Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 8, 15

Evidence That a West-East Admixed Population Lived in the Tarim Basin as Early as the Early Bronze Age


Evidence That a West-East Admixed Population Lived in the Tarim Basin as Early as the Early Bronze Age

Chunxiang Li et al. BMC Biol.


Background: The Tarim Basin, located on the ancient Silk Road, played a very important role in the history of human migration and cultural communications between the West and the East. However, both the exact period at which the relevant events occurred and the origins of the people in the area remain very obscure. In this paper, we present data from the analyses of both Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) derived from human remains excavated from the Xiaohe cemetery, the oldest archeological site with human remains discovered in the Tarim Basin thus far.

Results: Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that the Xiaohe people carried both the East Eurasian haplogroup (C) and the West Eurasian haplogroups (H and K), whereas Y chromosomal DNA analysis revealed only the West Eurasian haplogroup R1a1a in the male individuals.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrated that the Xiaohe people were an admixture from populations originating from both the West and the East, implying that the Tarim Basin had been occupied by an admixed population since the early Bronze Age. To our knowledge, this is the earliest genetic evidence of an admixed population settled in the Tarim Basin.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The geographical position of Xiaohe cemetery. The larger map shows Xinjiang, shown also in the shaded section of the map of China.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Reduced median network of Xiaohe sequences. Node size is proportional to frequencies. HVR1 positions are numbered relative to Cambridge reference sequence (CRS). Single nucleotide polymorphism diagnostic positions are in black italics; green represents East Eurasian lineage C, containing 14 individuals. Xiaohe R* is the cluster under the macrohaplogroup R.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Map of Eurasia, showing the approximate distribution of haplogroup C. Black sections reflect the frequency of haplogroup C data taken from references listed in Additional File 3.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Phylogenetic tree of haplogroup C, based on HVS-I sequences in the region 16050-16391. For references for the mitochondrial DNA sequences in this study see Additional File 3; the length difference mutations were excluded from this analysis.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Map of Eurasia, showing ancient populations from the Tarim Basin and surroundings. Number 1 represents Xiaohe cemetery, data from this study; number 2 represents Xinjing Hami cemetery, data not published; Number 3 represents ancient Xiongnu, data from reference 46; Numbers 4 and 5 represent ancient South Siberian people, data from reference 38, Numbers 6 and 7 represent ancient Central Asians, data from reference 41; Numbers 8 and 9 represent ancient Lake Baikal people, data from reference 45. The red colour represents that the data was generated from samples from about Bronze Age and/or the prehistory era, while blue represents that the data was generated from samples from Iron Age.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 17 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Mair VH. Prehistoric Caucasoid corpses of the Tarim Basin. J Indo Eur Stud. 1995;23:281–307.
    1. Hemphill BE, Mallory JP. Horse-mounted invaders from the Russo-Kazakh steppe or agricultural colonists from western Central Asia? A craniometric investigation of the Bronze Age settlement of Xinjiang. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2004;124:199–222. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.10354. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Mair VH. The rediscovery and complete excavation of Ördek's Necropolis. Jf Indo-European Stud. 2006;34(3-4):273–318.
    1. Cooper A, Poinar HN. Ancient DNA: do it right or not at all. Science. 2000;289:1139. doi: 10.1126/science.289.5482.1139b. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Haak W, Forster P, Bramanti B, Matsumura S, Brandt G, Tänzer M, Villems R, Renfrew C, Gronenborn D, Alt KW, Burger J. Ancient DNA from the first European farmers in 7500-Year-Old Neolithic Sites. Science. 2005;310:1016–1018. - PubMed

Publication types


LinkOut - more resources