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Thread: The riddle of the Eastern Steppes...

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    The riddle of the Eastern Steppes...

    A few days ago I had a discussion with Onur over at the General's blog regarding the Slab Grave horizon and it's relation to the Turkic and Mongolic peoples. And then just a few hours earlier I had that same discussion with Ryukendo, based on this comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryukendo View Post
    from autosomal results my feeling is that the Turkic and Mongolic urheimats are extremely far to the East, on the other side of the Baikal and reaching to the Armur River Basin even and not actually on the Mongolian Plateau. If there turns out to be a deep autosomal connection between Kra001 and genetic components in the Transbaikal and Armur regions (we don't really know what the deep origins of the various East Asian components are) then we can maybe say there is a scope for this to have influenced the typology of Uralic ("Ural-Altaic") but as you've noted Kra001 ancestry occurs quite far to the West by the time of the Bronze Age, which may have limited its contacts with the precursors of the later Altaic languages that were far to the East at that time.
    Basically their position (correct me if I'm putting words in your mouth) is that the genetic ancestry of Mongolic peoples indicates that their origin/ethnogenesis lies beyond the Mongolian plateau, further eastwards in the Amur river basin, as their ancestry is more eastern than what we have seen in Mongolia during the Neolithic and Bronze age. Perhaps Turkic in addition as well.

    These two takes are a bit at odds with my personal impressions, which is that I think that both Turkic and Mongolic peoples have their origin with LBA/EIA pastoralist populations from the Mongolian Ulaanzuukh and Slab Grave archaeological horizons. That being said I do I think that Mongolic people originated to the east of Turkic peoples, as they have significant ancestry from populations just east of the northeastern Mongolian border. Here I'll show you what I mean by way of G25:

    Code:
    Target: CHN_Amur_River_Xianbei_IA
    Distance: 3.3916% / 0.03391643
    50.4	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    48.8	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    0.8	Saka_Tian_Shan
    
    Target: MNG_Xianbei_IA
    Distance: 3.2141% / 0.03214129
    48.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    36.6	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    15.2	Saka_Tian_Shan
    
    Target: KAZ_Xianbei_Hun_Antiquity
    Distance: 1.2654% / 0.01265399
    47.6	Saka_Tian_Shan
    46.2	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    6.0	RUS_Baikal_BA
    0.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    
    Target: Mongolian
    Distance: 2.1493% / 0.02149332
    29.8	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    29.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    21.0	Saka_Tian_Shan
    14.8	Han_Henan
    5.2	Saka_Tian_Shan_o
    
    Target: Buryat
    Distance: 2.3514% / 0.02351381
    37.6	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    34.0	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    27.0	Saka_Tian_Shan
    1.4	Han_Henan
    
    Target: Kazakh
    Distance: 2.4818% / 0.02481767
    38.0	Saka_Tian_Shan
    17.8	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    17.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    14.8	Han_Henan
    12.2	Saka_Tian_Shan_o
    
    Target: Khakass
    Distance: 2.1834% / 0.02183383
    40.0	Saka_Tian_Shan
    30.6	MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    29.4	RUS_Baikal_BA
    0.0	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    0.0	Saka_Tian_Shan_o
    So these G25 models aren't the most accurate I bet, but they do highlight that Mongolic peoples historically and modern have significant ancestry from a Slab Grave+Western_Liao_River_BA_o mixed profile. Also two Turkic examples, as you can see they react differently to it. Note that the Xianbei era sample from Kazakhstan does not pick it up, which is unsurprising given the ethnic makeup of the Xianbei confederation.

    The Western_Liao_River outlier is from the Upper Xiajiadan culture of modern day China, not to be confused with the preceding Lower Xiajiadan culture, from which the regular Western Liao river samples come from. The UXJD culture was a LBA pastoralist culture, probably coming from the north, which then replaced the preceding LXJD culture, a sedentary agriculturalist population.

