They Perished Like Avars.

I was looking through Vasmer’s etymological dictionary when I ran across the entry обрин [obrin] (plural обре [obre]), the Old Russian word for Avar. Vasmer says it’s related to a Slavic word for ‘giant’ (Slovenian óbǝr, Czech оbr, Slovak оbоr, Old Polish obrzym, Polish olbrzym) and Byzantine Greek ᾽Αβαρ (plural ᾽Αβαρεις, ᾽Αβαροι), but beyond that its history is unclear. When I googled the Russian word I found the Old Russian phrase погибоша аки обре ‘they perished like Avars,” which comes from the Povest’ vremennykh let and is apparently used ironically to mean ‘they vanished without a trace.’ I thought that was piquant enough to pass along.

Comments

  1. earthtopus says:

    My Rejzek (an etymology of Czech) has an entry for “obr”! It describes the word as “commonly associated” with the name Avar but is less certain that that name is actually the source of the word for ogre. If I’m reading him right, he seems to think that the first attestation of the word in Old Russian, far from the limits of Avar power, needs to be taken into account. He closes with citations of Gothic abrs “strong, powerful” and Greek óbrimos “strong, violent” as words with more and less convincing connections.

    I can see his counterexample, but it is possible some Slavs that might have gone one to speak Old Russian would have had the chance to come across the Avars as they moved west towards the Danube (and their eventual meeting with the eventual speakers of Czech, Slovak, Upper Sorbian, Polish, and Slovenian (the modern Slavic languages other than Russian with a reflex) as well.

  2. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I always get the Avars confused with the Alans. Never can remember which one there’s two of.

  3. January First-of-May says:

    I always get the Avars confused with the Alans. Never can remember which one there’s two of.

    Both, IIRC, but in one case (Alans) they’re likely to be the same, and in the other (Avars) they’re probably not.

    On the phrase itself – I recently realized that the word обре (if it really comes from “Avar” and not something else) is yet another witness for Proto-Slavic *a (where *o is expected).

  4. I don’t see where the irony comes in. The Avars have vanished without a trace, given that the modern Avars aren’t the same folks.

  5. I don’t see where the irony comes in. The Avars have vanished without a trace, given that the modern Avars aren’t the same folks.

    The irony would be in comparing whatever modern person or entity you’re talking about to the Avars, and putting a modern-day situation in the context of the Old Russian chronicles.

  6. The issue of the extent of Avar power in Eastern Europe is not settled.

    There is somehow a persistent conception that it’s eastern border run at Carpathian mountains, but this is not supported by archaeological evidence.

    I think Avars ruled all over modern Ukraine, including most of the territories where Kievan Rus emerged several centuries later.

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pereshchepina_Treasure found in Eastern Ukraine.

    In the literature it is linked to Bulgars, but the objects (Byzantine coins used to paying tribute to Avars) found seem to imply that it was treasure of Avar Khagan

  7. Was rereading this passage in the Chronicle last night. Not too ironic – rather, the chronicler monk expresses a linguist’s familiar awe about the idiomatic expressions of his time still retaining the memory of the forgotten historical events. The Chronicler explains that he’s familiar with the “disappeared like the Avars” metaphor even though over 2 centuries passed since their rout and nobody could remember anything for certain about the Avars anymore. (He even seems to be confused between the Oghurs, contemporaneous with the Avarian invasions, and the later, and similarly named Hungarians, spinning the notion of the “two kinds of Hungarians”, the White ones and the Black ones). In a typical tall-chronicle fashion the Avars become giants who rode carts driven by groups of Slavic women (the Dulebs from River Bug, it explains).

    The topic suddenly sprung back to live this summer with the publication of two ancient DNA papers. One looked at the late Avars of the Longobard migration era, and found that some of them were indistinguishable from today’s Western Slavs. Another looked at the earlier warrior graves from the zenith of the Avar power, and they appeared to be East Asian in composition.

  8. Fascinating! DNA studies are really exploding.

  9. David Marjanović says:

    References or links, please!

  10. VI Century data (open access)
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06024-4

    Avar-era burials (AV1 and AV2) were sort of a byproduct in this study, but the genomes ended up openly accessible as well

  11. VI Century data (open access)
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06024-4

    AV1 / AV2 are the two graves sampled essentially by chance

  12. The system keeps deleting my other link 🙂 where, along with dozens Longobardi, the reasearchers snagged a couple of (not really wanted) Avar burials in the same cemetery in Pannonia.
    It’s in Nature Communications entitled
    Understanding 6th-century barbarian social organization and migration through paleogenomics

  13. Sorry, your comments got caught in moderation — I freed them as soon as I woke up!

  14. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, but I hope the “phylogenetic” analysis in the preprint is replaced with something closer to the state of the art before peer-reviewed publication. Neighbor-joining in PHYLIP?!? Which century is this?

  15. Another new paper attempting to show a correlation between genetic and linguistic proximity in the Uralic languages, and peculiarly finding no trace of the Avars or indeed “the original Hungarians”.
    https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-018-1522-1
    An important observation is that although most Finno-Ugric peoples are substantially genetically similar to their neighbors, they present with a large swath of genetic ancestry best represented in Khanty and Mansi, as well as Selkups and non-Uralic Kets.

    In the Volga-Ural region and further to the North, most neighbors of the Finno-Ugric peoples (including Turkic Chuvash / Bashker / Tatar and Slavic Northern Russians) are only a little behind in their share of the same (presumably Proto-Uralic / Paleosiberian component) which isn’t too surprising considering the demographic history of the region.

    Estonians possess very little of this presumed PU DNA, and aren’t that different in this respect from their Latvian neighbors (perhaps the extinct Livonians are responsible for the latter?). But in Hungarians, they couldn’t see anything “Proto-Uralic” in their DNA at all.

  16. Trond Engen says:

    If I read it correctly, they say that while there’s a significant shared ancestry separating most Uralic speaking groups from their non-Uralic neighbours, it’s unclear exactly how much of the “Sibirian” ancestry in Northeast Europe that may rather be attributable to other events, like the one that brought Siberian genes to Northern Fennoscandia. (I bring this up only to have another chance to use the word Ymyjakhtakh,)

  17. Very interesting, thanks for the tip!

    The Khantys and Mansis have quite obviously gone through a language shift, which I think makes it seem likely that this “Khanty–Mansi-like” cluster K9 does not represent Proto-Uralic speakers, but rather some earlier stage of population movement (as I believe Trond is also saying). This would go well with its absence from Estonian and Hungarian: early southerly latitudinal expansion, followed by spreading northwards with admixture from earlier populations, and the later extirpation of Uralic from most of its original early range by Russian/Turkic (/? Iranian). At least in the Finnish/Estonian case, we know quite well that the Proto-Finnic homeland was in northern Baltia, and that Finns have partial Sami ancestry. Shame that Ingrians proper / Votes / Livonians were not sampled here, but there will be time for that later still (the languages are all moribund-to-extinct, but this is due to language shift, not demic replacement).

    One intriguing sub-result is how this study also shows that the Mansi have a particularly large range of genetic variation, seemingly in three components — per Fig. 2a a western group close to Mordvins and North Russians, a central group close to Komis, and an eastern group close to Khantys.

  18. Trond Engen says:

    (as I believe Trond is also saying)

    Not as strongly, but yes. When the K9 signal is strongest in periferal regions and in Ket, it looks like a substrate to me. In North Fennoscandia the language shift from some Non-Uralic language to Sami happened in the first centuries CE or thereabouts. The relation between Siberian and Finnic populations disappears at K11. I’m not sure what that means, but maybe a deep split in the shared Siberian ancestry.

    I agree that the Mansi results are interesting. The Ob-Yenisei cluster of Eastern Mansi, Khanty, Selkup and Nenets could well have been Yeniseian speakers before the shift to Uralic. That fits what I’ve heard about toponymic evidence in the Ob-Yenisei basin, but it’s in the wrong direction for the Dene-Yeniseian link. I’d like to see what happens if they add North American data.

  19. There are about no Yeniseian loanwords in Ob-Ugric though, alas. My money would be on some entirely extinct group. Though I’ve seen at least one guy propose that some of the toponymic evidence has been interpreted backwards and would rather indicate Ugric substrate or loanwords in Yeniseian.

    Mansi, Khanty, Selkup and Nenets share a few linguistic areal features too, e.g. retention of *w as labiovelar, or being the only Uralic languages that neither retain geminates nor have introduced voiced stops. The latter I’ve already suggested earlier as a common substrate feature.

  20. Trond Engen says:

    So a shared unknown substrate in Ket and “Ob-Yenisei Uralic”. Sakhartya? On another note, the real outlier in Uralic is Nganasan. What’s going on there?

    I wouldn’t be very surprised if the Yeniseians turned out to be relative newcomers to Central Siberia. I must have said before that I suspect a Dene-Yeniseian homeland on the Arctic Coast, with a first spread zone from Yenisei to Mackenzie (a range of a similar extent as Eskimoan) and migrations up the rivers being later developments, maybe even as a result of new groups spreading on the coast, either coming down from the Baikal area or north through the Bering Strait.

    When I said North American data would be interesting, it’s also because of the cluster of Koryaks, Chukchis, and partly Nivkhs and Evens.

  21. Sakhartya?

    If you mean the Sikhirtya: no, they were from the Barents Sea coast and they probably had nothing in particular to do with any Paleosiberians. If we want a label for a hypothetical Ob-Ugric++ substrate, already Helimski suggests that the name “Yugra” could be even pre-Uralic. Seemingly the implication would be that this name has been only folk-etymologically associated with Onogur > Hungary (similar to how the h has been added by folk-etymological association with the Huns).

  22. Trond Engen says:

    If you mean the Sikhirtya: no, they were from the Barents Sea coast and they probably had nothing in particular to do with any Paleosiberians.

    Yes, thanks, stupid error. I love the word Sikhirtya almost as much as Ymyjakhtakh, But Yugra is a good word too. I agree that the name Sikhirtya is known from too far away to be applicable here, but I also think they could have come to the Barents coast from the east, e.g. in the K9 (per above) spreading event.

  23. On another note, the real outlier in Uralic is Nganasan.

    Freshly reporting from a seminar earlier today…

    Nganasans have a decent share of seemingly non-Samoyedic vocabulary, mythology and cultural traits (e.g. reindeer hunting rather than husbandry), which have for long been suspected to be substrate influence. This would check out chronologically. Apparently archeology shows southern Siberian ceramics spreading to the Arctic Sea around the first half of the first millennum CE, followed by long-term cultural stability ranging to the present day, and this transition would make a natural point for the northern expansion of Samoyedic. (Driven by the domestication of reindeer, probably?) Human settlement however goes much further back, even on the Taimyr peninsula.

    While previous research has not managed to find any loanword connections, apparently V. Gusev has recently identified a handful of suspiciously specific syntactic commonalities between Nganasan and Yukaghir. This might be the first real lead on the identity of the substrate.

    I must have said before that I suspect a Dene-Yeniseian homeland on the Arctic Coast, with (…) migrations up the rivers being later developments

    A coastal homeland does not match up very well with how almost all of the groups are today inland. The only marine mammal hunters are the Dena’ina in southern Alaska, which possibly involves language shift from an Aleut substrate. Yeniseians as newcomers sounds good to me, but a Central Asian route of entry seems better already from how the Yeniseian languages get more diverse towards the south, not the north.

  24. Trond Engen says:

    Freshly reporting from a seminar earlier today…

    Wow, thanks! If you look for a candidate for a substrate in Nganasan, and base it on nothing but maps, Yukaghir is a pretty obvious candidate. Based on nothing but maps, I’ve also thought that there ought to be a Yeniseian substrate in Enets.

    When I want the Arctic Coast to be the homeland and/or route for Dene-Yeniseian, it’s one of those hypotheses of mine that tend to get knocked down by the slightest of evidence. But disregarding that for a moment longer, my three arguments are (1) it’s the shortest route, (2) those who live there often travel long distances on a regular basis, and (3) we know of a language family with a similarly wide circumpolar distribution. If we think the Yeniseians came from the south, they are so riverine that it’s hard to see how they could have crossed from anywhere by foot, and I want to suggest that they specialized in transport of Taimyr bronze to the Seima-Turbino workshops, gradually increasing their reach by boat from the southern end of their known realm. But this trade could also just as well have pulled them up from the coast.

    I gather that there were two culturally distinct centres of bronze production in the Taimyr peninsula, one western towards the Yenisei, with ties to the south and west, and one on the eastern side, connected to the surrounding hunting culture. We might hypothesise that the western centre was ‘Yugri’ and the eastern Proto-Yukaghir. Or either one could have been Yeniseian.

  25. The disappeared Avars keep reappearing in DNA (and appear to the NE Asians):
    Hun, Avar and conquering Hungarian nomadic groups arrived into the Carpathian Basin from the Eurasian Steppes and significantly influenced its political and ethnical landscape. In order to shed light on the genetic affinity of above groups we have determined Y chromosomal haplogroups and autosomal loci, from 49 individuals, supposed to represent military leaders. Haplogroups from the Hun-age are consistent with Xiongnu ancestry of European Huns. Most of the Avar-age individuals carry east Eurasian Y haplogroups typical for modern north-eastern Siberian and Buryat populations and their autosomal loci indicate mostly unmixed Asian characteristics. In contrast the conquering Hungarians seem to be a recently assembled population incorporating pure European, Asian and admixed components. Their heterogeneous paternal and maternal lineages indicate similar phylogeographic origin of males and females, derived from Central-Inner Asian and European Pontic Steppe sources. Composition of conquering Hungarian paternal lineages is very similar to that of Baskhirs, supporting historical sources that report identity of the two groups.
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/597997v1

  26. David Marjanović says:

    Nice! I’ll have to read that ASAP.

  27. Reading this Hungarian paper, I kept remembering the recent grandstanding about David Reich ( http://languagehat.com/the-reich-backlash/ ). Sure, these local university researchers did all the work without international colleagues and without any help from the top-tier ancient DNA lab. But they also did a remarkably poor job in investigating autosomal DNA, plucking just 26 obsolete “contemporary population-related informative markers” from the sea of millions of markers which could have really made sense of what ancient populations combined to yield these DNA samples, and when. Instead of trying to identify the ancestors, they concentrated on predicting the mere “looks” of the warriors. And I was, like, wish David Reich was there to help!

  28. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, I was surprised at the crudeness of the report, e.g. on the contributions to the amalgamated “Conqueror” genetic heritage, but thought that might be just their choice of emphasis in the writeup. I trust you that this actually reflects the questions asked and answered in the study. Either way, could this “racial” angle play to current public or political interest in Hungary? Could it be a teaser or a preliminary report, meant to spur interest where interest is most easily spurred and ensure continued support or funding for a more advanced analysis? If that doesn’t follow, won’t their published data be available for analyses by other labs?

  29. I was surprised at the crudeness of the report, e.g. on the contributions to the amalgamated “Conqueror” genetic heritage, but thought that might be just their choice of emphasis in the writeup. I trust you that this actually reflects the questions asked and answered in the study. Either way, could this “racial” angle play to current public or political interest in Hungary?

    Could be politics or nationalist sentiment, yes. One might try to look up the authors in the news and social media to make a better guess. But they didn’t collect data anywhere else in the genome, so one is essentially left with male-line Y-chromosome ancestry implication, still leaving much of the genesis of Hungarian language and population in the dark.

    The majority of the Y-DNA lineages they uncovered can be traced to Germanic and Slavic populations. About 1/6th belong to haplogroup N which is hypothesized to be ancient Uralic, but the evidence is more or less circumstantial as it is also widespread in Baltic and Slavic groups, but so far hasn’t be found there before the Iron Age, so it’s most likely due to the Finnic migrations. But what was the full genetic makeup of the bearers of haplogroup N Y-chromosomes in the conquest-era Pannonia, remains unclear. Conspicuously, there are no N-group Y-chromosomes in Hungary today, making me wonder if the Finnic speakers were the subjugated substrate who contributed language, and maternal lineage, to the post-conquest populations, but few if any male lines? In one way or another, the N haplogroup males must have been prevented from procreation, yet the language ended up being Finnic. It’s harder to imagine this outcome if they really constituted the ruling class. OK maybe they were the ruling class of some early wave of invasion, who later lost their influence and probably lives to another wave or to a civil war within?

    Then, suppose there was no contamination with contemporary DNA in the study. Where are the Turkic Y-chromosomes then? Did the authors select burials to exclude Turkic gravesites?

    One of the “Conquerors” Y-chromosomes looks Iranian, but then Y-chromosomes persist for so long, it’s hard to guess what a lone find means without, again, autosomal data.

  30. Trond Engen says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that the team has any nationalist agenda, just that they may have adjusted the questions asked in a preliminary study to the climate of the society around them. The lack of Turkic Y-chromosomes would speak against that, if the little I know of Hungarian nationalism is correct.

  31. The lack of Turkic Y-chromosomes would speak against that, if the little I know of Hungarian nationalism is correct
    They get around this issue by noting the high frequency of similar N-haplotypes among the contemporary Bashkirs, and drawing parallels with (often dubious IMVHO) historic sources equating Hungarians with Bashkirs, and later hypotheses that Bashkiria was the location of legendary Magna Hungaria. I don’t believe that this is the best interpretation, as all Volga basin Turkic / Finnic / Slavic groups have the same type of Y-DNA as well as autosomal Finnic affinities, so it may be easier to attribute both Bashkir / Tatar Y-DNA and autosomal DNA to the Finnic substrates of Volga-Kama Basin, predating the Volga Bulgaria and Bashgort?But it is also true that similar chromosomes are found further East too, closer to the Altai Urheimat of the Turks.

    They cite two papers on N-haplogroups, one more thorough and recent but paywalled, another open but possibly obsolete due to lower numbers of people and markers in it
    https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(16)30160-4

    But check Fig.1 there, it looks very intriguing (if it is still confirmed by the far larger volume of recent data). N3a2 and N3a4 is where the Pannonian Conquerors map. This whole section of the tree suggests wide dissemination of N3 Y-chromosomes in the 3rd millennium BC, leaving seeds across Eurasia from the Baltic to the Bring seas across a variety of language groups – with each “seed” later sprouting into a rich branch. The authors even mention Seima-Turbino phenomenon as a possible vehicle for such a wide-range, short-lasting spread.

  32. My post about Turkic and possibly even, gasp, Seima-Turbino connections may be stuck in moderation due to a link, but in the meantime I looked up the authors. Last author is a respected fruitfly geneticist who completely switched to archaeological DNA very recently. First author got his PHD in 1984, didn’t seem to be heavily involved in research, recently joined archaeological DNA and defended D.Sci. No obvious agenda in their position, but it seems obvious that funding priorities changed in the academia there. This is what powers that be want done.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    In case anyone is wondering, I’ve read it and find nothing to add to the discussion. 🙂 The Far East Asian ancestry of some of the male Avar lineages fits Futaky’s Tungusic words in Hungarian and Helimski’s Manchu-like reading of the golden bowl of Nagyszentmiklós (fully legible Greek letters representing an unknown language… and probably the first attestations of the etymology-free Slavic title župan), but it’s not specific enough by far. Whole genomes compared in ADMIXTURE would be interesting.

  34. Trond Engen says:

    I forgot to mention that they also quote their own recent paper Mitogenomic data indicate admixture components of Central-Inner Asian and Srubnaya origin in the conquering Hungarians (which I still haven’t had time to read).

  35. Not sure if last year’s mitogenomes paper has been discussed here. They tried to make a big point from the observations that mtDNA of the Conquerors was very much unlike that of the Finno-Ugric peoples to the North-East, and also didn’t contribute all that much to the modern population of Hungary. I would say, big deal. These were male-dominated societies of migrating warriors; of course they took wives wherever they passed, so as they passed the Pontic Steppes, they must experienced a lot of mtDNA turnover; and as they settled in Pannonia, more turnover still.

    But the authors hypothesize that Hungarian was a substrate language pre-dating the conquest, and that the conquerors were all Turkic. Actually we know for a fact that SOME of the conquerors were Turkic. By sampling 4 cemeteries from an edge of the Pannonian plain (3 of which are within a few hundred meters from each other), one can get a pretty good idea about some members of the conquering tribal confederacy, but not about ALL members of said confederacy, right? Perhaps run of the mill Finnic Y-DNA is somewhere out there, but not sampled yet.

    Incidentally they also equate Oghurs (better known from the times of Bulgars and Avars) with Hungarians (better known 2 centuries later) in the same as did Nestor the Russian chronicler in the opening post (who mentioned “two kinds of Hungarians” right around the Avars (Avar’s contemporaries “white Hungarians” in early VII c. and Oleg’s contemporaries “black Hungarians” in late IX c.): придоша угре бѣлии и наслѣдиша землю словѣньскую, прогнавше волохы, иже бѣша приялѣ землю словеньску. Си бо угри почаша быти пр-Ираклии цесари, иже ходиша на Хоздроя, цесаря пѣрьскаго… then Avars and then: По сихъ бо придоша печенизѣ, и пакы идоша угри чернии мимо Киевъ послѣже при Ользѣ.

    Pechenegs in Nestor’s quote, who passed to the West after the Avars but before the Hungarians, are also said to have included Finno-Ugric allied tribes.

  36. SFReader says:

    According to the generally accepted etymology of the ethnonym “Ugry”, it comes from the ancient Turkic word “Ogur”, included as a component in many ethnonyms of the Ogur peoples: Onogurs, Uturgurs, Kuturgurs, etc., and meaning “horn”.

    In other words, the Magyars while still in the Urals region adopted a Turkic ethnonym, being recent newcomers to the nomadic steppe way of life.

  37. Conspicuously, there are no N-group Y-chromosomes in Hungary today, making me wonder if the Finnic speakers were the subjugated substrate who contributed language, and maternal lineage, to the post-conquest populations, but few if any male lines? In one way or another, the N haplogroup males must have been prevented from procreation, yet the language ended up being Finnic.

    …as all Volga basin Turkic / Finnic / Slavic groups have the same type of Y-DNA as well as autosomal Finnic affinities, so it may be easier to attribute both Bashkir / Tatar Y-DNA and autosomal DNA to the Finnic substrates of Volga-Kama Basin…

    Perhaps run of the mill Finnic Y-DNA is somewhere out there, but not sampled yet.

    This was all a bit confusing to parse at first, so allow me to suggest an adjustment to prevent further confusion: please use something else like “Uralic”, “Finno-Ugric” or “Ugric” here! Today “Finnic” is all but universally taken to refer to the Baltic Finns. While past usage has been more extensive, it has also never been considered to include the Hungarians.

    The hypothesis that there was already a pre-Árpádian Uralic intrusion into Pannonia is not entirely implausible. In that case though I would think that it was this substrate who were the Ungari of medieval sources, not the Magyars of 895 (which would add up, interestingly enough, to an entirely parallel situation as with Finns / suomalaiset).

    It is regardless certain that also Árpád’s people at least included speakers of Hungarian among themselves: a small number of Hungarian words have been recorded already in early medieval sources, before the Pannonian conquest, most prominently the ethnonym “Magyar” itself: mjɣriyyah reported by Arabic travellers as a people living on the Volga, Μεγέρη as one of the “Turkic” tribes living within the Byzanthine Empire.

  38. Trond Engen says:

    I read that the Pechenegs pushed the Magyars westwards several times. First in the early or mid-9th century from their homes in the Don-Volga plain (after having been thrown out of Central Asia by the Oghuz), then west of the Dniepr in 892 (as allies of Byzantium), and finally into the Pannonian basin (on behalf of the Bulgarian tsar). Barbarian hordes can’t even enter a timeline without turning it into a mess.

  39. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Barbarian hordes can’t even enter a timeline without turning it into a mess
    Very often the few Y-chromosomal markers deemed informative today may help today’s researchers identify some distant ancestors of the “hordes” – whose members were in fact fairly genetically quite distant from those ancestors (because the nomads had a habit of mixing with the local population wherever they stayed for a while). Didn’t we already discuss last year’s Nature whole-genomes publication on Scythians and Hunns, among others? Who showed that the Scythians, while culturally quite homogenous, were heavily admixed with Siberian peoples in the Eastern range of their domains near Altai, and equally heavily admixed with European populations to the West in Pannonia?

    The same Hunns, about whom the recent paper from Szeged says that they were clear-cut descendants of Xiongnu, turned out to be mostly Saka Irianians by DNA in last year’s paper, although with a sizeable chunk of Xiongnu-like heritage too.

    The Cumans / Hung. Kuns who in turn kept chasing the Pechenegs further and further West, in alliance with the Russian, Bulgarian and ultimately the Hungarian and Georgian rulers (and inspired a crusade against Hungarian King Ladislas IV “the Kun”, as well as famous onomatopoeic line of Russian poetry, “в пяток пътопташа поганые пълки половецкие в поле) may illustrate another classic complication of nomadic identity: that people may argue without an end if group X was an offshot of group Y or a later-years ally of group Y. It’s usually claimed that Cumans are a part of Kipchak, and the later split off Kimak. But last year’s Nature article suggests that the Kimak were Yeniseian, Kipchak Turkic, and Cuman also Turkic but merely allied to the Kipchak.

  40. Didn’t we already discuss last year’s Nature whole-genomes publication on Scythians and Hunns, among others?
    Not sure if we discussed THIS 2018 Damgaard paper (we did discuss another one, about the Botai)
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0094-2
    but it is often hard to find old links here…

  41. David Marjanović says:

    That one is news to me.

  42. That one is news to me

    I was surprised not to find it here, too. Surely discussed it before. Was it on facebook, or in some more “genetic-centered” places online? Of course it barely samples all these groups spread from Hungary to Manchuria and over 3 millennia, and tribal / genetic heterogeneity of the Steppe peoples may mean that some of their important components remain missing. But the pattern of repeated migration punctuated by short-term stasis with inevitable population mixing is impossible to miss. The thread on plague is equally fascinating.

    Reading on archaeological riddles like Pereshchepina Grave I start wondering if the “partial” archaeological or history clues often lead to questionable attributions just like “partial” DNA data from mtDNA or Y-chromosomes. Like Pereshchepina’s coin hoard dates leave no doubts that it belonged to the Avars, but other components are poorly compatible with the Avar context and lead to a semi-official conclusion that it belonged to Bulgars who appropriated Avar’s treasure. Yet there is also IV-VI c. Iranian silver and gold which are so out of context in this Dnieper river region location. Some of the silver vessels would be more in place on Kama, a part of the Sassanid fur trade pattern as I recall. But gold vessels are totally unique and some researchers insist that they could only have come from the Khazars who allied with Emperor Heraclius in 627 and routed the Persians, taking troves of treasure. So was it the Khazars taking Avar coin treasure from the Bulgars? What would we conclude from finding only a few of the many clues in this collection?

    And then it seems that the old historians were too bewildered by the ever-changing array of the barbarians, trying to make sense and see patterns in their names and habits, like lumping together all possible Ogurs or Magyars? Just before the Avars there were the Antes who are often described the by the Greeks and the Goths as being of the same kind as Sclavenes or Veneds, either culturally or physically or even linguistically. But it seems like the Antes’ archaeological finds can’t ne reconciled with them being just another group of Slavs? Did the old historians just behave as the language-lumpers of today??

  43. SFReader says:

    The most obvious explanation of Pereshchepina treasure.

    In 630s, Avar Khaganate experienced civil war and collapse – several peoples previously subordinate to Avars revolted and established their own states (including first Slav empire of Samo)

    In 635 AD, Kubrat, chief of Onogur Bulgars decided to join the fun, revolted against Avars and apparently captured the treasure of Avar Khagans (he also might have been related to the dynasty of Bayan himself).

    He established alliance with the Byzantine emperor and left the Carpathian plain for the steppes of the Ukraine. He died there circa 650 AD and his treasure was buried in the sands of Pereshchepina.

    Byzantine coins found there are the emperor Heraclius’ payment to Kubrat for the alliance. Persian gold vessels are also part of that payment. Heraclius sacked Shah Khosrau’s great palace after the battle of Nineveh in 627 AD, that’s where this Persian gold comes from.

    After 636 AD, Heraclius was fighting for his life facing the Arab threat, he needed alliance with Bulgars and peace on the Balkan front more than he needed Persian gold, so he gave it all to Kubrat.

    Mystery solved.

  44. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Not sure if we discussed THIS 2018 Damgaard paper

    New to me too. I still haven’t had time to read it, but it seems that it should be compared to another paper (which we did discuss recently): Krzewińska et al (2018): Ancient genomes suggest the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe as the source of western Iron Age nomads

    What would we conclude from finding only a few of the many clues in this collection?

    It’s in the nature of treasures to consist almost entirely of objects taken out of their natural context. The treasure itself tells very little of who dug it down, but a lot of who they met in trade and war. Without any extrathesaurial clues to the owner, the attribution and interpretation will always be open to reinterpretation. It makes for a lot of fun triangulation, though (and SFR does a nice job at it).

  45. Trond Engen says:
  46. I would argue that one may also search for clues about Avar origins among the Dulebs (historically described as being under the Avar yoke around the Carpathians), and maybe other Medieval and contemporary Westerly Slavs, since they may have experienced the last pulse of the nomadic admixture in the Avar era (and when multiple waves of admixture from similar sources have occurred, it becomes hard to see the earlier events behind the more recent ones). According to Yunusbaev 2015, North-Central Asian admixture in the typical Eastern Slavs dates back to the Khazar / Bulgar era and postdates the Avar times. So the Eastern Slavs / Russians (with a possible exception of the Westernmost Russians studied in the very recent publication of Zhernakova et al.) may have the hypothetical Avar traces obscured by the later events.

  47. SFReader says:

    Ultimately, all Slavs had warrior elite originating in the Avar Khaganate.

    Of course, Avar military was mostly non-Avar and composed of various Germanic, Slavic, nomadic and even formerly provincial Roman elements.

    After the Khaganate collapsed for the first time in the 7th century, the non-Avar military elite who revolted against the Khaganate went on to form the elite of the successor nations – some Slavic, some not (all four types of Bulgars, for example).

    They kept the memory of their origins for quite long time. For example, the Polish nobility believed that it is descended from nomadic conquerors (and thus had a right to lord over Polish serfs).

    The Tale of Bygone Years by Nestor describes how Slavs came to inhabit the lands they live now:

    After a long time, the Slavs sat down on the Danube, where the land is now Hungarian and Bulgarian. From those Slavs, the Slavs dispersed to other lands and were called by their names from the places they sat down on. So some came and sat on the river by the name of Morava and were called Moravans, while others called themselves Czechs. And here are the same Slavs: white Croats, and Serbs, and Khorutans. When Volokhs attacked the Slavs of the Danube, and settled among them, and oppressed them, then these Slavs went and sat on the Vistula and were called Lyakhs, and from those Lyakhs originate the Poles and others are Lyutichi and others are Mazovians and others are Pomorians.

    Similarly, these Slavs went and sat down along the Dnieper and called themselves Polians, and others came to be called Drevlians, because they dwelled in the forests, while others sat between Pripyat and Dvina and called themselves Dregovichi, others sat along the Dvina and called themselves Polochane after the river Polota that flows into Dvina. The same Slavs, who sat down near the lake of Ilmen, called themselves Slovene, and built the city, and called it Novgorod. And others sat down along the Desna, along the Seim, and along Sula, and called themselves Severiane. And so did the Slavic people disperse.

    This is pretty good description, but it must be stressed that this “dispersal of Slavs” from the Danubian basin was actually migration of the rebel military elite who split from the Avar Khaganate in the 7th century civil war.

    They apparently spoke Slavic which was lingua franca of the Avar military, but their ethnic (or racial, for that matter) origins were likely to be very diverse.

  48. SFReader says:

    The idea which intrigues me a lot – as I mentioned, the Bulgars were originally part of the Avar Khaganate and lived in the Carpathian basin and were an important part of the Avar military.

    So, the question is what language did they speak?

    It is believed they spoke some form of Turkic (Oguric Turkic, Chuvash is the only extant language of this branch).

    No doubt they did speak it originally, but did they keep it after living in the Avar Khaganate for several decades where the Slavic was lingua franca?

    Could Asparukh’s Bulgars have been Slavic speakers all along? And the supposedly Slavic Balkan population they subjugated – how Slavic they actually were?

    Maybe, it was the Bulgars who imposed Slavic language on the settled population of provincial Roman origin (and speaking some form of late Latin no doubt), not vice versa.

    This would explain a lot about early Bulgarian history.

  49. David Marjanović says:

    all four types of Bulgars

    Four?

    This would explain a lot about early Bulgarian history.

    I’m intrigued.

  50. SFReader says:

    Four?

    OK, five.

    Danubian Bulgars of Asparukh, Volga Bulgars, Bulgars of Khazaria, Kuber’s Bulgars in Sirmium and even Italian Bulgars of Alcek.

    I’m intrigued.

    Supposedly Turkic Danubian Bulgars left no documents written in Turkic language.

    A few phrases or words found in Slavic documents (or in archaeological finds) can’t be reliably read as Turkic.

    To me this strange situation suggests that perhaps the Danubian Bulgars weren’t as Turkic as we were led to believe.

  51. John Cowan says:

    No doubt they did speak it originally, but did they keep it after living in the Avar Khaganate for several decades where the Slavic was lingua franca?

    Why not? English is a lingua franca, and at least 90% of the people in the Netherlands speak it, but there is not the slightest trace (or chance) of losing Dutch.

  52. SFReader says:

    If 10 thousand Dutch warriors (all bilingual in English) went to conquer a Romance-speaking country and used English to communicate with the natives, they well might lose it.

  53. John Cowan says:

    If they didn’t bring Dutch women with them, then probably yes. But nomads took women and children with them: that’s almost the definition of “nomadic”.

  54. Supposedly Turkic Danubian Bulgars left no documents written in Turkic language
    But Turkic Volga Bulgars didn’t leave documents written in Oghur Turkic until centuries after the emergence of Volga Bulgaria either – yet Chuvash is extant so no one doubts that the language was spoken there even though no early inscriptions survived?

    Danubian Bulgar inscriptions are typically in Greek (not in Slavic or Latin-related languages), with a few fragmentary Turkic words inscribed either using Greek letters or Orkhon runes. So while these early inscriptions leave open a possibility that the Danube Bulgars were losing their Turkic language already (if they didn’t merely rely on pre-existing use of Greek in administrative purposes), they give no reason to believe that the lingua franca of the land was Slavic at this early point.

    Conversely, there are strong reasons to believe that much of the Southern Balkans already spoke Slavic before the Bulgars. The empire’s struggle to ward off Slavic threats is well documented, and it appears that almost all inland Balkans effectively moved out of Byzantine control, having been overrun by the Slavs. The massive infusion of Steppe DNA into the peninsula Greeks is also well attested in the contemporary DNA studies, and without a question attributed to the wide-scale migration of the Slavs as far South as today’s Greece.

  55. More on supposed incomprehensibility and/or Slavic content of Danube Bulgar inscriptions. We need to ask our resident Altaic expert Christopher Culver, of course. Perhaps it has been discussed even here. But on his blog, it has been discussed for sure. Like this entry about an 870s-890s seal reading something like “Ivan bagatur khana irtkitkuno” which lead some linguists to conclude that the last word is indecipherable and may be a surname or a location (and could have misled me even into believing that the first three words were Slavic) (please pardon my transliteration simplifications!)

    Instead, Christopher Culver deconstructs the expression as “John the Warrior, khan’s customs tax overseer” (Bulgar Turkic throughout), in full agreement with the known role of similar lead seals in taxation of transported goods.
    https://www.christopherculver.com/languages/pritsak-bulgarian-turkic-inscription-varna.html

  56. David Marjanović says:

    A few phrases or words found in Slavic documents (or in archaeological finds) can’t be reliably read as Turkic.

    There’s that annotated list of rulers, written in OCS except for one or two words after each name. Some of these words end in consonants, not in ъ. They all make sense as ordinal numbers once they’re compared to Chuvash.

  57. I also gave an example of an inscription analyzed by Cristopher Culver, but it’s marooned in moderation queue for now. It’s in Greek letters but an official’s title is Turkic

  58. Also some people argue that the runic addendum at the final line of the Kievan Letter of the Cairo Geniza (6 symbols in total) is an approval mark of a Danube Bulgar official, who then would turn out to have used Orkhon runes (not just Greek). Although others argue the letter dates no earlier than XI c. and therefore the runic line may only be Khazar. Since a couple of given names of the Jewish signers of the letter are Turkic, it makes at least some Khazar connection inevitable. One given name, GWSTT, is explained as Slavic “Gostyata” (it is well attested in Novgorod in the following centuries, but may have had a wider geographic spread in the merchant class in other areas too … Novgorod is just lucky to have so many birch bark letters preserved). The first letter of name of the city, Kiev, isn’t 100% legible, but a combination of Turkic, Rus’, and Hebrew personal names makes the attribution to Kiev of the Khazar age quite convincing.

  59. SFReader says:

    yet Chuvash is extant

    The problem with Chuvash, we don’t know if the Volga Bulgars spoke it.

    Historical evidence suggests that the Chuvash are not descendants of Volga Bulgars.

    E.g, Ibn Fadlan says that the Bulgars were Muslim since 10th century while at the time of Russian conquest the Chuvash were still pagans.

  60. SFReader says:

    Ivan bagatur khana irtkitkuno

    It can be read in Mongolian, you know

    Ivan warrior of the khan and man of “irtkit” (with some inventiveness, one could even claim “irtkit” meant “customs” in 9th century Mongolian).

  61. A very tangential question about Turkic etymologies and West Europe. Our hills are awash with dogtooth violets now. The scientific name of the European sister species means the same in Latin, “denis-canis”.
    The Russian name “kandyk” кандык means the same but in Turkic languages, according to Vasmer. Is it an independent invention of the same unusual name in Europe and Asia, or a calque of some sort? And if it isn’t independent, then what is the borrowing direction?

    (Incidentally the “recently commented posts” tool seems to have a bug, JC!)

  62. He’s aware of the bug and working hard to fix it!

  63. Ibn Fadlan says that the Bulgars were Muslim since 10th century while at the time of Russian conquest the Chuvash were still pagans.

    I would assume that the Muslim influences started in the urban core of Volga Bulgaria and didn’t yet spread far into the remote countryside. But the inscriptions of the Bulgars are Muslim / Arabic script throughout and they show evidence of two local languages, an Oghuric one (related to Chuvash) and a Kipchak one (related to Tatar). So there is little doubt that a language linked to the later Chuvash has been spoken by Volga Muslims.

  64. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve been thinking for a while that the Balkan Slavs may have been the commoners who settled in Pannonia and environs under the Huns, but the Sarmatians of the 3rd-4th centuries may be a better suggestion. The organization of Sarmatian society in two sharply delined classes, mounted aristocrats and settled farmers, seems old and well-established. When the Sarmatians fled for the Goths, their subjects moved with them into Pannonia, where they settled for a few generations. Under the later Germanic and Hunnic invasions of Pannonia they crossed the Danube into the Roman Empire, and when the Sarmatian aristocrats were crushed by the Huns, or maybe by the Goths fleeing the Hunns, the Slavs appeared to the eyes of the world.

  65. Since the topic touches on Slavic expansion, it may be a right place to add a link to a paper on the population trajectory of the North-Western Russia (first attested by chronicles in Novgorod in IX c. and in Pskov in early X c.)
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0888754318307419

    The DNA is consistent with with IX c. split between the Slavs of these two regions, followed by a rapid expansion from a founder effective population size of mere hundreds

  66. John Cowan says:

    Incidentally the “recently commented posts” tool seems to have a bug, JC!

    It wasn’t a bug so much as data corruption, and the design of the system (which runs once a minute) trades off the easy ability to recover from such corruption for speed.

    In the new version, now up and running, the process that re-creates the page from scratch (which involves downloading almost everything on the site) is now formalized in code rather than done ad hoc by me. That means recovery from future data corruption will be easier and quicker.

    Unfortunately, while this was going on, all comment updates were missed, as I learn about them by scraping the home page, and while the system was down the scraper wasn’t running (another defect of the design). So some links aren’t to the last comment, and some pages may appear in the wrong order. To fix this, I’ll rerun the full re-creation tonight, probably around midnight New York time (UTC-4); comments made in the following three hours or so will be scraped, saved and applied when the re-creation is complete.

    If you continue to see other bugs after that, in particular if the last link on the page is not as expected, please notify me at cowan@ccil.org. Thanks to ktschwarz for doing so this time, and my apologies to all for blowing off his initial complaint until things got much worse.

    As a benefit, I do now have a nearly full backup copy of the site and can easily create new ones as we go.

  67. Trond Engen says:

    my apologies to all

    Rarely have apologies been less called for. Heartfelt thanks for what you’re doing.

  68. What Trond said.

  69. John Cowan says:

    Test comment to see if everything’s in order now.

    Update: Lookin’ good. I’ll start the rebuild in about 3 hours.

  70. @John Cowan: I’ve refreshed it a few times, as new comments have shown up since your 9:05 post, and it seems to be working without a hitch.

    And, of course, we are all extremely grateful for the purely voluntary work you put into this project. It does so much to keep the Language Hat community operating smoothly—as, of course, do your frequent and knowledgeable comments. Dankon!

  71. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Lookin’ good

    Thank you!!

    I guess with so much of “accumulated wealth” of LH threads, the what-happened-lately tool has become even more valuable than before, because so many discussions may be advancing – by quite a few messages each – on any given day now. One more possibility to make it more visible may also be to increase the number of recent comments displayed at LH’s own widget.

    Otherwise things like google-searching for “site:languagehat.com “April 19, 2019 at” ” seem to give one a comprehensive list of threads advanced on a given day (and it is usually a fairly short list since it goes by thread rather than by message)

  72. John Cowan says:

    The Recently Commented Posts rebuild failed last night, so I’m going to kick it off again now. The hold-all-updates feature should make this safe to do even during active commenting periods, although it hasn’t been really tested yet. Expect a certain amount of instability on the page today as I work out bugs.

  73. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: The DNA is consistent with with IX c. split between the Slavs of these two regions, followed by a rapid expansion from a founder effective population size of mere hundreds

    I don’t have access to the paper, but does this mean that there was a total replacement of the presumably Finnic peoples who lived there before, or (as I suspect) that a certain genetic component arrived and split at that date.

  74. John Cowan says:

    Okay, the rebuild is complete; it ran for just short of three hours. Hopefully everything should be correct now, modulo issues from the conversion to WordPress that occasionally garbled the order of comments on a post (you can sometimes see responses before the comments they are responding to), and as a result some posts may still appear out of order on the page because the physically last comment (which is what I look at) is not the latest comment temporally. Nothing much I can do about that.

    But do report any other issues either here or directly to cowan@ccil.org. The oldest comment in the system does in fact appear on the post listed last on the page, which is a good sign.

    UPDATE: Damn, broken again (different issue). Rerunning just the last part of the rebuild, which should be quick.

    UPDATE 2: Working again. A few updates may have been lost.

  75. Not sure if the Huns belong with the Avar discussion, or have a better place at the LH, but:

    Dr. Bryan Kristopher Miller posted his brand new book “Xiongnu Archaeology” on his webpage
    https://www.shh.mpg.de/1166424/dr-bryan-kristopher-miller

  76. does this mean that there was a total replacement of the presumably Finnic peoples who lived there before, or (as I suspect) that a certain genetic component arrived and split at that date.

    They see Finnic component in the Russian populations further North and East from previous publications of the others, but fairly little in their Pskov and Novgorod samples. It could be partly by design since they avoided adding more classic Finnic sets to their Admixture run, and stuck with a low K value which maximized the appearance of homogeneity in their Russians. But even these Russians are better described as more substantially Finnic, the population size and trajectories estimates should still be close.

    I was excited by the manuscript claim that they are making the data available, but the link.said that the access has been withdrawn. Arrgh. Maybe when its actually published they will get it going? For now it is an accepted but not formally pubd

  77. Trond Engen says:

    Dr. Bryan Kristopher Miller posted his brand new book “Xiongnu Archaeology” on his webpage

    I think you mean Xiongnu Archaeology – Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the First Steppe Empire in Central Asia. 2011. Ursula Brosseder and Bryan K. Miller (Eds.), Bonn Contributions to Asian Archaeology, vol.5. Bonn: VFG-Arch Press. Pdf here (650 pages, 50 MB). Not his new book, but still very interesting.

  78. Trond Engen says:

    But even these Russians are better described as more substantially Finnic, the population size and trajectories estimates should still be close.

    I understand that. Of course, a full population replacement needn’t have been brutal, if the two populations just didn’t interbreed and the Finns gradually retracted from the area. I believe they were slash-and-burn farmers at the time, so they might not have bothered fighting for land when there was plenty of it further north and east.

  79. Dmitry Pruss says:

    a full population replacement needn’t have been brutal, if the two populations just didn’t interbreed and the Finns gradually retracted from the area. I believe they were slash-and-burn farmers at the time, so they might not have bothered fighting for land when there was plenty of it further north and east.
    But it goes w/o saying that the Russians carry plenty of linguistic, cultural, and genetic baggage from the Finno-Ugric tribes, so much so that most consumer genetics labs conflate contemporary Russian and Finnish ancestry to a substantial degree. In the 2018 Ethnicity Estimate White Paper, Ancestry.com goes as far as to explain that they determine “Finnish and North-Western Russian” ancestry as one combined bin (as opposed to less accurately identified combined bin for Eastern Europe and Russia). In the most recent incarnation of 23andMe’s ethnic composition analysis, my own DNA is described as 3.5% “Finnish” in long chunks, no doubt through my Russian great grandmother who hailed from the area of Arkhangelsk. It may be only nominally “closer to Finnish than to Eastern European” yet sufficiently distinct from Finland proper, but as you can see, one can draw the lines differently.

    I always worry that Russia’s research is vulnerable to Polish-Ukrainian trolling painting them as “real Slavs” and heirs to the grand Kingdoms of yore, while Russia is a Finno-Tatar impostor which should properly be called Muscovy. The “proud Novgorodian vs. Chud'” chauvinism was common even in the Northern Russia until recently; for example, Summer Coast Pomors taunted fellow Pomors from Kandalaksha Coast as “closet Karelians”. Or in the free peasant communities of Arkhangel, village celebration dances were to be led by the “best maidens” selected according to limpieza-de-sangre kind of conventions. But I don’t think the Russians (except maybe a crazy few) look down at the assimilated Finnic minorities among them anymore. Yet the population geneticists are curiously apprehensive. A previous large scale nation-wide DNA survey of the Russians peculiarly avoided sampling Oka and Middle Volga regions, I could only guess because that’s where Finno-Ugric and Turkic minorities still live alongside with the Russians. And the new paper tiptoes around in a similarly careful fashion…

    I wondered what the amateur population genetics community of Russia has to say about it, but didn’t find any mentions of the new paper. On the “Genome Russian Project” website BTW, they do pledge to release all the data in accordance with the international standards, but not before publication.

  80. and the Finns gradually retracted from the area. I believe they were slash-and-burn farmers at the time

    Incoming Russians also adopted slash and burn agriculture – well the natural conditions in the region hardly allow anything else.

    So whatever accounts for Russification of the North, it can’t have been demographic advantage of a more intensive agriculture.

    As usual, I have a pet theory here.

    There was an interesting phenomenon called “monastery colonization”.

    Russian monks lacking real deserts which Syrian monks used, have chosen to go into the northern wilderness for spiritual advancement and they founded literally hundreds of monasteries all over the region.

    Being celibate monks they are unlikely to have contributed to the genetic pool of the local population, but they certainly changed the character of the land, making it an integral part of “Holy Russia”.

    http://bugaeff.ru/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/21.jpg

    Map of the monastery colonization of the Russian North in 13-15th centuries.

    The result was not only an influx of Russian settlers, but also raising of the prestige of Russian language and culture and of course religion among the local Finnish population.

    By 16th century, the population of the region was already Russian-speaking and identified itself as Russian (without any real population displacement).

  81. Trond Engen says:

    Nice map, That would help explain russification with little genetic replacement, which I think is true for most of the northern regions, but not full replacement, which may or may not be the case for Novgorod and Pskov.

  82. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Yet the population geneticists are curiously apprehensive. A previous large scale nation-wide DNA survey of the Russians peculiarly avoided sampling Oka and Middle Volga regions, I could only guess because that’s where Finno-Ugric and Turkic minorities still live alongside with the Russians. And the new paper tiptoes around in a similarly careful fashion…

    The identification of a common genetic strand across Russia from Pskov to Yakutia seems curious when presented as a main finding. It looks more like an attempt to support a claim of unity than to explain the population history of Russia. I don’t doubt there is such a strand, but I’d think it’s a trivial North Eurasian element (like e.g. West Siberian HG), or maybe a combination of North Eurasian elements, spread widely in the Taiga belt with Seima-Turbino and in the Steppe corridor with just about everybody. It doesn’t explain anything about the rest of the contributors to the genome.

  83. It looks more like an attempt to support a claim of unity than to explain the population history of Russia

    Or a general claim of doing deep scientific interpretation. The grand achievement of the paper is sequencing of the genomes itself, in a very interesting part of the world’s genetic diversity which has yielded far too little data to date (and the founder of the projects said exactly the same when it was being launched 4 years ago, https://academic.oup.com/gigascience/article/4/1/s13742-015-0095-0/2707784 , and expressed hope that more will be gleaned about the past expansions and interinfluences of the Slavic, Turkic and Finno-Ugric groups which yielded the contemporary population of much of Russia). Another not-so-subtle point has been to mitigate the research stagnation and isolation from the global community which continues to permeate Russia’s sciences. Indeed, the leaders of the projects returned from the West with PhD degrees, are supporting their endeavor with various Western grants in other fields of genomics not limited to human population history, and actively train the new generation of researchers.

    Of course they need publications as they move down on their path, and I can only guess that the project is lagging behind and they set out to publish the first handful of genomes, which don’t really provide enough data for any major conclusions … yet one has to conclude something, anything in order to publish a paper?

    Specifically about the “hidden Finnic DNA elements in the Pskov / Novgorod Slavs, I can also hypothesize that there has been reported substantial divergence between Western and Eastern Finno-Ugric populations of European Russia. So depending on the composition of analysis data sets, it may very well be possible to see those Russians in the same cluster as the Finns, but separate from Komi or Mari…

  84. SFReader says:

    Wait a minute, why there would be any Finns in Pskov or Novgorod?

    I thought the area was populated by Balts before the Slavs came, not Finns.

  85. Dmitry Pruss says:

    I thought the area was populated by Balts before the Slavs came, not Finns.

    I would love to see the references, but I also think that it may not matter from today’s DNA viewpoint. For one thing, Baltic and Slavic ancestral peoples were much closer to one another genetically, and it may be impossible to separate their contributions to modern DNA. 2ndly, there was an abundance of Finno-Ugric tribes in and around Novgorod / Pskov lands in later centuries – Ingrians, Vepsians, Karelians, Estonians, Livonians – who could have contributed to the population makeup even at much later time than the initial settlement of Novgorod (including Orthodox Christian refugees from Swedish wars in much later centuries).

    And then there were the Norse, possibly even before Slavs or at least at about the same time (but Germanic peoples are in general also too genetically similar to Balts and Slavs to tell apart a millennium later).

    Attempting to return closer to the Avar topic from there 🙂 doesn’t the earliest mention of the Rus’ in Annales Bertiniani describe the 832 CE “Rhos” emissaries returning from Constantinople as people whose origin is Swedish and who are the subjects of Khagan?

  86. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Or a general claim of doing deep scientific interpretation. The grand achievement of the paper is sequencing of the genomes itself, in a very interesting part of the world’s genetic diversity which has yielded far too little data to date

    Good point..

    (and the founder of the projects said exactly the same when it was being launched 4 years ago, https://academic.oup.com/gigascience/article/4/1/s13742-015-0095-0/2707784 , and expressed hope that more will be gleaned about the past expansions and interinfluences of the Slavic, Turkic and Finno-Ugric groups which yielded the contemporary population of much of Russia).

    Very good.

    Another not-so-subtle point has been to mitigate the research stagnation and isolation from the global community which continues to permeate Russia’s sciences. Indeed, the leaders of the projects returned from the West with PhD degrees, are supporting their endeavor with various Western grants in other fields of genomics not limited to human population history, and actively train the new generation of researchers.

    Also very good.

    Of course they need publications as they move down on their path, and I can only guess that the project is lagging behind and they set out to publish the first handful of genomes, which don’t really provide enough data for any major conclusions … yet one has to conclude something, anything in order to publish a paper?

    … and we arrive at my speculation about the Hungarian paper above: That the project of the scientists is wide in scope, but the questions asked in the early papers are taylored to increase public interest and political goodwill at home.

    SFR: I thought the area was populated by Balts before the Slavs came, not Finns.

    I’ve read more than one paper pointing to the Lake Ilmen region as a buildup area for Finnic or Finno-Mordvinic. The latter grouping is simpler to imagine if the Finnic areas filled the forest zone and approached the southern Dvina. In travelling distance and waterways both Pskov and Novgorod naturally gravitate towards the Finnic territories just north of them. But I don’t know. That’s why I wrote “presumably Finnish” in my first reply,

  87. Of course they need publications as they move down on their path, and I can only guess that the project is lagging behind and they set out to publish the first handful of genomes, which don’t really provide enough data for any major conclusions.

    There are a variety of skills, distinct from doing research, that are useful for an academic scientist. The most important is convincing the funding agencies to provide money for one’s research, and I have not proven to be very good at that. On the other hand, there is also the skill of convincing the editors and referees at the best journals to publish one’s work, and that I am really, really good at. I have sometimes wondered whether I could make better money selling my skills to other scientists, helping them get published, than I make as a mid-career faculty member; however, even if I could, I suspect it would be a miserable existence.

  88. SFReader says:

    I would love to see the references,

    Here http://issuesinlinguistics.ru/pubfiles/2008-3_76-94.pdf

    Pskov and Novgorod regions fall almost entirely in the zone of Baltic hydronymy. Only the northern part of Novgorod land can be regarded as Finnish.

    The most densely populated part of Novgorod land – around lake Ilmen – has most Balt hydronyms (starting with river Volkhov itself)

  89. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Attempting to return closer to the Avar topic from there 🙂 doesn’t the earliest mention of the Rus’ in Annales Bertiniani describe the 832 CE “Rhos” emissaries returning from Constantinople as people whose origin is Swedish and who are the subjects of Khagan?

    A few days ago Bulbul posted this link: Thorir Jónsson Hraundal: New Perspectives on Eastern Vikings/Rus in Arabic Sources, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, 2014. I quote from the article:

    [T]he identification of the people named ‘Rus’ or ‘Rusiyyah’ in the medieval Arabic geographical and historical literature has long been disputed, especially whether they are to be regarded as Scandinavian or Slavic. Their name bears an obvious resemblance to that of the predominantly Slavic state that emerged in and around Kiev in the tenth century, known as Rus, which ultimately converted to Orthodox Christianity and became the embryo of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. A perusal of the Arabic sources, however, demonstrates that they mostly concern not the Kievan Rus but rather a distinctively different yet homonymous group (or groups) of people in a much more easterly region. In this article I will outline my position that Rus as a historical entity may be dealt with, broadly speaking, as two distinguishable groups: on the one hand, Kievan Rus; and on the other, what I will term here ‘Volga-Caspian Rus’. In very general terms, I suggest that the Rus in Kiev should be regarded as predominantly Slavic, although incorporating a significant Scandinavian element which gradually diminished in the course of the tenth century. By contrast, the ‘Volga-Caspian Rus’ were predominantly Scandinavian, or Viking, merchants and warriors who eventually disappeared or integrated with local peoples beyond the point of being a distinguishable entity by the early eleventh century.

    And:

    The Arabic sources thus clearly delineate a special relationship between the Rus and the Khazars on the one hand and the Volga Bulghars on the other. This relationship appears to have rested mainly on trade and diplomatic conventions that were lucrative for all three of them. Several sources from a later period may also be seen to reflect this situation, with some classifying the Rus as ‘Turks’, perhaps on account of their close contacts and prolonged sojourns in Khazaria and Bulghar. An example of this is the Mujmal al-Tawarikh, which refers to the Khazars and the Rus as brothers (Bahar 1939). The famous geographer Al-Idrisi, writing in the twelfth century, claims that Kiev (Kuyabah) is the city of the Turks called Rus ( Jaubert 1836–40, ii, 401), and in the following cen-tury Al-Qazwini similarly writes that the Rus are a large grouping of the Turks (Wüstenfeld 1849, 393–94). The renowned historian Ibn Khaldun mentions Rus along with the Volga Bulghars and several other peoples, stating that they are all Turkish tribes. This association between the two ethnonyms seems to have persisted for some time, as evidenced by the writings of Ibn Iyas from the late fifteenth century or early sixteenth century, where it is asserted that the Rus are a large grouping of the Turks.

    Such references may also be aligned with information found in several different sources, such as the Annals of St Bertin (s.a. 839), the writings of Ibn Rustah c. 900 (Goeje 1892, 145), and the anonymous Persian geographical work Hudud Al-Alam from the late tenth century (Minorsky 1970, 159), to the effect that the leader of the Rus bears the title khaqan, or ‘kaghan’. ‘Kaghan’ is in fact a well attested title among the Turkic peoples, including the Khazars (Golden 1992). This particular issue has been widely commented on and, by extension, has raised the question whether a Rus Kaghanate in fact existed, a topic which I shall address in a separate article.

    It makes me wonder if the name Hákon might actually be a folk-etymological Scandinavian form of the title khaqan. The literal meaning of Hákon certainly fits, and so does the timeline — barely. As far as I know, the name first appears in Scandinavia on runestones from the Viking Age, and there are persons in the sagas named Hákon born in the 9th century.

  90. Very interesting — thanks for the quotes!

  91. SFReader says:

    Nestor explained pretty well who the Rus were:

    And they expelled the Varyags to over the sea, and did not give them tribute, and began to own themselves, and there was no order among them, and the clans rose against each other, and they were quarrelsome and fought each other. And they said to themselves: “Let us look for a prince who would own us and judge according to the law”. And they went overseas to the Varyags, to the Rus. Those Varyags were called Rus, as others are called Swedes, and others Normans and Angles, and still others Gotlanders, and so are these called Rus. The Chud, Slovenes, Krivichi said to the Rus: “Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come to reign and own us.” And three brothers were elected with their families, and they took all of Rus with them, and they came, and the eldest, Rurik, sat in Novgorod, and the other, Sineus, in Beloozero, and the third, Truvor, – in Izborsk. And from those Varyags was named the Russian land.

    We learn from this that the Rus were Germanic (possibly Scandinavian) people related to Swedes, Norwegians, Anglo-Saxons or Gutes (from Gotland island).

    I note that one Scandinavian nation is conspicuously absent from this list.

    I am talking about the Danes, obviously.

    This suggests that the Rus was just another name for Danes (or a group of Danes).

    Rorik of Jutland, well known Danish Viking, is a good candidate for being Rurik the founder of Russia.

  92. Trond Engen says:

    Interesting may be, but I edited it right back to you, All for a misbegotten capital S in “sagas”.

  93. Is it controversial that the Rus (narrowly construed) were Norsemen?

  94. Trond Engen says:

    If I may also narrowly construe ‘Norsemen’ as Western Scandinavians, so yes. The standard tale is that they were mostly Swedes, and that the region of Roslagen (another “Danelaw” parallel) on the Swedish coast is somehow named for them.

  95. SFReader says:

    Re: Rus Khaganate.

    It definitely existed later on.

    One of the earliest Russian texts (precedes Nestor’s chronicle by half a century) the Sermon on Law and Grace has quite a lot to say about Khagans:

    “praised be our Khagan Vladimir by whom we received baptism”

    “let us praise our teacher and mentor, great Khagan of our land Vladimir, son of great Svyatoslav, son of old Igor”

    “And the glorious born from the glorious, and the noble born from the noble ones, our Khagan Vladimir”

    “And let’s pray for your son, our faithful Khagan George”

    “Written in the year 6559 (1051 AD), during the rule of our noble Khagan Yaroslav, son of Vladimir. Amen.”

  96. Pskov and Novgorod regions fall almost entirely in the zone of Baltic hydronymy. Only the northern part of Novgorod land can be regarded as Finnish.

    Cool, thanks. It isn’t as clear-cut in the paper, IMO. The question of quantitative comparison of Finnic vs. Baltic hydronyms isn’t settled there, although the author notes that many Finnic hydronyms North of Novgorod may date only to the 1600s migrations. There remains little doubt that the Baltic influences extended to Lake Ilmen (considerably North of where the earlier researchers expected them to peter out), but the absence of Finno-Ugric toponymic substrate isn’t by any means suggested.

  97. The previous major study of the Slavic DNA did find that while Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians and non-Northern Russians were extremely close to each other, they also shared a lot of DNA with the Baltic and Finnic groups. And so did Mordvins.
    Other Western Slavs were twice as distant, but the Russians from the North were 10 times as distant (and shared more DNA with Finns)
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135820

  98. Spotted another (crazy?) interpretation of Avar / Khazar era runes (interpreted by others as Turkic). Oleg Mudrak suggests that the language is Alan. To my layman’s eye, the resulting texts don’t make much sense, and the opinions of the author don’t sound professional, but – here you are
    http://xn--c1acc6aafa1c.xn--p1ai/?page_id=6242

  99. David Marjanović says:

    IIRC, Mudrak is a Turkologist, so he should notice if a text is not Turkic.

  100. J.W. Brewer says:

    One internet source speculatively traces the name of Rurik’s brother given by Nestor as Truvor/Трувор to the nicely-Nordic sounding Þórvar[ð]r, but I prefer to think of it as echoing the unthreateningly modern British Trevor. Had there been a fourth brother he could have been Nigel.

  101. PlasticPaddy says:

    Whatever about Trevor, Nigel is a good Scandinavian name, although we had it first: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel

  102. January First-of-May says:

    The third (well, second) brother, incidentally, is Sineus/Синеус, which is apparently thought to be Signjótr, but to my untrained eye looks like a Slavic translation of a nickname.
    Now if I could only figure out why or how would someone end up called the Blue Moustache…

     
    EDIT:
    Whatever about Trevor

    Wikipedia says it’s Welsh.

  103. Trond Engen says:

    Me: the southern Dvina

    From my zapadosevere perspective the twain Dvinas are southern and eastern.

    More me: As far as I know, the name [Hákon] first appears in Scandinavia on runestones from the Viking Age

    I originally had this supported by a link toNordiskt runnamnslexicon, but i removed it because I counted to two, and because the lexicon doesn’t say Viking Age explicitly. The forms look the age, but I’m no specialist at all, and I didn’t bother to try to track down the lexicon’s sources in the absence of a handy annex with supplementary information on each inscription.

  104. ‘Volga-Caspian Rus’
    Byzantine sources place the early Rus somewhere on the Don too. The Dnieper as a trading road seems to have had too many disadvantages. Maybe portages around the cataracts were to susceptible to hostile raids, or maybe the political situation on the Western end of the Steppe was always more fluid and precarious.

    because the lexicon doesn’t say Viking Age explicitly.
    The full inscriptions can be looked up e.g. here, but I don’t know how reliably they can be dated…
    https://skaldic.abdn.ac.uk/db.php?table=mss&id=15676&if=srdb

  105. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. I meant the secondary sources, the literary references inbetween the catalogue numbers of the runestones, to see drawings of the runes and some scholarly evaluation, but this is still av very good resource that adds context to each of the attestations. I’ve just had a brief look at a few of them, but that did nothing to challenge the dating to the Viking Age. The texts are post-syncope and (impressionistically) post-rhoticization and on the road to denasalization, which does mean Viking Age on linguistic grounds. Judging by the orthography in transcription, they are all wrtten in the younger fuþark, which also means Viking Age (or later).

  106. Trond Engen says:

    somewhere on the Don too

    One Arabic source seems to say that the Azov Sea was dominated by the Rus at some point. The Don is the link between the Volga and the Black Sea. But I guess a route along the upper Don might explain the position of Ryazan on the Oka-Moskva waterway.

  107. Whatever about Trevor, Nigel is a good Scandinavian name, although we had it first: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel

    The frequency table for Nigel is fascinating. As a child of that era in England, I grew up with many Nigels, but it appears that the Age of Nigel was brief and has passed into history.

  108. SFReader says:

    Mudrak is a Turkologist

    AFAIK, he is the Turkologist who discovered that Eskimo-Aleut languages are Turkic too.

    Perhaps second opinion from a somewhat less enthusiastic Turkologist is in order.

  109. SFReader says:

    Byzantine sources place the early Rus somewhere on the Don too.

    From Arabic sources it is clear that at least one group of the Rus served the Khazar Khagan as mercenary warriors and river fleet.

    I suppose that accounts for all these Don, Volga and Caspian Rus.

    Kiev Rus might have been part of Khaganate too at some point.

  110. I think of Nigel as the most common in the UK—uncommon in the US name there is.

    Simon too, but not as much, I may have met an American-born Simon.

    I don’t know what the opposite would be. Maybe Wayne?

  111. John Cowan says:

    Other than a few Jewish Simons and some born abroad, the only American Simon that WP lists is Simon Cameron, Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War.

  112. David Marjanović says:

    Simon was a common name when and where I grew up, but likewise only a brief fashion.

    AFAIK, he is the Turkologist who discovered that Eskimo-Aleut languages are Turkic too.

    No, he found that Proto-Eskimo (Aleut continues to be a mystery) can almost entirely be derived from Proto-Altaic as reconstructed by S. Starostin, A. Dybo and himself. That’s pretty far removed from Turkology.

  113. I don’t know what the opposite would be. Maybe Wayne?

    In England “Wayne” is a stereotypical name for chavs (the uneducated white urban poor for whom American popular culture is aspirational; the equivalent stereotypical in much of mainland Europe seems to be “Kevin”). There was a 1990s TV comedy chav couple called “Wayne and Waynetta Slob” — the feminine Waynetta is hyperbolic but Wayne is real enough, and footballer Wayne Rooney has prolonged its popularity.

    Instead I nominate “Skyler”, “Dwayne”, or “Chad” (despite the Anglo-Saxon Saint Chad).

  114. John Cowan says:

    Skyler/Skylar is a phonetic spelling of Schuyler, a perfectly cromulent Dutch surname that, like so many surnames, got recycled as a first name (cf. Scott, Graham, Marshall). This is either borrowed from, or cognate to, Schüer.

    As for Dwayne, it too is a respelling, this time of Duane < Dubhán, a 5C Welsh saint who established an abbey in Ireland (I don’t know what his Welsh name was). The spelling of Dwayne is likely influenced by Wayne, but also, I think, its blend of pronounceability and exoticism, what with only three words in /dw-/ in English (dwarf, dwindle, dwell). The same effect may exist for dweeb.

  115. Previous discussion of the Americanness of surname > maleGivenName > femaleGivenName ; Dutchness of surname adds extra Americanosity.

    “Dwane” is a recognised if uncommon Irish surname, but Irish names ending -ane have the PALM vowel, not the FACE vowel. (Hardboiled American Mickey Spillane and Kerry football legend Pat Spillane don’t rhyme.) The variant “Dwan” rhymes with “swan” (at least in the former soft drinks firm Dwan’s). I’ve never seen Dwan[e] as a given name.

  116. J.W. Brewer says:

    I’m pretty sure Duane (the standard or at least earlier spelling, with the variant Dwayne arising later and peaking later*) as a 20th century American given name for boys came from the (mostly Irish) surname Duane, as suggested. Whether the surname in turn ultimately came from the given name of the antique Welsh saint is a different question.

    Perhaps the most prominent American bearer of the surname Duane is the 18th century New York politician/judge/powerbroker James Duane, namesake of Duanesburg upstate and of Duane Street in lower Manhattan (and, via the latter, of the Duane Reade drugstore chain). He was the son of an immigrant from Co. Galway.

    *It turns out per the SSA’s massive baby name database that by my own year of birth (1965) the trendlines had crossed, and Dwayne (126th most common) had edged slightly ahead of Duane (135th most common) among names given to US-born baby boys. But I still think of Duane as the standard and Dwayne as the variant. It is possible that differences in the ethnic and/or geographical distribution of the variants in my own generational cohort skewed my perceptions. OTOH, back when the legendary guitarist Duane Allman (1946-1971) was born, “Duane” was still more than 5x as common for newborn American boys as “Dwayne.” Although the picky will note that the guitarist’s birth certificate apparently read “Howard Duane Allman,” and the SSA database doesn’t include middle name usage.

  117. John Cowan says:

    But surname recycling began in England, where Scots surnames became English first names.

    I suppose Pat Spillane has initial stress, too; Mickey Spillane has final stress.

  118. No, according to the videos I googled up it’s end-stressed.

  119. The name Skylar and variants tends to come in for mockery even in America. The wife of the protagonist in Breaking Bad (played by Anna Gunn) being named that is one of the subtle signals that the audience is supposed to dislike her. (This is toyed with, of course. The show made a great deal out of encouraging viewed to identify with Walter White, until even long after he was an out-and-out villain. Unsubtle viewers would not notice how far he had fallen until all his sins had come due for payment. The third-to-last episode was famously named “Ozymandius,” and the promos for it showed scenes from the episode, with actor Bryan Cranston reciting Shelly’s poem.)

  120. BTW on the topic of Getica‘s reported tripartite division of the Slavs into Veneds, Antes, and Sclavins or Slavs in the narrow sense.

    In an older thread ( http://languagehat.com/the-indo-european-controversy-an-interview/ ) we discussed the Veneti of Northern Italy, the Veneds of (supposedly) Poland, and the Venelainen ( ~ Vene people) as Finns and Estonians call the Russians.

    But nobody clarified anything about the genesis of the Finnic word, where did their ancestors encounter Veneds and how did they transfer the name to Novgorod Slavs (Slovenes and Krivichi). I already read somewhere an opinion that the Slovenes of Novgorod, with their distinct and only recently characterized language, were migrants from the West, unlike the Kiev area Drevlyan Slavs).

    And now I read that there is hardly any basis in the universally repeated identification of Veneds with the area of Poland. It may partly be due to the report by Tacitus that Vistula flowed from the Venedian Mountains, and partly due to the Soviet archaelogy’s anti-Germanic streak and refusal to accept Chenyakhov culture as Gotic rather than Slavic?

    Schukin’s 1997 piece, recently reprinted here: http://xn--c1acc6aafa1c.xn--p1ai/?page_id=26267 , comes to conclusion that there were Veneds North and South-East of today’s Poland, but not “in” Poland. His best guess is that the Veneds, like the later Rus, was a professional class, perhaps associated with the resurgence of Baltic amber trade, rather than a specific ethnicity. In fact Antes and Slavs, both frequently mentioned in Byzantine chronicles, are also described as “components of Veneds”. Schukin also points out the unsophisticated archaeological footprint of the earliest definitely known Slavs – simple pottery, little metal, no burials – which can be juxtaposed with Getica’s description of the Veneds as “shamelessly lacking quality weapons”. Since it is unlikely that the earlier, materially cultures lost their technologies and traditions so radically, it seems to draw a picture of the earliest Slavs (or maybe Veneds) as technologically backward woodcraft folk, gradually overtaking desolated areas East of the Carpathians before dramatically expanding out.

  121. John Cowan says:

    My name isn’t exactly mocked, but when my wife met me she did have to make a conscious effort to suppress her lifelong use of john ‘toilet’. On the other hand, I was just reassuring someone on Quora that the AmE uses of wang and dong were not anti-Chinese slurs (“it’s rude to call someone a penis in any language”).

    Schüer

    Oops. Schüler, of course.

  122. J.W. Brewer says:

    The US is a varied place with varied naming practices, and there are usually some given names at any given point in time that are stereotypically viewed as not distributed through the population evenly but instead as markers of race, ethnicity, region and/or social class. Making jokes about given names stereotypically given to black children has become notably more socially and professionally hazardous over the course of my lifetime but jokes about given names stereotypically given to low-social-status white children (our equivalents to “Kevin,” although “Kevin” doesn’t fit in that set in the US) remain safe, for tv scriptwriters and others. The extent to which any stereotype about the demographics of the holders of a given name is accurate (and/or remains accurate, since things can and do shift over time) is a different question.

    The rise of “Skylar” (given to 4,706 US-born baby girls in 2017) is a phenomenon of the last few decades. The name is absent from the most complete dataset (covering all names given to five or more babies) for the year of my birth, which admittedly does include 6 girls named “Skyla” and 9 boys named “Skyler” (as well as 15 boys named “Schuyler,” presumably born to parents who had paid more attention to their American history lessons in school than the average student had).

    The Breaking Bad character is apparently named “Skyler,” but with either spelling it’s simply not a empirically plausible name for the character (plausibly born circa 1969 based on the internal timeline of the TV show and played by an actress born 1968) to have had. It’s presumably an artifact of bad scriptwriting retrojecting newer stereotypes onto an older generational cohort.

  123. jokes about given names stereotypically given to low-social-status white children

    E.g., Cletus. (Note the aspirational names of his kids.)

  124. Tina Fey seems to like jokes about how “Dong” and “Wang” are really perfectly respectable names. In the first season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kimmy’s love interest was a Vietnamese immigrant named “Dong.” When she laughs at his name, he tells her that “kimmy” is also slang for “penis” in Vietnamese. Earlier, on 30 Rock, Liz Lemon calls her boss Jack Donaghy a “wang,” and although he knows perfectly well she means it as an insult, he says it’s an honor to be compared with entrepreneur An Want.

  125. John Cowan says:

    The Veneds of Poland, or more precisely the Republic of the Two Crowns (AJP and the other one, presumably), a glacis state between the West and SNORist Russia.

  126. But how did the Finnic languages came to be the only ones using the Vene-words now? Wiktionary describes it as “borrowed from Proto-Germanic *winidaz (“Slav”)”, and quotes a 1555 letter by the Swedish king, but the Germanic languages didn’t use it by then, did they? And it’s used in the Finno-Ugric languages which were generally outside of the Swedish spheres of control, like Veps and Votic.

  127. David Marjanović says:

    the uneducated white urban poor for whom American popular culture is aspirational; the equivalent stereotypical in much of mainland Europe seems to be “Kevin”

    Totally is in Germany; the female version, interestingly enough, is stereotypically Chantal, though Jacqueline is much more common.

  128. David Marjanović says:

    but the Germanic languages didn’t use it by then, did they?

    You can still occasionally find it in use in German for the speakers of Sorbian (wendisch) in eastern Germany and Slovene (windisch) in southern Austria.

  129. You can still occasionally find it in use in German for the speakers of Sorbian (wendisch) in eastern Germany and Slovene (windisch) in southern Austria.
    Thanks! I don’t why I hoped that in Finnic languages it would have dated back to “before the Goths crossed the Baltic Sea en masse”, hinting at the Veneds’ peri-Baltic locations before they became known to history. Looking at research at Germanic borrowings in Finnish, you can’t help realizing that these borrowings date to a lot of different eras… some very early, some Medieval…
    A recent dissertation may be a great catalog:
    https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/135714/bidragti.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

  130. January First-of-May says:

    But nobody clarified anything about the genesis of the Finnic word

    For what it’s worth, the late Zaliznyak, in an introductory linguistics lecture, attributed the origin of this word to the Vyatichi (Old East Slavic Вѧтичи, apparently < Proto-Slavic *vętitji). Not sure if that makes any geographical sense, admittedly.

  131. January First-of-May says:

    Perhaps the most prominent American bearer of the surname Duane is the 18th century New York politician/judge/powerbroker James Duane, namesake of Duanesburg upstate and of Duane Street in lower Manhattan (and, via the latter, of the Duane Reade drugstore chain). He was the son of an immigrant from Co. Galway.

    Perhaps the most historically prominent, but surely those days more people would have heard of the author Diane Duane (of Young Wizards and Rihannsu fame).

    as well as 15 boys named “Schuyler,” presumably born to parents who had paid more attention to their American history lessons in school than the average student had

    At least one of them had to have been named for Ulysses S. Grant’s vice-president Schuyler Colfax.

