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. 2015 Jun 11;522(7555):207-11.
doi: 10.1038/nature14317. Epub 2015 Mar 2.

Massive Migration From the Steppe Was a Source for Indo-European Languages in Europe

Free PMC article

Massive Migration From the Steppe Was a Source for Indo-European Languages in Europe

Wolfgang Haak et al. Nature. .
Free PMC article


We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost 400,000 polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of Western and Far Eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000-5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ∼8,000-7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ∼24,000-year-old Siberian. By ∼6,000-5,000 years ago, farmers throughout much of Europe had more hunter-gatherer ancestry than their predecessors, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but also from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ∼4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ∼75% of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ∼3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe.


Extended Data Figure 1
Extended Data Figure 1
Outgroup f3 statistic f3(Dinka; X, Y), measuring the degree of shared drift among pairs of ancient individuals.
Extended Data Figure 2
Extended Data Figure 2
Modelling Corded Ware as a mixture of N=1, 2, or 3 ancestral populations. (a) The left column shows a histogram of raw f4 statistic residuals and on the right Z-scores for the best-fitting (lowest squared 2-norm of the residuals, or resnorm) model at each N. (b), The data on the left show resnorm and on the right show the maximum |Z| score change for different N. (c) resnorm of different N=2 models. The set of outgroups used in this analysis in the terminology of Supplementary Information section 9 is ‘World Foci 15 + Ancients’.
Extended Data Figure 3
Extended Data Figure 3. Modeling Europeans as mixtures of increasing complexity: N=1 (EN), N=2 (EN, WHG), N=3 (EN, WHG, Yamnaya), N=4 (EN, WHG, Yamnaya, Nganasan), N=5 (EN, WHG, Yamnaya, Nganasan, BedouinB)
The residual norm of the fitted model (Supplementary Information section 9) and its changes are indicated.
Extended Data Figure 4
Extended Data Figure 4. Geographic distribution of archaeological cultures and graphic illustration of proposed population movements / turnovers discussed in the main text (symbols of samples are identical to Figure 1)
(a) proposed routes of migration by early farmers into Europe ∼9,000-7000 years ago, (b) resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry during the Middle Neolithic 7,000-5,000 years ago, (c) arrival of steppe ancestry in central Europe during the Late Neolithic ∼4,500 years ago. White arrows indicate the two possible scenarios of the arrival of Indo-European language groups.
Figure 1
Figure 1. Location and SNP coverage of samples included in this study
(a) Geographic location and time-scale (central European chronology) of the 69 newly typed ancient individuals from this study (black outline) and 25 from the literature for which shotgun sequencing data was available (no outline). (b) Number of SNPs covered at least once in the analysis dataset of 94 individuals.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Population transformations in Europe
(a) PCA analysis, (b) ADMIXTURE analysis. The full ADMIXTURE analysis including present-day humans is shown in Supplementary Information section 6.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Admixture proportions
We estimate mixture proportions using a method that gives unbiased estimates even without an accurate model for the relationships between the test populations and the outgroup populations (Supplementary Information section 9). Population samples are grouped according to chronology (ancient) and Yamnaya ancestry (present-day humans).

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