner *ǝsǝ(ŋ) / *usǝ(ŋ)
  34. PIE *pewḱ- [pine] = PY *pōj [fir tree], Ket: hɔ́j-ɔkś ; Werner *ph oʔǝjǝ
  35. PIE *dʰǵʰyes- [yesterday] = PY *qodes (~χ-,-ɔ-) [yesterday], Ket: qɔŕeś 5
  36. PIE *bak- [peg, club] = PY *bäk- [log], Ket: bāɣǝ ; Werner *baga
  37. PIE *méynos [my, mine] = PY *b- [my], Ket: āp
  38. PIE *men- [hand] = PY *biʔŋ [hand], Yug: biʔŋ
  39. PIE *keku- (Middle Persian čakuč) [cudgel, hammer shaped stick] = PY *čok [axe], Ket: tōk ; Werner *t’okǝ
  40. PIE *(s)kʷálos [large fish, sheatfish] = PY *χol- [a k. of fish], Ket: kɔlgit ́ 5 (Werner: qōlgit) ́ ; Werner *qol
  41. PIE *men- [to think, mind] = PY *ʔan[ɨ]ŋ [to think], Ket: aniŋbɛt 6 / ańbɛt 5,6 ; Werner *anǝŋ[1]43. PIE *ḱerh₂- [horn] or PIE *h₁élḱis [elk] = PY *sēr1e [deer], Ket: śɛĺ 4 ; Werner *seʔǝʎǝ
  42. PIE *ḱol-bʰo- [half] = PY *χɔlab [half], Ket: qɔlaṕ 5 ; Werner *qolǝp ; The PIE root is uncertain as it has been reconstructed after the only known descendant: Proto-Germanic *halbaz
  43. PIE *gʰerdʰ- [belt] = PY *guʔda [girdle, strap, string], Ket: kuʔt ; Werner *kuʔt
  44. PIE *gʰreh₁- [to grow] = PY*gVre [grass], Kottish: keri ; Werner *keʎǝ
  45. PIE *ǵʰey- [winter] = PY *gǝte [winter], Ket: kъ̄ti1 ; it is unclear to me why Starostin reconstructed , because all cognates in the Yeniseian languages have . Werner also reconstructs *kǝte
  46. PIE *wósr̥[spring] = PY *sir1- [summer], Ket: ś īĺi 1 ; Werner *siʎǝ
  47. PIE *h₂weh₁- [to blow(of wind)] = PY *bej [wind], Ket: bēj ; Werner *baj
  48. PIE *gʷol- [ashes] = PY *qorVn- (~χ-,-ɔ-,-l-) [ashes], Ket: qɔlǝ́ n 6 /qɔllǝn 6 ; Werner *qolǝn
  49. PIE *ph₂tḗr [father] = PY *ʔob [father], Ket: ōp ; Werner *ob(ǝ)
  50. PIE *(s)ker- [to cut off] = PY *Kar [mountain], Arin: kar
  51. PIE *sed- [to sit], PBS *sēstei [to sit down] = PY *sVs- [to sit], Ket: sésete “I sit”
  52. PIE *méh₂tēr [mother] = PY *ʔama [mother], Ket: ām
  53. PIE *telk- [to thrust, strike, crush] = PY*tokV (~-x-) [mortar], Ket: tō ; Werner *th ophǝ
  54. PIE *peh₃- [to drink] = PY *ʔop- ( ~ x-, -b), Ket: d-a-b-ɔp ; Werner *op
  55. PIE *tek- [to run, to flow] = PY *teK- [drop, (rain)dropping], Kottish: ur-thekŋ
  56. PIE *nu [now] = PY *ʔen [now], Ket: ēn ; Werner *en
  57. PIE *swep- [sleep] = PY*sVm- [dream], Kottish: šame
  58. PIE *kʷyeh₁- [to rest, peace] = PY *qut ( ~ χ-) [to be finished, end], Ket: -qut / -ʁut
  59. PIE *yeh₂- [to go]= PY *hejVŋ [to go], Ket: ējeŋ1 / ɛjeŋ5
  60. PIE *h₂éngʷʰis [snake] = PY *ʔɔŋKoj [snake], Kottish: oŋxoi
  61. PIE *ne, *me [no, not] = PY *wǝ- [not, there is not], Ket: bъ̄ń ; Werner *bǝ / *bǝn
  62. PIE *h₂eys- [to wish, to request] = PY *si-aq- [to ask], Ket: ś ijaq5
  63. PIE *splǵʰ-ēn- [spleen] (the exact root remains difficult to reconstruct) = PY *tVpVl-́ (~-b-) [spleen] Kottish: tebolä” ref

“Words with only one reconstructed cognate in PIE or PY:

  1. PY *boʔk [fire], Ket: bɔʔk = Latin focus [hearth, fire], Armenian boc’ [fire]
  2. PY *deʔG [lake], Ket: dɛʔ ; Werner *degǝ / *deʔǝ = PIE *dʰenh₂- [to set in motion, to flow], *déh₂nu [river goddess]
  3. PY *kūń (~g-) [wolverine], Ket: ku:ńe 4 ; Werner *kuʔǝnǝ = PBS *kaunā́ [marten]
  4. PY *son- [blue, green], Ket: śon ; Werner *sʌj / *sʌn = PS *siňь [blue], PI *axšáyHnah [blue, green]
  5. PY *doʔn [knife], Ket: dɔʔn = PI *dā- [to cut], Old Iranian *dāna-ka-
  6. PY *qalVŋ ́ (~χ-) [gull], Ket: qalǝ́ ŋ 5 = PC *wailannā [seagull]
  7. Ket ɯ̄ks [bull] = PIE *uksḗn [bull]
  8. PY *sip- [rat], Ket: ś iɣ́ -ut = OES соболь (sobol’) [sable], Middle Persian [sable]
  9. PY *sib- [to whisper], Ket: siverej-betta (Werner: ś ivé ŕej) ; Werner *siphǝl = PS *šьpъtъ [to whisper]
  10. PY *maʔm [breast], Ket: maʔm = Ancient Greek mámmē (breast)
  11. PY *χuʔs [tent made of birch bark, house], Ket: quʔś ; Werner *quʔs = PG *hūsą [house], possibly Latin casa
  12. Proto-Slavic *tǫxlъ [rotten] = PY: *tul-(x)aʔq [rotten (wood)], Ket: tulaq5″ ref 

“Possible loanwords not mentioned before (to my knowledge):

  1. PY *p[u]jm- [neck] – PT *bōjn [neck]
  2. PY *kam(a) ( ~ q-, h-) [vessel, dish] – PT *kāp [vessel]
  3. PY *senVŋ [shaman] – Evenki samān [shaman]
  4. PT *köp- (to swell; foam) – PY *χɔpVr [foam]
  5. PY *suŕ- [yellow] – PT *siarïg [yellow,white]
  6. PT *sōl [left] – PY *tul (~-l, ́ -r1) [left], Ket: tul;́ Werner *th uĺ/ *sul ́” ref 


“After analyzing the found information and evidence, it is not likely that all these cognates and similarities are coincidences. Apart from the fact that there are too many cognates, they consist of basic vocabulary, and they match exactly (or almost exactly) semantically. Two other possibilities remain: language contact and genetic relationships. For this case language contact seems at best improbable. The last possibility is understandably dubious, but still possible. In order to say something decisively, more research needs to be done on this subject. My hope is that my article will start a wave of questions that will lead to solving this problem and, why not, to asking even more questions.” ref 

Ancient DNA Reveals Prehistoric Gene-Flow from Siberia in the Complex Human Population History of North East Europe

“Abstract: North East Europe harbors a high diversity of cultures and languages, suggesting a complex genetic history. Archaeological, anthropological, and genetic research has revealed a series of influences from Western and Eastern Eurasia in the past. While genetic data from modern-day populations is commonly used to make inferences about their origins and past migrations, ancient DNA provides a powerful test of such hypotheses by giving a snapshot of the past genetic diversity. In order to better understand the dynamics that have shaped the gene pool of North East Europeans, we generated and analyzed 34 mitochondrial genotypes from the skeletal remains of three archaeological sites in northwest Russia. These sites were dated to the Mesolithic and the Early Metal Age (7,500 and 3,500 years ago). We applied a suite of population genetic analyses (principal component analysis, genetic distance mapping, haplotype sharing analyses) and compared past demographic models through coalescent simulations using Bayesian Serial SimCoal and Approximate Bayesian Computation. Comparisons of genetic data from ancient and modern-day populations revealed significant changes in the mitochondrial makeup of North East Europeans through time. Mesolithic foragers showed high frequencies and diversity of haplogroups U (U2e, U4, U5a), a pattern observed previously in European hunter-gatherers from Iberia to Scandinavia. In contrast, the presence of mitochondrial DNA haplogroups C, D, and Z in Early Metal Age individuals suggested discontinuity with Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and genetic influx from central/eastern Siberia. We identified remarkable genetic dissimilarities between prehistoric and modern-day North East Europeans/Saami, which suggests an important role of post-Mesolithic migrations from Western Europe and subsequent population replacement/extinctions. This work demonstrates how ancient DNA can improve our understanding of human population movements across Eurasia. It contributes to the description of the spatio-temporal distribution of mitochondrial diversity and will be of significance for future reconstructions of the history of Europeans.” ref

As climatic conditions improved in the early Holocene (8,000–10,000 years ago), the first human settlements appeared in the Kola Peninsula, and foraging activities intensified in the steppe-forest zone of Northern Europe leading to the widespread establishment of complex Mesolithic societies of fishermen and hunter-gatherers. At the same time, Western Europe and Central Europe were undergoing the Neolithic transition, during which an agricultural lifestyle spread rapidly, largely due to favorable climatic and ecological conditions. The Neolithic transition is thought to have been slower and more gradual in North East Europe than in Western/Central Europe and to have involved little migration of early farmers Central Europe. From the Neolithic onwards, contacts between populations of North East Europe and groups living in the South are evident in archaeological and historical records.” ref 

The geographical position of North East Europe makes it subject to influences from both Western and Eastern Eurasia, which could explain the linguistic and cultural diversity, observed in the area today. Two different linguistic families are spoken: Indo-European languages (Slavic, Baltic, and Germanic) and Finno-Ugric languages (e.g., Estonian, Finnish, Mari, Saami). Saami people of Fennoscandia (northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia) are considered unique among Europeans in terms of their nomadic lifestyle and their livelihood, which is mainly based on fishing and reindeer herding. The ethnogenesis of the Saami remains unclear, and two origins in Western and Eastern Europe were proposed.” ref

“The Saami differ from the rest of the European populations in their reduced genetic diversity and mtDNA lineages that are otherwise very rare in European populations (haplogroups U5b1b1a, V, Z1, and D5). In particular, the Saami-specific U5b1b1a clade is defined by the so-called hypervariable region I (HVR-I) ‘Saami motif’ 16144C-16189C-16270T (numbering according. These lineages are also detected at low frequencies in adjacent North East Europe populations, which on the other hand fall within the European mtDNA diversity and appear rather homogeneous irrespective of their languages. Subtle mtDNA differences are, however, observed among them due to variable influences from genetically differentiated neighboring populations: central Europeans in the West, Saami in the North, and people from the Volga-Ural Basin in the East.” ref

“The absence of strong structure in the present-day mtDNA gene pool of North East Europe stands in contrast to the variety of languages and cultures, and to the complex history of how and when these were formed. Modern mtDNA data does not resolve the origins of the Saami either. Our aim was to provide answers to these questions and reconstruct events in the genetic history of North East Europe by generating and analyzing ancient DNA (aDNA) data from prehistoric human remains collected in northwest Russia (Figure 1). In particular, our objective was to characterize the genetic relationships between hunter-gatherer populations in North East Europe and Central/Northern Europe and to estimate the genetic legacy of ancient populations to present-day North East Europe and Saami.” ref

“The oldest samples were collected in the Mesolithic graveyards of Yuzhnyy Oleni Ostrov (aUz; ‘Southern Reindeer Island’ in Russian) and Popovo (aPo), both dated around 7,000–7,500 years ago. The sites of aUz and aPo are located along one of the proposed eastern routes for the introduction of Saami-specific mtDNA lineages. Results from odontometric analyses suggested a direct genetic continuity between the Mesolithic population of Yuzhnyy Oleni Ostrov and present-day Saami. We also analyzed human remains from 3,500 years ago site Bol’shoy Oleni Ostrov (aBOO; ‘Great Reindeer island’ in Russian) in the Kola Peninsula. This site is located within the area currently inhabited by the Saami. We compared the ancient mtDNA data from North East Europe with a large dataset of ancient and modern-day Eurasian populations to search for evidence of past demographic events and temporal patterns of genetic continuity and discontinuity in Europe.” ref

The spread of extant populations of Europe and Central/East Siberia along the first component axis (28.5% of the variance) appeared to reflect their longitudinal position, whereas Europeans and Middle Easterners were separated along the second component axis (13.0% of the variance). As shown previously, populations of the ‘Central/East Siberian’ cluster were predominantly composed of haplogroups A, B, C, D, F, G, Y, and Z, while in contrast, populations of the ‘European’ cluster were characterized by higher frequencies of haplogroups H, HV, V, U, K, J, T, W, X, and I. The two ancient groups – aUzPo and aBOO – from two individual time periods appeared remarkably distinct on the basis of the Principal Component Analysis, suggesting a major genetic discontinuity in space and time.” ref

The relationship of the Transeuration and Yeniseian languages

“Many recognisable Turkic and Mongolic words, such as the royal titles KhanKhagan, and Tarqan, and the word for “sky” and later “god”, Tengri, may be loanwords from Yeniseian. Tengri in particular has been derived from Yeniseian tɨŋVr by linguist Stefan Georg, in an analysis praised as “excellent” by Alexander Vovin.” ref

“Ancient Yeniseian speakers can be associated with a Late Neolithic/Bronze Age ancestry in the Baikal area (Cisbaikal_LNBA or Baikal_EBA) maximized among hunter-gatherers of the local Glazkovo culture. They can be differentiated from the earlier ‘Early Neolithic Baikal hunter-gatherers’ associated with the Kitoi and Fofonovo cultures (Baikal_EN) and later Amur-derived (DevilsCave_N-like) groups. Cisbaikal_LNBA ancestry is inferred to be rich in Ancient Paleo-Siberian ancestry, and also display affinity to Inner Northeast Asian (Yumin-like) groups. This type of ancestry has also been observed among Eastern Scythians (Saka) and made up nearly all of the ancestry (85-95%) from an outlier sample of the Karasuk culture (RISE497). Cisbaikal_LNBA ancestry later spreaded together with Glazkovo-type pottery to the forest zone of the Middle Angara, correlating with the supposed dispersal of yeniseian languages, supporting a homeland in the Cis-Baikal region. Cisbaikal_LNBA has also been found at low amounts among Athabaskan speakers, lending support to the Dene-Yeniseian hypotheses.” ref

“The Glazkov cultureGlazkovo culture, or Glazkovskaya culture (2200-1200 BCE), was an archaeological culture in the Lake Baikal area during the Early Bronze Age. Archeologists distinguish in the 2nd millennium BCE Southern Siberia two synchronous independent cultures: Glazkov in the east and the Andronovo culture in the west. “In the Baikal territory lived a Glazkov group of related tribes, most likely the ancestors of modern EvenksEvens or Yukagirs. Their culture was very close to the culture of the inhabitants of the upper Amur and Northern Manchuria, and of Mongolia to the Great Wall of China and Ordos Loop.” ref

“It is possible, hence, that all this extensive area was populated by peoples culturally related with the hunter and fisher tribes of Neolith and Early Bronze… probably speaking related tribal languages”. Later the carriers of the southern part Glazkov culture tribes converged with some ancestors of the Huns, and intermixed with them. In the 18th century BCE the elements of the Andronovo culture seized the Minusinsk depression and almost encountered the Glazkovs on the Yenisei. Glazkovs and Andronovs played a secondary role in the 2nd millennium BCE Southern Siberia.” ref

Glazkov burials brought new funeral traditions into the region: the deceased were oriented down the river, instead of previously common geographical direction orientations. The remains were placed in a crouched position, with intentionally broken artifacts, likely to protect the living from the danger presented by a deceased. To the end of the Glazkov time in the southern portion of the eastern Baikal area, there was an influx of people from Mongolia, who brought a distinctive tradition of stone kurgans with fences (chereksurs), which resulted in the formation of a Slab Grave culture that became the eastern wing of a huge nomadic world in Eurasia, which produced in the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE a bright civilization known as Scythian-Siberian World.ref

Glazkov culture had clearly expressed variations, bringing about a number of hypotheses about ethno-cultural situation in the Baikal area, all of them concurring that all population groups are of the animal husbandry type. These cultures are DaurSlab Grave Culture, and Palace Type burials, seen by some researchers as the earliest predecessor of the Slab Grave Culture. All 4 tested Early Bronze Age individuals from the Ust-Ida burial site belonged to the Y-DNA haplogroup Q-YP4004 under Q1a2. Two earlier Late Neolithic burials from the same area yielded Y-haplogroups Q1a2 and N1c1.” ref

“The genetic ancestry associated with the Glazkovo culture remains is known as “Baikal Early Bronze Age” (Baikal_EBA) ancestry, and falls into the Ancient Northern East Asian (ANEA) gene pool, with c. 11% (5-20%) admixture from Ancient North Eurasians (ANE). The Glazkovo remains display high genetic affinity with the “Cisbaikal_LNBA” ancestry, possibly associated with ancient Yeniseian speakers. Cisbaikal_LNBA ancestry is inferred to be rich in Ancient Paleo-Siberian ancestry, and also display affinity to Inner Northeast Asian (Yumin-like) groups. Modern Altaians display genetic affinity to the Glazkovo hunter-gatherer culture, and can be used as possible proxy for the East Eurasian component among Saka (Scytho-Siberian nomads).ref

While modern-day Kets are derived from a Cisbaikal_LNBA-like source, they also display significant amounts of geneflow from Uralic-affilated (Yakutia_LNBA) sources.” ref

