Corded Ware ancestry in North Eurasia and the Uralic expansion

Now that it has become evident that Late Repin (i.e. Yamnaya/Afanasevo) ancestry was associated with the migration of R1b-L23-rich Late Proto-Indo-Europeans from the steppe in the second half of the the 4th millennium BC, there’s still the question of how R1a-rich Uralic speakers of Corded Ware ancestry expanded , and how they spread their languages throughout North Eurasia.

Modern North Eurasians

I have been collecting information from the supplementary data of the latest papers on modern and ancient North Eurasian peoples, including Jeong et al. (2019), Saag et al. (2019), Sikora et al. (2018), or Flegontov et al. (2019), and I have tried to add up their information on ancestral components and their modern and historical distributions.

Fortunately, the current obsession with simplifying ancestry components into three or four general, atemporal groups, and the common use of the same ones across labs, make it very simple to merge data and map them.

Corded Ware ancestry

There is no doubt about the prevalent ancestry among Uralic-speaking peoples. A map isn’t needed to realize that, because ancient and modern data – like those recently summarized in Jeong et al. (2019) – prove it. But maps sure help visualize their intricate relationship better:

natural-modern-srubnaya-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Srubnaya ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-srubnaya-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Srubnaya ancestry among modern populations. See full map

Interestingly, the regions with higher Corded Ware-related ancestry are in great part coincident with (pre)historical Finno-Ugric-speaking territories:

uralic-languages-modern
Modern distribution of Uralic languages, with ancient territory (in the Common Era) labelled and delimited by a red line. For more information on the ancient territory see here.

Edit (29/7/2019): Here is the full Steppe_MLBA ancestry map, including Steppe_MLBA (vs. Indus Periphery vs. Onge) in modern South Asian populations from Narasimhan et al. (2018), apart from the ‘Srubnaya component’ in North Eurasian populations. ‘Dummy’ variables (with 0% ancestry) have been included to the south and east of the map to avoid weird interpolations of Steppe_MLBA into Africa and East Asia.

modern-steppe-mlba-ancestry2
Natural neighbor interpolation of Steppe MLBA-like ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Anatolia Neolithic ancestry

Also interesting are the patterns of non-CWC-related ancestry, in particular the apparent wedge created by expanding East Slavs, which seems to reflect the intrusion of central(-eastern) European ancestry into Finno-Permic territory.

NOTE. Read more on Balto-Slavic hydrotoponymy, on the cradle of Russians as a Finno-Permic hotspot, and about Pre-Slavic languages in North-West Russia.

natural-modern-lbk-en-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of LBK EN ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-lbk-en-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of LBK EN ancestry among modern populations. See full map

WHG ancestry

The cline(s) between WHG, EHG, ANE, Nganasan, and Baikal HG are also simplified when some of them excluded, in this case EHG, represented thus in part by WHG, and in part by more eastern ancestries (see below).

modern-whg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of WHG ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-whg-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of WHG ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Arctic, Tundra or Forest-steppe?

Data on Nganasan-related vs. ANE vs. Baikal HG/Ulchi-related ancestry is difficult to map properly, because both ancestry components are usually reported as mutually exclusive, when they are in fact clearly related in an ancestral cline formed by different ancient North Eurasian populations from Siberia.

When it comes to ascertaining the origin of the multiple CWC-related clines among Uralic-speaking peoples, the question is thus how to properly distinguish the proportions of WHG-, EHG-, Nganasan-, ANE or BaikalHG-related ancestral components in North Eurasia, i.e. how did each dialectal group admix with regional groups which formed part of these clines east and west of the Urals.

The truth is, one ought to test specific ancient samples for each “Siberian” ancestry found in the different Uralic dialectal groups, but the simplistic “Siberian” label somehow gets a pass in many papers (see a recent example).

Below qpAdm results with best fits for Ulchi ancestry, Afontova Gora 3 ancestry, and Nganasan ancestry, but some populations show good fits for both and with similar proportions, so selecting one necessarily simplifies the distribution of both.