    Target: CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    Distance: 5.3871% / 0.05387061 | R3P
    61.0 CHN_Amur_River_EN
    39.0 MNG_East_N


    The distance is far from great but when adding a whole bunch of sources it selects just these two. The outlier probably wasn't a mixture of these two populations, but hailed from a genetically intermediate population. Oh and by the way, Y-DNA C2b1a1b1, which is an very important piece of the puzzle here.

    Moving on to the Slab Grave populations, here are some of my G25 modelos:

    Code:
    Target: MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    Distance: 1.6044% / 0.01604439
    59.0	MNG_North_N
    16.2	CHN_Yumin_N
    12.0	RUS_Baikal_BA
    11.0	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    1.8	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzukh_LBA_2
    Distance: 1.9463% / 0.01946263
    32.0	CHN_Yumin_N
    31.8	MNG_North_N
    19.0	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    13.6	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    3.6	RUS_Baikal_BA
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzuukh_Slab_Grave
    Distance: 1.7997% / 0.01799722
    45.6	CHN_Yumin_N
    25.0	MNG_North_N
    19.2	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    5.4	RUS_Baikal_BA
    4.8	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    Anachronistically using UXJD as a source population:

    Code:
    Target: MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    Distance: 1.4291% / 0.01429127 | R4P
    55.8	MNG_East_N
    25.0	RUS_Baikal_BA
    11.8	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    7.4	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzukh_LBA_2
    Distance: 1.6562% / 0.01656209 | R4P
    35.4	MNG_East_N
    24.8	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    24.4	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    15.4	RUS_Baikal_BA
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzuukh_Slab_Grave
    Distance: 1.3082% / 0.01308179
    31.4	CHN_Yumin_N
    24.8	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    17.6	MNG_East_N
    14.8	RUS_Baikal_BA
    11.0	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    0.4	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    0.0	MNG_North_N
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzukh_LBA_2
    Distance: 1.6301% / 0.01630091
    31.2	CHN_Yumin_N
    26.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    18.0	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    14.2	RUS_Baikal_BA
    10.4	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    
    Target: MNG_Ulaanzuukh_Slab_Grave
    Distance: 1.3639% / 0.01363873
    41.2	CHN_Yumin_N
    27.2	CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA_o
    15.2	RUS_Baikal_BA
    9.8	CHN_Miaozigou_MN
    6.6	CHN_Amur_River_EN
    First thing I want to point out though is that these samples were quite heterogenous,. You have individual samples like BUL002 which has over 80% ancestry from Miazigou+Yumin populations and you have several iron age Slab Grave samples where nearly identical to MNG_North_N populations. But for the most part they all seem to have ancestry from central to eastern Mongolian foragers as well as southern Inner Mongolian neolithic agriculturalist populations. Or at the very least from closely related populations, I cant say for sure that it came directly from those agriculturalists themselves.

    The Slab_Grave_EIA samples are significantly more related to the MNG_North_N populations than the Ulaanzuukh LBA populations, yet they share the same paternal lineages.
    I3649 is SG_EIA but unlike many of his contemporaries he looked identical to the Ulaanzuukh samples. This is also the most southeastern individual of the samples labeled as Slab Grave_EIA. I think this differences in ancestry are best explained by population movements from the southeast to the north west, and in the process assimilating the preceding populations. This also fits with the Ulaanzuukh sites being older than the Slab Grave sites. Maybe something similar to this?

    Target: MNG_Slab_Grave_EIA_1
    Distance: 1.1306% / 0.01130583 | R3P
    46.0 MNG_Ulaanzuukh_Slab_Grave
    43.6 MNG_North_N
    10.4 RUS_Baikal_BA


    Nearly all Ulaanzuukh and Slab Grave samples have Y-dna Q-M120. This lineage had a bit of a different pathways than the others Qs we have seen in the Altai-Sayan region further north. I remember Ryukendo mentioning this one time there was a sample from neolithic Northeast China with a related Y-DNA haplogroup. (If you're reading this, could you drop the info on that one? Cheers.)