  132. I always assumed that Finnish Venäjä and Estonian Vene were just an attempt to pronounce Old Norse term “Vindr”.

    Historical context: In 753 AD, Scandinavians founded a settlement in Ladoga. It was destroyed by incoming Slavs in about 770 AD, who then built their Lyubsha fort nearby. This is likely was the first contact between Scandinavians, Slavs and Finns in the region.

    The prolonged contest over Ladoga between Slavs and Scandinavians lasted three more centuries (invitation of Rurik and founding of Russia being just episodes in this struggle).

    Now, let’s recall what happened at Ladoga in 770 AD.

    The Slavs (Slovene from lake Ilmen) advanced from the south and simultaneously came into contact with both the Scandinavian settlement in Ladoga and the surrounding Finnish tribes.

    What term the Norse would use for people who looked like West Slavs, fought like West Slavs and spoke their West Slav language?

    Vindr (Wends), obviously, what else?

    And that’s what they told their Finnish neighbours when they inquired who are these strange invaders from the south.

  133. AJP Crown says:

    “Republic of the Two Crowns” – really? Is there a Kingdom of the Two Anarchies somewhere?

  134. AJP Crown says:

    In England “Wayne” is a stereotypical name for chavs (the uneducated white urban poor…Instead I nominate “Skyler”

    My cousin, currently living in a remote part of NZ, has a three year old named Skyler. He and his wife (they design engines for British Aerospace, we think they may be spies) will be interested that they’re seen in Ireland as the uneducated urban poor. It must be Brexit. There’s another 3 yr-old relative name o’ Basil, after my grandfather. Is he on the chavs list?

    Breaking Bad “Skyler,” …is presumably an artifact of bad scriptwriting retrojecting…

    Bad writing, really? My favourite Breaking Bad name is Lydia Rodarte-Quayle.

  135. The Breaking Bad character is apparently named “Skyler,” but with either spelling it’s simply not a empirically plausible name for the character

    As an East Coaster a few years older than the actress, Skyler always struck me as the kind of name California/West Coast women my age might well have, and was an excellent shortcut to convey a certain kind of shallowness, even if unfairly.

  136. AJP Crown says:

    not empirically plausible [if] born circa 1969

    There’s a real Skyler White, b.1967:
    White grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[1] The child of two college professors, she attended a performing arts high school, originally intending to pursue a career in ballet.[2][3] She graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, where she studied English and drama.[1] She has earned a master’s degree in theatre.

  137. In 753 AD, Scandinavians founded a settlement in Ladoga. It was destroyed by incoming Slavs in about 770 AD, who then built their Lyubsha fort nearby. This is likely was the first contact between Scandinavians, Slavs and Finns in the region.

    Honestly, I’m kind of struggling with the degree of discontinuity of Old Ladoga around 770, and especially with the involvement of Slav warfare in it. It’s clear that early in the history of this nascent Norse outpost, its inhabitants were uprooted, and the replacement log houses look more Slavic by floorplan. But much of the material culture shows signs of continuity. Also new are cheap high tin-content bronze decorations, which are trumpeted as Slavic because they are occasionally found in Long Mound Culture traditionally associated with the Krivichi tribe of the Slavs. But in fact the area of high-tin decorations is much wider, spanning from Latgalia and Estonia in the West to Mologa and Moscow rivers in the North and East (and they are first attested before the end of VI century, so their makers are a lot more likely to have been Balts). Besides, the Long Mound people didn’t even live along the lake-river corridor connecting Lake Ilmen, Old Ladoga, and Ladoga Lake where the hypothesized warlike Slavs were supposed to have advanced to Ladoga.

    Украшения из легкоплавких сплавов в культуре псковских длинных курганов: основные формы и поиск аналогий

  138. Besides, the Long Mound people didn’t even live along the lake-river corridor

    Both Lyubsha and Ladoga were simply trading outposts, why would they live along the river route?

    It’s like expecting Swedes settling all of the Baltic coast from Gotland to Ladoga.

    No, they didn’t need it, that’s why they had boats.

  139. Dmitry Pruss says:

    simply trading outposts
    Yes, trading posts don’t have to be connected to the main ethnic areas. And in the sparsely populated forest zone of today’s Russia it was common for the roving traders to have fusion cultures and mixed origins, from Seima to Rus…

    But that’s why I doubt the hypothesis of 100% Slavic takeover in 770. As to the tin trinkets, their Slav connection may be even more tenuous because the Slovenes of Lake Ilmen aren’t known to have had them, yet they are the hypothesized invaders of Ladoga

  140. One internet source speculatively traces the name of Rurik’s brother given by Nestor as Truvor/Трувор to the nicely-Nordic sounding Þórvar[ð]r, but I prefer to think of it

    One theory on Truvor which I believe a bit better 🙂 is that the story of Rurik’s brother supposedly getting control of Izborsk is a later Novgorodian invention justifying Novgorod’s takeover of Izborsk and Pskov. Unlike Novgorod, these locations conspicuously lack Norse origin material goods.

    The story is partly relevant to the just-discussed Krivichi Slavs who are placed, by the same pro-Rurikid chronicles, around Izborsk (perhaps just as questionably, if the powers-that-be wanted Pskov and Izborsk appear to be a domain of “junior brother” tribe to the Slovenes of Novgorod). And that, in turn, is in the main argument in favor of identifying Long Mound people as Krivichi Slavs.

    But the Long Mounds are spread quite a bit wider, as far East as Mologa river; and they appear a bit too early with their earliest graves showing an array of late Roman-era goods, including round belt buckles which disappear after the late 400s CE in other European locations, and polychromic glass and gemstone beads. The initial pulse of the European goods like these doesn’t last, so it may have been the items brought during migrations, rather than acquired continuously through trade. Later Long Mounds are remarkably unsophisticated in terms of goods, especially imports, but some of them are mass burials, many with horse bones underneath the human ones, so it seems to be chiefly / warrior burials, yet of a society which wasn’t “rich” overall. The typical locations indicate agriculture rather than trade activities (not near any major waterways).

    All in all it’s natural that the researchers find it hard to prove the Slavic / Krivichi identity of the Long Mounds. E.g. here (with lots of nice illustrations):
    https://www.e-anthropology.com/DownloadFreeFile.aspx?DwID=2369

    On the other hand, one of the arguments in favor of the Baltic origins of the Long Mounds – the reported ash layer underlying the mounds, as in reportedly fire-cleansed Baltic sites – turned out to be an error of interpretation (it’s a paleo-soil after all, rather than a trace of burning). And the Long Mounds, even in the most Easterly locations, had some temple ring decorations, which are in subsequent centuries known as the hallmark of Eastern Slavs.

  141. Finnish V/venäjä, Estonian vene and their other cognates go back to an already Proto-Finnic *venät (which is one of the only two reconstructible *At-stems; the other is the native *kevät ‘spring’). Actually, what really identifies this as an old pre-Proto-Germanic loan is Finnic *e versus Germanic *i…i < *e…e (seemingly predating even general unstressed *e > *i). Veps and Ludian point just to *venä, which seems to be loaned from old Karelian *venää (generalized from the oblique stem *venää- < *venäe- < *venäde-). Usually this setup would suggest a bit later loaning maybe from Proto-Scandinavian into Old Finnish and only from there into rest of Finnic altogether.

    Michael Weiss discusses recently this whole complex including Finnic, which may shed some light on the questions here.

    On Pskov: this looks Baltic and not Slavic even at first sight. It’s from *Plьskovъ, where if native the *s could only be from either Balto-Slavic *ś > PIE *ḱ or from progressive palatalization of *k, both impossible in a consonant cluster *sk. (Or is there some third potential source entirely for *-isk- in Slavic that I don’t know of?) However within Baltic we could easily trace a Latvian-type *-isk- back to Balto-Slavic *-išk- > PIE *-isk-. This *-išk- stage appears to be confirmed by the city’s name in Finnic: Pihkova ~ Pihkva < *Piškova.

  142. I note that the Liv name for the Russian is Krīevõ, because like the Latvians they encountered the Krivichi first. But their Estonian and Finnish cousins first met the Ilmen Slovene (of clearly West Slavic origin) and so they called them Wends.

  143. David Marjanović says:

    Germanic *i…i < *e…e (seemingly predating even general unstressed *e > *i)

    …Progressive dissimilation followed by regressive assimilation followed by an unconditioned shift to the same effect? *galaxy brain meme*

    Pihkova ~ Pihkva < *Piškova

    I suppose the o is reborrowed from Russian?

  144. Heh. I mean of course that the *e…e stage seemingly reflected in Finnic would be even older than *e…i as predating reconstructible *i…i. Weiss also suggests a lengthened-grade athematic *wenēd-, which would work too.

    Although, as long as we’re on one of the LanguageHat histling megathreads, this could be a good point to mention a very interesting result from another recent PhD: North Germanic *i/u-umlaut distinguishes unstressed or stressed prenasal *e and *i — with a chainshift, so that *e gives *i, which is umlaut-triggering and labializable-to-/y/, while *i in general gives *ɨ, which is umlaut-non-triggering and non-labializable (also with some further conditioning where *i > *i after all). E.g. *sengwan- > *singwan- > ONo. syngva ‘to sing’, *farezi > *fariz > ONo. ferr ‘travel.2PS’, versus *liduz > *lɨðuz > ONo. liðr ‘joint’, *stadiz > *staðɨz > ONo. staðr ‘place’. And I wonder if this chainshift should be then reconstructed for Proto-Germanic already, or maybe only for NGmc versus no change to *i in WGmc and Gothic, in which case it would still be the *sengwan- and also *wened- stage that comes out for Proto-Germanic.

    (I should do a blog post of my own on this at some point as this seems like an important new result, plus I have some related observations in mind that might point towards dating the chainshift as post-Proto-Germanic.)

    I suppose the o is reborrowed from Russian?

    Oh, good call, probably. Estonian dialects seem to also show Pihkõva, Pihkeva < *piškëva which could be more original.

  145. I should do a blog post of my own on this at some point

    If you do, please add a link here — this is interesting stuff.

  146. I would also appreciate it If you tacked on the etymology—provided that there is one—of (Lake) Peipus /Peipsijärvi. Odotan korvat höröllään!

  147. Estonian vene and their other cognates go back to an already Proto-Finnic *venät (which is one of the only two reconstructible *At-stems; the other is the native *kevät ‘spring’). Actually, what really identifies this as an old pre-Proto-Germanic loan is Finnic *e versus Germanic *i…i *i). Veps and Ludian point just to *venä, which seems to be loaned from old Karelian *venää (generalized from the oblique stem *venää- < *venäe- < *venäde-). Usually this setup would suggest a bit later loaning maybe from Proto-Scandinavian into Old Finnish and only from there into rest of Finnic altogether.

    the Liv name for the Russian is Krīevõ, because like the Latvians they encountered the Krivichi first

    There were also Veneds right in the middle of Liv lands, albeit possibly later, in XI and even XII c. ? And their Estonian name is different?

    Judging by the fact that Latvian town Cesis is Venden in Livonian, after a tribe which fortified it before the Baltic Crusades (likely connected to river Venta) – and the Estonian name for the same place is Võnnu?

    On a surface if it, it would have been hard for the German knights to use a widespread German word for a non-Slavic population. But of course it isn’t exactly a location known to have Slavic population. A whole assortment of related tidbits and quotes can be found here:
    https://www.jassa.org/?p=546

  148. David Marjanović says:

    I mean of course that the *e…e stage seemingly reflected in Finnic would be even older than *e…i as predating reconstructible *i…i.

    Sure. Everyone agrees on this sequence – it’s the new interpretation that is so different.

    Time passing from top to bottom:

    Old interpretation (e.g. Ringe 2006):
    *e…e
    unconditioned *e > *i except in the first/stressed syllable
    *e…i
    umlaut
    *i…i
    Proto-Germanic

    My attempt to wrap my mind around what you said:
    *e…e
    some kinda dissimilation
    *e…i
    umlaut
    *i…i
    then unconditioned shift of every remaining *e outside the first/stressed syllable to *i
    Proto-Germanic

    *stadiz > *staðɨz > ONo. staðr ‘place’

    A while ago I stumbled into Google Books and came across a decades-long handwringing discussion on seeming exceptions to North Germanic umlaut, including this example. Two hypotheses I remember were: there were two phases of umlaut, with words formed between them losing the umlaut trigger before the second phase began; and a distinction between *i and *j as umlaut triggers. The new Duke of York gambit seems much less convoluted; I’ve downloaded the thesis and hope to read the relevant chapters later tonight. 🙂

    From the English abstract (strangely, the Finnish and Swedish abstracts are quite different from the English one and from each other):

    In the last section of the summary chapter, results attained in the papers are selectively compared and synthesised and some of their implications are highlighted. Topics discussed in further detail are the phonologisation of umlaut vowels and the features of the pre-documentary Scandinavian ‘palatal r’ (*z > z/ʀ > r). Implications that the theoretical analysis of papers [P4] and [P5] may have for the prehistory of Scandinavian dialect geography are illustrated and the close relation between East and West Scandinavian, seemingly leaving out Gutnish and Övdalian, is explained. An apparent plunge in the intensity of Scandinavian-Finnic lexical borrowing is placed in the same spatial and chronological context, which may be interpreted as examples of linguistic consequences of the climate disaster in the decade beginning in 536 CE.

    Brackets in the original.

  149. John Cowan says:

    A little touch of Harry Turtledove, from his story “Islands in the Stream” (not to be confused with the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton song, the Hemingway novel, or Turtledove’s other story “Cayos in the Stream”, in which Hemingway becomes a WWII war hero for throwing a bomb down the open hatch of a U-boat off the Cuban coast). The scene is one in which an Arab delegation from Constantinople (which fell in the 7C in this AU) and another from Rome have come to Pliska to convince the khan of the Bulgars to adopt their respective religions:

    Telerikh gnawed on his mustaches. He looked from one delegation to the other, back again. “Tell me,” he said slowly, “is it the same god both groups of you worship, or do you follow different ones?”

    “That is an excellent question,” Jalal ad-Din said; no, Telerikh was no fool. “It is the same god: there is no God but God. But the Christians worship him incorrectly, saying he is Three, not One.”

    “It is the same God,” Paul agreed, once more apparently overriding Theodore. “Muhammad is not a true prophet and many of his preachings are lies, but it is the same God, who gave his only begotten Son to save mankind.”

    “Stop!” Telerikh held up a hand. “If it is the same God, what difference does it make how I and my people worship him? No matter what the prayers we send up to him, surely he will know what we mean.”

    Jalal ad-Din glanced toward Paul. The Christian was also looking at him. Paul smiled. Jalal ad-Din found himself smiling back. He too felt the irony of the situation: he and Paul had more in common with each other than either of them did with the naive Bulgar khan. Paul raised an eyebrow. Jalal ad-Din dipped his head, granting the Christian permission to answer Telerikh’s question.

    “Sadly, excellent khan, it is not so simple,” Paul said. “Just as there is only one true God, so there can be only one true way to worship him, for while he is merciful, he is also just, and will not tolerate errors in the reverence paid him. To use a homely example, sir, would it please you if we called you ‘khan of the Avars’?”

    “It would please me right well, were it true,” Telerikh said with a grim chuckle. “Worse luck for me, though, the Avars have a khan of their own. Very well, priest, I see what you are saying.”

    Interestingly, the leader of the Christian delegation is Niketas, the grandson of Emperor Leo III (the son of his daughter Anna), and the characters speculate whether he might perhaps have become Emperor if the Queen of Cities had not fallen. (His father Artabasdos did become anti-Emperor for a while, and Niketas was one of his generals.)

    In the end, jvgu gur pnyvcu’f nezvrf nyy nybat uvf fbhgurea obeqre, Gryrevxu npprcgf Vfynz sbe uvzfrys naq uvf crbcyr (nsgre orvat nffherq gung ol qbvat fb ibyhagnevyl ur jvyy abg pbzr haqre gur pnyvcu’f ehyr), fnlvat gung ur zvtug unir qbar bgurejvfr vs Pbafgnagvabcyr unq erznvarq Puevfgvna. Va gur raq, vg vf gur Puevfgvna pbhagevrf va gur abegujrfg bs gur jbeyq gung orpbzr “vfynaqf va gur fgernz”. See rot13.com.

  150. A catch-all kind of a genetics paper (finding great correlations with linguistics and geography) showing that previously commonly defined “Eastern Siberian / NE Asian ancestry” in the Uralic and Turkic speakers (and Russians) can be neatly subdivied into two substantially disticnt sources.

    The Uralic and some other Northern boreal woods / tundra belt people draw their NE Asian ancestry from a source similar to the contemporary Nganasan, and showing continuity with Mesolithic and Upper Paleolithic North Eurasians.

    In contrast, Turkic people derive their NE Asian ancestry from a source similar to Manchu people NE China – Far East Russia, such as the Ulchi. These ancestors were later-comers to this corner of Asia’s North-East.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0878-2

    One of the few exceptions in the linguistic correlations patterns are Zabolot’ye Tatars (living in the area generally occupied by Finnic Speakers, and genetically more close to them). Up until last fall, I didn’t know that Zabolot’ye Tatars, living in the roadless swampland near the historic capital of the Siberia Khanate, were a distinct group. But nowadays, with a better-enforced ban on poaching Siberian sturgeon, having connections with Zabolot’ye Tatars is about the only way one can still enjoy the region’s traditional stroganina, a sashimi-like raw sturgeon dish. Behind their roadless swamps, these folks don’t heed the laws. There are so few of them that I really don’t think the endangered fish is threatened any more, as the vast majority of the population now are the urban, oil-processing Russians and Kazan Tatars. Anyway I got my stroganina and don’t feel pangs of regret.

  151. David Marjanović says:

    In contrast, Turkic people derive their NE Asian ancestry from a source similar to Manchu people NE China – Far East Russia, such as the Ulchi. These ancestors were later-comers to this corner of Asia’s North-East.

    Seems to fit perfectly with Robbeets’s hypotheses on the origin of the Altaic languages and their speakers.

  152. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve finished reading Schalin’s thesis (well, the English parts, plus skimming through the Swedish extended summary).

    Except not. The five papers of which the thesis theoretically consists are not included in the pdf. I’ve never seen that before. They’re not even all in open access.

    The pdf is basically a detailed review of five of the author’s papers, and quite promising in several ways.

  153. At least in the Finnish/Estonian case, we know quite well that the Proto-Finnic homeland was in northern Baltia, and that Finns have partial Sami ancestry. Shame that Ingrians proper / Votes / Livonians were not sampled here
    Since this thread is also a de-facto discussion of Proto-Finnic ethnogenesis… there is a new ancient DNA study in Estonian / Ingrian areas which shows that Siberian autosomal DNA (a relatively little of it) and Siberian Y-chromosomes (a lot of them) appear in these parts – and continue to increase in frequency – during the Iron age, already by about 500 BCE. The others had only a handful of earlier Bronze Age samples, so they can’t pinpoint with a better precision the date of arrival of this component, typical for the Finnic speakers today. (It may have remained undetected if it was present a low frequencies before the Iron Age). However, the fraction of autosomal Siberian DNA during the Iron Age fluctuates widely, indicating that the population wasn’t thoroughly mixed yet, and therefore the influx of Siberian DNA has occurred relatively recently. Since this timeframe corresponds to the hypothesized chronology of early splits between Finnic languages, it is natural to conclude that Proto-Finnic has been brought into the Northern Baltics by 500 BCE through a male-mediated migration.