Ulchi ancestry

modern-ulchi-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Ulchi ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-ulchi-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Ulchi ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

ANE ancestry

natural-modern-ane-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of ANE ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-ane-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of ANE ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Nganasan ancestry

modern-nganasan-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Nganasan ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-nganasan-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Nganasan ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Iran Chalcolithic

A simplistic Iran Chalcolithic-related ancestry is also seen in the Altaic cline(s) which (like Corded Ware ancestry) expanded from Central Asia into Europe – apart from its historical distribution south of the Caucasus:

modern-iran-chal-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Iran Neolithic ancestry among modern populations. See full map.
kriging-modern-iran-neolithic-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Iran Chalcolithic ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Other models

The first question I imagine some would like to know is: what about other models? Do they show the same results? Here is the simplistic combination of ancestry components published in Damgaard et al. (2018) for the same or similar populations:

NOTE. As you can see, their selection of EHG vs. WHG vs. Nganasan vs. Natufian vs. Clovis of is of little use, but corroborate the results from other papers, and show some interesting patterns in combination with those above.

EHG

damgaard-modern-ehg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of EHG ancestry among modern populations, data from Damgaard et al. (2018). See full map.
damgaard-kriging-ehg-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of EHG ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Natufian ancestry

damgaard-modern-natufian-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Natufian ancestry among modern populations, data from Damgaard et al. (2018). See full map.
damgaard-kriging-natufian-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Natufian ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

WHG ancestry

damgaard-modern-whg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of WHG ancestry among modern populations, data from Damgaard et al. (2018). See full map.
damgaard-kriging-whg-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of WHG ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Baikal HG ancestry

damgaard-modern-baikalhg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Baikal hunter-gatherer ancestry among modern populations, data from Damgaard et al. (2018). See full map.
damgaard-kriging-baikal-hg-ancestry
Kriging interpolation of Baikal HG ancestry among modern populations. See full map.

Ancient North Eurasians

Once the modern situation is clear, relevant questions are, for example, whether EHG-, WHG-, ANE, Nganasan-, and/or Baikal HG-related meta-populations expanded or became integrated into Uralic-speaking territories.

When did these admixture/migration events happen?

How did the ancient distribution or expansion of Palaeo-Arctic, Baikalic, and/or Altaic peoples affect the current distribution of the so-called “Siberian” ancestry, and of hg. N1a, in each specific population?

NOTE. A little excursus is necessary, because the calculated repetition of a hypothetic opposition “N1a vs. R1a” doesn’t make this dichotomy real:

  1. There was not a single ethnolinguistic community represented by hg. R1a after the initial expansion of Eastern Corded Ware groups, or by hg. N1a-L392 after its initial expansion in Siberia:
  2. Different subclades became incorporated in different ways into Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, most of which without an ethnolinguistic change. For example, N1a subclades became incorporated into North Eurasian populations of different languages, reaching Uralic- and Indo-European-speaking territories of north-eastern Europe during the late Iron Age, at a time when their ancestral origin or language in Siberia was impossible to ascertain. Just like the mix found among Proto-Germanic peoples (R1b, R1a, and I1)* or among Slavic peoples (I2a, E1b, R1a)*, the mix of many Uralic groups showing specific percentages of R1a, N1a, or Q subclades* reflect more or less recent admixture or acculturation events with little impact on their languages.

*other typically northern and eastern European haplogroups are also represented in early Germanic (N1a, I2, E1b, J, G2), Slavic (I1, G2, J) and Finno-Permic (I1, R1b, J) peoples.

ananino-culture-new
Map of archaeological cultures in north-eastern Europe ca. 8th-3rd centuries BC. [The Mid-Volga Akozino group not depicted] Shaded area represents the Ananino cultural-historical society. Fading purple arrows represent likely stepped movements of subclades of haplogroup N for centuries (e.g. Siberian → Ananino → Akozino → Fennoscandia [N-VL29]; Circum-Arctic → forest-steppe [N1, N2]; etc.). Blue arrows represent eventual expansions of Uralic peoples to the north. Modified image from Vasilyev (2002).

