Nav: Home

Where did the Scythians come from?

March 07, 2017

The Lomonosov Moscow State University anthropologists have put forward an assumption that the Scythian gene pool was formed on the basis of local tribes with some participation of populations, migrated to the northern Black Sea region from Central Asia. The research results have been published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Members of the Lomonosov Moscow State University have conducted a comparative analysis of variouscranial series in terms of nonmetric cranial traits frequencies in order to evaluate genetic succession between the Scythians from the northern Black Sea region and Bronze Age populations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Alla Movsesyan, a leading researcher at the Anthropology Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and one of the article authors tells: "Nowadays there are two main hypotheses of the origin of the Scythians. According to the first one they came to the northern Black Sea region from Central Asia as invaders and local Indo-European population was assimilated by them. And as follows from the second hypothesis, the Scythians were genetically linked to the local population of the Srubnaya culture-historical society (the Timber-grave culture) - the ethno-cultural consociation of tribes in the Late Bronze Age (16th-12th centuries BC), inhabited steppe and forest-steppe belts between the Dnieper and Ural Mountains."

We should clarify that a cranial series means a group of skulls from one or several closely-spaced burials, belonging to one ethnic group or one archeological culture, and discrete-varying, nonmetric traits reflect minor anatomical variants of the human skull. They include various additional or irregular holes, irregular skull sutures and processes, small bones in fonticuli and skull sutures. These traits are supposed to have genetic nature and could characterize the gene pool of a population. It has been revealed that the matrices of genetic distances between populations, built on the basis of nonmetric traits, correlate with the matrices of genetic distances between the same populations, built in accordance to the data on molecular genetic markers. Consequently, a comparative analysis of nonmetric cranial traits could be considered as a sort of alternative to DNA-researches in ancient populations' studies.

Alla Movsesyan explains: "Unlike the ancient DNA studies on skeletal material, which is still quite a complicated and expensive process, using nonmetric cranial traits allows to carry out a population genetic analysis of unrestrictedly large quantity of cranial series, and this is very valuable for the studies of genetic links between ancient populations. This technique is quite widely-spread in foreign anthropology".

In order to distinguish the measure of differences between populations anthropologists have used a statistical approach, known as a mean measure of divergence. It implies that genetic distances between populations were calculated on the basis of nonmetric traits frequencies data. The obtained results allow to assume that both hypotheses of the Scythian ethnogenesis are partly correct: the Scythian gene pool was formed on the basis of descendants both of the Bronze Age local Srubnaya culture and populations, migrated from Central Asia.

The idea that the Scythians were predecessors of the Slavs is one of the stable myths in spite of the fact that scientists have proved long before that there was almost no succession between these two tribes. Alla Movsesyan specifies: "According to B.A. Rybakov's hypothesis, stated in his book "Herodotus' Scythia", a part of the Scythian tribes, so called Scythians-Ploughmen, probably took some part in the Slavs ethnogenesis due to the longstanding geographic proximity. However, the idea that the Scythians are direct predecessors of the Slavs is not supported by any archeological, anthropological, genetic or linguistic data."

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Related Genetic Articles:

A genetic map for maize
Researchers have decoded the genetic map for how maize from tropical environments can be adapted to the temperate US summer growing season.
Calculating genetic links between diseases, without the genetic data
In a new study, data scientists from the University of Chicago estimated heritability and mapped out relationships among thousands of diseases using data from electronic health records.
The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.
Re-cracking the genetic code
Research suggests that we may have only begun to scratch the surface on the number of variations present in the genetic codes of all living organisms.
Genetic analysis of cannabis is here
Research from Washington State University could provide government regulators with powerful new tools for addressing a bevy of commercial claims and other concerns as non-medical marijuana, hemp and CBD products become more commonplace.
Hachimoji -- Expanding the genetic alphabet from four to eight
A new form of synthetic DNA expands the information density of the genetic code, that likely preserves its capability for supporting life, according to a new study.
PAPPA2: A genetic mystery
While a PAPPA2 mutation is rare, endocrinologists, who understand its function and dysregulation can create solutions to support IGF-1 bioavailability, thereby supporting patterns of healthy growth and development in children.
Genetic testing: Not a one-and-done deal
A study that reviewed genetic testing results from 1.45 million individuals found that nearly 25 percent of 'variants of uncertain significance' were subsequently reclassified -- sometimes as less likely to be associated with cancer, sometimes as more likely.
Genetic Non-Discrimination Act challenge from Quebec may open doors to genetic discrimination
If Canada's Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNA) is overturned by a challenge from the Province of Quebec, it will open the doors to genetic discrimination, argue authors in a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Keeping the genetic code
Wyss Institute researchers developed an in vivo mutation prevention method that enables the DNA-cleaving Cas9 enzyme to discriminate between genomic target sites differing by a single nucleotide and to exclusively cut the unwanted one.
More Genetic News and Genetic Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at