Research ArticleEVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Ancient genomic time transect from the Central Asian Steppe unravels the history of the Scythians

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Science Advances  26 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 13, eabe4414
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe4414
  • Fig. 1 Geographic location and dates of the newly reported ancient genomes.

    (A) Map showing the locations of the 39 archaeological sites where the 117 individuals were retrieved and (B) their respective dates in years BCE/CE. The dates reported are 14C-calibrated (2-sigma) ranges for the sites comprehending at least one individual directly radiocarbon-dated; if more individuals are dated, we report the lowest and the highest values across all of them. If for a site, no individuals are dated, we report the date ranges based on the archaeological context (data file S1). The sites are colored according to their cultural affiliation. This same culture-based color code (top right) is maintained for all the figures in the main text and the Supplementary Materials.

  • Fig. 2 PCA and ADMIXTURE analyses.

    (A to C) PC1 versus PC3 (outer plot) and PC1 versus PC2 (inner plot in the bottom right box) including all the IA, new and previously published individuals (filled symbols), relevant published temporally preceding groups (empty symbols), and present-day Kazakh individuals (small black points). The gray labels in this and the following panel indicate broad geographical groupings of the modern individuals used to calculate PCA that in the plots are shown as small gray points. The ancient samples are distributed in (A) to (C) sliced in three different time intervals as reported in the top right corner. (D) Histograms of ADMIXTURE analysis (K = 12; fig. S2) for the new IA and post-IA individuals and selected subset of temporally preceding groups maximizing key genetic components and a randomly selected subset of present-day Kazakh from the three main Zhuzs.

  • Fig. 3 Bar plots showing the ancestry proportions and SEs obtained from qpWave/qpAdm modelings.

    (A) Fitting models for the main IA groups using LBA sources, the major genetic shift with the “new” East Asian influx (DevilsCave_N-like) observed in the Middle IA outliers and Korgantas. (B) Fitting models for the post-IA groups using IA groups as sources. A transparency factor is added to the models presenting poor fits (P < 0.05; only Konyr_Tobe_300CE). On the top is shown the color legend for the sources tested. (C) Summary of the admixture dates obtained with DATES for the main groups studied. The y axis is the temporal scale from BCE (negative) to CE (positive) dates. The x axis represents the results for the different target groups reported in the legends in each box using the two-way sources reported at the bottom of the three panels formed along the x axis (e.g., source1 + source2). The colored bars represent the date ranges of the culture, while the filled symbols show the admixture dates ± SEs obtained from DATES and converted into dates considering 29 years per generation starting from the median point of the culture’s age. The three set of sources reported correspond to the summary of the main admixture events described in the text from left to right: the LBA formation of the Scythian gene pools; the BMAC-related influx increasing through time in the Tian Shan Sakas; and the new eastern influx starting in the IA and continuing throughout the centuries. A number-based key (the white numbers from 1 to 6 inside the black circles) connects different tests and analyses shown in the figure with the corresponding arrow in Fig. 4.

  • Fig. 4 Summary maps describing the major genetic turnovers that occurred at the turn and throughout the first millennium BCE.

    (A) Formation of a three-way LBA admixture cline from which (B) eastern Scythian and western Sarmatian gene pools arose and spread throughout the Steppe and (C) a new source of eastern Eurasian ancestry influx admixing with the Scythian gene pools started in the IA and becoming predominant and widespread at northern latitudes during the Xianbei-Hun period. On the very southern tips of the Steppe, a very different ancestry shift occurred, likely linked with the expansion of the Persian world. The arrows represent the demographic processes analyzed in the present study and are numbered from 1 to 6 to connect them to the main results shown in Fig. 3 from which these inferences have been drawn.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Ancient genomic time transect from the Central Asian Steppe unravels the history of the Scythians

    Guido Alberto Gnecchi-Ruscone, Elmira Khussainova, Nurzhibek Kahbatkyzy, Lyazzat Musralina, Maria A. Spyrou, Raffaela A. Bianco, Rita Radzeviciute, Nuno Filipe Gomes Martins, Caecilia Freund, Olzhas Iksan, Alexander Garshin, Zhassulan Zhaniyazov, Bakhytzhan Bekmanov, Egor Kitov, Zainolla Samashev, Arman Beisenov, Natalia Berezina, Yakov Berezin, András Zsolt Bíró, Sándor >Évinger, Arman Bissembaev, Gaziz Akhatov, Aslan Mamedov, Akhan Onggaruly, Dmitriy Voyakin, Aidos Chotbayev, Yeldos Kariyev, Alexandra Buzhilova, Leyla Djansugurova, Choongwon Jeong, Johannes Krause

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    The PDF file includes:

    • Supplementary Text S1
    • Figs. S1 to S5
    • Tables S1 to S5
    • Legends for data files S1 to S4
    • References

    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

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