The problem with mapping the ancestry of the available sampling of ancient populations is that we lack proper temporal and regional transects. The maps that follow include cultures roughly divided into either “Bronze Age” or “Iron Age” groups, although the difference between samples may span up to 2,000 years.

NOTE. Rough estimates for more external groups (viz. Sweden Battle Axe/Gotland_A for the NW, Srubna from the North Pontic area for the SW, Arctic/Nganasan for the NE, and Baikal EBA/”Ulchi-like” for the SE) have been included to offer a wider interpolated area using data already known.

Bronze Age

Similar to modern populations, the selection of best fit “Siberian” ancestry between Baikal HG vs. Nganasan, both potentially ± ANE (AG3), is an oversimplification that needs to be addressed in future papers.

Corded Ware ancestry

bronze-age-corded-ware-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Srubnaya ancestry among Bronze Age populations. See full map.

Nganasan-like ancestry

bronze-age-nganasan-like-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Nganasan-like ancestry among Bronze Age populations. See full map.

Baikal HG ancestry

bronze-age-baikal-hg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Baikal Hunter-Gatherer ancestry among Bronze Age populations. See full map.

Afontova Gora 3 ancestry

bronze-age-afontova-gora-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Afontova Gora 3 ancestry among Bronze Age populations. See full map.

Iron Age

Corded Ware ancestry

Interestingly, the moderate expansion of Corded Ware-related ancestry from the south during the Iron Age may be related to the expansion of hg. N1a-VL29 into the chiefdom-based system of north-eastern Europe, including Ananyino/Akozino and later expanding Akozino warrior-traders around the Baltic Sea.

NOTE. The samples from Levänluhta are centuries older than those from Estonia (and Ingria), and those from Chalmny Varre are modern ones, so this region has to be read as a south-west to north-east distribution from the Iron Age to modern times.

iron-age-corded-ware-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Srubnaya ancestry among Iron Age populations. See full map.

Baikal HG-like ancestry

The fact that this Baltic N1a-VL29 branch belongs in a group together with typically Avar N1a-B197 supports the Altaic origin of the parent group, which is possibly related to the expansion of Baikalic ancestry and Iron Age nomads:

iron-age-baikal-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Baikal HG ancestry among Iron Age populations. See full map.

Nganasan-like ancestry

The dilution of Nganasan-like ancestry in an Arctic region featuring “Siberian” ancestry and hg. N1a-L392 at least since the Bronze Age supports the integration of hg. N1a-Z1934, sister clade of Ugric N1a-Z1936, into populations west and east of the Urals with the expansion of Uralic languages to the north into the Tundra region (see here).

The integration of N1a-Z1934 lineages into Finnic-speaking peoples after their migration to the north and east, and the displacement or acculturation of Saami from their ancestral homeland, coinciding with known genetic bottlenecks among Finns, is yet another proof of this evolution:

iron-age-nganasan-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of Nganasan ancestry among Iron Age populations. See full map.

WHG ancestry

Similarly, WHG ancestry doesn’t seem to be related to important population movements throughout the Bronze Age, which excludes the multiple North Eurasian populations that will be found along the clines formed by WHG, EHG, ANE, Nganasan, Baikal HG ancestry as forming part of the Uralic ethnogenesis, although they may be relevant to follow later regional movements of specific populations.

iron-age-whg-ancestry
Natural neighbor interpolation of WHG ancestry among Iron Age populations. See full map.

Conclusion

It seems natural that people used to look at maps of haplogroup distribution from the 2000s, coupled with modern language distributions, and would try to interpret them in a certain way, reaching thus the wrong conclusions whose consequences are especially visible today when ancient DNA keeps contradicting them.

