Ancient genomes suggest the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe as the source of western Iron Age nomads

Sci Adv. 2018 Oct 3;4(10):eaat4457. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat4457. eCollection 2018 Oct.


For millennia, the Pontic-Caspian steppe was a connector between the Eurasian steppe and Europe. In this scene, multidirectional and sequential movements of different populations may have occurred, including those of the Eurasian steppe nomads. We sequenced 35 genomes (low to medium coverage) of Bronze Age individuals (Srubnaya-Alakulskaya) and Iron Age nomads (Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians) that represent four distinct cultural entities corresponding to the chronological sequence of cultural complexes in the region. Our results suggest that, despite genetic links among these peoples, no group can be considered a direct ancestor of the subsequent group. The nomadic populations were heterogeneous and carried genetic affinities with populations from several other regions including the Far East and the southern Urals. We found evidence of a stable shared genetic signature, making the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe a likely source of western nomadic groups.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Asia, Eastern
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Europe
  • Genetic Drift
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Haplotypes
  • History, Ancient
  • Human Migration / history*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • White People / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial