Another hint at the role of Corded Ware peoples in spreading Uralic languages into north-eastern Europe, found in mtDNA analysis of the Finnish population

Open article at Scientific Reports (Nature): Identification and analysis of mtDNA genomes attributed to Finns reveal long-stagnant demographic trends obscured in the total diversity, by Översti et al. (2017).

Of special interest is its depiction of Finland’s past as including the expansion of Corded Ware population of mtDNA U5b1b2 (and probably Y-DNA R1a-M417 subclades), most likely Uralic speakers of the Forest Zone, to the north of the Yamna culture (where Late Proto-Indo-European was spoken).

A later expansion of other subclades – particularly Y-DNA N1c -, was probably associated with the later western expansion of the Eurasian Seima-Turbino phenomenon, and its current prevalence in Finnish Y-DNA haplogroups might have been the consequence of the population decline ca. 1500 BC, and later Iron Age population bottleneck (with the population peak ca. 500 AD) described in the article.

That would more naturally explain the ‘cultural diffusion’ of Finnic languages into invading eastern N1c lineages, a diffusion which would have been in fact a long-term, quite gradual replacement of previously prevalent Y-DNA R1a subclades in the region, as supported by the prevalent “steppe” component in genome-wide ancestry of Finns.

Therefore, there were probably no sudden, strong population (and thus cultural) changes associated with the arrival of N1c lineages, like the ones seen with R1a (Corded Ware / Uralic) and R1b (Yamna / Proto-Indo-European) expansions in Europe.

How the Saami fit into this scheme is not yet obvious, though.


In Europe, modern mitochondrial diversity is relatively homogeneous and suggests an ubiquitous rapid population growth since the Neolithic revolution. Similar patterns also have been observed in mitochondrial control region data in Finland, which contrasts with the distinctive autosomal and Y-chromosomal diversity among Finns. A different picture emerges from the 843 whole mitochondrial genomes from modern Finns analyzed here. Up to one third of the subhaplogroups can be considered as Finn-characteristic, i.e. rather common in Finland but virtually absent or rare elsewhere in Europe. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses suggest that most of these attributed Finnish lineages date back to around 3,000–5,000 years, coinciding with the arrival of Corded Ware culture and agriculture into Finland. Bayesian estimation of past effective population sizes reveals two differing demographic histories: 1) the ‘local’ Finnish mtDNA haplotypes yielding small and dwindling size estimates for most of the past; and 2) the ‘immigrant’ haplotypes showing growth typical of most European populations. The results based on the local diversity are more in line with that known about Finns from other studies, e.g., Y-chromosome analyses and archaeology findings. The mitochondrial gene pool thus may contain signals of local population history that cannot be readily deduced from the total diversity.

From its results:

In general, there appears to be two loose and largely overlapping clusters among the Finn-characteristic haplogroups: the first between 1,000–2,000 ybp and the second around 3,300–5,500 ybp. The age of the older cluster coincides temporally with the arrival of the Corded-Ware culture and, notably, the spread of agriculture in Finland. The arrival and spread of agriculture, temporally corresponding with the age estimates for most of the haplogroups characteristic of Finns, might be a sign of population size increase enabled by the new mode of subsistence, resulting in reduced drift and accumulation of genetic diversity in the population.


Another insight in the past population sizes in Finland is based on radiocarbon-dated archaeological findings in different time periods. These analyses suggest two prehistoric population peaks in Finland, the Stone Age peak (c. 5,500 ybp) and the Metal Age peak (~1,500 ybp). Both of these peaks were followed by a population decline, which appears to have reached its ebb around 3,500 ybp. These developments are not distinguishable in the BSPs. However, these ages correspond well to the two haplogroup age clusters described above. The presumably less severe Iron Age population bottleneck seen in the archaeological data, 1,500–1,300 ybp, temporally coincides with the population size reduction visible for the Finn-characteristic subhaplogroups.


Discovered via Eurogenes.

17 thoughts on “Another hint at the role of Corded Ware peoples in spreading Uralic languages into north-eastern Europe, found in mtDNA analysis of the Finnish population

  1. Some of the stuff you’re posting is insane, like linking Corded Ware R1a-M417 to Uralic.
    Obviously, Uralic was never spoken in most of what was the Corded Ware horizon, nor did Uralic spread with R1a-M417 to most of the places where this Y-chromosome lineage experienced its explosive growth, like South Asia.

    And by the way, your map is way off on Corded Ware origins. Corded Ware could not have been anything influenced by Tripolye, because the earliest Corded Ware are just Yamnaya except with R1a-M417.

    You need to stop and think about what you’re doing, because right now you’re making a fool of yourself.

  2. Linking Corded Ware and R1a-M417 to Finnish, and therefore to Uralic, is exceptionally stupid.

    For starters, Uralic was never spoken in what was most of the Corded Ware horizon, and it never traveled to most of the places where R1a-M417 expanded, like South Asia. R1a-M417 isn’t even all that common in Finland.

    And by the way, your map suggesting that Corded Ware originated west of the steppe in Cucuteni-Tripolye is obviously wrong. That’s because the earliest Corded Ware samples from Latvia and Lithuania are no different from Yamnaya (ie. they have as little farmer ancestry as Yamnaya). They form one clade.

    So earliest Corded Ware people were identical to Yamnaya, except they had R1a-M417. Now that you’re aware of this fact, think about it for a little bit.

  3. According to sagas the original expansion of north people into the European continent, after the end of the last ice age, spoke a mixture of Rot (Indo European) and Van (Uralic).

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