The ones who stayed behind? Genome-wide affinities of Okunev remains from Bronze Age South Siberia and the enduring dialogue of ancient DNA and physical anthropology.
Genome-wide ancient DNA data from Upper Paleolithic Siberians and deep time series in Europe challenge many traditional models of relationships between Native Americans, West Eurasians, and East Asians — commonplace units in physical anthropology — by recasting them as fusions of prehistoric ancestry streams that may unexpectedly cross-cut or fracture these categories.
We evaluate new and published genome-wide data from remains attributed to Okunev — an archaeological culture of the Middle Yenisei and eastern steppe in southern Siberia (latter 3rd – first half 2nd millennium BC), famous for slab graves, massive stelae, and fantastic zoomorphic and anthropomorphic petroglyphs — to test an unusual physical anthropological hypothesis.
Russian anthropologists have argued Okunev remains to exhibit pronounced affinity to Native Americans, surpassing that of other ancient groups from the region as well as recent Siberians and Central Asians. Kozintsev et al. (1999), in the most systematic investigation, suggested Okunev people to derive much of their ancestry from late-persisting "collateral relatives" of Native Americans who remained in Eurasia.
We evaluate this proposal in special light of the "Ancient North Eurasian" concept (sensu Lazaridis 2014) and offer considerations on the future of skeletal morphology in framing and motivating investigations of human population history.
Cite this Record
The ones who stayed behind? Genome-wide affinities of Okunev remains from Bronze Age South Siberia and the enduring dialogue of ancient DNA and physical anthropology.. Alexander Kim, Alexander Kozintsev, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, David Reich. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429540)
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Abstract Id(s): 17239