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Thread: Western & Eastern Scythians: Do they descend from a common culture?

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    Western & Eastern Scythians: Do they descend from a common culture?

    The latest papers about Scythians suggest somewhat different scenarios. Some highlights:

    Shifts in the Genetic Landscape of the Western Eurasian Steppe Associated with the Beginning and End of the Scythian Dominance
    • Results imply some demic diffusion in the spread of the Scythian culture
    • Scythian dominance brought along an increase of eastern ancestry across the steppe
    • The Early Iron Age nomadic Scythians have been described as a confederation of tribes of different origins, based on ancient DNA evidence.
    • Recently, studies of ancient Scythian genomes have affirmed the confederate nature of the Scythian tribes, showing them to be genetically distinct from one another but finding little or no support for large-scale east-to-west movements, instead generally suggesting separate local origins of various Scythian groups.



    Ancient genomes suggest the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe as the source of western Iron Age nomads
    For millennia, the Pontic-Caspian steppe was a connector between the Eurasian steppe and Europe. In this scene, multidirectional and sequential movements of different populations may have occurred, including those of the Eurasian steppe nomads. We sequenced 35 genomes (low to medium coverage) of Bronze Age individuals (Srubnaya-Alakulskaya) and Iron Age nomads (Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians) that represent four distinct cultural entities corresponding to the chronological sequence of cultural complexes in the region. Our results suggest that, despite genetic links among these peoples, no group can be considered a direct ancestor of the subsequent group. The nomadic populations were heterogeneous and carried genetic affinities with populations from several other regions including the Far East and the southern Urals. We found evidence of a stable shared genetic signature, making the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe a likely source of western nomadic groups.


    Ancestry and demography and descendants of Iron Age nomads of the Eurasian Steppe
    Genomic inference reveals that Scythians in the east and the west of the steppe zone can best be described as a mixture of Yamnaya-related ancestry and an East Asian component. Demographic modelling suggests independent origins for eastern and western groups with ongoing gene-flow between them, plausibly explaining the striking uniformity of their material culture. We also find evidence that significant gene-flow from east to west Eurasia must have occurred early during the Iron Age.



    What is your opinion? Which one is more reasonable? I believe those in the west can be modeled as Steppe_MLBA + some EEF-rich population while those in the east can be modeled as Steppe_MLBA + BMAC + East Eurasian. But some of the Scythian samples from Ukraine and Moldova have East Eurasian ancestry as well, which is confusing. Was the Scythian culture brought to the Pontic steppe by a population resembling eastern Scythians or an earlier Steppe_MLBA-like population? According to Heredotus, the Scythians of the Pontic steppe came from Central Asia, which is not an answer to my question.

    The Sarmatian samples appear quite homogeneous compared to the Scythian ones by the way.
    Last edited by Alkaevli; 08-02-2019 at 07:09 PM.
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    This is an excellent question, and it's one I've given thought to as well. At this point, I don't think we have enough information to answer it.

    I think a critical part of the answer needs to be a better account of the origins and spread of the Iranian language community. Most researchers agree that the Scythians were largely Iranic speakers, despite some acculturated groups on the fringes of their range probably speaking different languages.

    We still don't know how and where exactly Iranian separated from Indo-Aryan and how the Iranian group spread and evolved. At some point in the Iranian community, a major cultural innovation occured when mounted warfare first became prevalent. This new method of warfare may have been a major driver behind the Scythian cultural phenomenon.

    This is all speculative. There's much we don't know. It's a perfect area for more aDNA studies to help uncover this story.

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    Greeks used the term Scythians for a subset of these people. The ones called Royal Scythians were placed West of Don (but east of Dnieper), afaiu in regions were we find Old Great Bulgaria later. Further west than the royal Scythians were groups called by Greeks Scythian ploughmen, Scythian agriculturalists and Hellenoscythians. These groups, as their name suggests, had contacts with EEF rich groups.

    My understanding about the Sarmatians is that they were placed east of Don towards the forest steppe and in the forest steppe north of them there were the Gelonians and Budini, the first were considered 'anciently Hellenes' speaking 'half Greek - half Scythian' and they were agriculturalists, the second were hunter gatherers and they had blue eyes, red hair and were speaking a language of their own etc.

    Herodotus doesn't say Scythians came from Central Asia but from West Asia essentially.
    Last edited by Kanenas; 08-03-2019 at 04:04 AM.

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    Well, it seems that BMAC is actually present even in the western samples:

    Code:
    Sample	Details	Fit	Map	Kura-Araxes ARM Kalavan	Mongola	POL Globular Amphora	RUS Sintashta MLBA	RUS West Siberia N	TKM Gonur1 BA
    1	Romanian:Average		3.0868 	Open Map	19.17	0	37.5	42.5	0	0.83
    2	Saka_Kazakh_steppe:Average		4.0689 	Open Map	0	36.67	0	37.5	20.83	5
    3	Saka_Tian_Shan:Average		2.304 	Open Map	2.5	15	0	42.5	17.5	22.5
    4	Scythian_Aldy_Bel_IA:Average		4.7656 	Open Map	0	34.17	0	35	27.5	3.33
    5	Scythian_HUN:Average		2.4039 	Open Map	5	0	43.33	51.67	0	0
    6	Scythian_MDA:Average		2.7072 	Open Map	24.17	0.83	41.67	26.67	0	6.67
    7	Scythian_RUS_Urals:Average		4.6037 	Open Map	0.83	27.5	0	41.67	20.83	9.17
    8	Scythian_UKR:Average		2.0726 	Open Map	4.17	4.17	11.67	73.33	1.67	5
    9	Scythian_Zevakino_Chilikta_IA:Average		3.0196 	Open Map	0	33.33	3.33	30.83	18.33	14.17
    10	Ukrainian:Average		5.4956 	Open Map	0	0	17.5	82.5	0	0