    (Earlier on, in late Bronze age, just like elsewhere in Northern Europe, there has been a resurgence of Western Hunter-Gatherer ancestry, previously swept away by the consecutive waves of Neolithic farmers (in the Southern Baltic area) and Bronze age migrations (everywhere across the region, including the Northern Baltic area where the Neolithic farming didn’t reach into))

    The Iron Age remains are from the tarand-style graves which have long been thought to belong to the earliest Finnic speakers, owing both to their timing and to similarities with other Finno-Ugric burial traditions further East. The DNA concurs.

    https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30424-5

  154. Trond Engen says:

    This is almost straight out of Parpola 2017, so in clear support of the already emerging consensus. The paper even say the Finnic speakers arrived “by the southwestern route”, Parpola’s term to distinguish the Daugava waterway from “the northern route” through the Ladoga purportedly taken by speakers of Proto-Saami. I don’t know what archaeological or genetic evidence there is for this, though. I do know that haplogroup N-something is as common in Latvia and Lithuania as in Estonia. As for archaeology, Parpola has a nice map of the distribution of Akozina-Mälar type axes, but not with dates, and none of tarand graves and associated hillforts. I haven’t been able to track one down elsewhere either,

    And should we assume that the Ante-Finnic Eastern Baltic shore was linguistically Baltic or Para-Germanic or something inbetween?

  155. David Marjanović says:

    I’d say Baltic, because the Baltic loans in Finnic tend to be closer to basic or substrate vocabulary than the Germanic ones.

  156. Alex Komar has put 300-page 2018 manuscript on Magyar antiquities and antedecents on academia. Lots of beautiful illustrations too.

  157. Incidentally they also equate Oghurs (better known from the times of Bulgars and Avars) with Hungarians (better known 2 centuries later) in the same as did Nestor the Russian chronicler in the opening post (who mentioned “two kinds of Hungarians” right around the Avars (Avar’s contemporaries “white Hungarians” in early VII c. and Oleg’s contemporaries “black Hungarians” in late IX c.): придоша угре бѣлии и наслѣдиша землю словѣньскую, прогнавше волохы, иже бѣша приялѣ землю словеньску. Си бо угри почаша быти пр-Ираклии цесари, иже ходиша на Хоздроя, цесаря пѣрьскаго… then Avars and then: По сихъ бо придоша печенизѣ, и пакы идоша угри чернии мимо Киевъ послѣже при Ользѣ.

    Komar shows that it is a translation problem. The original Greek sources about the nomads helping Heraclius against the Persians in the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 named them Turks, even more specifically “Eastern Turks aka Khazars”, not “Hungarians”: Τούρκους έκ της έώας ούς Χάζαρεις όνμάζουσιν. But afterwards, the Greek sources started equating Turks and Hungarians, and so did the Russian translation.

  158. A little mysterious tidbit about the Avars and the Huns / Gepids / Goths who immediately preceded them on the Pannonian Plain.

    A Vth c. grave of 3 male adolescents (with dismembered and partly missing mashed-up skeletons, and added animal bones and objects) seems to represent a ritual sacrifice. All three boys display signs of nutritional deprivations and hardships, likely because they were commoners; the diets are described as heavy on millet and low on animal protein.The trio represents 3 distinct races – an East Asian, a Mediterranean, and a Western European by ancestry – and the different appearance of the three is further accentuated by different types of cranial deformation (flat-board compression, circular binding, and none, resp.). The three groups obviously lived side-by-side and were subordinated to the same entity.

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0216366

  159. John Cowan says:

    Or perhaps they didn’t, and the sacrifice was to bind a truce or peace: each group contributed a victim.

  160. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve finally read the article. It’s an interesting paper with great potential for further research into the ethnography of the Migration Era. Unfortunately, the resolution of the genetic test is so bad that it’s just possible to point in the general directions of “East Asia”, “Europe/Caucasus” and “Middle East”, and the two latter can’t be discerned with much confidence, but the authors hope this will be remedied with future research on a larger sample of skeletons.

    I thought they might be hostages from three different populations conquered by a new overlord, but hostages would have been from elite families and probably not have experienced periods of severe malnutrition in childhood. Maybe they were slaves ritually executed or sacrificed in place of the important hostages.

  161. Not really sure if this is even close to the proper place for posting about the Slavs half a millennium after the Avars, but since we touched on Slavo-Finno-Ugric interactions here before:

    A large number of skeletons from the 1238 sacking of Yaroslavl by the Mongols, in Northern Russia, were turned over to DNA researchers. The lab technology isn’t really up to date, but the study turned up some intriguing details. The victims largely belong to the Balto-Slavic and Scandinavian male lineages (Y-haplogroups R1a and a singleton of I1 whom they are tempted to describe as a descendant of Varangian warriors), one or two R1b (including one jewlry trader, perhaps of Iranian / Kwarezmian extraction), and one E (whom they are eager to describe as a priest from the Balkans)

    But no N1a whatsoever! (Yes, Mustafin says N1a in the clip, even though he probably meant N1c…. Today, the “Ugro-Finnic” haplogoroup accounts for over 30% of the city population)

    So the grand Slavo-Ugro-Finnic mixing hasn’t yet occurred by XIII c., at least not in the city.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/09/archaeologists-unearth-mass-graves-from-mongol-invasion-of-russia/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z64qBnObMqY

  162. A number of Khazar warrior-class burials yielded DNA as well. They turned out to be a diverse population with various degree of local and East-Central Asian heritage. No sign of relation to the Jews of the latter era, in case if anyone still wonders. But one their DNA lineages turned up in Medieval Hungary, perhaps a vestige of Khazar-Avar invasions, which may be one good reason to post here
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2019.12.15.876912v1

  163. It is regardless certain that also Árpád’s people at least included speakers of Hungarian among themselves: a small number of Hungarian words have been recorded already in early medieval sources, before the Pannonian conquest, most prominently the ethnonym “Magyar” itself

    An interesting ancient-DNA development with tracing the origins of the House of Arpad using their Y-chromosome lineage: they turned out to be related to the modern Bashkir clans (having been separated by about 2,000 years) and more distantly related to some Turkic and Iranian peoples of South Central Asia (Pashtun, Tadjik, Turkmen, Uzbek) (with a separation timed to about 4,500 years ago). Of course the common ancestors of all these peoples moved quite a bit in the last 4 millennia; the authors don’t go too deep into other ancient DNA studies, but this Y-chromosome branch (Z2123) was first seen about 4,000 years ago in Potapovka and Sintashta (Bronze age cultures of the Middle Volga – Ural region whose descendants spread across Siberia and Central-South Asia).
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41431-020-0683-z

    There is no strong reason to think that the Arpad ancestors stayed put in the Volga-Ural region for two millennia before starting legendary trek West (or, indeed, that they came all the way from Afghanistan). So the trajectory of the pre-Arpad line between 2,500 BC and the beginning of the 1st millennium AD is still anyone’s guess. But the later Hungarian-Turkic migration from today’s Bashkir lands to Volga, Pontic Steppes and on to Pannonia is a widely acceptable hypothesis, and the DNA-derived timing and geography make sense.

  164. Wow, we’re learning some interesting stuff from DNA analysis.

  165. Trond Engen says:

    Wow, indeed. And another finding here.

  166. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve read the article. One reason for some caution regarding the Árpád dynasty: They sequenced several genomes thought to belong to the dynasty, and only two (one apparently securely ascribed to king Béla III) contained the “Árpád chromosome”. Still, a clear link between the early Hungarian nobilty and Bashkirs in the Ural, where they:

    […] live in close proximity with Finno-Ugric speaking populations with the N-B539 haplogroup. A recent study shows that this haplogroup is also found in modern Hungarians. Intriguingly, the most recent separation of the N-B539 derived lineages found in Hungarians and Bashkirs is estimated to have occurred ~2000 years before present. This would suggest that a group of people consisting of a Turkic (R-SUR51) component and a Finno-Ugric (N-B539) component left the Volga Ural region about 2000 years ago and started a migration that eventually culminated in settlement in the Carpathian Basin.

  167. One more preprint by the Hungarians (read: weak on genomic technology, strong on speculation about the prehistoric paths of the Hungarians) summarizing the IX-XI c. CE elite burial complex of Uyelgi near Chelyabinsk (first excavated 10 years ago). The papers have beautiful pictures of the burial goods: the original 2011 publication here
    https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/pogrebalnyy-kompleks-mogilnika-uelgi-novyy-srednevekovyy-pamyatnik-v-yuzhnom-zauralie
    the new preprint here
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.13.200154v1.full.pdf

    The new paper tentatively assigns it to the contemporaneous Strostki culture (Сросткинская культура), better knows for the sites hundreds kilometers to the East, closer to Altai mountains that to Ural mountains. Apparently Uyelgi has already become an almost household name in Hungary, the best footprint of the proto-Hungarians or more likely their close kin East of the Ural mountains and the ones with the proper grandeur of the steppe chiefs.

  168. David Marjanović says:

    Apparently Uyelgi has already become an almost household name in Hungary

    Given how common új “new” is in Hungarian place names, I wondered if there’s some convenient folk etymology going on. But Google Translate doesn’t know any Hungarian elgi, and elg is translated directly as “warp”, but through German as “chain”…

  169. I wondered if there’s some convenient folk etymology going on

    but I did wonder about the real etymology too. Kunashak district, where Lake Uyelgi and a myriad other lakes, almost all with Turkic hydronyms, are located, is primarily a Bashkir area (and it belonged to various Bashkir ethnic autonomies over the years, even to Bashkortostan as a non-contiguous ethnic canton), but it also has Tatar population.

    But Uyelgi is said to be non-transparent in the Turkic languages, possibly a remnant of the pre-Turkic toponyms
    http://toposural.ru/index.php/ozjora-yuzhnogo-urala/ozerau

  170. In Mari the closest I can think of on short notice would be u elɣe ‘with the new lands’ (first part indeed cognate to új), but this does not sound like an especially lakey name; plus the Mari presence in eastern Bashkortostan is too recent to be pre-Turkic anyway.

  171. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: So the trajectory of the pre-Arpad line between 2,500 BC and the beginning of the 1st millennium AD is still anyone’s guess.

    It seems quite clear from the other samples that the Hungarian nobilty (“conquerors”) were as diverse as one might expect from a group coming in from the steppe in the late 1st millennium. The purported royal line looks to me as it originated among the Indo-Iranians of the steppe and followed the Iranians into South Central Asia. Rather than branching off with the Scythians into the western steppe (and eventually Caucasus), it was among the groups that were later assimilated into the Turkic peoples. When they settled as conquerors in the Volga-Ural region, this specific clan ended up somewhere on the southern or western fringe, where they may have lost their language (again).

    But the later Hungarian-Turkic migration from today’s Bashkir lands to Volga, Pontic Steppes and on to Pannonia is a widely acceptable hypothesis, and the DNA-derived timing and geography make sense.

    Yes. Though in absence of broader data, the timing of the genetic admixture events in relation to the different steps of migration is still uncertain at best. I wonder why the Hungarians won’t do whole-genome analysis.

  172. followed the Iranians into South Central Asia

    I don’t think so. The separation in time is far too deep. The common ancestors of the Arpad line and the South Central Asia are from long before all these migrations South. Actually from the times when the ancestors of the South Asians and Iranians were still in the Volga-Ural area.

    The Uyelgi paper tries to connect the proto-Hungarian culture with the Srostki culture. If true, then it will only strengthen the idea that we should be looking at the Siberian / Altai region instead of anything more southerly.

    I wonder why the Hungarians won’t do whole-genome analysis

    We might have discussed during the “Reich lab supremacy” discussion. The local ancient DNA gurus are no pros. They used to be academic researchers in other areas of molecular biology, and, as the grants dried out, they discovered that there is some money to be had from the government as long as they help the ruling party exploit the nationalistic vibes of the population. So they can’t give away samples to the more proficient labs (the funding may be lost, and the results would no longer be controlled in such a way as to please the ruling nationalists). So they have to use so-so labs and less experienced researchers, and they get less data from their old bones. And then the publication bias adds to the problem (no glorious Steppe warlords = no interest in publishing it).

  173. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry; I don’t think so. The separation in time is far too deep. The common ancestors of the Arpad line and the South Central Asia are from long before all these migrations South. Actually from the times when the ancestors of the South Asians and Iranians were still in the Volga-Ural area.

    If I read this tree correctly, the “Árpád” line fits within a Volga-Ural sub-branch of a South Central Steppe branch. Since these are estimates for Y-chromosomes alone, the dating of the branching should be pretty independent of the date of the population split, but in the case of strictly endogamous populations (or strictly patrilocal, when we discuss the Y-chromosome), always older. On that note, 4500 years seems as a rather good fit for a common male ancestor of lines dispersed with the Iranian expansions.

    The Uyelgi paper tries to connect the proto-Hungarian culture with the Srostki culture.

    I’ll have to read about the Srostki culture.

    there is some money to be had from the government as long as they help the ruling party exploit the nationalistic vibes of the population

    In this case I failed to see how an incomplete analysis is any better even for that purpose. But it may of course be in the circular reasoning leading to the selection of the “Árpád” chromosome and how they chose to focus on that rather than the whole set of extracted genomes.

  174. If I read this tree correctly, the “Árpád” line fits within a Volga-Ural sub-branch of a South Central Steppe branch.

    That’s the impression the authors are trying to make, but of course the modern populations aren’t in the locations where their male ancestors used to live millennia ago – and the authors neither included ancient DNA from other studies, nor shared their data with the others who work with ancient DNAs. They also included an artificially narrowed subset of contemporary DNAs.

    As I already mentioned above, the earliest R-Z2123 DNAs (sharing the root of their tree) come from Potapovka and Sintashta, and both the timing and the location are right for the hypothetical common ancestors of the Iranians and royal Hungarians. There is a more recent ancient DNA which they also neglect to mention, from the Tian Shan Iron Age Sakas (sample DA129 in Damgaard et al https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0094-2) which maps near the junction of their “Volga-Ural and Southern” branches, with TMRCA about 3200 years ago (of course, the other Scythians further West and all the way to Pannonia also shared R1a Y-chromosomes, of which this subtype is a more recent branch)

    On the public Yfull tree with their larger number and variety of samples, the splits with the ancestors of today’s Bashkirs vs. Middle Easterners also maps considerably later, 3700-3200 years before present
    https://www.yfull.com/tree/R-Y2633/
    A couple samples from Hungary/Serbia map with the Bashkirs, while the Iron Age Tian Shan sample (labeled id:ERS2374372 here) is next to a Pashtun sample and close to a diverse subset of Y-chromosomes from the Arab countries.

    So the Scythians / Saka in East Central Asia (later assimilated by the Huns) seem to be the more likely conduit of this Y-DNA lineage

  175. Trond Engen says:

    I was thinking of the de Barros Damgaard paper (but didn’t take the time to reread it) when I outlined an eastern route and assimilation toTurkic groups after the early split with western Scythians.

    Do we disagree at all? Maybe in my adoption of “South Central Steppe”, but I think it’s vague enough to cover the roaming ground of the Iranians. Even if the Hungarians omitted published data from the analysis, that general outline accomodates both the Tian Shan sample and what seems as early incursions into the Middle East — as well as later(?) settlements in and around Afghanistan.

    I see that the Srostki Culture arose in the Eastern Steppe around 1000 CE. If its elite skeletons are closely related genetically to those of the “Hungarian conquerors”, it would quite likely mean that they are descendants of the same Turkic/turkified Iranian population. But interestingly the peprint claims this relation only for mitochondrial DNA. Were different parts of the conquered land settled by men from different patrilineal clans, while daughters of the elite were married out across the whole realm?

  176. Do we disagree at all? Maybe in my adoption of “South Central Steppe”, but I think it’s vague enough to cover the roaming ground of the Iranians.

    Right, I don’t think the direct link to the ancestors of the specifically Iranians exists (but instead, the links go to the earlier times, and to the shared ancestors of many peoples who probably were still in the North, in the Ural-Siberian belt). Of course eventually the branches in the North went extinct or nearly extinct (as in, not yet found). But by then, the branches in the South weren’t confined to the Steppe either, having spread around Middle East and even South Asia.

    If its elite skeletons are closely related genetically to those of the “Hungarian conquerors”, it would quite likely mean that they are descendants of the same Turkic/turkified Iranian population. But interestingly the peprint claims this relation only for mitochondrial DNA

    As I understand, nobody studied Srostki bones. The DNA connection is extremely indirect. Botalov identifies Srostski with the Kimak Khaganate at least since 2013 (see strting from pg. 139 here https://www.bulgari-istoria-2010.com/booksRu/Magiar_Simpoz_2013.pdf ) and indeed both Srostki sites and the Uyelgi mounds are within what’s thought to be the Kimak (Kimek) lands. But at their height, the Kimak ruled over an array of tribes, some local, many more dispaced from the East in the breakup of Uyghur Khagante in 840 (the best known of which, the Kipchak, eventually reached Pannonia as well). Of course the Kimak themselves were inevitably carried more and more to the West, and their DNA data are from a much later burial in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. The genetic makeup of the supposed Kimak male shows a more Easterly origin, but it may be hard to project it 5 centuries back into the formative period of the Kimak Khaganate (but this may be why the one known Kimak Y-chromosome isn’t being discussed). And any association with Srostki may be even more far-fetched since it hasn’t been convincingly identified with any member tribe of the Greater Kimaks.

    Anyway, it’s either Altai and the Kimak (or their local subordinates) or the more easterly Turkic tribes on their way West through the gaps South of Altai, who got some of their Y-chromosomes from the descendants of the Saka somewhere in the Altai – Tian Shan region?

  177. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Right, I don’t think the direct link to the ancestors of the specifically Iranians exists (but instead, the links go to the earlier times, and to the shared ancestors of many peoples who probably were still in the North, in the Ural-Siberian belt). Of course eventually the branches in the North went extinct or nearly extinct (as in, not yet found). But by then, the branches in the South weren’t confined to the Steppe either, having spread around Middle East and even South Asia.

    Potapovka is on the way from Corded Ware to Sintashta. The future Indo-Iranians seem** to have picked up their dominantly R1a male ancestry somewhere around where Globular Amphora gave way to Corded Ware. They brought it with them as they spread east through Central Volga and Russia, consolidated in the Abashevo, and established themselves as masters of the Steppe with Sintashta and Andronovo. Given the later dispersal of its sister branches, it’s reasonable that the “Árpád” R1a was part of this*. More uncertain but still reasonable with current evidence: It wasn’t present in the subgroup that went south early and became the Indo-Aryans. That means that it is at least Para-Iranian.

    These (Para-)Iranians ruled the Steppe for a long time. There seems** to have been an early branching between a Western and a Southern/Eastern group. The “Árpád” line is not found in the Western “Scythian” group, but it fits well among those lines that settled in the south or entered the Middle East. In the first centuries CE the Steppe was increasingly under influence from new groups from the east. Some Iranians went south and settled, some even as far as the Indus Valley. Those who stayed on the Steppe eventually got assimilated to Xiongnu/Hunnic groups and were turkified.