    Given the variation in ancestry, lack of other haplogroups as well as a "resurgence" of other eastern y-dna lineages in Xiongnu/Xianbei period and medieval samples, I'm not sure the rate of Q-M120 present in those stone burials is indicative of the Y-dna distribution of the general population. The ones with different y-dna haplogroups also seem to mixed individuals.
    Sure it can be explained by way of strong founder effects in populations which recently became pastoral, but I've speculated that maybe the reason that Q-M120 is so prevalent in these burials is that the samples have patrilineal kinship with each other. Perhaps a similar scenario as the Megalithic graves along the Atlantic of Neolithic Europe?

    Another point of interest is that while the Ulaanzuukh samples have significant amounts of ancestry from populations related to Inner Mongolian agriculturalists, the UXJD sample did not. It could be an indication of it's northern origin, or that the mixing between Mongolian soon-to-be-pastoralists and chinese Neolithic agriculturalists only recently began. I think it is both!

    Below is a map with the geographic positions of samples I used here which I quickly doodled up on Scribblemaps. The squares are the relevant Ulaanzuukh, Slab Grave and UXJD sites.


    Red = Ulaanzuukh
    Blue= Slab Grave
    Green = Upper Xiajiadan


    I think with this map you can already roughly imagine how these ancestries formed. Ulaanzuukh seems at the centre of all the source populations I used, and the WLR outlier seems roughly intermediate between MNG_East_N and CHN_Amur_EN.

    Given that Turkic people seem to unanimously have Slab Grave_EIA type ancestry but do not unanimously have Western_Liao_BA_o ancestry, I think it is a reasonable assumption that the origin of the Turkic peoples lies within the western sphere of this iron age horizon. Mongolic people on the other hand, both historically and modern seem to be a combination of Slab Grave+UXJD and their genetic composition seems to point to the eastern edge of this archaeological horizon. I can't say if it would be northeastern (greater) Mongolia, the region of MNG_East_N and Amur_EN, or southeastern Mongolia towards the direction of the UXJD sample.

    I don't think we can gauge which of the ancestral sides was linguistically ancestral to either Turkic or Mongolic peoples based on this. For example, did Turkic come from the incoming Ulaanzuukh peoples or from the northern populations they mixed with? Does Pre-Proto-Mongolic hail from the Ulaanzuukh/Slab Grave side, or from Western_Liao_BA_o side? And if these populations had always been geographically and genetically intertwined, then what does this mean for the long lasting linguistic debate on how related Turkic and Mongolic exactly are? All very interesting questions, and ones I don't have answers to.

    Well these are my current takes on the debacle. I'm interested to hear what you guys think. Let's try and solve this riddle together!
    Last edited by CopperAxe; 04-28-2021 at 11:47 PM.

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    I also wonder what kind of archaeological connections the Upper Xiajiadan culture had to the Ulaanzuukh and Slab Grave horizon. They were both pastoralists, they both used horses and they had the same style of northern zone (Karasuk inspired) weaponry.They both made stone burials, but had different ways of making them. UPXJD had stone box burials covered with a mound of stones, whereas the Ulaanzuukh and Slab grave burials were different in design. Here is a comparison:

     



    Slab Grave:




    Ulaanzuukh:



    Anyways, here are some articles related to the topic you might enjoy:


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    The neolithic sample from northeast China I was referring to in this post came from the Hongshe site of theAng'anxi culture, situated in the modern day Heilongjang province.

    Ancient DNA indicates human population shifts and admixture in northern and southern China

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    I am interested in the spatiotemporal patterning of mtDNA haplogroup G2a.

    G2a in general appears to be especially frequent in populations of Inner Asia. However, populations west of Lake Baikal (notably, many Turkic-speaking populations as well as western Buryats) seem to have a great deal of G2a-T152C!, whereas G2a1-T14200C seems to be widely distributed across East Asia.