Transeurasian as a continuum of diffusion

Intermingling of Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic speakers over many centuries left multiple overlapping layers of contact-induced language change in their wake. While the dynamics of pastoralist mobility spread linguistic traits far and wide, it remains unresolved whether contact alone (together with coincidental resemblance) can account for all of the shared features in the families traditionally grouped as “Altaic,” or whether some homologies represent evidence of deeper common ancestry. Without arguing strongly for or against either possibility, this chapter considers how typological parallels may have diffused among pastoral Inner Eurasia’s four autochthonous families—Uralic, Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic—and also into Yeniseian, Yukaghir, Chukchi-Kamchatkan, Nivkh, Ainu, Koreanic, and Japonic—families and isolates that interacted less pervasively with steppe and forest pastoralists.” ref


by Václav Blažek

“In terms of distant relationship, the Yenisseian language family has been connected with various hypothetical relatives. The series of bilateral comparisons proposed by Karl Bouda (viz. Yenisseian with Basque, North Caucasian, Burushaski and ‘SinoTibetan’) was more or less confirmed after the partial reconstruction of proto-languages and the formulation of the most probable sets of regular sound correspondences between them by Sergei Starostin and his followers, especially his son George Starostin, John Bengtson and others. Similarly, after bilateral comparisons of Na-Dene with ‘Sino Tibetan’ by Sapir, Shafer, and Swadesh, Na-Dene with North Caucasian by Nikolaev and Nadene with Yenisseian by Vajda, Na-Dene also came to be included as a member of a vast Sino-Caucasian macrophylum (cf. Blažek & Bengtson 1995, Bengtson 2010).” ref

“The first preliminary model of classification of this macro-phylum based on recalibrated glottochronology was realized by George Starostin (2010, p.c.), who confirmed the so-called Karasuk hypothesis about a closer relationship between Yenisseian and Burushaski languages, formulated by George van Driem 2 (2001: 1186-1201) and supported by John Bengtson (2010), although the chronological level of the Karasuk culture (1500- 800 BCE) does not correspond with the hypothetical Yenisseian-Burushaski unity. On the other hand, the time and area of the culture widespread from the Upper Yenissei to the Aral sea (Mallory, EIEC 325-326) may be connected with ancestors of Yenisseian before their break up (cf. van Driem 2001: 1203).ref

Mythology as an historical source

“Anučin (1914: 4) recorded the Ket myth about ancient migrations northwards sert into motion under pressure from two tribes of invaders coming from the south, first Týstad, ‘mountain people’ or ‘stony people’, and later Kiliki. Vajda thinks that Týstad came from mountains, whence ‘stony people’, and were perhaps of Indo-European and maybe even Iranian origin, whilst Kiliki are identified with ancestors of the Siberian Kirghiz tribes. Pulleyblank (2002: 99) collected Chinese transriptions of the ethnonym Kirghiz, known from the Orkhon inscriptions as Qïrqïz: 鬲昆 Gekun < EMC * r jk kwən (2nd cent. BCE.; Shiji 110, Hanshu 94a). 堅昆 Jiankun < EMC *kεn kwən (1st cent. BCE onward; Hanshu 70). 契骨 Qigu < EMC *k h εt kwət (6th cent. CE; Zhoushu 50). 纥骨 Hegu < EMC *γət kwət (6th cent. CE; Suishu 84). 結骨 Jiegu < EMC *kεt kwət (6-8th cent. CE; Tongdian 200, Book of Táng 194b, and Táng Huiyao 100). Earlier Pulleyblank (1962: 123, 240) had proposed a deeper reconstruction *Qïrqur, later corrected to *Qïrqïr (Pulleyblank 2002: 101).ref

“The reconstruction *Qïrqïr based on the Chinese records perfectly agrees with the projection of the ethnonym Qïrqïz back into Proto-Turkic *Qïrqïŕ. The ethnonym Kiliki (or Kilik, if <-i> is the Russian plural) appearing in the Ket myth mediated by Anučin can reflect the form *Qïrq, which in Turkic languages means ‘forty’, without the final *-ïŕ, which can be interpreted as the plural suffix. ad (d): Lexical interference with other language entities There is only a limited number of studies mapping the mutual lexical interference between Yenisseian and neighbouring languages. Aside from the comprehensive article by Karl Bouda (1957). collecting loans from various neighbouring languages as well as from Iranian, only two authors have focused on bilateral contact with one neighbouring language entity: Xelimskij (1982a) for Uralic (Ob-Ugric & Samoyedic) and Timomina (1985; 2004) for Turkic, although not all her examples are valid.ref 

“Serious detailed studies of mutual borrowings of Yenisseian and not just from contemporary neighbouring languages present the field with a big challenge for the future. ad (g) & (h): Linguistic archaeology and palaeontology These approaches are very fruitful in their results, but represent complex undertakings. In the present study, the Yenisseian zoonym ‘horse’ and its traces in time and space are discussed as an illustrative example of the potential for linguistic archaeology in the historical study of Yenisseian languages.ref

“For the Yenisseian proto-language it is possible to reconstruct the designation ‘horse’ in the form reconstructed by Starostin (1995: 240) as *kuʔs and by Werner (1: 457) as *kuʔt / *kuʔs. The reflexes appear in all five historically attested Yenisseian languages: Ket kuʔs, pl. kusn 5 ‘cow’, Yugh kuʔs, pl. kusn 5 ‘horse’; Kott huš, pl. hučan; Assan penguš (М., Сл., Кл.), pen-kuš (Кл.) ‘mare’; huš (М., Сл., Кл.), hɨš (Кл.) ‘steed’; Arin kus (Стр.) ‘steed’; qus (М., Сл., Кл.) id.; quše (М., Сл., Кл.) ‘mare’; pinü-kuče (Лоск.) ‘mare’; Pumpokol kut (Сл.) ‘steed, mare’, (Сл., Кл.) ‘horse’; while the recorded kus (Кл.) ‘horse’ is in reality the Yugh form. Pulleyblank (1962: 245-46), followed by Vovin (2000: 91), judged that the Xiōngnú gloss 駃騠 ‘a superior type of horse of the northern barbarians’ [Xu Guang (352-425 AD), Shiji], in modern Pīnyīn transcription jué tí = chüeh-tʽi (Pulleyblank) < Late Middle Chinese *kjyat tɦiaj < Early Middle Chinese *kwεt dεj (Pulleyblank 1991: 168, 305) = Middle Chinese *kwet-dei < *kwet-deĥ (Pulleyblank 1962: 245-46) = Later Hàn *kuet dei (Schuessler 2007: 326; 2009: 227, #20-3), probably reflecting the original form *kuti or *küti ‘horse’, resembling the Pumpokol form kut, could be of Yenisseian origin.ref

“Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1984: 561, fn. 1) noticed at least a formal similarity of the Yenisseian root for ‘horse’ with its Indo-European counterpart *H 1 ek ̂ u̯os. It is an attractive hypothesis, but offers no explanation for the first syllable in Indo-European, and as such remains merely speculative. A promising solution was offered already offered by Naert (1958: 137-38) some sixteen years before the publication of the compendium by Gamkrelidze & Ivanov: In Kott, there is a compound ig-huš ‘stallion’, consisting of ig ‘male’ & huš ‘horse’, analogically feŋhučeä ‘mare’, where feŋ = ‘female’. The same compound ‘stallion’ in Ket was modified as y èk-k w òn, where the second component was borrowed from Russian koň ‘horse’. The meaning of Ket kuʔs, the etymological counterpart of Kott huš, was shifted to ‘cow’. The Proto-Yenisseian compound *ʔɨʔχ-kuʔs ‘stallion’, where the first component is reconstructed on the basis of Ket ɨ̄, pl. ɨ:n / ɨɣǝn 5 ‘male deer’; ɨks ‘male, male deer’, Yugh ɨʔk / ɨksi 5 ‘male, male deer’; Kott ig ‘male’, eg ‘goat’ (= ?‘hegoat’); Assan eg ‘male’; Arin au ‘wild goat; male’ (Starostin 1995: 196; Werner 2: 433: *ɨʔk / *ɨ), suggestively corresponds to Indo-European *H 1 ek ̂ u̯os “horse (stallion).ref

“However, this conclusion begs crucial spatial and chronological questions: Where and when was this adaptation realised? The preceding arguments lead to the conclusion that the Yenisseians still lived in the steppe region of Central Asia including Kazakhstan in the first centuries of the Christian era and certainly earlier. Northern Kazakhstan, particularly the area of the Botai 27 culture, was probably the place where the wild horse (Przewalsky-horse, i.e. Equus ferus przevalskii Poljakoff) had already been domesticated by the middle of the 4th millennium BC; cf. Bökönyi (1994: 116); Becker (1994: 169); Anthony (1994: 194); Outram (2009: 1332-35). The creators of this culture were totally specialised in breeding horses, with an astonishing 133.000 horse bones found here in the early 1990s. The traces of fats from horse milk on pottery from Botai represent the strongest proof of domestication.ref

“The hypothesis that the people who domesticated the horse in Northern Kazakhstan were the ancestors or the relatives of Yenisseians, is legitimate, although unproven. The resemblance of Yenisseian *ʔɨʔχ-kuʔs ‘stallion’ to Indo-European *H 1 ek ̂ u̯os ‘(domesticated) horse’ is obvious and readily explicable as the result of borrowing. If the Indo-European term cannot be transparently derived from IE *ōk ̂ u‘swift’ = *HoHk ̂ u, while the Yenisseian compound ‘stallion’ = ‘male horse’ is quite understandable, the vector of borrowing should be oriented from Yenisseian to Indo-European. To accept this logical conclusion, it is necessary to solve two serious problems, viz. the geographical distance of Northern Kazakhstan from a hypothetical Indo-European homeland, and the chronological distance between the break up of Indo-European, dated to the first half of the 5th millennium BC, and diversification of Yenisseian, dated by various scholars to the 1st millennium BC. Even if the people behind the Botai culture were early Yenisseians, the Indo-European break up preceded them by one millennium. The only solution would therefore be a spread of knowledge together with the term, representing a novel cultural discovery.ref

“It could have been mediated by a small group of qualified horsemen or by a segment of a tribe which was later integrated into the dominant population, much as the spread of metallurgy was not accompanied by massive migrations, metal names being common to several branches of Indo-European representing most probably the result of mutual borrowing rather than common heritage. With respect to the chronological discrepancy, there are several hypothetical answers. The assumption that the present dating of horse breeding in Kazakhstan will be shifted to the deeper past would, pending future excavations, perhaps ben too optimistic. A cultural term present in a group of related languages need not have been borrowed before their break up, but may also have been borrowed afterwards. The spreading of the cultural terms connected with Christianity is well-attested in Germanic and Slavic languages already after their diversification. The question remains whether or not the domesticated horse may have been more mobile than the first horse riders.ref

“The search for the traces of the early Yenisseians leads us to the steppe zone of Central Asia, especially to Kazakhstan and probably also to Uzbekistan. This early Yenisseian homeland must have been significantly closer to the home of Burushaski, the closest relative of the Common Yenisseian proto-language, than was the distance of the Northern Ket from the Kureika river and the Kott from the Abakan river in the 18th century. The break up of the Yenisseian unity was realized in this steppe area. During the first millennium BCE, the Yenisseian dialect continuum first split up into a western and eastern segment. Western Yenisseians, the ancestors of the Ket, Yugh and Pumpokol 28 , proceeded.ref

Yeniseian languages

The Yeniseian languages are a family of languages that are spoken by the Yeniseian people in the Yenisei River region of central Siberia. As part of the proposed Dené–Yeniseian language family, the Yeniseian languages have been argued to be part of “the first demonstration of a genealogical link between Old World and New World language families that meets the standards of traditional comparativehistorical linguistics“. The only surviving language of the group today is Ket.” ref

“From hydronymic and genetic data, it is suggested that the Yeniseian languages were spoken in a much greater area in ancient times, including parts of northern China and Mongolia. It has been further proposed that the recorded distribution of Yeniseian languages from the 17th century onward represents a relatively recent northward migration, and that the Yeniseian urheimat lies to the south of Lake Baikal.” ref

“The Yeniseians have been connected to the Xiongnu confederation, whose ruling elite may have spoken a southern Yeniseian language similar to the now extinct Pumpokol language. The Jie, who ruled the Later Zhao state of northern China, are likewise believed to have spoken a Pumpokolic language based on linguistic and ethnogeographic data. For those who argue the Xiongnu spoke a Yeniseian language, the Yeniseian languages are thought to have contributed many ubiquitous loanwords to Turkic and Mongolic vocabulary, such as Khan, Khagan, Tarqan, and the word for ‘god’ and ‘sky’, Tengri. This conclusion has primarily been drawn from the analysis of preserved Xiongnu texts in the form of Chinese characters.” ref

“It has been suggested that the Xiongnu and Hunnic languages were Southern Yeniseian. Only two languages of this family survived into the 20th century: Ket (also known as Imbat Ket), with around 200 speakers, and Yugh (also known as Sym Ket), now extinct. The other known members of this family—Arin, Assan, Pumpokol, and Kott—have been extinct for over two centuries. Other groups—the BuklinBaikotYarinYastinAsh, and Koibal—are identifiable as Yeniseic speaking from tsarist fur-tax records compiled during the 17th century, but nothing remains of their languages except a few proper names.” ref

Ket, the only extant Yeniseian language, is the northernmost known. Historical sources record a contemporaneous northern expansion of the Ket along the Yenisei during the Russian conquest of Siberia. Today, it is mainly spoken in Turukhansky District of Krasnoyarsk Krai in far northern Siberia, in villages such as Kellog and Sulomay. Yugh, which only recently faced extinction, was spoken from Yeniseysk to Vorogovo, Yartsevo, and the upper Ket River.” ref

“The early modern distributions of Arin, Pumpokol, Kott, and Assan can be reconstructed. The Arin were north of Krasnoyarsk, whereas the closely related Pumpokol was spoken to the north and west of it, along the upper Ket. Kott and Assan, another pair of closely related languages, occupied the area south of Krasnoyarsk, and east to the Kan River.  From toponyms it can be seen that Yeniseian populations probably lived in Buryatia, Zabaykalsky, and northern Mongolia. As an example, the toponym ši can be found in Zabaykalsky Krai, which is probably related to the Proto-Yeniseian word sēs ‘river’ and likely derives from an undocumented Yeniseian language. Some toponyms that appear Yeniseian extend as far as Heilongjiang.” ref

“It is uncertain whether Proto-Yeniseian had a similar tone/pitch accent system as Ket. Many studies about Proto-Yeniseian phonology have been done, however there are still many things unclear about Proto-Yeniseian. The probable location of the Yeniseian homeland is proposed on the basis of geographic names and genetic studies, which suggests a homeland in Southern Siberia.” ref

According to a 2016 study, Yeniseian people and their language originated likely somewhere near the Altai Mountains or near Lake Baikal. According to this study, the Yeniseians are linked to Paleo-Eskimo groups. The Yeniseians have also been hypothesised to be representative of a back-migration from Beringia to central Siberia, and the Dené–Yeniseians a result of a radiation of populations out of the Bering land bridge. The spread of ancient Yeniseian languages may be associated with an ancestry component from the Baikal area (Cisbaikal_LNBA), maximized among hunter-gatherers of the local Glazkovo culture. Affinity for this ancestry has been observed among Na-Dene speakers. Cisbaikal_LNBA ancestry is inferred to be rich in Ancient Paleo-Siberian ancestry, and also display affinity to Inner Northeast Asian (Yumin-like) groups.” ref

“In Siberia, Edward Vajda observed that Yeniseian hydronyms in the circumpolar region (the recent area of distribution of Yeniseian languages) clearly overlay earlier systems, with the layering of morphemes onto Ugric, Samoyedic, Turkic, and Tungusic place names. It is therefore proposed that the homeland, or dispersal point, of the Yeniseian languages lies in the boreal region between Lake Baikal, northern Mongolia, and the Upper Yenisei basin, referred to by Vajda as a territory “abandoned” by the original Yeniseian speakers. On the other hand, Václav Blažek (2019) argues that based on hydronomic evidence, Yeneisian languages were originally spoken on the northern slopes of the Tianshan and Pamir mountains before dispersing downstream via the Irtysh River.” ref

“The modern populations of Yeniseians in central and northern Siberia are thus not indigenous and represent a more recent migration northward. This was noted by Russian explorers during the conquest of Siberia: the Ket are recorded to have been expanding northwards along the Yenisei, from the river Yeloguy to the Kureyka, from the 17th century onward. Based on these records, the modern Ket-speaking area appears to represent the very northernmost reaches of Yeniseian migration.” ref

“The origin of this northward migration from the Mongolian steppe has been connected to the fall of the Xiongnu confederation. It appears from Chinese sources that a Yeniseian group might have been a major part of the heterogeneous Xiongnu tribal confederation, who have traditionally been considered the ancestors of the Huns and other Northern Asian groups. However, these suggestions are difficult to substantiate due to the paucity of data. Alexander Vovin argues that at least parts of the Xiongnu, possibly its core or ruling class, spoke a Yeniseian language. Positing a higher degree of similarity of Xiongnu to Yeniseian as compared to Turkic, he also praised Stefan Georg‘s demonstration of how the word Tengri (the Turkic and Mongolic word for ‘sky’ and later ‘god’) originated from Proto-Yeniseian tɨŋVr.” ref

“It has been further suggested that the Yeniseian-speaking Xiongnu elite underwent a language shift to Oghur Turkic while migrating westward, eventually becoming the Huns. However, it has also been suggested that the core of the Hunnic language was a Yeniseian language. Vajda (et al. 2013) proposed that the ruling elite of the Huns spoke a Yeniseian language and influenced other languages in the region.” ref

“One sentence of the language of the Jie, a Xiongnu tribe who founded the Later Zhao state, appears consistent with being a Yeniseian language. Later study suggests that Jie is closer to Pumpokol than to other Yeniseian languages such as Ket. This has been substantiated with geographical data by Vajda, who states that Yeniseian hydronyms found in northern Mongolia are exclusively Pumpokolic, in the process demonstrating both a linguistic and geographic proximity between Yeniseian and Jie. The decline of the southern Yeniseian languages during and after the Russian conquest of Siberia has been attributed to language shifts of the Arin and Pumpokol to Khakas or Chulym Tatar, and the Kott and Assan to Khakas.” ref

“The Yeniseian languages share many contact-induced similarities with the South Siberian Turkic languages, Samoyedic languages, and Evenki. These include long-distance nasal harmony, the development of former affricates to stops, and the use of postpositions or grammatical enclitics as clausal subordinators. Yeniseic nominal enclitics closely approximate the case systems of geographically contiguous families. Despite these similarities, Yeniseian appears to stand out among the languages of Siberia in several typological respects, such as the presence of tone, the prefixing verb inflection, and highly complex morphophonologyThe Yeniseian languages have been described as having up to four tones or no tones at all. The ‘tones’ are concomitant with glottalization, vowel length, and breathy voice, not unlike the situation reconstructed for Old Chinese before the development of true tones in Chinese. The Yeniseian languages have highly elaborate verbal morphology.” ref