In hindsight, though, assuming that Balto-Slavs expanded with Corded Ware and hg. R1a, or that Uralians expanded with “Siberian” ancestry and hg. N1a, was as absurd as looking at maps of ancestry and haplogroup distribution of ancient and modern Native Americans, trying to divide them into “Germanic” or “Iberian”…

The evolution of each specific region and cultural group of North Eurasia is far from being clear. However, the general trend speaks clearly in favour of an ancient, Bronze Age distribution of North Eurasian ancestry and haplogroups that have decreased, diluted, or become incorporated into expanding Uralians of Corded Ware ancestry, occasionally spreading with inter-regional expansions of local groups.

Given the relatively recent push of Altaic and Indo-European languages into ancestral Uralic-speaking territories, only the ancient Corded Ware expansion remains compatible with the spread of Uralic languages into their historical distribution.

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Wizzigot
Wizzigot

These people speak Turkic, not Uralic for a good reason. You have to rethink your “theory”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ulGRixgyE4
Kind regards!

Cypriánus
Cypriánus

Evans, the 80% of the uralic speakers have no any native word for reindeer. ( Mari, Erzya, Moksha, Magyar .)
The other 20 % of uralic speakers use different names for reindeer i(Sámi , Finnish, Nenets , Khanty, Komi,) with no common origin: botsav, poro, tü, sal’y, kär…

Evan
Evan

The name for reindeer in the Baltic Finnic languages, however, all has a common root. Differences in the other Uralic languages is likely due to a long period of linguistic divergence over millennia. But it is known reindeer were in a proto-domesticated state and hunted in migrating herds by Uralic-speaking peoples at least 2,000 to 2,500 ya, long before being more properly domesticated. It is the following of these herds which is thought to have brought the first proto-Finnic speakers to the eastern Baltic in the first place due to a colder climate, which occurred between the Bronze Age and… Read more »

Evan
Evan

I’m not sure where you have that claim from. They all have a native word for reindeer, with the exception of Hungarian. There’s no evidence at all that Finno-Ugric words for reindeer originate from Paleo-Siberian or any other language group. They are native names for the word, given that it was Uralics who domesticated some reindeer herds (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2593925/).

Joey B&T
Joey B&T

But not a shared word, thats the point. If the spread of Uralics was due to reindeer pastoralism, surely they would have cognates for such an important part of their culture.

Evan
Evan

Having only recently come across this “Uralic = Corded Ware” theory of yours, I find certain things about it which do not hold up: 1) It is not supported by most recent papers showing that Siberian Nganasan-like ancestry arrived in the eastern Baltic region around the same time that the Finnic languages did, around 2500 years ago in the Iron Age (especially one you cite here, Saag et al, 2019 https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30424-5?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982219304245%3Fshowall%3Dtrue0. 2) It fails to explain how Uralic languages, including Finnic, are most similar to other circumpolar languages, especially Yukaghir, and even Eskimo-Aleut. In terms of sentence structure, word formation,… Read more »

Evan
Evan

The study of Saag, et al clearly states that Uralic languages only arrived in the eastern Baltic from Siberia in the Iron Age, long after CWC, in tandem with the arrival of Siberian, Nganasan-like ancestry at the same time: “This ancestry reached the coasts of the Baltic Sea no later than the mid-first millennium BC; i.e., in the same time window as the diversification of west Uralic (Finnic) languages.” https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30424-5?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982219304245%3Fshowall%3Dtrue Evidence for Iron Age arrival and separation of Baltic Finnic languages in the eastern Baltic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23675756?dopt=Abstract “Our timing results paralleled the previous linguistic studies but suggested a later divergence of… Read more »

Cypriánus
Cypriánus

As an uralic speaker (magyar) to believe in the coming of reendeer -herder uralics in the Iron Age is a quite fantastic idea. The magyar (Hungarian ) language was in very deep and close contact with the proto-iranian languages, similar to other Ugric languages, and it is one of the deepest layer of our language…was this connection in the Tundra?!? Because of the glottochtonology this ugric- iranian neighbourhood was in the Bronze Age, and it was a linguistic evidency almost 100 years ago….Although it was interpreted as Volosovo, but nobody thaught as Iron -age Tundra population. Not just the magyar,… Read more »