    As Steppe dynamics go, faster and faster as we approach the Modern Era, these new Easterners pushed the Westerners out of the Steppe and into the Balkans, Caucasus and the Volga Basin before being pushed the same way themselves. The Hungarian conquest is part of one of those waves, and the “Árpád” line is one element in a very diverse male ancestry, a result of centuries of shifting alliances, locations and forms of settlement, at least since turkification.

    *) Other stories are possible: It might be that just the “Árpáds” stayed behind in the Abashevo homeland, got assimilated to the emerging Uralic groups, and only entered the Steppe with the Hungarian migration, Or they could have been among eastern Andronovo (Para-)Iranians who settled in the Altai region and were turkified much earlier.

    **) “Seem” is a keyword throughout. A better picture will obviously emerge with more evidence.

  178. Trond Engen says:

    Forgot:

    As I understand, nobody studied Srostki bones. The DNA connection is extremely indirect.

    That makes the claim of a mitogenetic relationship weirdly specific.

  179. The future Indo-Iranians seem** to have picked up their dominantly R1a male ancestry somewhere around where Globular Amphora gave way to Corded Ware. They brought it with them as they spread east through Central Volga and Russia, consolidated in the Abashevo

    BTW you’ve seen Saag 2020 preprint on the DNA of Fatyanovo culture? The supposed predecessor of Abashevo in today’s Russian heartland? (Although in Russia, there is a popular viewpoint that Fatyanovo were the original Slavs, never mind a couple millennia time gap )
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.02.184507v1

    They are like ALL R1a-Z93, the ancestral group of both the Arpads and the Bashkirs but also of the South Asians. (In Russia there may be another cluster in the Altai). https://www.yfull.com/tree/R-Z93/

    Saag 2020 also happened across the oldest R1a known to date, a 10,000 years old hunter gatherer from the Northern Russian plain.

  180. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: BTW you’ve seen Saag 2020 preprint on the DNA of Fatyanovo culture?

    No, I haven’t, so thanks! I remember you said there was more to come when you linked to their previous paper.

    I realised after my last comment that my understanding of the Steppe dynamic was somewhat off. In my recent understanding, R1a1 etc. (Para-)Iranians replaced the “original” Yamnaya-derived R1b clans in the western Steppe quite early, but the fact is that a substantial element within the Scytho-Sarmatian sphere retained R1b. One might question if they were Andronovo at all, or if they developed in parallel somewhere out of view.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Steppe for a long time was dominated by related but very distinct and surprisingly stable groups consisting of patrilinear family units. They did trade genes with other groups, but almost entirely by exchange of brides — occasionally accross the entire Steppe. It strikes me that in such a situation, Y-chromosome tracking (which is a very small part of the history of a population — and also utterly androcentric) will be especially useful as a good proxy for movements, splits and mergers of whole populations. Some defence of the Hungarians, maybe. But only some. Y-chromosomes are interesting until the 4D map is drawn, but as the temporal ethno-geography becomes better understood and the solution of the genetic model improves, the non-constancy of the mitogenomic makeup becomes more important. The occurence of new mitochondria in the population can be used to locate the exact origins of the female ancestry thruugh time and, by extension, the origin of all genetic contributions that are not uniparentally transmitted — which amounts to a picture of cultural and economic relations through time.

  181. very distinct and surprisingly stable groups consisting of patrilinear family units

    but it is just as important to remember that some mixing of paternal lines of descent still took place, both on a clan- or tribe-level inclusion so typical for the later-era Steppe peoples, and perhaps also on a more individual cultural-amalgamation level (documented in DNA in the places like Sintashta, or at a technological level in the phenomena such as Seima-Turbino).

    Whenever there is joining together followed by migration and expansion, especially whenever smaller founder groups are involved, the effective net result may be the loss of some of the original patrilines, which to some extent undercuts the notion of stability.

  182. Trond Engen says:

    Certainly, And some lines will die out by natural drift, but the lines that do survive can be followed, and the inherent stabilty should make the leaps easier to spot. And the changes should be useful in the same way as changes in mitochondrial DNA.

  183. Trond Engen: Y-chromosomes are interesting until the 4D map is drawn,….

    Were there a lot of steppe dwellers living in apartment houses?

  184. Trond Engen says:

    Huh. That paragraph is unreadable. I’m impressed you got that far.

  185. Silent partners: archaeological insights on mobility, interaction and civilization in Central Asia’s past

    http://www.academia.edu/download/63909333/Rouse_2020_SilentPartnersArchaeologicalInsightsCentralAsiaCivilization.pdf

  186. Trond Engen says:

    @Dmitry: Saag 2020 preprint on the DNA of Fatyanovo culture

    I didn’t know the Fatyanovo culture extended far into the Taiga belt. Also, they got there in a surprisingly short time. It’s not just the distance, but they couldn’t take over existing settlements, and would have had to adapt their own lifestyle and technology to the Taiga environment. Maybe the new combined Yamnaya – Corded Ware package was especially flexible.

    The plot about R1a thickens. The source is probably more western, since it’s universal in Fatyanovo, but Russian Hunter-Gatherers being R1a means that it could well be outside the farming culture. And the Yamnaya R1b of the Scythians et al is a real riddle,

    Juha: Silent partners: archaeological insights on mobility, interaction and civilization in Central Asia’s past

    Lynne M. Rouse Silent partners: archaeological insights on mobility, interaction and civilization in Central Asia’s past, Eurasia Department, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin

    ABSTRACT
    Civilizations are as complex as the human relationships that engendered them, and outlining these relational qualities within open notions of mobility and interaction frames a reconceptualization of Central Asia’s past. Recent Eurasian archaeological research deconstructs deterministic politicaleconomic or hierarchical typologies of civilization and the overly simplified narrative that roots it in urban centres perpetually juxtaposed with nomadic groups. Archaeological evidence from the Oxus Civilization, Central Asia’s earliest complex polity (ca. 2500–1400 BCE), reveals the deep roots of sedentary–mobile interactions. I argue that Oxus–steppe relationships helped maintain the long-term structural cohesion of the Oxus Civilization as a multicultural entity, with implications for subsequent Central Asian polities. As we begin to balance the lopsided conversations about the social formations of Central Asia’s past and present, the silent partnership that characterized the Oxus Civilization is given a voice that forces us to reconsider who, exactly, belongs inside our notions of civilization.

    Introduction
    In Christopher Beckwith’s Empires of the Silk Road (2009), a history of central Eurasia written for an educated general audience, the first chapter presents the ‘Chariot Warriors’ of the prehistoric steppe (29–57). Beckwith’s narrative draws heavily on controversial linguistic reconstructions and paints interactions between sedentary farming and mobile steppe cultures during the second millennium BCE as largely confrontational, enabled by the chariot as the world’s first war machine. Yet in an expansive epilogue, Beckwith demonstrates his understanding of the problems with this narrative, and pushes back against the misconception of steppe groups as warlike and antagonistic to settled agriculture and civilization (320–362). The dissonance here between the main text and the epilogue is striking, because it highlights a tension between telling a simple, easily digestible version of the past and the more complicated reality of human interactions. The perspective that pits a civilized, urban-centred agricultural world against an antithetical realm of an uncultured, mobile ‘other’ (e.g. Khazanov and Wink 2001) stands in contrast to a wealth of research across disciplines revealing that distinctions between ‘civilized’ agriculturalists and mobile ‘barbarian’ groups are strategically constructed and maintained for practical, political and ideological purposes (Brite 2016; Di Cosmo 2009; Gorshenina 2014; Holt 2005; Michalowski 1999). Archaeological evidence, for its part, makes clear that sedentary and mobile lifeways have coexisted in southern Central Asia since at least the early second millennium BCE. In interpreting these prehistoric interactions, researchers must be especially conscious of the dangers of applying anachronistic analogies and reifying historically specific circumstances into generalized dichotomies (Arbuckle and Hammer 2019; Pulleyblank 1974, 508).

    This analysis brings archaeological data from the Oxus Civilization (late third to midsecond millennium BCE), Central Asia’s first regionally unified urban society, into the discussion of the region’s long history of sedentary mobile interactions. Within Oxus Civilization contexts, characteristic archaeological features of both sedentary farmers and steppe mobile pastoralists coexist, intermingled, for several centuries – suggesting that the multicultural Oxus Civilization was bolstered by contact with the steppe world rather than undermined or threatened by it. The example of the Oxus Civilization and its evidence of intercultural interactions, examined here in a summary of published archaeological data from two different scalar perspectives, offers a significant challenge to the simplistic antagonism of civilization/barbarian, sown/steppe, farmer/pastoralist. In particular, by recognizing the structure of the Oxus Civilization as defined by relationships, rather than through political-economic or hierarchical typologies, we can characterize sedentary–mobile contact as a stabilizing rather than destructive force in long-term trajectories. This alternate interpretation of Oxus–steppe1 relationships integrates with recent archaeological and anthropological discussion of regional polities and cultural networks across Eurasian (pre)history (Christian 2000; Hanks and Linduff 2009; Manz 2003). Beneath the din of sedentary–mobile clashes that dominate over-generalized narratives of Central Asia’s past, the coexistence of different lifeways and early systems of diversity forged a silent partnership in the Oxus Civilization that have echoed through later regional cultures and into the social politics of the present day.

    That’s a timely take on a very interesting period. I’ll read it eagerly.

  187. It certainly is; please report back on any interesting stuff you learn!

  188. I didn’t know the Fatyanovo culture extended far into the Taiga belt. Also, they got there in a surprisingly short time. It’s not just the distance, but they couldn’t take over existing settlements, and would have had to adapt their own lifestyle and technology to the Taiga environment

    I don’t agree with characterization of West-Central Russia as “Taiga belt”, and the authors never make such a claim either. In fact they explain the CWC expansion into Eastern Baltic and Southern Fennoscandia was similarly fast and roughly contemporaneous (pg.8 of the preprint), and in all three directions, it was an expansion North through the forested areas. The economic mainstay of the Fatyanovo is known to have been animal husbandry, and there were abundant riparian meadows along the river valleys of the forest belt of Russia, so it just doesn’t look like the Fatyanovo ancestors (who probably moved from the similarly forested lands of the upper reaches of the Dnieper basin) needed to reinvent their farming toolkit (I don’t know exactly how all of these farming cultures of Northern Europe went about feeding their animals in winter, but I have no doubt that they all stored hay, and flint-inlaid scythes have been used in the region millennia earlier, starting from Tripolye already). They were far removed from the copper and tin mines, but relatively soon they or their close kin found good sources further East in the Ural mountains.

  189. Trond Engen says:

    OK, “Taiga belt” was an overstatement, but we are at least past the familar environments of the forest steppe and the broadleaf forests. I’m surprised of the speed because in Scandinavia it took agriculture (defined as “an economy with the farm as the structuring unit”, in Frode Iversen’s recent formulation) about 1500 years to cross that line. I don’t know if it was for geological, climatological or technological reasons,

    Megalithic Funnel Beaker affiliates settled in Southern Sweden and in a few spots along the southern coast of Norway, from around 4000 BCE. They seem to have given up on the attempt, maybe after being decimated by the first plague. From around 2900 BCE (tentatively) Indo-European Corded Ware/Battle Axe people came in and settled on the Southern coast. In Sweden Battle Axe settlements — few and far between — didn’t reach much north of the great lakes. That’s essentially the same region as Funnel Beaker settled a millennium before. It should take some 300-500 years until the almost explosive spread of agriculture deep inland and north along the coast with the Bell Beaker affiliated Dagger Culture around 2500 BCE

    As for the Battle Axe Culture, few Battle Axes (and related cultural objects) are actually from “Battle Axe Contexts”, so they were clearly traded goods. The traces of agriculture are very general in nature. Pollen, but no fields or farmhouses. It seems that in the period 2900-2500 BCE or so, the Corded Ware affiliated settlements in the Scandinavian peninsula are more like trading posts, maybe equipped with a few grazing animals and a garden. These may in the end have served as spearheads and experimental fields laying the ground for the Late Neolithic settlement, but that could also be an entirely new (but related) people with a new agricultural technology.

  190. Trond Engen says:

    Also, the test specimens here are almost all from north and east of Moscow, and many of them have calibrated carbon dates centering on 2750 BCE, quite early in the timespan of the culture.

  191. David Marjanović says:

    Fascinating.

  192. Trond Engen says:

    The Rouse article essentially says that one shouldn’t interpret the relationship between the Oxus Civilization (BMAC) and the Andronovo nomads as one of war and destruction. They were long time partners in trade and cultural exchange, and both cultures kept adapting to and learning from the other while remaining distinct. The Oxus farmers did abandon some sites, but at the same time they established new ones closer to water sources and in the eastern valleys, so this (my interpretation) may have had more to do with the climate or with increasingly effective irrigation using up all the water closer to the source. When the Oxus culture finally stops maintaining a conspicuous elite culture, it’s because the monopolized trade with southern neighbours dries up and with it the source of uneven wealth and power. The local farming culture continues to flourish for centuries, but now based on a decentralized relatiionship with the nomads. She does not go into the final phase of the civilization.

  193. I think that the Funnel Beaker may have relied too much on their traditional crops. They already cultivated hardy barley but grew less climate-approriate wheat as well. Oats and rye didn’t get into the picture until much later, in the II millennium BC. We don’t know if tubers like field mustard were cultivated because they don’t preserve well in the archaeological record.

    Fatyanovo people started settling along the rivers with meadows; eventually their locations shift to hillsides overlooking meadows, and, by the end of their distinctive period, to the river divides. The geographic area is initially fairly small, then expands, especially to the East (where Balanovo culture of Middle Volga and Kama is considered to be an extension of Fatyanovo, and where even more to the East, Fatyanovo-style axes and graves are located in Bashkortostan). More Westerly finds look transitory in nature. Random finds of Fatyanovo drilled stone axes (outside of burial group contexts) are found almost exclusively along the banks of the largest rivers, confirming the importance of the river corridors in their spread.

    Fatyanovo graves contain sheep and pig bones, but no cattle until the later stages. Occasionally, lambs and goat-kids are found in separate ritual graves. Lots of bear-tooth decorations and occasional ritual burials of whole bears. Pigs are especially abundant in the earlier / more Westerly burials; Krainov hypothesizes that pigs could be grazed in the forests, and fed bark and acorns in winter. Many more game and fish bones are found, indicating reliance on hunting and fishing. In contrast, there are no tools associated with crop-cultivation.

    Metal is used only for weapons and decoration, not for any “productive” tools. Graves of metal-workers and chemical analysis of bronze both prove that Fatyanovo practiced metallurgy. Their copper came from sandstone ores of Middle Volga, from Vyatka-Vetluga river divide, and eventually from Bashkortostan.

    Ref. 20 of the preprint has been scanned and OCRd (although the quality of the OCR is so-so). It needs to be understood that Krainin operated with the considerably younger radiocarbon dates available then, and within the popular framework identifying Fatyanovo lands with the Baltic-like hydronyms and consequently identifying Fatyanovo with the proto-Balts (although I was surprised to see that the core Fatyanovo country South of Yaroslavl is quite distinct from the Baltic hydronym clusters, but is famous in Russian history as the Opolye, “Open-field country” (deforested and plowed) between Rostov and Vladimir. Krainin actually wondered if it were the Fatyanovans who burned the woods there!
    https://arheologija.ru/fatyanovskaya-kultura-2/

  194. David Marjanović says:

    Plot twist: what if Fatyanovo spoke Proto-Uralic.

  195. Trond Engen says:

    That is not out of the question. Carlos Queiros of indoeuropean.net is strongly advocating a Proto-Uralic spreading eastwards with Corded Ware.

  196. David Marjanović says:

    indoeuropean.net is an ad in Japanese that looks like the domain is for sale; googling “carlos queiros” indo(-)european doesn’t bring anything interesting up, at least on the first page.

    Edit: …or do you mean Carlos Quiles?

  197. Trond Engen says:

    Yes. I’m outside in the sun again and don’t have the links ready on my phone. I’m probably confusing names — or my phone decided to change it to that of a football manager.

  198. do you mean Carlos Quiles?

    The lack of R1a in the original Yamnaya yields many more conspiracy theories in addition to Carlos’s (especially in South Asia, of course). I am a bit surprised that there aren’t equally vehement theories about the lack of some of the main, deep-rooted lineages of R1b in the same Yamnaya … these Y-chromosomes also appear prominently in the later Europeans, but they couldn’t be found in the Yamnaya graves. The gist of the R1b story is the same as with R1a (while these Y-chromosome subclades are fairly closely related to the Yamnaya’s, and were associated with the same ancestral makeup as the Yamnaya’s, they emerged long before the times of Yamnaya culture and must have existed in different tribes of the similar Steppe origins … but nothing has yet been found). Maybe the names of the non-Yamnaya subclades of R1b simply sound too technical and too long to inspire a good conspiracy theory? The three-character limit?

    The post-CWC-pre-Uralic interactions are quite likely, on the other hand, given what we know about the multiethnic genetic makeup of places like Sintashta or multi-cultural Steppe-Taiga amalgamations such as Seima-Turbino.

  199. PS: about proto-Uralic predecessors on the European side of the Urals. Volosovo culture (with textile-ceramics and, a later stage, some Fatyanovo wares) is sometimes suggested to be a candidate. Sometimes an even earlier, 3rd millennum BC Lyalovo culture, with its pitted and comb ceramics. Without going into the details about reasoning …
    the same Saag 2020 preprint has two hunter-gatherer males from North-Central Russia. One is R1a, like several previously analyzed Eastern hunters-gatheres (EHG) (but more ancient than any others known to date) (Baltic Combed Ceramic Culture peoples are similar in the overall genetic makeup, with their Y-chromosomes being R1’s and I’s).

    The other Saag 2020 hunter-gatherer, a Lyalovo man, may be more interesting with respect to Proto-Uralic hypotheses since his Y-chromosome is Q1 (Q-L54) which hasn’t been observed in ancient Europe yet. The earlier finds are in Eastern Siberia (Afontovo Gora) and in the Americas. The modern distribution covers Native American tribes, Russia’s North, and Fennoscandia. Too much guesswork IMHO, but if you want to entertain a wild hypothesis…

    BTW the PDF supplement of Saag 2020 contains a very detailed description of these cultures and sites.

  200. David Marjanović says:

    So, Q1 is simply Ancient North Eurasian?

  201. Q1 is simply Ancient North Eurasian?

    Quite likely. It’s also in a Paleosiberian 10,000 years ago (Sikora 2018) and it predominates in the most-ANE-like of the contemporary peoples, the Ket (Huang 2017). Two Sintashta males have it, too, and their autosomes are loaded with hunter-gatherer Eastern/Siberian DNA, indicating that the two belonged to a minority ethnic group there. But it seems to be absent in the Finno-Ugric peoples (only common in the Samoyedic branch). And conversely, the very Ugro-Finnic N haplotypes couldn’t be found in the ancient Northern Eurasians or in the Sintashta “ethnic minorities”. But the numbers of the ancient samples are very small, of course.

    Q1 has not been, until Saag’s Lyalovo sample, identified in Eastern European hunters-gatherers (who are generally quite rich on ANE ancestry), only R’s, but the numbers are minuscule, too.