    For example, haplogroup G2a accounts for the mtDNA of about 3.3% of present-day Japanese, but nearly all of those (about 3.1% of present-day Japanese) belong to haplogroup G2a1, whereas only about 0.2% or roughly 1 in 500 present-day Japanese belongs to haplogroup G2a-T152C! (in particular, its subclade G2a5).

    It is not a perfect split, and G2a1 is also found among Turkic peoples (e.g. Lipka Tatars in Belarus), but I think the distributional difference in the subclades of haplogroup G2a might reflect the difference in Eastern ancestral components between Turkic peoples and Mongolic peoples in general, with the Mongols sharing a great deal more of a certain ancestral component with East Asians proper vis-à-vis the Turks.

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    This sample in Xinjiang 3600 ybp is very curious, was him early Japanese group people?

    Object-ID TSBL_BA_KM035806
    Colloquial-Skeletal 28
    Latitude 42.83
    Longitude 93.51
    mtDNA-haplogroup C
    Y-DNA C
    Y-New
    SNP-positive M216,M8
    SNP-negative M38
    SNP-dubious
    Y-Simple C1a
    YTree C1a-M105
    Y-Haplotree-Variant C-M105
    Y-Haplotree-Public C-M105
    Y-FTDNA
    YFull C-M8
    Y-YFull
    ISOGG2019 C1a1~
    Y-Symbol C
    Y-Symbol2 C
    Responsible-SNP
    SNPs
    Kinship-Notes
    Source GaoAmJPhysAnthropol2015
    Date 1900?1300 BC
    Mean -1600
    CalBC_top -1,900
    CalBC_bot -1,300
    ArcGIS_top 1,201
    ArcGIS_bot 1,399
    Age
    Simplified_Culture Xinjiang_East_BA
    Culture_Grouping Tianshanbeilu culture
    Label
    Location Tianshanbeilu, Kumul City, Xinjiang
    SiteID
    (from:https://indo-european.maps.arcgis.co...fdc85fce6eb04a)

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    This topic is not settled by any means, but recently it has been suggested that the Proto or early Mongolic Donghu people were located just east of the Mongolian Plateau prior to their expansion westwards.

    That doesn't mean there wasn't an interaction sphere between the proto Turkic and Proto Mongolic populations on the plateau, but from what I have seen it makes sense to place the Proto Mongolics in the Khingan Mountains region of northeast China, which sits right next to the Mongolian Plateau. In this context they would be more closely associated with the Upper Xiajiadian culture.


    Here's an example study from a few years back:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...of_North_China

    I do lean more towards the proto Turkic community residing in the Mongolian Plateau, perhaps mostly the area around Lake Baikal and being associated with Slab Grave. Here they would have been quickly assimilated into the expanding Xiongnu empire and become perhaps its most numerous ethnic group, leading to later Turkic speaking Hun groups.
    Last edited by Psynome; 05-02-2021 at 03:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psynome View Post
    This topic is not settled by any means, but recently it has been suggested that the Proto or early Mongolic Donghu people were located just east of the Mongolian Plateau prior to their expansion westwards.

    That doesn't mean there wasn't an interaction sphere between the proto Turkic and Proto Mongolic populations on the plateau, but from what I have seen it makes sense to place the Proto Mongolics in the Khingan Mountains region of northeast China, which sits right next to the Mongolian Plateau. In this context they would be more closely associated with the Upper Xiajiadian culture.