    Ukrainians and Romanians being the control for native ancestry. Comparing Ukrainian to Scythian Ukraine, we see it does have a bit more east Asian and also some BMAC. Comparing Scythian Moldova to Romanian it seems very similar, just having a bit less steppe and higher BMAC. Scythian hungary right off the bat seems pretty much fully European. The rest of the Scythians score east Asian and BMAC in varying amounts as well as lots of Siberian ancestry.

    If I had to guess, they were a population that was mainly MLBA steppe and BMAC, and possibly some east Asian. As they moved around, they either mixed with locals, acquiring more EEF, WSHG, or East Asian or transferred their culture onto them without contributing genes(probably what happened in Hungary).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alkaevli View Post
    It looks like scy192, scy197, scy300, scy305, MJ12 and maybe DA198 might be local Thracian/Dacian/Getae ethnics. We already have a confirmed Thracian from Bulgaria, I5769, and they seem quite close. Obviously, Romanians/Moldavians and Bulgarians are shifted more Northerly because we have to account for the Slavic migrations.

    Sample Details Fit Map Anatolia Barcin N Baltic LVA HG GEO CHG Han NChina IRN Ganj Dareh N Levant Natufian Nganassan Yamnaya UKR
    1 BGR_IA:I5769 Ancient; BCE:450 2.1825 Open Map 71.67 0 0.83 0 3.33 0 0 24.17
    2 Bulgarian:Average 2.5019 Open Map 52.5 9.17 0 0.83 3.33 0 0 34.17
    3 Custom:AGUser_Dorkymon 2.9229 Open Map 45 11.67 0 3.33 0 0 0 40
    4 Gagauz:Average 2.4903 Open Map 51.67 7.5 2.5 0.83 4.17 0 0 33.33
    5 Moldavian:Average 2.3453 Open Map 52.5 7.5 0 0 2.5 0.83 0 36.67
    6 Romanian:Average 2.5529 Open Map 51.67 9.17 0 0.83 0 0 0 38.33
    7 Scythian_MDA:scy192 Ancient; BCE:300 2.0156 Open Map 59.17 5 3.33 0 1.67 1.67 0.83 28.33
    8 Scythian_MDA:scy197 Ancient; BCE:300 2.7464 Open Map 61.67 4.17 0.83 1.67 0.83 0 0 30.83
    9 Scythian_MDA:scy300 Ancient; BCE:300 2.4307 Open Map 60 5.83 0 0 5 1.67 1.67 25.83
    10 Scythian_MDA:scy305 Ancient; BCE:300 2.1835 Open Map 55.83 3.33 0 2.5 5.83 0 0 32.5
    11 UKR_Cimmerian:MJ12 2.4649 Open Map 62.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 37.5
    12 Ukrainian:Average 5.152 Open Map 35 22.5 0 0 0 0 0 42.5


    Last edited by Dorkymon; 08-03-2019 at 11:55 AM.
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    It looks like the ancestral South Indian component distinguishes Iranic speaking Scythian groups from proto-Turkic and even Uralic-like Scythians. Of course this then changed when ultimately Turkic groups assimilated the Iranic groups.
    CHG/Iran admixture levels is too vague but ASI can be the true tracer ink here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patarames View Post
    It looks like the ancestral South Indian component distinguishes Iranic speaking Scythian groups from proto-Turkic and even Uralic-like Scythians. Of course this then changed when ultimately Turkic groups assimilated the Iranic groups.
    CHG/Iran admixture levels is too vague but ASI can be the true tracer ink here.
    There's no real ASI in any Scythians.

    The problem is that test above lacks an East Asian reference; it just has a Siberian one to represent eastern ancestry. Also, using a simulated population is somewhat dubious.

    But as always, you'll see what you want to see.

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    The AASI_NW simulation scores are reduced from ~2-4% to noise (0.5-1%) once you add in WSHG and Ganj Dareh, so I agree with the General.
    Last edited by DMXX; 08-03-2019 at 05:21 PM. Reason: rephrasing

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    Like Anthony I'm a friend of admixture bar diagrams. From the relevant papers it looks like ASI component levels are beyond noise levels.
    It seems they picked it up via BMAC which in turn got it from IVC.

    F3.large.jpg

    However you guys certainly have more expertise on the technical side so I wonder why it appears explicitly mentioned in the relevant papers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patarames View Post
    Like Anthony I'm a friend of admixture bar diagrams. From the relevant papers it looks like ASI component levels are beyond noise levels.
    It seems they picked it up via BMAC which in turn got it from IVC.

    F3.large.jpg

    However you guys certainly have more expertise on the technical side so I wonder why it appears explicitly mentioned in the relevant papers?
    This diagram appears poorly made. They labeled northeast Asian as SEA and southeast Asian as NEA. Also what south Asian group? Could be Kalash for all we know, also excess Siberian ancestry can cause a SA affinity due to the latter having high ANE

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