Until 2008, few linguists had accepted connections between Yeniseian and any other language family, though distant connections have been proposed with most of the ergative languages of Eurasia. In 2008, Edward Vajda of Western Washington University presented evidence for a genealogical relation between the Yeniseian languages of Siberia and the Na–Dené languages of North America. At the time of publication (2010), Vajda’s proposals had been favorably reviewed by several specialists of Na-Dené and Yeniseian languages—although at times with caution—including Michael KraussJeff LeerJames Kari, and Heinrich Werner, as well as a number of other respected linguists, such as Bernard ComrieJohanna NicholsVictor GollaMichael FortescueEric Hamp, and Bill Poser (Kari and Potter 2010:12). One significant exception is the critical review of the volume of collected papers by Lyle Campbell and a response by Vajda published in late 2011 that clearly indicate the proposal is not completely settled at the present time. Two other reviews and notices of the volume appeared in 2011 by Keren Rice and Jared Diamond.” ref

“The Karasuk hypothesis, linking Yeniseian to Burushaski, has been proposed by several scholars, notably by A.P. Dulson and V.N. Toporov. George van Driem, the most prominent current advocate of the Karasuk hypothesis, postulates that the Burusho people were part of the migration out of Central Asia, that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indus Valley.” ref

“As noted by Tailleur and Werner, some of the earliest proposals of genetic relations of Yeniseian, by M.A. Castrén (1856), James Byrne (1892), and G.J. Ramstedt (1907), suggested that Yeniseian was a northern relative of the Sino–Tibetan languages. These ideas were followed much later by Kai Donner and Karl Bouda. A 2008 study found further evidence for a possible relation between Yeniseian and Sino–Tibetan, citing several possible cognates. Gao Jingyi (2014) identified twelve Sinitic and Yeniseian shared etymologies that belonged to the basic vocabulary, and argued that these Sino-Yeniseian etymologies could not be loans from either language into the other.” ref

“The Sino-Caucasian hypothesis of Sergei Starostin posits that the Yeniseian languages form a clade with Sino-Tibetan, which he called Sino-Yeniseian. The Sino-Caucasian hypothesis has been expanded by others to “Dené–Caucasian” to include the Na-Dené languages of North America, Burushaski, Basque, and, occasionally, Etruscan. A narrower binary Dené–Yeniseian family has recently been well received. The validity of the rest of the family, however, is viewed as doubtful or rejected by nearly all historical linguists.” ref

“A link between the Na–Dené languages and Sino-Tibetan languages, known as Sino–Dené had also been proposed by Edward Sapir. Around 1920 Sapir became convinced that Na-Dené was more closely related to Sino-Tibetan than to other American families. Edward Vadja’s Dené–Yeniseian proposal renewed interest among linguists such as Geoffrey Caveney (2014) to look into support for the Sino–Dené hypothesis. Caveney considered a link between Sino-Tibetan, Na-Dené, and Yeniseian to be plausible but did not support the hypothesis that Sino-Tibetan and Na-Dené were related to the Caucasian languages (Sino–Caucasian and Dené–Caucasian).” ref

“A 2023 analysis by David Bradley using the standard techniques of comparative linguistics supports a distant genetic link between the Sino-Tibetan, Na-Dené, and Yeniseian language families. Bradley argues that any similarities Sino-Tibetan shares with other language families of the East Asia area such as Hmong-Mien, Altaic (which is actually a sprachbund), Austroasiatic, Kra-Dai, Austronesian came through contact; but as there has been no recent contact between Sino-Tibetan, Na-Dené, and Yeniseian language families then any similarities these groups share must be residual.” ref

“Bouda, in various publications in the 1930s through the 1950s, described a linguistic network that (besides Yeniseian and Sino-Tibetan) also included Caucasian, and Burushaski, some forms of which have gone by the name of Sino-Caucasian. The works of R. Bleichsteiner and O.G. Tailleur, the late Sergei A. Starostin, and Sergei L. Nikolayev have sought to confirm these connections. Others who have developed the hypothesis, often expanded to Dené–Caucasian, include J.D. Bengtson, V. Blažek, J.H. Greenberg (with M. Ruhlen), and M. Ruhlen. George Starostin continues his father’s work in Yeniseian, Sino-Caucasian and other fields. This theory is very controversial or viewed as obsolete by other linguists.” ref

Syalakh culture

Syalakh culture is an early Neolithic culture of Yakutia and Eastern Siberia. It formed in the middle Lena river basin in the 5th — 4th millenniums BCE as a result of the migration of tribes from Transbaikalia, which assimilated the local Sumnagin culture (10,500-6,500 years ago) that was preceramic. The sites of the carriers of Syalakh culture are marked by the first appearance of polished stone tools, as well as the earliest ceramics (fired clay pottery with a characteristic mesh pattern). Bone harpoons, and bow and arrows have also been found. More than 50 sites of the Syalakh culture are known. In the decorative arts, a central place is occupied by the images of moose, which reflect mythological representation. The Syalakh culture was followed by the Belkachi culture. According to the linguists, the most likely hypothesis is that representatives of this culture spoke one of the Dené–Yeniseian languages. The ancient Paleo-Eskimo peoples were probably involved in these migrations.” ref

“According to Pavel Flegontov et al.,

“The new wave of population from northeastern Asia that arrived in Alaska at least 4,800 years ago displays clear archaeological precedents leading back to Central Siberia. … the Syalakh culture peoples, spreading across Siberia after 6,500 years ago, might represent the “ghost population” that split off around 6,500-7,000 years ago, and later gave rise to migrants into America.” ref

The Ymyyakhtakh culture was a Late Neolithic culture of Siberia, with a very large archaeological horizon, dating to c. 2200–1300 BCE. Its origins seem to be in the Lena river basin of Yakutia, and also along the Yenisei river. From there it spread to the east and west. Individual sites were also found in TaymyrThe Ymyyakhtakh made round-bottomed ceramics with waffle and ridge prints on the outer surface. Stone and bone arrowheads, spears, and harpoons are richly represented. Armour plates were also used in warfare. Finds of bronze ware are frequent in the burial grounds.” ref

“The culture was formed by the tribes migrating from the shores of Lake Baikal to the north, merging with the local substrate of the Bel’kachi culture. The carriers of culture are identified either with the Yukaghirs ethnic group, or perhaps with the Chukchi and Koryaks. The Ymyyakhtakh culture continued at least until the first centuries of our era. It was later replaced by the Ust-Mil culture. After 1,700 BCE, the Ymyyakhtakh culture is believed to have spread to the east as far as the Chukotka peninsula, where it was in cultural contact with the Eskimo–Aleut language speakers, and the Paleo-EskimosA ceramic complex comparable to the Ymyyakhtakh culture (typified by pottery with an admixture of wool) is also found in northern Fennoscandia near the end of the second millennium BCE.” ref

“A. Golovnev discusses Ymyyakhtakh culture in the context of a “circumpolar syndrome”:

“… some features of the East Siberian Ymyyakhtakh culture spread amazingly quickly as far as Scandinavia. Ceramics with wafer prints are found at the Late Bronze Age monuments of the Taimyr Peninsula, Yamal Peninsula, Bolshezemelskaya and Malozemelskaya tundra, the Kola Peninsula, and Finland (not to mention East Siberia and North-East Asia).” ref

Postglacial genomes from foragers across Northern Eurasia reveal prehistoric mobility associated with the spread of the Uralic and Yeniseian languages

“The North Eurasian forest and forest-steppe zones have sustained millennia of sociocultural connections among northern peoples. We present genome-wide ancient DNA data for 181 individuals from this region spanning the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age. We find that Early to Mid-Holocene hunter-gatherer populations from across the southern forest and forest-steppes of Northern Eurasia can be characterized by a continuous gradient of ancestry that remained stable for millennia, ranging from fully West Eurasian in the Baltic region to fully East Asian in the Transbaikal region. In contrast, cotemporaneous groups in far Northeast Siberia were genetically distinct, retaining high levels of continuity from a population that was the primary source of ancestry for Native Americans. By the mid-Holocene, admixture between this early Northeastern Siberian population and groups from Inland East Asia and the Amur River Basin produced two distinctive populations in eastern Siberia that played an important role in the genetic formation of later people. Ancestry from the first population, Cis-Baikal Late Neolithic–Bronze Age (Cisbaikal_LNBA), is found substantially only among Yeniseian-speaking groups and those known to have admixed with them.” ref

“Ancestry from the second, Yakutian Late Neolithic–Bronze Age (Yakutia_LNBA), is strongly associated with present-day Uralic speakers. We show how Yakutia_LNBA ancestry spread from an east Siberian origin ∼4,500 years ago, along with subclades of Y-chromosome haplogroup N occurring at high frequencies among present-day Uralic speakers, into Western and Central Siberia in communities associated with Seima-Turbino metallurgy: a suite of advanced bronze casting techniques that spread explosively across an enormous region of Northern Eurasia ∼4,000 years ago. However, the ancestry of the 16 Seima-Turbino-period individuals—the first reported from sites with this metallurgy—was otherwise extraordinarily diverse, with partial descent from Indo-Iranian-speaking pastoralists and multiple hunter-gatherer populations from widely separated regions of Eurasia. Our results provide support for theories suggesting that early Uralic speakers at the beginning of their westward dispersal where involved in the expansion of Seima-Turbino metallurgical traditions, and suggests that both cultural transmission and migration were important in the spread of Seima-Turbino material culture.” ref

“Long-distance similarities in language and shared material culture spanning thousands of kilometers across North Eurasia in the Early and Middle Holocene have been suggested to reflect a not only short-range neighbor-neighbor interactions, but also mobility in individuals’ lifetimes. These similarities across the forest zone of North Eurasia (also known as the taiga belt) have prompted diverse theories, ranging from extreme diffusionism (such as the “Circumpolar Stone Age”), to rapid longitudinal transmission of “ideas, materials, and peoples” through the taiga belt, to latitudinal contacts facilitated by major northward-flowing rivers such as the Irtysh, Ob’, Yenisei, and Lena. Uralic languages—spoken today in Central Europe (Hungarian), around the Baltic Sea (Finnish, Estonian and Saami), in Eastern Europe (Komi, Udmurt, Mari, and the Mordivinic languages Moksha and Erzya), and western, central, and far northern Siberia, including the Taimyr Peninsula (Khanty, Manis, Selkup, Nenets, Enets and Nganasan)—are one such Trans-continental connection.” ref 

“Genetic analysis has shown that all present-day Uralic-speaking populations (except for Hungarians) differ from their Indo-European speaking neighbors in having substantial Siberian-associated ancestry (ranging from ∼2% in Estonians to almost all the ancestry of Nganasans), mirrored in uniparental markers by a high frequency of Y-chromosome haplogroup N lineages originating in Siberia. Time transects of ancient DNA showed that this ancestry was intrusive in Europe, arriving after ∼3,500 years ago in Karelia and ∼2,600 years ago in the Baltic region in the regions where Uralic languages are now spoken. However, while genome-wide ancestry from Yamnaya steppe pastoralists has been identified as a “tracer-dye” that can highlight population movements associated with the spread of the Indo-European languages, no corresponding ancestry (or ancestries) have been identified in the ancient DNA record that may a similar role to highlight an analogous set of movements for Uralic populations. Efforts to discern these patterns are made difficult by sampling gaps in ancient DNA, combined with the disruptive effects of migrations in the last few thousand years associated with the spread of Indo-European, Turkic, and Mongolic languages that have made it difficult to reconstruct reliable population histories based on patterns of variation in present-day people.” ref

A Pleistocene population related to Native Americans that we call “Ancient Paleosiberians” (APS), mixed with two East Asian ancestry sources— “Inland Northeast Asian-related” and “Amur Basin-related” —to contribute to later populations throughout Siberia.” ref

“Early pottery users in a latitudinal belt across Northern Eurasia in the early-to-mid Holocene (∼10,000-5,000 years ago) including the forest-steppe and the forest belt immediately adjacent to it, constitute a continent-spanning east-west genetic cline comprising Eastern European-Hunter-Gatherer (EHG), Ancient North Eurasian (ANE), and East Asian ancestries. This “Forest-Steppe Hunter-Gatherer cline” (FSHG cline), began to dissolve due to population replacements in the Mid-Holocene (∼5,000 years ago).” ref

“A genetic turnover ∼5,400 years ago saw the emergence of a population, Cisbaikal_LNBA to the west of Lake Baikal. This ancestry spread from the Cis-Baikal region to the Yenisei region by the end of the Late Bronze Age ∼3,100 years ago. Today, the presence of this ancestry is strongly associated with Yeniseian-speaking populations and those likely to have mixed with them historically. We suggest that this ancestry was likely dispersed by population movements that spread Yeniseian languages.” ref

A genetic turnover by ∼4,500 years ago saw the emergence of a population in Northeast Siberia, Yakutia_LNBA. Today, this ancestry tends to be the only East Asian ancestry present among Uralic-speaking populations, a striking feature not shared by any other ethnolinguistic grouping. This ancestry appears in the Krasnoyarsk region along the Upper Yenisei, far to the Southwest of Yakutia, by ∼4,200 years ago alongside subclades of Y-chromosome haplogroup N found at high frequency among present-day Uralic-speaking males as far as the Baltic Sea. We suggest that this ancestry was likely dispersed by population movements that spread Uralic languages. Individuals associated with the Seima-Turbino (ST) phenomenon—an archaeological term for the sudden appearance of a distinct suite of bronze artifacts across an enormous expanse of Northern.” ref

“Prior work has shown that “Neosiberian” ancestry related to East Asians increased at the expense of APS ancestry in Northeast Siberia over the Holocene, from ∼10,000 to ∼3,000 years ago. Reserchers further infer that the East Asian ancestry in Northeast Siberians can be traced to at least two distinct sources: Inland Northeast Asian-related ancestry which we proxy in our analyses by the Yumin individual (under the population label China_NEastAsia_Inland_EN) from Inner Mongolia (∼8,400 years ago), and Amur River-related ancestry, represented by pre-Holocene hunter-gatherers of the Amur Basin (∼14,000 years ago, under the population label China_AmurRiver_14K).” ref

“The oldest sample in our Siberian transect with high East Asian and low APS ancestry, MiddleLena_KhatystyrCave_M_10,200 years ago, from a site along the Aldan tributary that empties into the Middle Lena, had extremely strong affinities to Amur River hunter-gatherers (SI VI.A.ii.c, VI.A.iii.b, VI.A.iv.e, Fig. 2B), but subsequent Early Holocene populations from further south (including the Kitoi-associated Transbaikal_EMN and Cisbaikal_EN fat ∼8,800-6,000 years ago, and Mongolia_N_North at ∼7,500 years ago from the Mongolian Plateau) have increasing affinities to the Inland Northeast Asian source (SI VI.A.ii.e, VI.A.iii.d, VI.A.iv.e, Fig 2B). We find that all populations of the FSHG cline East of the Altai, including Cisbaikal_EN, plausibly derive their East Asian ancestry from the Transbaikal_EMN population on which the cline terminates—a source intermediate in affinity between the Inland and Amur-related sources. But non-FSHG populations high in East Asian ancestry (such as Cisbaikal_LNBA or Holocene foragers from the Amur River Basin) deviate from this pattern. Thus, FSHGs and non-FSHGs may be differentiated by their mix of East Asian ancestries (SI VI.A.iv.d).” ref

“By the mid-Holocene in the Cis-Baikal region, ancestry from the Cisbaikal_LNBA cluster (∼5,100-3,700 years ago) replaced that of the Cisbaikal_EN cluster (8,000-6,600 years ago), in a population turnover coinciding with the transition from the Early Neolithic Kitoi culture to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Serovo, Isakovo and Glazkovo cultures. The incoming Cisbaikal_LNBA population is much higher in APS ancestry than Cisbaikal_EN and is distinctive in deriving its East Asian ancestry from a strongly Inland-related source (Fig. 2B, SI VI.A.ii.f, VI.A.iii.a). While the only fitting qpAdm models have the APS ancestry coming from an Ust-Kyakhta_1400 years ago-related population, we caution against overinterpreting this result due to the time gap separating the two populations. Despite their elevated APS ancestry, Cisbaikal_LNBA does not have increased shared drift with populations in the Americas or the Bering Straits when compared to other groups with similar ratios of ANE to East Asian ancestry (such as Ust-Kyakhta_14kya itself, Khaiyrgas_16,700 years ago. SG or FSHG populations from the Upper Yenisei region; Fig.1 center, Fig. 2A). Instead, it has high shared drift with populations from Central Siberia and especially the Yenisei River Basin (Extended Data Figure 8; SI Figure 77), and the analyses we present in upcoming sections show that ancestry from Cisbaikal_LNBA may be the first of two conduits by which APS ancestry persisted into present-day populations (i.e. it is a “Route 1” population, Fig. 2C, 3B; SI Section VI.A.iv.d & VI.D).” ref

“North of the Baikal region, in Northeast Siberia and its adjacent regions, the strongly Amur-Basin-related individual MiddleLena_KhatystyrCave_M_10,200 years ago was followed by the strongly APS-related MiddleVitim_Dzhilinda1_M_N_8,400 years ago. The increase in APS ancestry possibly results from admixture from a Kolyma_M_10,100 years ago-related source (SI VI.A.ii.d, VI.A.iii.c). APS ancestry then declines with admixture from East Asian sources over the Early and Middle Holocene, in a set of population turnovers coinciding with transitions between archaeological cultures. The first turnover occurred with the appearance of the Syalakh-Belkachi population (∼6,800-6,200 years ago, with ∼20% admixture from an East Asian source from the Baikal region admixing into the preceding MiddleVitim_Dzhilinda1_M_N_8,400 years ago). This was followed by a second turnover with the appearance of the Ymyyakhtakh-associated Yakutia_LNBA population (∼4,500-3,200 years ago, with ∼50% admixture from Transbaikal_EMN admixing into the preceding Syalakh-Belkachi population). Strikingly, this sequence of four populations from the Lena and Kolyma River Valleys in far Northeast Siberia: Kolyma_M_10,100 years ago, MiddleVitim_Dzhilinda1_M_N_8,400 years ago, Syalakh-Belkachi, and Yakutia_LNBA—includes all the ancient Siberian individuals that are shifted towards Native Americans and Bering Straits populations in PCAs.” ref

