Notes: Who are the Scythians?

1,200 year old Scythian warrior in Ulan Bator, Altai Mongolia

Jordana,X.,et al.,The warriors of the steppes: osteological evidence of warfare and violence from Pazyryk…, J.Archaeol. Sci. (2009), doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.01.008

The Pazyryk  Scythian mummy is placed closest to Tagar culture populations, according to cluster analysis done in Ryan Schmidt’s paper:

2012 Schmidt, Ryan, “Unraveling the population history of the Xiongnu to explain molecular and archaeological models of prehistoric Mongolia” (2012). Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers. Paper 1149.  Fulltext:

The Tagar culture (Russian: Тагарская культура) was aBronze Age archeological culture which flourished between the 8th and 2nd centuries BC in South Siberia (Republic of Khakassia, southern part of Krasnoyarsk Territory, eastern part of Kemerovo Province).[1] The culture was named after an island in the Yenisey River opposite Minusinsk. The civilization was one of the largest centres of bronze-smelting in ancient Eurasia.

The Tagar culture was preceded by the Karasuk culture.[1][2] The Tagars have been described by archaeologists as exhibiting pronounced Europoid features.[2][3] They are believed to have belonged to the Scythian circle.[3][4] They lived in timber dwellings heated by clay ovens and large hearths. Some settlements were surrounded by fortifications. They made a living by raising livestock, predominantly large horned livestock and horses, goats and sheep. Harvest was collected with bronze sickles and reaping knives.[citation needed] The Tagar produced animal art motifs (Scythian art) very similar to the Scythians of southern European Russia.[2] Perhaps the most striking feature of the culture are huge royal kurgans fenced by stone plaques, with four vertical stelae marking the corners. The Tagar culture was succeeded by the Tashtyk culture.[5][2]

In 2009, a genetic study of ancient Siberian cultures, the Andronovo culture, thaKarasuk culture, the Tagar culture and the Tashtyk culture, was published in Human Genetics.[2] Twelve indiduals of the Tagar culture from 800 BC to 100 AD were surveyed.[2] Extractions of mtDNA from ten individuals were determined to represent three samples of haplogroup T3, one sample of I4, one sample G2a, one sample of C, one sample of F1b and three samples of H (including one sample of H5).[2] Extractions of Y-DNA from six individuals were all determined to be of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1, which was thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans.[2] All individuals except from one mixed race individual were determined to be Europoid, with the majority being light-eyed and light haired.[2]

This position is reappraised and rather than eastward migration, the Altai is thought to be the origin of some of these migrations that go both east and westwards.
See Longli Kang et al., Evolutionary and Population Evolutionary and Population Genetics No Genetics,No. 2041 Y chromosomes of ancient Hunnu people and its implication Y chromosomes h f ld l of ancient Hunnu people and its implication on the phylogeny of East Asian linguistic families

Keyser, Christine; Bouakaze, Caroline; Crubézy, Eric; Nikolaev, Valery G.; Montagnon, Daniel; Reis, Tatiana; Ludes, Bertrand (May 16, 2009). “Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people”.Human Genetics (Springer-Verlag). Retrieved 15 February 2015.

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

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