Wednesday, 05. February 2020, 17:30

Into the great wide open

Genome-wide data from prehistoric individuals of the West Eurasian steppe and neighboring regions

Wolfgang Haak (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)

Advances in ancient DNA and sequencing technologies have led to a massive increase of ancient human genome(-wide) data, which can inform on population genetic events in the past that have shaped the genetic profile and diversity of West Eurasian populations today. Numerous studies have elucidated the importance of the steppe zones in the history of Eurasia, in particular since the Bronze Age, which saw an increase in mobility and connectivity, and consequently also an increase in cultural and genetic complexity. Archaeogenetic studies have described the formation of Eurasian ‘steppe ancestry’, but it remains unclear when and where this ancestry arose and whether it was related to a horizon of cultural innovations in the 4th millennium BCE that had facilitated the advance of pastoral societies. To address these questions, I will review the available ancient human datasets relevant to the contact zones of steppe groups in prehistory, including newly available data along temporal transect in Anatolia, the Near East and the Caucasus region.