“This is corroborated by f4-statistics that show they share more drift with ancient and present-day Bering Straits populations than other groups with similar ratios of ANE to East Asian ancestry (e.g. Khaiyrgas_16,700 years ago, Ust_Kyakhta_14,000 years ago, all FSHG populations east of the Altai, or Cisbaikal_LNBA) do (Fig 2A). Using qpAdm, we infer that the third member of this sequence—the Syalakh-Belkachi population—made a major (∼70%) contribution to populations of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition of North America (SI VI.B.i, e.g. the Paleo-Eskimo Greenland_Saqqaq.SG); such Paleo-Eskimo-related ancestry (which is by extension Syalakh-Belkachi-related) then persisted into all later ancient and present-day groups such as Eskimo-Aleuts, Chukotko-Kamchatkans and Yukaghirs on both sides of the Bering Straits (SI VI.B.ii). This may account for these Northeast Siberians’ unique trans-Beringian genetic connections and may represent the second major route by which APS ancestry is mediated into present-day populations (i.e. they are “Route 2” populations, Figure 2C, SI Section VI.A.iv.d). We also find that these affinities do not extend to ancient Athabaskans (SI VI.B.iii-iv), an observation that is incompatible with earlier inferences from our group suggesting that Athabaskans and Paleo-Eskimos derive ancestry from the same migration from Eurasia. Instead, this supports suggestions of multiple late Holocene migratory movements into the Americas from Eurasia.” ref

An Early Holocene Forest-Steppe Hunter-Gatherer Cline

“From ∼10,000-4,000 years ago, all 150 newly reported and 81 previously published individuals from the North Eurasian forest-steppe and the Southern forest zone adjacent to it are part of the FSHG cline. This cline is visible in ADMIXTURE (Fig. 1 bottom, third row; Extended Data Fig. S4-6), and in PCA (Fig. 1, center) as an arc connecting pottery-using Eastern European foragers to their counterparts in the Transbaikal region through a chain of intermediate populations. The center of this cline lies close to the Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) individual Afontova-Gora 3 (AG3), and also Tarim_EMBA (an early Bronze Age population from the Tarim Basin that may descend from hunter-gatherers of Central Asia) (Fig. 1, center; Extended Data Fig. S4-6).” ref

“The great majority of the resulting FSHG “genetic populations” can be modeled in qpAdm as admixtures of four ancestries (84 out of 93 populations P>0.01): Western Hunter-Gatherer ancestry (WHG, represented by hunter-gatherers from Serbia ∼10,000 years ago), EHG ancestry (represented by a newly-published individual, I6413, from ∼10,000 years ago from a site of the Elshanka culture, the oldest pottery-using culture in Eastern Europe), Ancient North Eurasian ancestry (represented by AG3), and East Asian ancestry (represented by a ∼19,000 years ago individual from the Amur Basin; Figure 1 bottom, distal qpAdms; SI Section VI.E.i, Data S2 Table 1). Starting from the western end of the FSHG cline, hunter-gatherers from the Baltic to the Urals, attributed to (in the west) the Early Neolithic Elshanka, Late Neolithic Pit-Comb Ware/Lyalovo, and Eneolithic Volosovo cultures, and (in the east) to the Samara Eneolithic, Kama Estuary Eneolithic, and Eneolithic Ural cultures, have mostly EHG-related ancestry, with low levels of WHG-related ancestry, in line with previous findings.” ref

“Eastwards across the Urals, in populations of the Tobol and Middle Irtysh Early Neolithic and of the succeeding circle of Eneolithic West Siberian cultures using Comb-Pit Ware pottery, EHG ancestry admixed with Ancient North Eurasian ancestry and low levels of East Asian ancestry. These populations are genetically similar to adjacent Botai-attributed individuals from northern Kazakhstan (∼5,400-5,100 years ago). Further east, individuals from the Altai foothills and the upper Ob, from the Kuznetsk-Altai culture spanning the Early Neolithic and Eneolithic (from sites such as Firsovo-11, Tuzovskie-Bugry-1, and Ust’-Isha), can be modeled as two-way admixtures of Ancient North Eurasian and East Asian ancestry. This continues into individuals from Neolithic sites of the Upper Yenisei and Kan River Basin from sites without clear cultural attribution, where Ancient North Eurasian ancestry declines and East Asian ancestry increases. The gradient extends into the Kitoi culture of the Baikal region, through the previously discussed Cisbaikal_EN population, to terminate in the Transbaikal_EMN population that is almost completely East Asian in ancestry.” ref

“Because the latest individual in the archaeogenetic record that has near-unadmixed Ancient North Eurasian ancestry (AG3 at ∼16,000 years ago) is much older than any individual or population comprising the FSHG cline, we attempted to find proximal sources for the Ancient North Eurasian in Ancient North Eurasian-rich FSHG populations (i.e., all FSHGs west of the Altai). We find that two potential proximal sources successfully account for all their Ancient North Eurasian in qpAdm (even with AG3 in the references; Figure 1 bottom, second row; SI VI.E.ii): first, a source comprised of the oldest individuals (∼9,000 years ago) from the Kuznetsk-Altai Neolithic (Altai_N_old); and second, the Tarim_EMBA population (∼4,000 years ago). Tarim_EMBA postdates FSHG populations, but ADMIXTURE and PCA suggest gene flow between a source related to them and FSHGs in West Siberia (Fig. 1, center; Fig. 1, bottom, third row; Extended Data Fig. 10).” ref

“Outgroup rotation also shows that models without a Tarim_EMBA-related source tend to fail for West Siberian FSHGs when Tarim_EMBA are placed in the references (Fig. 1, bottom, center row; SI Section VI.E.ii). It has been suggested that populations genetically related to Tarim_EMBA lived in Central Asia before the arrival of pastoralism during the Bronze Age; ancestry from this source may have contributed to FSHG populations in West Siberia, explaining our results, a scenario made even more plausible by the recent discovery of an individual with this hypothesized profile from Mesolithic Tajikistan. Therefore, two sources may have admixed into the Ancient North Eurasian-rich populations in the center of the FSHG cline: a Tarim_EMBA-like population from Central Asia, and a population like that of the later Kuznetsk-Altai Neolithic of the Altai region.” ref

“The FSHG cline was marked by genetic stability from ∼10,000 to ∼5,000 years ago, providing evidence for continued genetic exchange between neighboring populations along the cline during this period. However, the archaeogenetic record shows that it fragmented in the Mid-Holocene following migrations from both West and East (Extended Data Fig. 1). From the West, these migrations brought Steppe_EMBA ancestry associated with Yamnaya pastoralists, followed by Europe_LNBA ancestry associated with the expansion of the Fatyanovo culture into the Volga basin, and then the closely-related Steppe_MLBA ancestry in populations of the Sintashta culture and of the Andronovo area. From the East, these migrations introduced Cisbaikal_LNBA ancestry at ∼5.4,00 years ago. Subsequently, admixture between Steppe_MLBA and East Asian ancestries gave rise to admixed groups across much of Northern Eurasia and Central Asia, culminating in the multiple genetic clines found among present-day Turkic-, Mongolic-, Tungusic, Uralic- and Yeniseian-speaking populations, who retain little ancestry from the FSHG cline (Fig 3C, bottom row; Extended Data Fig 4; Fig S5).” ref

“To evaluate the contribution that FSHG and East Siberian populations made to the genetic formation of later populations across Northern Eurasia, we genetically analyzed a set of AIEA (Admixed Inner Eurasian) populations—our term for ancient and present-day Uralic, Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic and Yeniseian-speaking populations plus pastoralists of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, including Scythians, Sarmatians, and Xiongnu. We replicate the finding that FSHG populations contribute little to the genetic formation of later AIEA populations. Instead, the two latest populations of our East Siberian transect, Cisbaikal_LNBA, and Yakutia_LNBA, played an important role in the genetic formation of Yeniseian- and Uralic-speaking populations respectively.” ref

Eastern Hunter-Gatherer with Q DNA

In archaeogenetics, the term Eastern Hunter-Gatherer (EHG), sometimes East European Hunter-Gatherer, or Eastern European Hunter-Gatherer is the name given to a distinct ancestral component that represents Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of Eastern EuropeThe Eastern Hunter Gatherer genetic profile is mainly derived from Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry, which was introduced from Siberia, with a secondary and smaller admixture of European Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHG). Still, the relationship between the ANE and EHG ancestral components is not yet well understood due to lack of samples that could bridge the spatiotemporal gap.” ref

The formation of the EHG ancestral component is estimated to have happened 13,000–15,000 years ago. EHG associated remains belonged primarily to the human Y-chromosome haplogroups R1, with a lower frequency of haplogroup J and Q. Their mitochondrial chromosomes belonged primarily to haplogroup U2U4U5, as well as C1 and R1b. Haak et al. (2015) identified the Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHG) as a distinct genetic cluster in two males only. The EHG male of Samara (dated to ca. 5650-5550 BCE) carried Y-haplogroup R1b1a1a* and mt-haplogroup U5a1d. The other EHG male, buried in Karelia (dated to ca. 5500-5000 BCE) carried Y-haplogroup R1a1 and mt-haplogoup C1g. The authors of the study also identified a Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) cluster and a Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG) cluster, intermediate between WHG and EHG. They suggested that EHGs harbored mixed ancestry from Ancient North Eurasians (ANEs) and WHGs.” ref

“During the Mesolithic, the EHGs inhabited an area stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Urals and downwards to the Pontic–Caspian steppe. Along with Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (SHG) and Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHG), the EHGs constituted one of the three main genetic groups in the postglacial period of early Holocene Europe. The border between WHGs and EHGs ran roughly from the lower Danube, northward along the western forests of the Dnieper towards the western Baltic Sea. During the Neolithic and early Eneolithic, likely during the 4th millennium BC EHGs on the Pontic–Caspian steppe mixed with Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHGs) with the resulting population, almost half-EHG and half-CHG, forming the genetic cluster known as Western Steppe Herder (WSH). WSH populations closely related to the people of the Yamnaya culture are supposed to have embarked on a massive migration leading to the spread of Indo-European languages throughout large parts of Eurasia.” ref

“Haak et al. (2015) identified the Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHG) as a distinct genetic cluster in two males only. The EHG male of Samara (dated to ca. 5650-5550 BCE) carried Y-haplogroup R1b1a1a* and mt-haplogroup U5a1d. The other EHG male, buried in Karelia (dated to ca. 5500-5000 BCE) carried Y-haplogroup R1a1 and mt-haplogoup C1g. The authors of the study also identified a Western Hunter-Gatherer (WHG) cluster and a Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherer (SHG) cluster, intermediate between WHG and EHG. They suggested that EHGs harbored mixed ancestry from Ancient North Eurasians (ANEs) and WHGs. Researchers have proposed various admixture proportion models for EHGs from WHGs and ANEs.  Posth et al. (2023) found that most EHG indivduals carried 70% ANE ancestry and 30% WHG ancestry. The high contribution from Ancient North Eurasians is also visible in a subtle affinity of the EHG to the 40,000-year-old Tianyuan man from Northern China, which can be explained by geneflow from a Tianyuan-related source into the ANE lineage (represented by Malta and Afontova Gora 3), which later substantially contributed to the formation of the EHG.” ref

“EHGs may have mixed with “an Armenian-like Near Eastern source”, which formed the Yamnaya culture, as early as the Eneolithic (5200-4000 BCE). The people of the Yamnaya culture were found to be a mix of EHG and a “Near Eastern related population”. During the 3rd millennium BCE, the Yamnaya people embarked on a massive expansion throughout Europe, which significantly altered the genetic landscape of the continent. The expansion gave rise to cultures such as Corded Ware, and was possibly the source of the distribution of Indo-European languages in Europe. The people of the Mesolithic Kunda culture and the Narva culture of the eastern Baltic were a mix of WHG and EHG, showing the closest affinity with WHG. Samples from the Ukrainian Mesolithic and Neolithic were found to cluster tightly together between WHG and EHG, suggesting genetic continuity in the Dnieper Rapids for a period of 4,000 years. The Ukrainian samples belonged exclusively to the maternal haplogroup U, which is found in around 80% of all European hunter-gatherer samples.” ref

“The people of the Pit–Comb Ware culture (PCW/CCC) of the eastern Baltic bear 65% EHG ancestry. This is in contrast to earlier hunter-gatherers in the area, who were more closely related to WHG. This was demonstrated using a sample of Y-DNA extracted from a Pit–Comb Ware individual. This belonged to R1a15-YP172. The four samples of mtDNA extracted constituted two samples of U5b1d1, one sample of U5a2d, and one sample of U4a. Günther et al. (2018) analyzed 13 SHGs and found all of them to be of EHG ancestry. Generally, SHGs from western and northern Scandinavia had more EHG ancestry (ca 49%) than individuals from eastern Scandinavia (ca. 38%). The authors suggested that the SHGs were a mix of WHGs who had migrated into Scandinavia from the south, and EHGs who had later migrated into Scandinavia from the northeast along the Norwegian coast. SHGs displayed higher frequences of genetic variants that cause light skin (SLC45A2 and SLC24A5), and light eyes (OCA/Herc2), than WHGs and EHGs.” ref

“Members of the Kunda culture and Narva culture were also found to be more closely related with WHG, while the Pit–Comb Ware culture was more closely related to EHG. Northern and eastern areas of the eastern Baltic were found to be more closely related to EHG than southern areas. The study noted that EHGs, like SHGs and Baltic hunter-gatherers, carried high frequencies of the derived alleles for SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, which are codings for light skin. Mathieson et al. (2018) analyzed the genetics of a large number of skeletons of prehistoric Eastern Europe. Thirty-seven samples were from Mesolithic and Neolithic Ukraine (9500-6000 BCE). These were classified as intermediate between EHG and SHG. The males belonged exclusively to R haplotypes (particularly subclades of R1b1 and R1a) and I haplotypes (particularly subclades of I2). Mitochondrial DNA belonged almost exclusively to U (particularly subclades of U5 and U4).” ref

“A large number of individuals from the Zvejnieki burial ground, which mostly belonged to the Kunda culture and Narva culture in the eastern Baltic, were analyzed. These individuals were mostly of WHG descent in the earlier phases, but over time EHG ancestry became predominant. The Y-DNA of this site belonged almost exclusively to haplotypes of haplogroup R1b1a1a and I2a1. The mtDNA belonged exclusively to haplogroup U (particularly subclades of U2, U4 and U5). Forty individuals from three sites of the Iron Gates Mesolithic in the Balkans were estimated to be of 85% WHG and 15% EHG descent. The males at these sites carried exclusively R1b1a and I (mostly subclades of I2a) haplotypes. mtDNA belonged mostly to U (particularly subclades of U5 and U4). People of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture were found to harbor about 20% hunter-gatherer ancestry, which was intermediate between EHG and WHG.” ref

“Narasimshan et al. (2019) coined a new ancestral component, West Siberian Hunter-Gatherer (WSHG). WSHGs contained about 20% EHG ancestry, 73% ANE ancestry, and 6% East Asian ancestry. Unlike the Yamnaya culture, in the Dnieper–Donets culture no Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) or Early European Farmer (EEF) ancestry has been detected. Dnieper-Donets males and Yamnaya males carry the same paternal haplogroups (R1b and I2a), suggesting that the CHG and EEF admixture among the Yamnaya came through EHG males mixing with EEF and CHG females. According to David W. Anthony, this suggests that the Indo-European languages were initially spoken by EHGs living in Eastern Europe. Other studies have suggested that the Indo-European language family may have originated not in Eastern Europe, but among West Asian populations.” ref

“The EHGs are suggested to have had mostly brown eyes and light skin,  with “intermediate frequencies of the blue-eye variants” and “high frequencies of the light-skin variants.”  An EHG from Karelia was determined by Günther (2018) to have high probabilities of being brown-eyed and dark haired, with a predicted intermediate skin tone. Another EHG from Samara was predicted to be light skinned, and was determined to have a high probability of being blue-eyed with a light hair shade, with a 75% calculated probability of being blond-haired. The rs12821256 allele of the KITLG gene that controls melanocyte development and melanin synthesis, which is associated with blond hair and first found in an individual from Siberia dated to around 17,000 years ago, is found in three Eastern Hunter-Gatherers from Samara, Motala and Ukraine c. 10,000 years ago, suggesting that this allele originated in the Ancient North Eurasian population, before spreading to western Eurasia.” ref

“Many remains of East Hunter-Gatherers dated to circa 8,100 years ago (6,100 BCE) have also been excavated at Yuzhny Oleny island in Lake Onega. The Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry is by far the main component of the Yuzhny Oleny group, and is among the highest within the rest of the Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHG). As hunter-gatherers, the EHGs initially relied on stone tools and artifacts derived from ivory, horns or antlers. From circa 5,900 BCE, they started to adopt pottery in the area of the northern Caspian Sea, or possibly from beyond the Ural. In barely three or four centuries, pottery spread over a distance of about 3,000 kilometers, reaching as far as the Baltic sea. This technological spread was much faster than the spread of agriculture itself, and mainly occurred through technology transfer between hunter-gatherer groups, rather than through the demic diffusion of agriculturalist.” ref

Okunev culture Q DNA

“The Okunev culture, was a south Siberian archaeological culture of pastoralists of the early Bronze Age dated from the end of the 3rd millennium BC to the early of the 2nd millennium BC in the Minusinsk Basin on the middle and upper Yenisei. It was formed from the local Neolithic Siberian forest cultures, who also show evidence of admixture from Western Steppe Herders and pre-existing Ancient North Eurasians. Initially, the burials from Okunev were attributed by Teploukhov to the Andronovo culture. Then, on the basis of vessel finds, Teploukhov considered the population to be a transitional variant between the Afanasievo and Andronovo cultures.” ref

“In 1955-1957 A.N. Lipsky found Okunev stone slabs with images as part of stone boxes used for burials. Lipsky, who was an ethnographer, not an archaeologist, assumed that the Okunev sites were pre-Afanasiev and attributed them to the Paleolithic era, since he considered the Okunev people to be the ancestors of the American Paleo-Indians, based on parallels in art and anthropology. In the early 1960s G. A. Maksimenkov identified an Okunev culture based on the excavations of the Chernovaya VIII burial ground, whose burials had not been disturbed by later invasions and did not contain Afanasevo ceramics.” ref

