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    A multidisciplinary team led by archaeologist Volker Heyd and geoscientist Heikki Seppä is conducting field research and collection of ancient samples in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia. The project is funded by a grant from the University of Helsinki.

    The good news: Samples of ancient DNA from Romania will be collected; the less good news for this thread: there is only interest in sampling remains from Yamnaya burial mounds. The research team will be using “the methods of funerary archaeology, landscape archaeology and remote sensing” to identify burial mounds that have been destroyed.

    In “Yamnaya Groups and Tumuli west of the Black Sea.” 2012, Heyd noted that 100 of these mounds had been excavated in Romania. Most of the findings from southeastern Europe are still unpublished. He anticipated drawing up a comprehensive study in order to gain a better understanding of the movement of the Yamnaya through Europe. Hence the research project.
    This article also provides a brief description of the regions in Romania in which tumuli to be investigated are found. It also points out the need to distinguish Yamnaya burials from the burials of earlier incoming groups from the north Pontic steppe, although these are in smaller numbers.
    Heyd gives an outline of his view on the interaction of peoples on p. 545, in which he points out that the Yamnaya occupied (without evidence of settlement) regions favored by previous infiltrations from the north Pontic steppe and kept away from regions not suitable to reliance on pastoralism.

    Heyd estimates the Yamnaya population to have been in the tens of thousands, not millions., and describes it as a slow infiltration process up until 2950 calBCE, when it turned into a current of immigration (“Yamnaya Groups and Tumuli west of the Black Sea.” 2012, p. 548)

    Some of the geomapping methods the interdisciplinary team will use could probably also be profitably used to explore regions in which populations moving away from the Yamnaya are likely to have found refuge. They are easy to spot in the map below, from Volker Heyd. They are the blank regions surrounded by the areas in red in the map:

    These are regions that would be difficult to negotiate for groups traveling in carts. Their topography probably also makes them difficult even for some modern research methods.

    Perhaps, one day, there will be a research project investigating a wider variety of terrains. This is desirable because sampling from a wider variety of areas and periods is likely to give us a higher-resolution picture of the movements of populations across time in southeastern Europe.

    But at least, once data from Heyd’s project is available, we should be able to see how his team’s samples stack up in comparison with the estimate of Early European Farmer mixture in Yamnaya Ukraine and Yamnaya Samara in Wang et al. 2018. Supplementary Table 18.

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