    Here's an example study from a few years back:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...of_North_China

    I do lean more towards the proto Turkic community residing in the Mongolian Plateau, perhaps mostly the area around Lake Baikal and being associated with Slab Grave. Here they would have been quickly assimilated into the expanding Xiongnu empire and become perhaps its most numerous ethnic group, leading to later Turkic speaking Hun groups.
    Well, it isn't very recent; the oldest mentions of the Donghu were north of the Zhao and Yan states as they were raiding there. But beyond that we have no idea what the size of that confederation was and where the people llived for the most part and who their neighbours were deeper into the "unknown territories". We know of the Xiongnu in the west, but this is southern Inner Mongolia, with the Donghu being recorded on the southeastern ends of Inner Mongolia. But keep in mind that they were recorded here after they had already been fully nomadic peoples for centuries, with high mobility so these geographical positions may not be an indication of a long-lasting deeper origin there.

    The Mongolian plateau is huge, and the Khingan mountains (especially the Greater range) are partially within Inner Mongolia, as was the Upper Xiajiadan culture, especially the novel pastoral/nomadic element which replaced the Lower Xiajiadan culture.




    To me it makes sense to place the (Pre-)Proto-Mongolic people west of the Khingan mountains, considering that is where the ancestry is pulling towards. The UXJD sample was on the western end of the southern part of the Khingan range, plus it seems to be derived from populations west of the range. Mongolic peoples are halfway inbetween populations with such a profile and people with a Slab Grave profile as shown above.

    Basically,both Turkic and Mongolic peoples seem like a mix between LBA Mongolian pastoralists and the populations to their north. Turkic peoples seemingly more western, Mongolic peoples seemingly more eastern. Seems like all of this would've taken place within the Slab Grave horizon. Supposedly there are iron age Slab Grave burials around the lesser Khingan region, but I haven't found a concrete example of such.

    Re Turkic peoples; I have a suspicion there was a significant population boost prior to and during the period of the Xiongnu empire, considering it had only been about a thousand years since pastoralism had been adopted there. Turkic peoples probably lived in the centre of that population boost as they were in the dead centre of the empire.
    Last edited by CopperAxe; 05-02-2021 at 11:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CopperAxe View Post
    ....
    All cogent points. Perhaps one reason I have been reluctant to place proto Turkic and proto Mongolic more closely together is the need for linguistic separation implied for non related families.

    But maybe it's time to start taking Altaic seriously. I just made a skeptical comment about the linguistic hypothesis of Martine Robbeets, and while I still have my criticisms, the more I think about it, the more the basic thrust of the argument makes sense to me.

    It just seems slightly odd to me that Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic especially would have no relation to each other when we see so much commonality in geography, prehistoric culture, and genomic profile. Robbeets claims Korean and Japanese are hybrids between an Altaic language and an Austronesian type, and I'm sympathetic to that claim as well, though I'm not sure which layer is most dominant and thus whether they can be considered in the same family. More likely Korean if so.

    In any case, evidence you've presented here and what keeps turning up from aDNA is shifting me in this direction.
    Last edited by Psynome; 05-02-2021 at 03:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psynome View Post
    All cogent points. Perhaps one reason I have been reluctant to place proto Turkic and proto Mongolic more closely together is the need for linguistic separation implied for non related families.

    But maybe it's time to start taking Altaic seriously. I just made a skeptical comment about the linguistic hypothesis of Martine Robbeets, and while I still have my criticisms, the more I think about it, the more the basic thrust of the argument makes sense to me.

    It just seems slightly odd to me that Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic especially would have no relation to each other when we see so much commonality in geography, prehistoric culture, and genomic profile. Robbeets claims Korean and Japanese are hybrids between an Altaic language and an Austronesian type, and I'm sympathetic to that claim as well, though I'm not sure which layer is most dominant and thus whether they can be considered in the same family. More likely Korean if so.

    In any case, evidence you've presented here and what keeps turning up from aDNA is shifting me in this direction.
    Why do you think the genetic evidence favours a linguistic connection? Compared to populations like the Mesolithic WHG or Neolithic farmers in Europe, is the differentiation between populations in this region shallower?

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    What do you guys think of the ~160-130 BCE Xiongnu era outliers (DA43 and DA45) from the Omnogobi mass burial? These are just called Xiongnu by Damgaard (2018) but I doubt they were ethnic Xiongnu.