The typological horizon between the development of the Afanas’ev and Okunev steppe cultures in the Minusinsk Basin and the development of the later Andronovo type is very thin. Finds from the Okunev culture include works of art, including stone statues with human faces (Tas Khyz, as well as Ulug Khurtuyakh tas) and images of birds and beasts hammered out on stone slabs or engraved on bone plaques. There are no significant indications of property and social stratification. The basis of the population’s economic activity was stock-raising and animal husbandry (cattle, sheep, and goats), supplemented by hunting and fishing. Stone hoes, grain graters, and pestles, and a reaping sickle with a copper blade and horn handle all testify to agriculture.ref

“Though the ceramic styles of the Okunev are more comparable to later Incised Coarse Ware (ICW), formally and ambiguously Andronovo ceramics. But as the researchers note, the uniqueness of each of them is an important feature of the Okunev culture. Finds from the Okunev culture include lavishly decorated jug-like and conical vessels. Okunev ceramics are typically flat-bottomed, with notable continuous ornamentation of the body, the bottom, edge of the rim and its inner side. Most often these are jar vessels, but there are also incense burners with an internal partition.ref

Okunevtsy had developed metallurgy based on the ores of the Sayano-Altai mining and metallurgy areas. Okunevtsy and the neighboring Samus culture produced the first bronze in north-eastern Central Asia. Finds include copper and tin and rarely arsenical bronze articles. Simple copper objects were superseded by tin alloys. Bronzes were common in this culture. Tools included embedded-handled knives, leaf-shaped knives, awls, fishhooks, and temporal rings. Along with forgingcasting was also used, which indicates a rather high level of metalworking. Ornaments of this culture consist mainly of ring-shaped ornaments with circular cross-sections and flat joints at both ends.ref

Warfare: Short swords are relatively advanced with clear boundaries between the handles and the blades. A bronze spear was found at the late Okunevo cultural site, the socket of which was forged with two loose ends. The first of this kind appeared in the Asian steppe region. Besides copper and bronze weapons, the Okunev culture also had charriots as attested by their petroglyphs.ref

“The Okunevo culture is represented mostly by mounds burial structures, which were composed of small, rectangular surface enclosures made of stone slabs or sandstone tiles placed vertically in the ground. Within these enclosures were graves that were also lined with stone slabs. 62 Okunevo kurgans consisting of more than 500 burials and 60 single burials have been studied. The cemeteries of the Okunev culture are located, as a rule, not far from the Afanasiev ones and number from two to ten burial mounds. Sometimes burial complexes measure 40 × 40 meters. The number of graves inside the fence varies – from one to ten and even twenty. In addition to single burials, there are paired and collective burials. In almost every burial ground, there are burials of a man with two women. The buried were laid, as in Afanasiev’s time, on their backs with legs strongly bent at the knees and arms extended along the body.ref

Okunev culture shares some elements of its material culture, including pottery. with a number of local contemporaneous cultures from adjacent areas such as the Samus’, Elunino, Karacol, and Krotovo cultures of western  Siberia and Altai, the Kanay type burials of eastern Kazakhstan, and the Okunevo-like culture of TuvaThe connections between the Afanasiev and Okunev cultures are rather difficult to trace. The period of their interaction lasted only about a hundred years, but in some territories coexistence is noted. Archaeologists have identified many complexes containing signs of both Okunev and Afanasevo origins. However, almost no genetic traces of Afanasevtsy have been found in the Okunev genotype, meaning Afanasiev population was displaced by the alien Okunevtsy.ref

“The similarity between some of the objects from the Okunev burial grounds and objects in the vicinity of the middle Ob River and the Lake Baikal region indicates that the bearers of the Okunev culture came to southern Siberia from the northern taiga regions. While the preceding Afanasevo culture is considered Indo-European, the Okunev culture is generally regarded as an extension of the local non-Indo-European forest culture into the region. The Okunev people closely interacted with successor cultures of the Andronovo circle.ref

“The settlements of this culture have been little studied. Mountain Fortress Sve mountain settlements with fortifications (about 45 were found on the territory of Khakassia) are mainly considered cult complexes. The fortress of Chebaki is one of the first archeologically studied Sve. Settlements are known on the territory of Tuva on upper Yenisei. The Okunev people used two- and four-wheeled carts. In the rock art of the Minusinsk Basin, images of early (end of the 3rd millennium BCE) two-wheeled carts with a composite drawbar of two poles converging at an angle, which simultaneously form the body frame, are common. The design of the wagons and the profile manner of depiction indicate a connection not with Eastern Europe, but with the western regions of Central Asia and, indirectly, with Asia Minor.ref

“According to A. G. Kozintsev, the appearance of the Okunev people varies depending on the region. The Okunev people of the Minusinsk Basin were the descendants of the local Neolithic population, which was distinguished by its significant originality against the background of the races of the first order. The Okunev people of Tuva show stronger influence from the Pits culture and early Catacomb culture of Ukraine. He argues that the main ancestry of the Okunev people can be traced back to the local Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) and that the anthropologic type of the Okunev people can be described as “Americanoid“, noting the specific overlaps in characteristics with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.ref

“According to A. V. Polyakov, the culture was formed from the local Neolithic Paleo-Siberian forest cultures and later received some admixture from the Caspian Sea by a group of mostly male pastoralists of the Yamnaya cultureWhile some authors have suggested that the Okunevo may have descended from more northern tribes that replaced Afanasievo cultures in this region, others believe the Okunevo culture was the result of contact between local Neolithic hunter-gatherers with western pastoralists. The second theory that is supported at the present time by most researchers suggests that Okunevo culture resulted from the interaction of local Neolithic hunter-gatherers with Western Steppe Herders.ref

“Autosomal DNA analysis found that the Okunevo people formed predominantly from a lineage originating from the admixture of Ancient Northeast Asians (ANA) with Ancient North Eurasians (ANE), with around 10-20% genetic admixture from Western Steppe Herders, as represented by the Yamnaya or Afanasievo cultures. The Western Steppe Herder ancestry is absent from the X chromosome of Okunevo spcecimens, suggesting it was inherited from mostly male ancestors. The date of admixture is estimated to have been around 7,000 years ago. According to recent studies, modern Native American Indians are genetically close to representatives of the Okunev culture, which confirms previous craniometric studies. Their shared affinities probably come from the presence of Ancient North Eurasian and Ancient East Asian ancestries in both populations dating back to the formation of Ancient Paleo-Siberians.ref

“The Okunevo population showed also genetic affinities with the Botai culture, some of the Tarim mummies, and Altai hunter-gatherers. The results of the analysis of the origin of the ancient steppe populations of nomads of the Eurasian steppe (from the Urals to Altai), including representatives of the Bronze Age Okunev culture from the Sayan-Altai, showed that the samples contained components that were most pronounced in Ancient North Eurasian, Eastern hunter-gatherers, Caucasian hunter-gatherers from Georgia and also occur from the component that is most pronounced among the Nganasans (Samoyedic people) and is widely distributed among various modern people from Siberia and Central Asia.ref

Hollard et al. (2018) reported the paternal haplogroups of 6 Okunevo specimens. 50% of the Okunevo males belonged to the East Eurasian haplogroup NO(xO). The other 50% belonged to West Eurasian haplogroups: including 33% assigned to Q1b, and 16% with R1b1a2-M269According to Holllard (2018), 58% of Okunevo specimens carried the East Eurasian haplogroups A, C or D, while 41% carried the West Eurasian haplogroups T, U, H, or JThe mitochondrial haplogroup A-a1b3* was identified in the RISE674 sample (4300–3850 years ago, Okunevo_EMBA). In representatives of the Okunev culture from the burial ground of Syda V (Minusinsk Basin), a variety of mitochondrial DNA variants was determined. The Okunevs belonged to the West Eurasian (U, H, J, and T) and East Eurasian (A, C, and D) subbranches of haplogroups.ref

“Okunevo Steles with drawings from burial vaults are unique. The stone slabs are dominated by realistic images of animals and masks in headdresses, which apparently had a cult character. Rock art monuments are being studied, and new ones are being discovered that were not studied by previous researchers. Menhirs are common in the territory of modern Khakassia and the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Krai. More than 300 of them have been explored on the territory of the Minusinsk Basin. Only 10 sites are known on the right bank of the Yenisei. The impressive stone steles were originally erected at gravesites and were subsequently reused more than a millennium later in the Scythian-era kurgans of Tagar Culture.ref

“The Okunevo culture, together with the spread of the Seima-Turbino material culture, may be in part be linked to the expansion of Proto-Uralic speakers. Peyrot (2019) argues that “the Okunevo Culture is not to be identified with early Samoyedic, but with Proto-Uralic. This is consistent with Janhunen’s convincing arguments that the Ural-Altaic typological profile of Uralic and the primary split between Samoyedic and Finno-Ugric point to an eastern origin (2001; 2009), and it would be just in time for Finno-Ugric to split off and move west towards the Ural Mountains, where this branch was influenced by Proto-Indo-Iranian (e.g. Kuz’mina 2001).ref

“A. G. Kozintsev (2023) argues that the Okunevo culture is better associated with a Yeniseian-related group, possibly Burushaski or an extinct Yeniseian branch. According to him, an Uralic affilation is unlikely, as Uralic was spoken by people with different material culture, although contact with early Uralic-speakers is plausible. He also reject a possible Indo-Iranian linguistic affilation, as although the Okunevo culture displays influence from Indo-Iranian groups, they show continuity with previous Ancient Paleo-Siberians, rather than with the Yamnaya culture.ref

“The vivid character of the art of the Okunev culture is created by monumental stone sculptures and steles carved with anthropomorphic images. The stone statues are usually tall, up to six meters in height, carved of sandstone or granite into a saber shape. The front is its narrow edge. More than 300 of them have been studied in the Minusinsk Basin, cur only ten are known on the right bank of the Yenisei river. Many of them are now in museums. A fantastic mask looks at the viewer from it: three eyes, nostrils, a huge mouth, horns, long ears and all kinds of processes. The image moves from the front face to the wide side, and sometimes to the back. In addition to the central mask, there are often additional, smaller ones. Sometimes the statue depicts the mouth of a predator, sometimes bulls, many so-called solar symbols. They come in different styles, but usually it is a circle inscribed in a square, a kind of mandala, a symbol of the cosmos. This sign is now an official symbol, on the state flag and the state emblem of modern Khakassia. It was discussed that vertical steles might be used as the ancient tool of orientation in space – time milestones and gnomons  sundial of solar hours calendars. A graphical drawing of vertical sundial can be seen in the divergent rays on sun-facing stele, where the tooth is a benchmark for the accurate determination of noon.ref

The Okunev culture erected monumental stelae at gravesites. They were either anthropomorphic or zoomorphic with geometric patterns. Steles often incorporated a human head, bent forward slightly. The steles were often re-used by later cultures. For example the Early Turks (Gökturks) often inscribed them with Old-Turkish runic inscriptions, such as the Orkhon inscriptions or Yenisei inscriptions. Similarities have been noted between the geometrical anthropomorphic motifs of the Afanasievo culture and Okunev culture of the Minusinsk basin in Siberia, and those on the earlier potteries of Banpo (c. 4000 BCE), of the Yangshao culture in northern China. Pottery style emerging from the Yangshao culture are known to have spread westward to the Majiayao culture, and then further to Xinjiang and Central Asia.ref

“The following artistic features are distinguished:

  • free scatter of figures in the pictorial field;
  • the presence of anthropomorphic masks;
  • elongated proportions of stylized figures;
  • a variety of fantastic animals;
  • anthropomorphic creatures with bird and animal heads;
  • the sacred (world) mountain in the form of a triangle, divided into parts;
  • triadic compositions, in which the image of a female deity or its symbol is flanked by two figures of a person or animal;
  • images of deities in pointed hats and with bull horns;
  • images of Janus anthropomorphic deities;
  • images of anthropomorphic figures with two eagle heads;
  • images of birds and ornithomorphic figures with a spiral “tuft” on their heads;
  • figures of a man with legs and head turned in profile, and the body in front;
  • images of characters under the arch of the “firmament”;
  • solar sign.ref

Samus culture

The Samus culture (ru: Самусьская культураromanizedSamus’skaya kul’turalit.‘Samus culture’ ) is an Early Bronze Age archaeological culture, around 2000 BCE. It was widespread in Tomsk-Narym Basin Southern Western Siberia, on the middle Irtysh, and in the upper reaches of the Ob and showed close ties to the neighboring Krotov cultureIn 1974 Kosarev M.F. considered, that the Samus culture developed, when Yeniseian speakers assimilated a Paleosiberian group and it was subsequently Samoyedicized and gave rise to cultures ancestral to modern Selkups, consequently, the Selkups are in part Samoyedicized KetsIn 2010 according to Chernykh and Kuzmineh, Samus – Kizhirovo culture was believed to be succession of the Seima-Turbino culture.” ref

“On the territory of the Irtysh region the monuments of the Samus community are Chernoozerye VI, Okunevo XI, Rostovkinsky burial ground. The Rostovkinsky burial ground near Omsk is located on the border of the Krotov culture, Samus’sky culture and steppe areas and more characterizes the Samus’sky – Seima chronological layer in these territories as a whole than any individual culture of this time. The settlements of the Samus culture were partly fortified with a ditch, partly unfortified. In their interior there were slightly deepened pit houses. The largest settlement Samus IV in the area of the Samus culture was main bronze casting center. Although bronze was already processed by the bearers of the Samus culture, as evidenced by molds and bronze fragments, flint and bone continued to be important materials.” ref

Various vessels can be found in finds from the Samus culture, but in almost all cases, they have a flat bottom. The decoration consists of either horizontal lines arranged in waves or chevrons, meander hooks, and hatched triangles. Motifs on Samus pottery find analog with Selkup and Ket ornament. A particular group is decorated with incised anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs (bears), particularly human faces. Associated with them are some figural stone sculptures depicting human and animal heads and phalli. The Samus crossed sun motif resembles the design on Ket shaman’s tamburin. Representative art: small amulets, tall stone steles, and petroglyphs.” ref 

“Bear small figurines amulets presumably had an apotropaic function, they were worn as Bronze pedants or in the form of clay statuettes. Samus worshiped the sun, moon, eagle, and swan. The dead were buried in shallow graves; mostly burials, more rarely cremations. An upper class of warriors with weapon accessories are noticeable. Contact existed between the Samus and Okunev cultures in the Achinsk – Mariinsk forest-steppe area. There was also contact with neighboring southwestern cultures such as the Petrovka culture.” ref

Late Uralic can be traced back to metallurgical cultures thanks to terms like Proto-Uralic *wäśka ‘copper/bronze’ (borrowed from Proto-Samoyedic *wesä into Tocharian); Proto-Uralic *äsa and *olna/*olni, ‘lead’ or ‘tin’, found in *äsa-wäśka ‘tin-bronze’; and e.g. *weŋći ‘knife’, borrowed into Indo-Iranian (through the stage of vocalization of nasals), appearing later as Proto-Indo-Aryan *wāćī ‘knife, awl, axe.” ref

“It is known that the southern regions of the Abashevo culture developed Proto-Indo-Iranian-speaking Sintashta-Petrovka and Pokrovka (Early Srubna). To the north, however, Abashevo kept its Uralic nature, with continuous contacts allowing for the spread of lexicon – mainly into Finno-Ugric – , and phonetic influence – mainly Uralisms into Proto-Indo-Iranian phonology (read more here).” ref

“The northern part of Abashevo (just like the south) was mainly a metallurgical society, with Abashevo metal prospectors found also side by side with Sintashta pioneers in the Zeravshan Valley, near BMAC, in search of metal ores. About the Seima-Turbino phenomenon, from Parpola (2013):

From the Urals to the east, thechain of cultures associated with this networkconsisted principally of the following: theAbashevoculture (extending from the Upper Don to the Mid- and South Trans-Urals,including the important cemeteries of Sejma and Turbino), theSintashtaculture (in the southeast Urals), thePetrovkaculture (in the Tobol-Ishim steppe), theTaskovo-Loginovocultures (on the Mid- and Lower Tobol and the Mid-Irtysh), theSamus’culture (on the Upper Ob, with the important cemetery of Rostovka), theKrotovoculture (from the forest steppe of the Mid-Irtysh to the Baraba steppe on the Upper Ob, with the important cemetery of Sopka 2), theEluninoculture (on the Upper Ob just west of the Altai mountains) and theOkunevoculture (on the Mid-Yenissei, in the Minusinsk plain, Khakassia and northern Tuva). The Okunevo culture belongs wholly to the Early Bronze Age (c. 2250–1900 BCE), but most of the other cultures apparently to its latter part, being currently dated to the pre-Andronovo horizon of c. 2100–1800 BCE (cf. Parzinger 2006: 244–312 and 336; Koryakova & Epimakhov 2007: 104–105).” ref

“The majority of the Sejma-Turbino objects are of the better quality tin-bronze, and while tin is absent in the Urals, the Altai and Sayan mountains are an important source of both copper and tin. Tin is also available in southern Central Asia. Chernykh & Kuz’minykh have accordingly suggested an eastern origin for the Sejma-Turbino network, backing this hypothesis also by the depiction on the Sejma-Turbino knives of mountain sheep and horses characteristic of that area. However, Christian Carpelan has emphasized that the local Afanas’evo and Okunevo metallurgy of the Sayan-Altai area was initially rather primitive, and could not possibly have achieved the advanced and difficult technology of casting socketed spearheads as one piece around a blank.” ref

“Carpelan points out that the first spearheads of this type appear in the Middle Bronze Age Caucasia c. 2000 BCE, diffusing early on to the Mid-Volga-Kama-southern Urals area, where “it was the experienced Abashevo craftsmen who were able to take up the new techniques and develop and distribute new types of spearheads” (Carpelan & Parpola 2001: 106, cf. 99–106, 110). The animal argument is countered by reference to a dagger from Sejma on the Oka river depicting an elk’s head, with earlier north European prototypes (Carpelan & Parpola 2001: 106–109). Also the metal analysis speaks for the Abashevo origin of the Sejma-Turbino network. Out of 353 artefacts analyzed, 47% were of tin-bronze, 36% of arsenical bronze, and 8.5% of pure copper. Both the arsenical bronze and pure copper are very clearly associated with the Abashevo metallurgy.” ref