Evan
Evan

The Ugric branch was, and still is, the most southerly branch of the Uralic languages. Thus, it of course would have increased Iranian or other IE influences, as well as Turkic, due to Old Magyar, Khanty and Mansi being immediately adjacent to Scythian (Iranian) and Turkic lands in central Asia. This influence is extremely small or absent in the other Uralic languages which are in the circumpolar region. The original proto-Uralic population later diverged, and then merged with CWC descendants and other groups in the spread migrations Uralic groups to the south, east and to the west. The Samoyeds likely… Read more »

Evan
Evan

“As an uralic speaker (magyar) to believe in the coming of reindeer -herder uralics in the Iron Age is a quite fantastic idea.” Its not ‘fantastic’ at all, but the most heavily supported theory in the scholarly community by all the available evidence, as I mentioned in the studies listed. But this Iron Age arrival was the case for the northern Uralics – the Finns and the Sami. The Sami and Samoyeds are still reindeer herding pastoralists TODAY, and in the past both they and the ancient Baltic and Volga Finns were all full-time, reindeer herding pastoralists. That is fact.… Read more »

Evan
Evan

Uralic peoples which still have groups who regularly practice reindeer herding today:

Nganasans
Nenets
Selkups
Komi
Finns
Karelians
Sami
Khanty
Mansi

Evan
Evan

Extensive agglutination in words, a distinguishing feature of Uralic languages that is absent in Indo-European (which bordered CWC), is also highly characteristic of Siberian and East Asian languages, including Yukaghir, Paleo-Siberian languages, Turkic, Tungusic, Korean, Japanese and Eskimo-Aleut. The extremely strong case for the Siberian origin of Uralic is thus as below: – Genetics (Nganasan ancestry) – divergence time of Finnic languages in the east Baltic around 1500 BC to 500 BC – closest language affinities (agglutination) to geographically distant Arctic, Siberian and east Asian languages, rather than IE languages (non-agglutinating) that were immediately adjacent to CWC – Reindeer herding… Read more »

Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz
Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

Hey don’t back down the map Timeline_of_the_Golden_Horde! Looking for a Corded Ware-related ancestry you found Svitjod hinn mikla – all Scandinavian-Finnish enterprises east of the Baltic. Politically, it is later Kievan Rus (a very confusing name) plus Volga Bulgaria. The Finno-Ugric substratum evenly distributed from its early medieval centres inside a Scandinavian (and finally Slavic) political system. The role of the state can not be overestimated.

Carlos Quiles
Carlos Quiles

Added maps with estimation of ANE (AG3) ancestry in modern North Eurasian populations

Carlos Quiles

I’ve included in the post a full map of steppe ancestry (=Srubnaya / Steppe_MLBA ancestry), adding info from Narasimhan et al. (2018) and some more West European data (French, English, Scottish) apart from some 0% in the borders to avoid wrong interpolations. Without actual data from those borders it is thus just a simplistic visualization around the Mediterranean, Africa, East Asia and South-East Asia, and the real ancestry data is found in North Eurasia and Central and South Asia. I’ve also corrected some locations, and added colors for quick identification of the ethnolinguistic group. Other additions are Kriging interpolations of… Read more »

Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz
Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

Boring. The only interesting thing is natural neighbor interpolation of WHG ancestry. Well corresponds to East Lithuanian Barrows Culture (taken together with Sudow Culture, from Czarna Hańcza till Daugava river). But the hiatus … WHG and people from the third century AD? On an almost uninhabited territory by most of the time?? These Western Hunter-Gatherers look like pretty nice anachronism.

Спартак Дзанаев
Спартак Дзанаев

👍

Carlos Quiles

I’ve added Kriging interpolations to some of the ancestries in modern populations below the corresponding natural neighbor ones.

Theresa
Theresa

Thanks for these maps!

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