    Supplementary info:
    "The Omnogobi site
    Samples XiongNu 96 [DA43] and XiongNu 98 [DA45] belong to this site, which appears to be a mass grave located at 42°30'93.2"N, 105°10'48.09"E. The site is located in Nomgon Soum (administrative unit) of Omnogobi Aimag (or province), south of the Hörhiin Nuruu Mountains and north of Borzon Gobi. Clear signs of a clay-walled structure were found here. When the site was excavated in 2009, a grave was found on the silt bank of a small stream, 200 m east of the walled structure. The grave contained the full skeletons of 20 people and partial remains of another 33 people (Supplementary Figure 36). Judging from how these bones were arranged and how complete these skeletons were in this grave, we concluded that these people were victims of a fierce battle and had been killed by swords or other weapons. This find represented the first of its kind, providing clues about the material cultures that were found in the vicinity of this settled area in the Xiongnu period. It is also the only mass grave of the people from that time period."

    This site is in the Gobi Desert not far from the Ordos Loop. The two individuals actually cluster closest to Han and are Y-hap O3a, so I'm wondering if they are Han Dynasty soldiers who died fighting the Xiongnu in a frontier area:

    Distance to: MNG_Xiongnu_East_AsianA43
    0.02196631 Han_Shanxi
    0.02305668 Han_Henan
    0.02575642 Han_Shandong
    0.02667278 CHN_Yellow_River_LBIA
    0.03135146 MNG_Xiongnu_East_Asian
    0.03145789 CHN_Upper_Yellow_River_IA
    0.03304607 CHN_Yellow_River_LN
    0.03379616 Yugur
    0.03486400 MNG_YUR001
    0.03533396 CHN_Western_Liao_River_LN
    0.03554839 Han_Jiangsu
    0.03594354 Korean
    0.03696620 Tibetan_Xinlong
    0.03924092 CHN_Yellow_River_MN
    0.03979268 Han_Shanghai
    0.04366751 Han_Zhejiang
    0.04440338 Qiang_Danba
    0.04760826 Naxi
    0.04852492 CHN_Shimao_LN
    0.04993270 Han_Sichuan
    0.05026648 CHN_Western_Liao_River_BA
    0.05090839 CHN_Boshan_N
    0.05110927 Han_Hubei
    0.05137671 Yi
    0.05165427 CHN_Xiaojingshan_N

    Distance to: MNG_Xiongnu_East_AsianA45
    0.02232542 Han_Shandong
    0.02288961 CHN_Yellow_River_LBIA
    0.02476230 Han_Shanxi
    0.02580680 Han_Henan
    0.02751943 CHN_Yellow_River_LN
    0.02854423 MNG_YUR001
    0.02899376 Han_Jiangsu
    0.03140481 Tibetan_Xinlong
    0.03228359 CHN_Upper_Yellow_River_IA
    0.03478433 Han_Zhejiang
    0.03502058 Han_Shanghai
    0.03669526 CHN_Western_Liao_River_LN
    0.03912959 Han_Sichuan
    0.03944044 Yugur
    0.03957712 Naxi
    0.03999707 CHN_Yellow_River_MN
    0.04026827 Han_Hubei
    0.04086381 Korean
    0.04098099 MNG_Xiongnu_East_Asian
    0.04152310 Qiang_Danba
    0.04302310 Yi
    0.04492296 Tujia
    0.05109953 Han_Chongqing
    0.05230880 Han_Fujian
    0.05300525 CHN_Chuanyun_Historic



    Or could it be that the locals of that area were Han-like anyway and were absorbed into Xiongnu Confederacy? These guys clearly died violently.
    Ελευθερία ή θάνατος.

  18. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Michalis Moriopoulos For This Useful Post:

     Alain (05-03-2021),  altvred (05-02-2021),  Helen (05-03-2021),  Psynome (05-02-2021),  Shuzam87 (05-23-2021)

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