“The Abashevo metal production was based on the Volga-Kama-Belaya area sandstone ores of pure copper and on the more easterly Urals deposits of arsenical copper (Figure 9). The Abashevo people, expanding from the Don and Mid-Volga to the Urals, first reached the westerly sandstone deposits of pure copper in the Volga and Kama basins, and started developing their metallurgy in this area, before moving on to the eastern side of the Urals to produce harder weapons and tools of arsenical copper. Eventually they moved even further south, to the area richest in copper in the whole Urals region, founding there the very strong and innovative Sintashta culture.” ref

“Regarding the most likely expansion of Eastern Uralic peoples:

Nataliya L’vovna Chlenova (1929–2009; cf. Korenyako & Ku’zminykh 2011) published in 1981 a detailed study of the Cherkaskul’ pottery. In her carefully prepared maps of 1981 and 1984 (Figure 10), she plottedCherkaskul’ monuments not only in Bashkiria and the Trans-Urals, but also in thick concentrations on the Upper Irtysh, Upper Ob and Upper Yenissei, close to the Altai and Sayan mountains, precisely where the best experts suppose the homeland of Proto-Samoyed to be.” ref

Groups partially derived from the Ancient North Eurasians

One of which is related to Iran

Iran Neolithic (Iran_N) individuals dated ~8,500 years ago carried 50% Ancient North Eurasian (ANE)-derived admixture and 50% Dzudzuana-related admixture, marking them as different from other Near-Eastern and Anatolian Neolithics who didn’t have Ancient North Eurasian admixture. Iran Neolithics were later replaced by Iran Chalcolithics, who were a mixture of Iran Neolithic and Near Eastern Levant Neolithic.” ref

Genomic studies also indicate that the Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) component was introduced to Western Europe by people related to the Yamnaya culture, long after the Paleolithic. It is reported in modern-day Europeans (10%–20%). Additional ANE ancestry is found in European populations through Paleolithic interactions with Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers, which resulted in populations such as Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers. Kozintsev (2020) refers to the Ancient North Eurasians and their closest relatives, specifically Native AmericansChukchiKoryaksKetsKhakas, and Selkups, as well as the historical Southern Siberian Okunev population, as possessing a distinct craniometric phenotype, which he dubbed “Americanoid”, which represents the variation of the first humans in Siberia. He further argues that “As the geography and chronology of the ANE component show, it is misleading to describe it as Western Eurasian and associate it solely with ancient Caucasoids. To all appearances, it emerged before the Caucasoid-Mongoloid split.” ref

My “Steppe-Anatolian-Kurgan hypothesis” 9,000/8,000-7,000 years ago

My speculations on a likely “Steppe-Anatolian-Kurgan hypothesis”

To me, what I call “Paganism” starts around 12,000 years ago in Turkey/Anatolia in West Aisa. The odd thing is most of the world’s religious myths/fables start or commonly relate to “Siberia” like “Lake Baikal/Golden Mountains of Altai” region and “North China” like “Chertovy Vorota Cave (Devil’s Gate Cave)” area at 8,000/7,000 years ago and they were transferred to the Middle East as well as East Europe/Balkans/Ukraine/Russia.

Steppe-Anatolian-Kurgan hypothesis (by Damien Marie AtHope)

To me, Proto-Indo-European language starts in the steppe after leaving North Asia, then one part heads to #1 Turkey/Anatolia with “Anatolian language” maybe 9,000-8,000 years ago, and the other part to #2 Ukraine/Russia and the rest of Proto-Indo-European. Mythology started 7,000-8,000 or maybe 9,000 to 10,000 years ago in North Asia around the time of Millet agriculture. I think Proto-Indo-European is related to Dené–Caucasian languages, such as Pre/Proto-Yeniseian, or maybe Dené–Yeniseian language family, such as Pre/Proto-Na-Dené. If not that then, I surmise that Proto-Indo-European emerges or is connected with the distribution of the 98 “Transeurasian” languages, also called the Altaic language familytraced to Neolithic Millet farmers who inhabited a region in north-eastern China about 9,000 years ago. ref

Some of the earliest evidence of Millet cultivation in China was found at Cishan (north), where proso millet husk phytoliths and biomolecular components have been identified around 10,300–8,700 years ago in storage pits along with remains of pit-houses, pottery, and stone tools related to millet cultivation.” ref

“Altaic (also called Transeurasian) is a sprachbund (i.e. a linguistic area) and controversial proposed language family that would include the TurkicMongolic, and Tungusic language families and possibly also the Japonic and Koreanic languages. Speakers of these languages are currently scattered over most of Asia north of 35 °N and in some eastern parts of Europe, extending in longitude from Turkey to Japan. The group is named after the Altai mountain range in the center of Asia. The research on their supposedly common linguistics origin has inspired various comparative studies on the folklore and mythology among the TurksProto-Mongols and Tungus people.” ref

“Although Neolithic Northeast Asia was characterized by widespread plant cultivation, cereal farming expanded from several centers of domestication, the most important of which for Transeurasian was the West Liao basin, where cultivation of broomcorn millet started by 9000 years ago. In contrast to previously proposed homelands, which range from the Altai to the Yellow River to the Greater Khingan Mountains to the Amur basin, we find support for a Transeurasian origin in the West Liao River region in the Early Neolithic. After a primary break-up of the family in the Neolithic, further dispersals took place in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. Common ancestral languages that separated in the Neolithic, such as Proto-Transeurasian, Proto-Altaic, Proto-Mongolo-Tungusic, and Proto-Japano-Koreanic, reflect a small core of inherited words that relate to cultivation (‘field’, ‘sow’, ‘plant’, ‘grow’, ‘cultivate’, ‘spade’); millets but not rice or other crops (‘millet seed’, ‘millet gruel’, ‘barnyard millet’); food production and preservation (‘ferment’, ‘grind’, ‘crush to pulp’, ‘brew’); textile production (‘sew’, ‘weave cloth’, ‘weave with a loom’, ‘spin’, ‘cut cloth’, ‘ramie’, ‘hemp’); and pigs as well as dogs as the only common domesticated animals.” ref

“Some of the earliest evidence of millet cultivation in China was found at Cishan (north), where proso millet husk phytoliths and biomolecular components have been identified around 10,300–8,700 years ago in storage pits along with remains of pit-houses, pottery, and stone tools related to millet cultivation. And as Asian varieties of millet made their way from China to the Black Sea region of Europe by 5000 BCE or 7,000 years ago around the time proposed for the earliest Proto-Indo-European language in the same general area.” ref

PIE is hypothesized to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 to 2500 BCE or 6,522-4,522 years ago just north of the Black Sea region of Europe during the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing Kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been in the Pontic–Caspian steppe of eastern Europe.” ref

“It was recently claimed by  University of Auckland scientists, that Proto-Indo-European is about 8,100 years old, with seven main branches already split off by about 7,000 years ago, claiming better data and methodologies than previous studies.” ref

Some scholars, including Colin Renfrew, argue that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken about 9,000 years ago in Anatolia (Southern Turkey) and that its speakers spread, bringing farming technology alongside.” ref

I think the emergence of Pre-Proto-Indo-European is around 9,000 to 8,000 years ago. 

It thus seems not unlikely and highly probable that there may be a common connection of “Transeurasian” languages spreading with Millet from China and a new language family Proto-Indo-European emerges, right around the area Millet shows up, and at a similar time as well.

To me, along with this migration of peoples also carried with them a Paganistic-Shamanism with heavy totemism.

To me, paganism starts around 12,00 years ago in Turkey/Anatolia in Western Asia. The odd thing is most of the world’s religious myths/fables start or commonly relate to “Siberia” like “Lake Baikal/Golden Mountains of Altai” region and “North China like Chertovy Vorota Cave (Devil’s Gate Cave) area at about 8,000/7,000 years ago and they were transferred to the middle east and East Europe/Balkans/Ukraine/Russia.”

Neolithic Iran, Pottery, and New People related to Ancient North Eurasians (Pre/Proto-Yeniseian?) from Lake Baikal, and maybe language too that related to/inspired Proto-Indo-European languages.

“The Neolithic began in Iran about 10,000 years ago and ended about 7,500 years ago. The earliest Neolithic occurred before the use of hand-made, chaff-tempered pottery which appeared around 8,500 years ago. The Neolithic ended with the appearance of new styles of pottery, generally with designs painted in black on a buff background.” ref

“The early Neolithic (10,000-9,300 years ago) preceded the use of pottery, and tools were still made exclusively of flint or wood and fiber. Crude figurines of sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, cattle, and people were often made of unbaked clay (Daems). Well after the introduction of agriculture and the building of villages, clay was first used to make chaff-tempered pottery vessels. People sometimes wore bracelets, pendants, and beaded skirts, pierced their lips with labrets, and displayed deliberately deformed skulls. Burials were normally placed under the floors of houses or in an open part of the settlement, usually within the walls of an abandoned house. Tools for harvesting crops, butchering, working hides, and other tasks were made from flint, while grinding stones, mortars, and pestles were made from limestone. Native pure copper from the central Iranian plateau was hammered into beads and pins. Obsidian from central Anatolia, turquoise from Afghanistan, and shells from the Persian Gulf, all are found in Neolithic sites, indicating widespread contacts through trade and other means.” ref

“A human skull dating back to 9,000 years ago (Neolithic period) was found in the archeological site of Abdol-Hosseini hill in Delfan Country, Iran. Characteristics identified in the pelvis and the skull show that the skeleton belongs to a woman in 30s to 40s. The height of the skeleton is estimated to be between 157 to 165 centimeters based on the femur measurement. The most significant characteristic of the skeleton is seen in the skull which is supposed to be deformed by fastening a bandage around it in infancy. This has caused the frontal and occipital parts to become abnormally narrow. The temporal and parietal bones have been depressed and deepened and there is a projection in the frontal part of the skull as a result of the bandage. The practice of deforming the skull has also been seen in other Neolithic sites in Ganj Hill in Kermanshah and Alikosh in Ilam in the same period. Study shows that deformation of the skull was practiced in ancient times with social, ritual, and aesthetic purposes to make distinctions among different sexes or groups of people. Isotope testing on the teeth of skeletons found in Abdol-Hosseini Hill shows that people’s diet in that age was full of cereal. Abdol-Hosseini Hill is the seat of a primitive village dating back to Neolithic period – late 9th millennium BCE to mid-7th millennium BCE. Exploration of the site has found antiquities from both Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic periods.” ref

Pottery Neolithic (PN), which had varied start-points from c. 6500 BCE or around 8500 years ago, until the beginnings of the Bronze Age towards the end of the 4th millennium (c. 3000 BCE or around 5,000 years ago).” ref

Neolithic culture and technology were established in the Near East by 7000 BCE or around 9,000 years ago and there is increasing evidence through the millennium of its spread or introduction to Europe and the Far East. In most of the world, however, including north and western Europe, people still lived in scattered Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer communities. The Mehrgarh chalcolithic civilization began around 7000 BCE. “Sheep and goats were domesticated in South West Asia, probably in the region of eastern Anatolia and northern Syria between 8000 and 7500 BCE, and were part of the agricultural package that was transmitted to Greece and the Balkans during the pioneering movements in the seventh millennium. From there the herding of domesticated sheep and goats was gradually taken up by foraging communities in the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the sixth and fifth millennia and became an essential part of the herder economy.” ref

“Neolithic culture and technology reached modern Turkey and Greece c. 7000 BCE; and Crete about the same time. The innovations, including the introduction of farming, spread from the Middle East through Turkey and Egypt. There is evidence of domesticated sheep or goats, pigs, and cattle, together with grains of cultivated bread wheat. The domestication of pigs in Eastern Europe is believed to have begun c. 6800 BCE. The pigs may have descended from European wild boar or were probably introduced by farmers migrating from the Middle East. There is evidence, c. 6200 BCE, of farmers from the Middle East reaching the Danube and moving into Romania and Serbia. Farming gradually spread westward and northward over the next four millennia, finally reaching Great Britain and Scandinavia c. 3000 BCE to complete the transition of Europe from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3800 BCE) began in Mesopotamia, its name derived from Tell al-‘Ubaid where the first significant excavation took place.” ref

 Warfare in Late NeolithicEarly Chalcolithic Pisidia, southwestern Turkey. Climate induced social unrest in the late 7th millennium cal BCE

“Abstract: This paper proposes an association between climate forcing connected with the 8200 years ago ‘climate event’ and a postulated phase of internecine warfare and population collapse at Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic sites in Pisidia, southwestern Turkey. A summary of this evidence is provided, and a hypothetical scenario is considered in the context of contemporaneous developments in neighboring regions. ” ref

Hacılar, Kuruçay Höyük, Höyücek Höyük, and Bademagacı Höyük. Archaeological signatures for warfare

“Large scale destruction through fire at Pisidian sites can be especially observed at Hacılar at the end of levels VI, IIA, IIB, and IB, whereby Mellaart himself only considers the conflagrations at the end of phases IIB and IB as resulting from attack by hostile groups. A further ‘bad fire’ is also noted in level IV. Following the destruction of level IIB, Mellaart suggests that the attacker took possession of the site, importing their own material culture and erecting the Hacılar I ‘fortress’. Meanwhile, the profound change in material culture observed between these two levels is instead thought to stem from a hiatus in the occupation sequence. Thus, this newly recognized gap, which is directly subsequent to the destruction of the IIB settlement, serves to substantiate Mellaart’s original assumption that this settlement fell victim to a violent act at this time. Similarly, the ‘fire and massacre’ at the end of level IB is termed by Mellaart as the “death blow to the once flourishing settlement,” culminating in its permanent abandonment at the end of level ID. Here, although abandonment was delayed, it would appear to have followed within a short period of the conflagration, and therefore was presumably related to this catastrophe. It should be noted, however, that the much earlier conflagration at the end of Hacılar VI, although not followed by a temporal hiatus, is characterized by a development in ceramic traditions, it marking the generally acknowledged transition from the predominantly monochrome Late Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic, during which the ratio of painted decoration in the ceramic assemblage rapidly increased.” ref

“Whereas at Höyücek all five structures belonging to this ‘religious’ complex were destroyed by two separate outbreaks of fire, at Bademagacı the evidence for destruction by fire is more limited in scale, with burned houses so far noted for levels ENII/3 and ENII/2. At Höyücek, the destruction at the end of the ‘Shrine Phase’ is followed by a temporal hiatus in the occupation sequence of approximately 100 years until reoccupation in the so-called ‘Sanctuaries Phase.’ Unburied victims of fires have been reported from both Hacılar and Bademagacı. At Hacılar, unburied victims were excavated from the ruins of both the IIB and IB settlements. From the former, one victim was recovered – the crouching skeleton of a person of advanced age was found upon the floor next to the western hearth of the northeast shrine – and in the remains of Hacılar IB an unspecified number of bodies, especially children, has been reported. A further occurrence of unburied victims stems from the burn remains of house 8 in level ENII/3 at Bademagacı Höyük. Upon excavation, this structure revealed the remains of nine burnt skeletons (two adults and seven children) “in disorderly positions in different parts of the house”. Further, the discovery of large numbers of complete pottery vessels, stone tools, a terracotta seal, bone items, and thousands of beads suggests that this building may have been destroyed by a sudden fire.” ref

Ziggurat (started as a  mastaba-like structure)

The precursors of the ziggurat were raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period during the sixth millennium BCE. The ziggurats began as platforms (usually oval, rectangular, or square). The ziggurat was a mastaba-like structure with a flat top. The sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. Each step was slightly smaller than the step below it. The facings were often glazed in different colors and may have had astrological significance. Kings sometimes had their names engraved on these glazed bricks. The number of floors ranged from two to seven. Ziggurats were built by ancient SumeriansAkkadiansElamitesEblaites, and Babylonians for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex that included other buildings.” ref

“Access to the shrine would have been by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit. The Mesopotamian ziggurats were not places for public worship or ceremonies. They were believed to be dwelling places for the gods, and each city had its own patron god. Only priests were permitted on the ziggurat or in the rooms at its base, and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs. The priests were very powerful members of Sumerian and Assyro-Babylonian society. One of the best-preserved ziggurats is Chogha Zanbil in western Iran. The Sialk ziggurat, in Kashan, Iran, is one of the oldest known ziggurats, dating to the early 3rd millennium BCE. Ziggurat designs ranged from simple bases upon which a temple sat, to marvels of mathematics and construction which spanned several terraced stories and were topped with a temple. An example of a simple ziggurat is the White Temple of Uruk, in ancient Sumer.ref

“The ziggurat itself is the base on which the White Temple is set. Its purpose is to get the temple closer to the heavens, and provide access from the ground to it via steps. The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenanki, which means “House of the foundation of heaven and earth” in Sumerian. According to some historians, the design of Egyptian pyramids, especially the stepped designs of the oldest pyramids (Pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara, 2600 BCE), may have been an evolution from the ziggurats built in Mesopotamia. Others say the Pyramid of Zoser and the earliest Egyptian pyramids may have been derived locally from the bench-shaped mastaba tomb.” ref


The word mastaba comes from the Arabic word مصطبة (maṣṭaba) “stone bench”. The Ancient Egyptian name was prDjt, meaning “house of stability”, “house of eternity“, or “eternal house”. A mastaba is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mudbricks or limestone. These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. Non-royal use of mastabas continued for over a thousand years.” ref

“The afterlife was centralized in the religion of ancient Egyptians. Their architecture reflects this, most prominently by the enormous amounts of time and labor involved in building tombs. Ancient Egyptians believed that the needs from the world of the living would be continued in the afterlife; it was therefore necessary to build tombs that would fulfill them, and be sturdy enough to last for an eternity. These needs would also have to be attended to by the living. Starting in the Predynastic era (before 3100 BCE) and continuing into later dynasties, the ancient Egyptians developed increasingly complex and effective methods for preserving and protecting the bodies of the dead. They first buried their dead in pit graves dug from the sand with the body placed on a mat, usually along with some items believed to help them in the afterlife. The first tomb structure the Egyptians developed was the mastaba, composed of earthen bricks made from soil along the Nile. It provided better protection from scavenging animals and grave robbers.ref

“The origins of the mastaba can be seen in Tarkhan, where tombs would be split into two distinct portions. One side would contain a body, oriented in a north-south position, and the other would be open for the living to deliver offerings. As the remains were not in contact with the dry desert sand, natural mummification could not take place; therefore the Egyptians devised a system of artificial mummification. Until at least the Old Period or First Intermediate Period, only high officials and royalty were buried in these mastabas. The term mastaba comes from the Arabic word for “a bench of mud”. When seen from a distance, a flat-topped mastaba does resemble a bench. Historians speculate that the Egyptians may have borrowed architectural ideas from Mesopotamia, since at the time they were both building similar structures.ref

