Alexander Kim sent me a link to “Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe” by Wolfgang Haak, Iosif Lazaridis, Nick Patterson, et many al.; here’s the abstract:
We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000-3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost four hundred thousand polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of western and far eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000-5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ~8,000-7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary, and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000 year old Siberian6. By ~6,000-5,000 years ago, a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry had occurred throughout much of Europe, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ~4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ~3/4 of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ~3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for the theory of a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe.
Longtime readers will know that I am deeply skeptical of attempts to mix linguistics with genetics, perhaps more than I should be. I don’t have the brains to actually read the paper right now, so I’ll just sit back and see what my readers have to say.
Addendum. Brice Russ, Director of Communications for the Linguistic Society of America, wrote to let me know that “the LSA very recently released a paper from our upcoming issue of Language, where four UC-Berkeley linguists use some new methodologies to examine the same issue.” He sent me this link:
“Ancestry-constrained phylogenetic analysis supports the Indo-European steppe hypothesis”, by Will Chang, Chundra Cathcart, David Hall and Andrew Garrett, will appear in the March issue of the academic journal Language. A pre-print version of the article is available on the LSA website.
I can’t wait till I’m well enough to look at it!