“The above-ground structure of a mastaba is rectangular in shape with inward-sloping sides and a flat roof. The exterior building materials were initially bricks made of the sun-dried mud readily available from the Nile River. Even after more durable materials such as stone came into use, the majority were built from mudbricks. Monumental mastabas, such as those at Saqqara, were often constructed out of limestone. Mastabas were often about four times as long as they were wide, and many rose to at least 10 metres (30 ft) in height. They were oriented north–south, which the Egyptians believed was essential for access to the afterlife. The roofs of the mastabas were of slatted wood or slabs of limestone, with skylights illuminating the tomb.ref 

“The above-ground structure had space for a small offering chapel equipped with a false door. Priests and family members brought food and other offerings for the soul, or ba, of the deceased, which had to be maintained in order to continue to exist in the afterlife. The construction of mastabas was standardized, with several treatments being common for masonry. Mastabas were highly decorated, both with paintings on the walls and ceilings, and carvings of organic elements such as palm trees out of limestone. Due to the spiritual significance of the color, it was preferable to construct mastabas from white limestone. If this was not available, the yellow limestone or mudbrick of the tomb would be whitewashed and plastered. Mastabas for royalty were especially extravagant on the exterior, meant to resemble a palace.ref

“A mastaba was essentially meant to provide the ba with a house in the afterlife, and they were laid out accordingly. Some would be used to house families, rather than individuals, with several burial shafts acting as “rooms”. The burial chambers were cut deep, into the bedrock, and were lined with wood. A second hidden chamber called a serdab (سرداب), from the Persian word for “cellar”, was used to store anything that may have been considered essential for the comfort of the deceased in the afterlife, such as beer, grain, clothes and precious items. The mastaba housed a statue of the deceased that was hidden within the masonry for its protection. High up the walls of the serdab were small openings that would allow the ba to leave and return to the body (represented by the statue); Ancient Egyptians believed the ba had to return to its body or it would die.ref

“These openings “were not meant for viewing the statue but rather for allowing the fragrance of burning incense, and possibly the spells spoken in rituals, to reach the statue”. The statues were nearly always oriented in one direction, facing the opening. The serdab could also feature inscriptions, such as the testament and mortuary cult of the owner. More elaborate mastabas would feature open courtyards, which would be used to house more statues and allow the dead to perform rites. Over time, the courtyards grew into magnificent columned halls, which served the same purposes. These halls would typically be the largest room in the mastaba, and they could be used for sacrifices of livestock.ref

“Larger mastabas also included a network of storerooms, which the presiding phyle would use to maintain the mortuary cult of the mastaba’s owner. Generally, there would be five of these storerooms, used by the living to store equipment needed for performing rites; unlike the serdab, they were not meant to be used by the deceased. These lacked any form of decoration, again distinguishing their function from that of the rest of the tomb. Due to the great expense of adding a complex of storerooms, these were only constructed in the largest of mastabas, for the royal family and viziers.ref

“The mastaba was the standard type of tomb in pre-dynastic and early dynastic Egypt for both the pharaoh and the social elite. The ancient city of Abydos was the location chosen for many of the cenotaphs. The royal cemetery was at Saqqara, overlooking the capital of early times, Memphis. Mastabas evolved over the early dynastic period (c. 3100-2686 BCE). During the 1st Dynasty, a mastaba was constructed simulating house plans of several rooms, a central one containing the sarcophagus and others surrounding it to receive the abundant funerary offerings. The whole was built in a shallow pit above which a brick superstructure covering a broad area. The typical 2nd and 3rd Dynasty (c. 2686-2313) mastabas was the ‘stairway mastaba’, the tomb chamber of which sank deeper than before and was connected to the top with an inclined shaft and stairs.ref 

“Many of the features of mastabas grew into those of the pyramids, indicating their importance as a transitory construction of tombs. This notably includes the exterior appearance of the tombs, as the sloped sides of the mastabas extended to form a pyramid. The first and most striking example of this was Djoser’s step pyramid, which combined many traditional features of mastabas with a more monumental stone construction. Even after pyramids became more prevalent for pharaohs in the 3rd and 4th Dynasties, members of the nobility continued to be buried in mastaba tombs. This is especially evident on the Giza Plateau, where at least 150 mastaba tombs have been constructed alongside the pyramids.ref

“In the 4th Dynasty (c. 2613 to 2494 BCE), rock-cut tombs began to appear. These were tombs built into the rock cliffs in Upper Egypt in an attempt to further thwart grave robbers. Mastabas, then, were developed with the addition of offering chapels and vertical shafts. 5th Dynasty mastabas had elaborate chapels consisting of several rooms, columned halls and ‘serdab‘. The actual tomb chamber was built below the south-end of mastaba, connected by a slanting passage to a stairway emerging in the center of a columned hall or court. Mastabas are still well attested in the Middle Kingdom, where they had a revival. They were often solid structures with the decoration only on the outside. By the time of the New Kingdom (which began with the 18th Dynasty around 1550 BCE), “the mastaba becomes rare, being largely superseded by the independent pyramid chapel above a burial chamber.ref

Naqada, mastaba (“tomb of Menes”) of the Early First Dynasty

The “Tomb of Menes” is located in the South of the Naqada cemeteries (not marked on the map). This palace facade mastaba is so far the earliest known of this type. The owner of the mastaba is unknown, but Menes and a (female?) person called Neithotep, known from many monuments of the early First Dynasty, have been suggested.” ref

“The “Royal Tomb” at Naqada is a mastaba with an elaborate niched facade, sixteen small chambers, and five deeper and larger chambers, the middle of which is considered to be the burial chamber. The tomb had also been robbed in antiquity, making it difficult to confirm who was buried in this tomb. A smaller mastaba in the vicinity was too damaged to be investigated but was thought by De Morgan to be contemporary with the Royal Tomb. Given the size and elaborate construction of the tomb it was originally hailed as the “Tomb of Menes” (the founder of the first dynasty). It was later ascribed to Neithhotep, the wife or daughter of Narmer, in part because of the number of labels bearing her name found within it. There is now some doubt over that attribution (even though it remains the prevailing view).” ref

The tomb contained a selection of beads and amulets made from faience, ivory, and semi-precious stones as well as rings and bracelets made of shell and ivory. Large amounts of ceramic vessels and stone vessels were found in the other chambers, as well as ivory and copper objects and stone palettes. A single gold bead formed by wrapping a piece of gold wire into a barrel shape with tapered ends was also uncovered. It is thought it was once part of a necklace entirely composed of similar beads. Fifteen small ivory fish recovered from the tomb were probably amulets which may have been placed in a small ivory box also found on site. Alternatively, the box may have contained bracelets of necklaces which were stolen by tomb robbers some time ago.ref

“Eight small bone labels with numbers inscribed on them may relate to tomb contents as two also depict necklaces. Five of these labels (including the two which depict necklaces) are inscribed on the other side with the name of Neithhotep. The name most prevalent on objects in the tomb is that of Aha, most likely because the tomb was constructed during his reign (he is already credited with a tomb at Abydos, Umm el-Qaab, and a cenotaph at Saqqara). Two labels bear the name Meri-iti. The identity of Meri-iti is not clear. Wilkinson suggested it refers to Djer, who also used the name Iti, but this has not been substantiated.ref

“The name of Rekhyt appears on a total of fifteen objects (seals and other items) in the tomb, outnumbering references to Neithhotep whose name appears on ten objects. Rekhyt’s name also appears on items found in the tomb of Aha at Abydos. He was clearly a member of the royal household, most likely the son of either Narmer or Aha. Other items in the tomb were inscribed with the names of Narmer and Het (identity unconfirmed). The large number of references to Rekhyt, along with its position as a likely tomb for a provincial governor, have prompted van Wetering to propose that this was his tomb rather than that of Neithhotep.ref

Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods

“Abstract: Egypt, located on the isthmus of Africa, is an ideal region to study historical population dynamics due to its geographic location and documented interactions with ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Particularly, in the first millennium BCE, Egypt endured foreign domination, leading to growing numbers of foreigners living within its borders, possibly contributing genetically to the local population. Here we present 90 mitochondrial genomes as well as genome-wide data sets from three individuals obtained from Egyptian mummies. The samples recovered from Middle Egypt span around 1,300 years of ancient Egyptian history from the New Kingdom to the Roman Period. Our analyses reveal that ancient Egyptians shared more ancestry with Near Easterners than present-day Egyptians, who received additional sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times. This analysis establishes ancient Egyptian mummies as a genetic source to study ancient human history and offers the perspective of deciphering Egypt’s past at a genome-wide level.” ref

Radiocarbon dating shows that the mummies span 1300 years of ancient Egyptian history, during many of the foreign conquests and then Egypt’s incorporation into first the Greek and then the Roman empires. Comparing the mummies’ mitochondrial and nuclear DNA to ancient and modern populations in the Near East and Africa. They discovered that ancient Egyptians closely resembled ancient and modern Near Eastern populations, especially those in the Levant. What’s more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers conquered the empire. It’s possible that the mitochondrial genomes simply don’t record the genetic contributions of foreign fathers, says Yehia Gad, a molecular geneticist at the National Research Centre in Cairo and a founder of the Egyptian Museum’s ancient DNA lab who worked with Zink on past mummy studies. Later, however, something did alter the genomes of Egyptians. Although the mummies contain almost no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa, some 15% to 20% of modern Egyptians’ mitochondrial DNA reflects sub-Saharan ancestry. It’s really unexpected that we see this very late shift.” ref

“A study by Krings et al. (1999) on mitochondrial DNA clines along the Nile Valley found that a Eurasian cline runs from Northern Egypt to Southern Sudan and a Sub-Saharan cline from Southern Sudan to Northern Egypt, derived from a sample size of 224 individuals (68 Egyptians, 80 Nubians, 76 southern Sudanese). The study also found Egypt and Nubia have low and similar amounts of divergence for both mtDNA types, which is consistent with historical evidence for long-term interactions between Egypt and Nubia. However, there are significant differences between the composition of the mtDNA gene pool of the Egyptian samples and that of the Nubians and Southern Sudanese samples. The diversity of the Eurasian mtDNA type was highest in Egypt and lowest in southern Sudan, whereas the diversity of the sub-Saharan mtDNA type was lowest in Egypt and highest in southern Sudan. The authors suggested in their conclusion that Egypt and Nubia had more genetic contact than either did with southern Sudan and that the migration from north to south was either earlier or lesser in the extent of gene flow than the migration from south to north.” ref

“A study by Luis et al. (2004) found that the male haplogroups in a sample of 147 Egyptians were E1b1b (36.1%, predominantly E-M78), J (32.0%), G (8.8%), T (8.2%), and R (7.5%). The study found that “Egypt’s NRY frequency distributions appear to be much more similar to those of the Middle East than to any sub-Saharan African population, suggesting a much larger Eurasian genetic component … The cumulative frequency of typical sub-Saharan lineages (A, B, E1b1a) is 3.4% in Egypt … whereas the haplogroups of Eurasian origin (Groups C, D, and F–Q) account for 59% [in Egypt].” E1b1b subclades are characteristic of some Afro-Asiatic speakers and are believed to have originated in either the Middle East, North Africa, or the Horn of Africa.” ref 

“Cruciani et al. (2007) suggest that E-M78, E1b1b predominant subclade in Egypt, originated in Northeastern Africa (Egypt and Libya in the study), with a corridor for bidirectional migrations between northeastern and eastern Africa (at least 2 episodes between 23.9 and 17.3 ky and 18.0–5.9 ky ago), trans-Mediterranean migrations directly from northern Africa to Europe (mainly in the last 13.0 ky), and flow from northeastern Africa to western Asia between 20.0 and 6.8 ky ago. Cruciani et al. proposed that E-M35, the parent clade of E-M78, originated in Eastern Africa during the Palaeolithic and subsequently spread to Northeastern Africa, 23.9–17.3 ky ago. Cruciani et al. also state that the presence of E-M78 chromosomes in Eastern Africa can be only explained through a back migration of chromosomes that had acquired the M78 mutation in Northeast Africa.” ref

“Other studies have shown that modern Egyptians have genetic affinities primarily with populations of North Africa and the Middle East, and to a lesser extent the Horn of Africa and European populations. Another study states that “the information available on individual groups in Ethiopia and North Africa is fairly limited but sufficient to show that they are all separate from sub-Saharan Africans and that North Africans and East Africans (such as Ethiopians) are clearly separate”, and concluded that most Ethiopians came from an admixture and that the larger fraction of Sub-Saharan genes came during the Neolithic times “before the beginning of the Egyptian civilisation.” The study also found the gene frequency of North African populations and, to a lesser extent, East Africa to be intermediate between Africa and Europe. In addition, some studies suggest ties with populations in the Middle East, as well as some groups in southern Europe, and a closer link to other North Africans.” ref

“In 2012, two mummies of two 20th dynasty individuals, Ramesses III and “Unknown Man E” believed to be Ramesses III’s son Pentawer, were analyzed by Albert Zink, Yehia Z Gad, and a team of researchers under Zahi Hawass. Genetic kinship analyses revealed identical haplotypes in both mummies; using the Whit Athey’s haplogroup predictor, the Y chromosomal haplogroup E1b1a was predicted. In another study by the same authors in 2020, which once again deals with the paternal lineage of Ramesses III and the “Unknown Man E” (possibly Pentawer), E1b1a is said to show its highest frequencies in modern West African populations (~80%) and Central Africa (~60%).” ref

“A study published in 2017 by Schuenemann et al. extracted DNA from 151 Egyptian mummies, whose remains were recovered from Abusir el-Meleq in Middle Egypt. The samples are from the time periods: Late New Kingdom, Ptolemaic, and Roman. Complete mtDNA sequences from 90 samples as well as genome-wide data from three ancient Egyptian individuals were successfully obtained and were compared with other ancient and modern datasets. The study used 135 modern Egyptian samples. The ancient Egyptian individuals in their own dataset possessed highly similar mtDNA haplogroup profiles, and cluster together, supporting genetic continuity across the 1,300-year transect. Modern Egyptians shared this mtDNA haplogroup profile, but also carried 8% more African component. A wide range of mtDNA haplogroups were found including clades of J, U, H, HV, M, R0, R2, K, T, L, I, N, X, and W.” ref

“In addition three ancient Egyptian individuals were analyzed for Y-DNA, two were assigned to Middle Eastern haplogroup J and one to haplogroup E1b1b1a1b2. Both of these haplogroups are carried by modern Egyptians, and also common among Afroasiatic speakers in Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, and the Middle East. The researchers cautioned that the examined ancient Egyptian specimens may not be representative of those of all ancient Egyptians since they were from a single archaeological site from the northern part of Egypt. The analyses revealed that Ancient Egyptians had higher affinities with Near Eastern and European populations than do modern Egyptians, likely due to the 8% increase in the African component found in modern Egyptians. However, comparative data from a contemporary population under Roman rule in Anatolia, did not reveal a closer relationship to the ancient Egyptians from the Roman period. “Genetic continuity between ancient and modern Egyptians cannot be ruled out despite this more recent sub-Saharan African influx, while continuity with modern Ethiopians is not supported.” ref

“The absolute estimates of sub-Saharan African ancestry in these three ancient Egyptian individuals ranged from 6 to 15%, and the absolute estimates of sub-Saharan African ancestry in the 135 modern Egyptian samples ranged from 14 to 21%, which show an 8% increase in African component. The age of the ancient Egyptian samples suggests that this 8% increase in African component occurred predominantly within the last 2000 years. The 135 modern Egyptian samples were: 100 from modern Egyptians taken from a study by Pagani et al., and 35 from el-Hayez Western Desert Oasis taken from a study by Kujanova et al. The 35 samples from el-Hayez Western Desert Oasis, whose population is described by the Kujanova et al. study as a mixed, relatively isolated, demographically small but autochthonous population, were already known from that study to have a relatively high sub-Saharan African component, which is more than 11% higher than the African component in the 100 modern Egyptian samples.” ref

“Verena Schuenemann and the authors of this study suggest a high level of genetic interaction with the Near East since ancient times, probably going back to Prehistoric Egypt although the oldest mummies at the site were from the New Kingdom: “Our data seem to indicate close admixture and affinity at a much earlier date, which is unsurprising given the long and complex connections between Egypt and the Middle East. These connections date back to Prehistory and occurred at a variety of scales, including overland and maritime commerce, diplomacy, immigration, invasion, and deportation.” ref

“In 2018, the mummified head of Djehutynakht was analyzed for mitochondrial DNA. Djehutynakht was the nomarch of the Hare nome in Upper Egypt during the 11th or 12th Dynasty in the early Middle Kingdom period, c. 2000 BC. Two laboratories independently analysed Djehutynakht’s DNA and found that he belonged to the mtDNA haplogroup U5b2b5, described by the lead author Odile Loreille as “a European haplogroup”. U5 is thought to have originated in Europe, and U5b2b5 has been found in ancient European samples dating from the Neolithic onwards.” ref

“U5b2b5 has also been found in 10 samples from Christian Period Nubia, and a related European sequence (U5b2c1) has been observed in an ancient sample from Carthage (6th century BCE). Among ancient Egyptian samples the Djehutynakht sequence resembles a U5a lineage from sample JK2903, a 2000-year-old skeleton from the Abusir el-Meleq site in Egypt. Haplogroup U5 is found in modern Egyptians, and is found in modern Egyptian Berbers from the Siwa Oasis in Egypt. A 2009 study by Coudray et al. recorded haplogroup U5 at 16.7% in the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, whereas haplogroup U6 is more common in other Berber populations to the west of Egypt.” ref

“A 2020 study by Gad, Hawass, et al. analyzed mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal haplogroups from Tutankhamun‘s family members of the 18th Dynasty, using comprehensive control procedures to ensure quality results. The study found that the Y-chromosome haplogroup of the family was R1b. Haplogroup R1b is carried by modern Egyptians. Modern Egypt is also the only African country that is known to harbor all three R1 subtypes, including R1b-M269. The Y-chromosome profiles for Tutankhamun and Amenhotep III were incomplete, and the analysis produced differing probability figures despite having concordant allele results. Because the relationships of these two mummies with the KV55 mummy (identified as Akhenaten) had previously been confirmed in an earlier study, the haplogroup prediction of both mummies could be derived from the full profile of the KV55 data. Both Y-DNA haplogroups R1b and G2a, as well as both mtDNA haplogroups H and K, are carried by modern Egyptians.” ref

“Genetic analysis indicated the following haplogroups for the 18th Dynasty:

“In 2020, three mummies, dating from the 1st millennium BCE, from the Pushkin Museum of Arts collection were tested at the Kurchatov Institute of Moscow for their mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal haplogroups. Two of the mummies were found to belong to the Y-chromosomal haplogroup R1b1a1b (R1b-M269), which originated either in Eastern Europe or in the Near East, and to the Y-chromosome haplogroup E1b1b1a1b2a4b5a, which originated in North Africa. They also belonged to mtDNA haplogroups L3h1 and N5, common in Africans and Middle Easterners, respectively. The third mummy was found to belong to mtDNA haplogroup N, which is widely distributed across Eurasia as well as eastern and northeastern Africa.” ref

“In 2021, Gourdine et al disputed Scheunemann et al’s claim, in an unpublished article, that the increase in the sub-Saharan component in the modern Egyptian samples resulted from the trans-Saharan slave trade. Instead they argued that the sub-Saharan “genetic affinities” may be attributed to “early settlers” and “the relevant sub-Saharan genetic markers” do not correspond with the geography of known trade routes.” ref

“In 2022, biological anthropologist S.O.Y. Keita argued that there were problems with the study’s approaches and conclusions such as over-generalizations and a failure to consider alternative explanations. Particularly, he raised issues with the comparative samples from West Africa as a proxy group and generalisations about geographical Egypt and population origins from the sample results. He also drew attention to the fact that the authors draw inference on migrations in line with their Bayesian statistical approach rather than integrate other data into their explanations about the population history. In 2022, archaeologist Danielle Candelora stated that there were several limitations with the 2017 Scheunemann et al. study such as “new (untested) sampling methods, small sample size and problematic comparative data.” ref

“In 2023, Stiebling and Helft acknowledged that the 2017 study had performed the largest study on ancient Egyptians but noted that the findings still derived from a small sample of mummies from one site in Middle Egypt dating to the New Kingdom and later periods. They also stated that this study could not represent earlier populations or Egyptians from Upper Egypt who were geographically closer to Sub-Saharan populations. In 2023, Christopher Ehret argued that the conclusions of the 2017 study were based on insufficiently small sample sizes, and that the authors had a biased interpretation of the genetic data. Ehret also criticized the Schuenemann article for asserting that there was “no sub-Saharan genetic component” in the Egyptian population and cited previous genetic analysis suggesting that the E-M35 paternal haplogroup originated in the Horn of Africa.” ref

“An unpublished, follow-up study by Schuenemann & Urban et al. (2021) was carried out collecting samples from six excavation sites along the entire length of the Nile valley spanning 4000 years of Egyptian history. Samples from 17 mummies and 14 skeletal remains were collected, and high quality mitochondrial genomes were reconstructed from 10 individuals. According to the authors the analyzed mitochondrial genomes matched the results from the 2017 study at Abusir el-Meleq.” ref

“A study by Mussauer et al., presented at the 2023 ISBA10 conference (10th Meeting of the International Society for Biomolecular Archaeology), analyzed the mtDNA of 25 Egyptian individuals dating from the Predynastic Period to the Coptic Period (c. 3500 BCE – 650 CE), from the archaeological sites of Asyut, Akhmim, Deir el-Bahari, Deir el-Medina, Thebes, the Valley of the Queens, and Gebelein. These samples displayed an mtDNA haplogroup diversity similar to the samples published by Schuenemann et al. 2017, providing “further evidence for shared maternal ancestries between western Eurasian or northern African populations and ancient Egyptians.” ref

“A 2020 study was conducted on ancient samples from Lebanon. Two individuals who lived in Lebanon around 500 BCE did not cluster with their contemporary Lebanese population. The study used the same Egyptian samples from the 2017 Schuenemann et al. study to further test these two individuals. One of these two individuals was a female who formed a clad with the three ancient Egyptian individuals from Schuenemann et al., implying that she shared all of her ancestry with them or a genetically equivalent population. The other one was a male who derived ~70% of his ancestry from a population related to the female and ~30% from a population related to ancient Levantines. Further testing suggests that the female was an Egyptian woman and the male was her son from a man who himself had both Egyptian and Lebanese ancestries.” ref

The oldest fortification system in Anatolia is about 8000 years old “Kuruçay Höyük”

“Kuruçay höyük is located near the village Of Kuruçay, fifteen kilometers south of Burdur. The mound itself is situated upon one of the hills sloping downward towards the basin of Lake Burdur. Although there were 13 settlement layers during the excavations of this mound, none of these layers yielded any domestic cereal grain or plant remains. Despite the examination of all the collected animal bones, no definitively domesticated animal remains were found. In addition to these results, the fact that the arable lands and fields are very limited near the mound and the mound is surrounded by deep stream beds from the south, west, and north can be shown as evidence that agriculture was not practiced. But this does not mean that the inhabitants of Kuruçay mound were not aware of agriculture. These people were obviously not consciously engaged in agriculture. Because they must have been aware of a neighboring settlement like Hacılar, where layers of Neolithic developments can be traced.” ref

“The Kuruçay people, who had seen the production techniques from the neighboring settlement Hacılar, may not have been farming, but some settlement levels had riches that required protection with very strong walls. A most provocative question is how a populace without food production accrued sufficient wealth to warrant such strong fortifications in walls. We will never know their wealth and how they got rich or why they tried to protect themselves. Most importantly, how did they build such a  fortification system! Or where did they learn it? Professor Doctor Refik Duru described this fortification system as follows: “Level 11, on the other hand, was represented by a 26-meter stretch of impressive stone foundations running east-to-west. Clearly a fortification wall, it incorporated towers half-circular in the plan against its southern face. the western part of the wall had been washed down the slope of the mound; there was a gateway at the east end where the fortifications formed a right angle to the north with rounded towers there as well.” ref

“The second important criterion of a Neolictic lifestyle is a permanent habitation, be it in a village or in a relatively fair-sized town. A developed architecture with sturdy walls on a stone foundation is attested at Kuruçay from level 12vonward. This earliest building phase at Kuruçay can by no means be considered primitive. In level 11 we came suddenly face-to-face with a fortified town.” A thick-founded fortification wall with half-round towers, whose existence was found on 11 building levels, was unearthed in 1984. The long wall of this fortification wall, between 1.10 meters and 1.20 meters thick, was usually built with medium-sized collected stones. The two sides of the wall were made of relatively thicker stones, and the middle part was made of small stones and fragments. On the outer face of the wall facing south, there are two towers with a half-round plan. There are 1 meter wide gaps at the ends of the towers. On the same axis, gaps were left in the main wall and these gaps were closed with a single stone series. This row of stones in the passages most likely indicates the sills.” ref

7,000-year-old Fortress Found Under the Yumuktepe Mound

“Archaeologists in Turkey have uncovered a section of a prehistoric fortress wall. It was found at the Yumuktepe mound, which dates back to the Neolithic period, some 9,000 years ago. This fortress is adding to our knowledge of the history associated with the mound, which in turn will shed light on the prehistoric past in Anatolia. The Yumuktepe mound is a tell that was made by many generations of people building in the same area. It is located in the city of Mersin in southern Turkey. The wall reveals the existence of an ancient fortress much older than was expected to be found at the site. “We didn’t know that there was such a technology in that period in technical terms. Now we see it, and it’s a special structure,” said leader of the current excavation project, Isabella Caneva – a professor of archaeology at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy.” ref

Yumuktepe Mersin – Newcomers from elsewhere

It is very likely that the local settlement is related to the changes that took place at the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (i.e. at the end of the 8th millennium BCE), when large-scale agglomerations ceased to exist and instead there was a shift of the settlement space to other new areas, especially those that happened to be located along the Mediterranean coast. At the beginning of the 7th millennium BCE several settlements were established on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea that were focused particularly on cattle breeding and on fishing. Both the pottery and the architecture indicate the strong inter-regional ties that existed with the Levant, while, on the other hand, the Yumuktepe site is interesting in regard to its occupants’ utter ignorance of the local resources; it was as if they were local residents who were trying to emphasise their group identity in a completely new environment. Also documented in the oldest Neolithic layers was a notable quantity of obsidian artefacts, which were apparently in the form of blade blanks that had been imported to this site. Throughout the entire period of the Neolithic settlement there was a noticeable link to the Eastern Mediterranean Coast (e.g. stone sealers). Gradually, however, the use of local raw materials and crop production began to prevail. These evident changes also took place in regard to the construction technology, whereby daubed wicker structures were gradually replaced by stone architecture – during the Late Neolithic phase a massive wall was erected there, together with a path paved with stones. Large-scale clay objects that were used for food storage have been documented there, together with a number of specialized activities – the production of items from bones and the production of stone tools and of jewelry.” ref

“The long, uninterrupted sequence of Neolithic Yumuktepe displays both continuity and changes concerning architecture, burial customs, artifact production, storage techniques, and subsistence pattern throughout the entire Neolithic, and also around 6000 cal BCE. The continuities, gradual and abrupt changes that can be observed, and approach the questions of whether continuity should be emphasized over change, how noncontemporary changes can be correlated, and changes of which parts of the material culture could be more significant than continuity in other parts.” ref

Analysis of Prehistoric Pottery Excavations of Hotu and Belt Caves in Northern Iran: Implications for Future Research into the Emergence of Village Life in Western Central Asia

“Archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological evidence from the well-documented Pottery Neolithic settlement at Djeitunhas shown that the wild progenitors of wheat and sheep are not found east of the Caspian Sea, and that a sedentary way of life based on the herding of sheep and goats and cultivation of cereal grains was likely introduced into this region from Southwest Asia circa 6000 cal. BCE. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the transition from hunting and gathering to food production in western Eurasia is not a uniform phenomenon. Statistical analyses of radiocarbon dates from the earliest pottery-bearing horizons of hunting and fishing settlements in eastern Europe, western Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus have shown that foraging societies varied not only in when they adopted agricultural crops and domesticated livestock, but also in the range of species incorporated into their subsistence base; the proportion of domesticated vs. wild food resources; and the tempo of adoption of ceramic technologies facilitating replacement of natural resources with domesticated ones. There is also a growing body of evidence for the use of pottery at many of these pre-agricultural settlements as early as 7000 cal. BCE.” ref

“In light of many unanswered questions regarding interactions between Epipalaeolithic hunters and fishers of the Caspian littoral plain and Neolithic farmers and herders of the Iranian plateau and a hypothesized trajectory for the invention and/or adoption of pottery in western Eurasia other than that associated with the diffusion of agropastoralism from the Middle East, we have examined archival and archaeological materials from Hotu and Belt Caves. These rockshelters, situated on the late Pleistocene shoreline of the Caspian Sea in the foothills of the Alborz Mountain near the modern town of Behshar in Mazandaran province. Hotu and Belt Caves provide ample evidence of human occupation at various times from the early Mesolithic to post-Achaemenid periods. However, the hurried methods used in excavation, and the haphazard manner in which finds were collected and stratigraphy was recorded, preclude the possibility of developing a high-resolution chronology for the transition from foraging to food production.” ref

“Such problems also restrict our ability to reach conclusions about whether pottery was invented near Hotu and Belt Caves or adopted from other regions in western Eurasia. Nevertheless, reconstruction of the sequence of deposition as recorded in Coon’s field notes and unpublished drawings presented below does suggest in situ development of ceramic technology at Hotu and Belt Caves at the end of the Pleistocene. A Mesolithic “interest in clay” and the presence of a later ‘hybrid’ of pottery forms utilizing a mixture of Caspian ‘soft ware’ and Cheshmeh Ali manufacturing techniques at Hotu Cave, allows tentative hypotheses to be drawn concerning core and peripheral areas of independent economic innovation within the region. This work also draws attention to the compelling need for additional research into the role of ceramic technologies as a catalyst for a sedentary way of life in western Central Asia.” ref

“To Coon, the faunal remains of ovicaprids in Mesolithic levels were morphologically indistinguishable from domesticated species found in Neolithic levels at Belt Cave, but the ratio of young animals in the faunal assemblage led him to suspect that “goat herding began in the Mesolithic”. In a comparison of subsistence practices at Belt Cave and the nearby aceramic Epipalaeolithic cave at Ali Tappeh, Charles McBurney notes with the simultaneous arrival of large quantities of pottery and the first morphological evidence of domesticated goats, “the entire faunal and industrial spectra change as if it were over night”. The ratio of ovicaprid remains jumps from 12 to 84%, while gazelle drops from 62 to 8%, and aurochs from 22 to 0%. Mesolithic backed-blades and geometrics disappear with the advent of pottery, but only one sickle blade is recorded in levels 8-10 whereas twenty were recovered from levels 1-7. Conversely, stone pestles were recovered from levels 9, 16, 22, 25 and stone mortars with traces of red ocher from levels 12, 13. Only one saddle quern was found at Belt Cave, in level 2, one of the topmost and presumably latest Neolithic levels.” ref

“Belt Cave contained four cultural horizons reading from top to bottom: (1) a mixed deposit containing Neolithic remains along with Iron Age, Islamic, and Modern materials; (2) a true Neolithic horizon divided into an upper (2a), which contained pottery and domesticated animals, and a lower (2b), which contained domestic sheep and goats but no pottery; (3) a Mesolithic culture in which the principal food was supplied by a grassland or desert animal, Gazella subgutturosa jacovlew; still found on the Turkoman plain; (4) an earlier Mesolithic during which time the cave was a flint factory, and the workmen lunched off a small species of Caspian seal and many water birds.” ref

“Coon’s field notes indicate that the ‘true Neolithic horizon’ mentioned above is 30cm in depth: the upper pottery bearing levels being 90 -105 cm below the presumed surface of the cave floor with pre-ceramic levels below that at depths of 105 – 120 cm. However, Elizabeth Ralph’s (1955) report on radiocarbon dating of the 1951 excavations suggests that the pre-ceramic Neolithic levels at Belt Cave are deeper still, lying between 150 -160 mm in depth. three Mesolithic individuals recovered from a burial in levels 19 – 21 of Trench 1 (or A), and a Neolithic individual from unspecified levels in Trench 2 (or B). Coon noted that the Mesolithic individuals included a “decapitated” male found with his head between his legs, a twelve-year-old girl with a heavy build, and a great deal of red ochre associated with all three burials. Six individuals were recovered from Neolithic occupations at Belt Cave.” ref

“Coon later suggests the lithic industry associated with the skeletal remains at Hotu Cave could be related to the “late Gravettian or early Mesolithic of Iran.” However, charcoal from the same horizon as the skeletal remains (gravel 4) was subsequently dated to 9190 years ago, and we now know that the late Khvalynian transgression of the Caspian Sea at the end of the Pleistocene is the most likely source of sand and gravel. Although Coon reports that no pre-ceramic Neolithic levels were found at Hotu Cave as had been at Belt. Charles McBurney has argued that three sickle blades recovered from Pleistocene gravel 3 are evidence of an “incipient Neolithic economy” during the late Epipalaeolithic in northeastern Iran. McBurney also notes that the concentration of hunters on sheep/goat to the virtual exclusion of gazelle at this time is an “interesting prelude to domestication associated with ‘soft ware’ pottery.” ref

“Coon’s report states that ‘soft wares’ were found in levels 32 through 45 in Trench A at Hotu Cave, his field notes record that ‘soft wares’ were present from levels 31 to 47 in both Trenches A and B. And software pottery fragments labeled HA 51. In Cave Exploration in Iran 1949, Coon reports that radiocarbon samples were sent to Libby from levels 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 at Belt Cave. Radiocarbon dates for levels 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 were not reported by Libby. Assays of samples C-492 and C-547 appear to have been combined to give a mean date of 8,004 years ago for lower Mesolithic levels 21-28. C-494, C495, and C523 appear to have been combined to arrive at a ‘Neolithic mean’ of 8,085 years ago for level 9, “a zone containing flint blades and pottery sherds of Neolithic Type.” ref

“In his preliminary report on excavations at Belt Cave in 1949, Coon devotes three brief paragraphs to a description of 426 pottery fragments, focusing primarily on 174 “exceedingly primitive” soft ware sherds recovered from levels 1-10 in Trench A and topmost levels of Trench B. Although no photographs or drawings are provided, Coon suggests that the shapes of vessels could be determined from the sherds: “wide, open, flat-bottomed bowls of the simple profile, with simple rims, and without spouts lugs or handles.” Three of these “roughly burnished” sherds from the fourth with a “well-burnished surface” from a “later unnamed level” were given to Frederick Matson for microscopic examination of the composition of their clay fabric. Matson provides a detailed account of color, texture, mineral grain size and suspected firing temperatures of these organic-tempered fragments in an appendix to Coon’s 1951 report, and speculates that there may be different clay source for the later sherd than the earlier fragments.” ref

“He also concludes that these data are of little importance unless they are placed in context with analysis of a much larger
number of sherds from forthcoming excavations at Belt Cave and other sites in the region. Coon subsequently suggested the in situ evolution of soft wares into forms resembling Sialk II (Cheshmeh Ali) wares from the Iranian plateau in levels 32 through 45 in Trench A at Hotu Cave: “Intermediate stages are seen when the software acquires a burnished red surface, on which lines are drawn; then the thinware appears, along with the soft, and the typical geometric designs are established. From a stratigraphic point of view, there are two main pottery-bearing horizons at Hotu Cave. From the deepest ceramic-bearing levels reached at Hotu (i.e., HA 51, presumably below 7.15 m in depth) to level 41 (ca. 6.20-6.50 m), the assemblage is almost entirely comprised of Neolithic ceramics.” ref

“From the cave surface until level 40 (ca. 6.05-6.20), there are ceramics from numerous periods spanning the Neolithic to the Early Islamic Period. This mixing undoubtedly reflects heavy bioturbation and human disturbances, but there is a particularly large and well-defined assemblage of Iron Age III-Parthian red ware ceramics from these levels that has never been studied but is deserving of full treatment. These early historic sherds will not be discussed here in order to focus on the prehistoric levels. defined three prehistoric ceramic horizons in northeastern Iran based on typological study of the Hotu and Belt collection as well as other published Neolithic sites in the region (e.g., Yarim Tepe). The earliest pottery from these sites he called “Caspian Neolithic Software,” which he characterized as, “lightly-fired, handmade, chaff-mpered, thick, and crumbly with the most common form was a deep bowl resembling a beaker, with slightly concave sides