    Another relevant paper may be Wong 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5204334/ and it posits that the haplogroups N,Q, and R were a part of the same Ancient Northern Eurasian wave (with N splitting off about 45 thousand years ago, followed by a Q-R split 33,000 years ago)

  202. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, the conspiracy theorism against Kristiansen et al. is annoying, but A song of sheep and Horses is a good read and a useful reminder that the questions aren’t settled, and several hypotheses can (and should) be entertained. Your suggestion from a couple of years ago that Yamnaya might have been Basque is a good example.

    It’s likely that at least some of the lacking strands of both R1a and R1b, as well as lacking non-R1 Y DNA, are due to sampling bias. We mainly get data from prestige graves, representing elite clans especially on the male side, and the underlying variation only rarely comes to light. But that means that the rare and sudden wholesale replacements of elites are very interesting and must be understood.

    And of course there’s a lot of fun to be had with a multi-ethnic polity like Sintashta, which seemingly takes three distinct cultures in and sends three different distinct cultures out a couple of centuries later.

  203. David Marjanović says:

    Your suggestion from a couple of years ago that Yamnaya might have been Basque is a good example.

    Whose suggestion? I can’t remember making it. I have long thought that Basque is the last living descendant of the Early European Farmer languages.

  204. Trond Engen says:

    No, sorry. Dmitry’s.

  205. Another interesting reconstruction of Ugro-Finnic DNA hinting at the Eastern Siberian roots has been posted at the Eurogenes blog. The author attempted to find the best proxies for the three streams of genetic ancestry which joined together in the genomes of the contemporary Europeans – the hunters-gatherers, the Neolithic farmers, and the Steppe pastoralists. (the technical problem is that the DNA many known representatives of these ancestral streams is close in composition to the average components of today’s Europeans, but the similarity is far enough from perfect, and the genomes any three “arbitrarily selected” ancient groups of hunters-gatherers, Neolithic farmers, and Steppe pastoralists would typically explain less than 100% of today’s DNA. But the author claims that he found a very good combination of the three ancient populations which, when their DNA is combined, explained all major European populations. Except, and here is a catch, the Finno-Ugric peoples of Europe (not the Hungarians, of course … their genomes are too local to fall of the European ordinary.
    Adding a 4th DNA to the mix saved the goodness of fit, though. (Spreadsheet here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19fU2C2cdSdTYwvWFL2bMuIv5r6zmh5Nw7SbDYqOO4fE/edit#gid=1933045266 and the discussion, at https://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2020/07/ancient-ancestry-proportions-in-present.html )

    Notably, this 4th stream was well represented by a Bronze age population from around Lake Baikal. One of these skeletons, GLZ003 from Glazovo (Irkutsk, 2500 BC), is a male with a Q1a Y-chromosome, by the way. Several are from two Eneolithic sites near Kachug on Lena River, and three more from Zhigalovo and Stepno-Baltay districts. Several from They are from the just published Yu 2020 ancient Siberians/ Native Americans paper https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009286742030502X

    The contribution of the Siberian-like ancestral stream ranged from 8-9% in the average Finnish or Karelian genomes (and even less in Estonian) to over a quarter in Sami and Udmurts. Although the goodness of the statistical fit still wasn’t the best, so the “Eastern Siberian” hint remains just that, a good but imperfect hint, for the lack of any better fitting source population among the ones studied to date.

  206. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Ref. 20 of the preprint has been scanned and OCRd

    Thanks. Very useful background. The older dates are gamechangers, of course, but the ethnographic interpretations seem to hold quite well anyway. That the eastern and northern Fatyanovo groups became Uralic is very likely, What I don’t see yet is how these groups of small-scale farmers could become a movement with the force to transform the Southern Urals and the Steppe. Was their main occupation really trade along the rivers? Shouldn’t we see that in accumulated traded goods and boat symbolism? Or is the “battle axe” the one unifying boat symbol?

    Another interesting reconstruction of Ugro-Finnic DNA

    Hey, I hadn’t even finished the last batch! The “fourth population” could reasonably be the northern coast movement from the Baikal region that we’ve discussed a couple of times before. New chance to say Ymyyakhtakh!

    We shouldn’t expect a perfect fit with any set of source populations. Any source population is a simplified model, as are the clear demarcations between them, and discrete admixture events. Conversely, with enough source populations you can get anything to fit.

  207. David Marjanović says:

    and the discussion, at https://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2020/07/ancient-ancestry-proportions-in-present.html

    I didn’t invest the time to understand the post, but the comments are quite illuminating.

  208. There aren’t too many thriving blogs in 2020. Paleogenetics discussions are unusual because they mix a lot of invective with bona fide statistical analyses.

    Analyzing admixture using the very limited ancient datasets is as much of an art as of science. One takes a set of ancient DNAs and tries to predict how likely a target DNA may have contained a certain percent of it, given that inheritance is more likely to transfer the whole ensemble of genetic variability in a more or less one piece, and progressively less likely to pass on only smaller subsets of the original variability, leaving too much of it behind.

    If the proposed source population was already a mix of some of the same components that made up the target, then it may be easier to get a good fit (but of course people hope to drill down to independent components, rather than to stop at a level of the later mixes). Conversely, if a proposed source population contained a true source component, but in a mixed state with other components which were unique to this ancient DNA and not shared with the target, then the quality of a fit may suffer.

    In the analysis discussed on Eurogenes yesterday, one peculiar result is that the Eastern or Western Siberian hunters-gatherers do not contribute appreciable DNA to any modern populations in the study. Perhaps it is true and they were displaced rather than assimilated. Or perhaps their DNA was less detectable as a separate stream because some of it was already contained within the “Steppe” stream. But it is clear that a more easterly Siberian DNA was a better proxy for the “4th stream of ancestry” of the Ugro-Finns (and Northern Russians). These Bronze Age Siberian samples are from too late an era, and partly mixed with dissimilar East Asian DNA, to be the real ancestor or even a reliable proxy, but they still worked better than anything else known to date. So it’s reasonable to hypothesize that the Lake Baikal area Bronze age peoples were close cousins of the Proto-Uralic population, and that the latter spread West in a classic intrusive / displacement fashion.

  209. David Marjanović says:

    In b4 Uralic-Yukaghir.

  210. If the Yukaghir link is due to borrowing from various Uralic sources, and if Uralic itself isn’t older than the Bronze age (given that the terms for copper-tin metallurgy are well reconstructed in it), then of course, MUCH before. From what we know about Yymyyakhtyakh, it may be also a bit too recent, although perhaps the ores of Taymyr have been exploited earlier than we know. Just like Seima-Turbino, Yymyyakhtyakh barely predates the peak of Sintashta, and we keep hypothesizing that it was in Sintashta times when the early Uralic has been influenced by early Indo-European?

    On the other hand, there aren’t any N-haplotype Y-chromosomes in Sintashta, so it is possible that some other language stratum has been co-mingling with the Sintashta Indo-Europeans, while the Uralic speakers were culturally but not residentially linked?

    There is no copper in the flatlands of Western Siberia, so we have almost to posit some degree of connection of the Proto-Uralic speakers to one of the region’s ore belts where copper could be mined (Ural, Altay-Sayan, or Taymyr).

  211. David Marjanović says:

    the terms for copper-tin metallurgy are well reconstructed in it

    Are they? Last I read, the “bronze” word *wäćkä is a Wanderwort and can’t be properly reconstructed further than Proto-West Uralic.

    we keep hypothesizing that it was in Sintashta times when the early Uralic has been influenced by early Indo-European?

    That would make sense because the youngest loanwords in Proto-Uralic are from a late Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranian stage.

  212. Trond Engen says:

    I imagined the Ymyyakhtakh wave as the source of the East Asian admixture in Northeast Europe. That could include Y-haplotype N without having to include the ancestor of Proto-Uralic.

    The language of Seima-Turbino traders could have become the language of the Taiga Belt in several ways. Maybe the bronze traders allied themselves with Ymyyakhtakh peoples sometime shorly after Sintashta, e.g. around the copper mines in Ural. Maybe Proto-Uralic became the lingua franca of the region where (the Uralic part of) the trade network operated. In either case, the population that took over the old Fatyanovo settlements and formed the Textile Ware Culture were (Western) Uralic speakers. But aren’t the oldest loanwords in Uralic too early for Sintashta? Maybe the Proto-Uralics and Proto-Indo-Iranians started their multi-ethnic enterprise already on the Volga-Kama and expanded together towards the Steppe and a further partnership with the Turks of Altai?

    As for Taymyr, the copper mines seem to have been exploited at the height of Seima-Turbino, at the same time as Ymyyakhtakh objects spread across Northern Siberia. This is too late for PIE borrowings in Uralic and too early for the arrival of Sami in the Kola. I’d say that the Ymyyakhtakh people did their own thing up north, while Seima-Turbino went on in the steppe and forest belts. One scenario is that those who maintained the link between Sintashta or Altai and Taimyr became the Samoyedic peoples. There are two distinct cultures present in the Taymyr copper mining era, one with “southwestern” affinities and one with “eastern”, so this could also be the Samoyedic-Proto-Yukaghir contact zone.

  213. Häkkinen makes this point about wäśka “copper/bronze” and especially äsa-wäśka “tin/lead”, and as I understand claims that is also found in Mansi, but I am not in a position to critically evaluate this claim. But I understand that sometimes semantics may shift, or borrowings between related languages muddy waters, so with so few relevant languages in hand, no reconstruction can be totally persuasive.

  214. Trond Engen says:

    Me: “an economy with the farm as the structuring unit”, in Frode Iversen’s recent formulation)

    That was not Frode Iversen (who I recently read on a related subject), but Christopher Prescott: Chapter 18 Interpreting Complex Diachronic “Neolithic”-Period Data In Norway (Final Draft for Gron, Sørensen & Rowley-Conwy: Farmers at the Frontier – A Pan European Perspective on Neolithisation. Oxbow Books, 2020). The formulation is my extract from:

    Although the narrative of the slow march towards adopting agriculture still has its advocates, there is consensus that with the transition to the Nordic LN around 2350 BC agriculture and stockholding became the economic base throughout southerly Norway. This is not “an introduction of agriculture”, but the establishment of the farm as the dominant and fundamental form of settlement, production and economy that structures human relations and patterns of human use of the landscape. Before this watershed moment, the structuring mode of production was hunting and gathering.

  215. Trond Engen says:

    I finally opened the spreadsheet. It’s very suggestive, but it has its limits. With only European Uralic populations included, and only two groups of Russians among the non-Uralic peoples of Russia, we don’t really see what’s geographic independent of the distribution of Uralic languages. Still, the two spikes — in Udmurts and Sami — are interesting, especially together. Without the Udmurt spike, I’d say that it’s just a north-south cline from the Ymyyakhtakh people. Without the Sami spike, it could be a sign that the Uralic homeland was near to Udmurtia. With two spikes, it could actually be both, even if the Eastern origin of the Uralic languages may become less likely: If the Ymyyakhtakh people spread both west along the arctic coast to northern Scandinavia (as archaeology and archeo-genetics suggest) and south along the Ural or the Ob-Irtysh system, they could have contributed to both Proto-Uralic ethnogenesis (demogenesis?) in the Kama-Ural region and to the Ante-Sami substrate. There could also be two different waves from the Lake Baikal region, with a more southern route for the people causing the Udmurt spike, but I haven’t seen any archaeology supporting that — unless it turns out to have been brought in by the Tatars.

    I don’t have access to the Yu paper in Cell, but the summary is promising. I love that archaeo-genetics of Bronze Age Eurasians now seems to include Yersinia pestis as a matter of course. I can’t wait for other pathogens to be included as well.

  216. Trond Engen says:

    I got the Yu paper (thanks!) and just finishen reading it. Not much time to digest, but my takeout is that it’s a complementation to what we already knew about Eastern Siberia. On the ancient and basal level, it fills out the picture of the North Asian population that is ancestral to Non-Arctic Native Americans. Additionally it starts to untangle the movements and admixtures of the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age that eventually would lead to the formation of the ethnic and linguistic groups we know today. The plague is part of that. Intriguingly it’s found in two individuals without Steppe ancestry. They were from the same site, but one of them had migrated in his early childhood. The date and the strain of Yersinia pestis are practically identical to those of a Corded Ware individual from the Baltic. This fits well with the population crisis in Scandinavia before the arrival of the Bell Beakers.

  217. With only European Uralic populations included, and only two groups of Russians among the non-Uralic peoples of Russia, we don’t really see what’s geographic independent of the distribution of Uralic languages.

    As I understand, they failed deconstruction into these 3 or 4 ancestral sources. BTW we are making a full circle in this discussion 🙂 Over a year ago, I’ve been mentioning Yunusbaev’s study of why the population of Central and Southern Russian Plain (both Slavic and not) can’t be genomically reduced to the 3 main source streams of European ancestry. The reason is an admixture from Khazars / Bulgars (and maybe a lesser amount of a related Eastern admixtures from different invasions, from the Avars to the Mongols). Behar 2010 is another great source of quantitative data on the Turkic-type admixture in Eastern Europe.

    one may also search for clues about Avar origins among the Dulebs (historically described as being under the Avar yoke around the Carpathians), and maybe other Medieval and contemporary Westerly Slavs, since they may have experienced the last pulse of the nomadic admixture in the Avar era (and when multiple waves of admixture from similar sources have occurred, it becomes hard to see the earlier events behind the more recent ones). According to Yunusbaev 2015, North-Central Asian admixture in the typical Eastern Slavs dates back to the Khazar / Bulgar era and postdates the Avar times. So the Eastern Slavs / Russians (with a possible exception of the Westernmost Russians studied in the very recent publication of Zhernakova et al.) may have the hypothetical Avar traces obscured by the later events.

  218. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, we’re circling back to the origin. It seems quite likely that an Eastern source population would explain much of the rest, since all the Turkic peoples are excluded from the table, but wouldn’t the Turkic element have to be quite large? Much of the Turkic ancestry would also be derived from the sources that were used.

  219. Right, I don’t know how large an Eastern admixture would have to be to throw qpAdm into disarray. It isn’t just about the percentage of added DNA, but also about the dissimilarity of this DNA to the other admixture sources. The simplest and widely used metric of genetic dissimilarity, Fst, is about 3 times higher between East Asians and either of the 3 primary ancestry sources of the Europeans than between these three sources (but the effective difference may be even stronger if the composition of East Asian DNA is “shifted in the same direction” from the 3 major European sources, making it even harder to model this admixture as a combination of the other 3).

    It looks like 7-8% of a putative proto-Uralic admixture was enough to make qpAdm’s prediction implausible without it. The putative Turkic admixture in the Central Russians stands at 4-5% according to Behar 2013 (Fig. 3 https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=humbiol_preprints ) and is even lower in Ukrainians. Would it be enough to cause problems? (Of course the “orange/yellow” components of Behar 2013 Fig. 3 are much more abundant in Tatars, Chuvash and Mordva)

  220. Trond Engen says:

    Behar 2013

    If I squint and look at the table at page 46, I’d say that the Chuvash and Tatar samples are half and half “Russian” and “Altaian”. The Mordovians are half and half that and “Russian” again.

    But I know it’s more complicated than that. Neither of the pure colours are actual populations but idealized contributions that are hypothetical approximations of populations at some distant time in the past. The Eurogenes simulation started from the other end. It took four actual (but obviously incomplete) populations of the past as input and found that all the European Uralic peoples (and more) could be derived from them alone. But held together, and squinting again, I’d say that the ultimately lacking admixture is a little bit of the South Asian greyish green and dark green, and the more recent contributing population that brought them into Europe could.well be something near the average of the Central Asian Turkic populations.

  221. Trond Engen says:

    Me. We mainly get data from prestige graves, representing elite clans especially on the male side, and the underlying variation only rarely comes to light.

    Chelsea Budd et al: All things bright: copper grave goods and diet at the Neolithic site of Osłonki, Poland, Antiquity, Volume 94, August 2020.

    An interesting new turn to isotopic analysis. Using gravegoods as identificators of wealth, they find a significant difference in the isotopic makeup of “wealthy” and “common” people in a late 5th millennium BCE Lengyel settlement in central Poland. Interestingly, since the difference is significant only for δ13C and not for δ15N, it doesn’t seem to be a result of differently composed diets but may instead be due to unequal access to high-quality fields and thereby to the most efficient carbon-uptake in both animals and plants. They also speculate on a relation to observed genetic differences in Lengyel settlements but don’t progress to compare genetics with social status for this specific settlement. That’s probably another paper. But we’ll soon get there. Social stratification and inherited power structures are important aspects of a society.

    I love that archaeo-genetics of Bronze Age Eurasians now seems to include Yersinia pestis as a matter of course. I can’t wait for other pathogens to be included as well.

    Barbara Mühlemann et al: Diverse variola virus (smallpox) strains were widespread in northern Europe in the Viking Age. Science, Vol. 369, 24 July 2020

    The full paper is paywalled, so I’ll just quote the “structured abstract”:

    INTRODUCTION
    Variola virus (VARV), the causative agent of smallpox, is estimated to have killed between 300 million and 500 million people in the 20​th century and was responsible for widespread mortality and suffering for at least several preceding centuries. Humans are the only known host of VARV, and smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980. The timeline of the emergence of smallpox in humans is unclear. Based on sequence data up to 360 years old, the most recent common ancestor of VARV has been dated to the 16th or 17th century. This contrasts with written records of possible smallpox infections dating back at least 3000 years and mummified remains suggestive of smallpox dating to 3570 years ago.

    RATIONALE
    Ancient virus sequences recovered from archaeological remains provide direct molecular evidence of past infections, give detail of genetic changes that have occurred during the evolution of the virus, and can reveal viable virus sequence diversity not currently present in modern viruses. In the case of VARV, ancient sequences may also reduce the gap between the written historical record of possible early smallpox infections and the dating of the oldest available VARV sequences. We therefore screened high-throughput shotgun sequencing data from skeletal and dental remains of 1867 humans living in Eurasia and the Americas between ~31,630 and ~150 years ago for the presence of sequences matching VARV.

    RESULTS
    VARV sequences were recovered from 13 northern European individuals, including 11 dated to ~600–1050 CE, overlapping the Viking Age, and we reconstructed near-complete VARV genomes for four of them. The samples predate the earliest confirmed smallpox cases by ~1000 years. Eleven of the recovered sequences fall into a now-extinct sister clade of the modern VARVs in circulation prior to the eradication of smallpox, while two sequences from the 19th century group with modern VARV. The inferred date of the most recent common ancestor of VARV is ~1700 years ago.

    The number of functional genes is generally reduced in orthopoxviruses with narrow host ranges. A comparison of the gene content of the Viking Age sequences shows great contrast with that of modern VARV. Three genes that are active in all modern VARV sequences were inactive over 1000 years ago in some or all ancient VARV. Among 10 genes inactive in modern and Viking Age VARV, the mutations causing the inactivations are different and the genes are predicted to be active in the ancestor of both clades, suggesting parallel evolution. Fourteen genes inactivated in modern VARV are active in some or all of the ancient sequences, eight of which encode known virulence factors or immunomodulators. The active gene counts of the four higher-coverage Viking Age viral genomes provide snapshots from an ~350-year period, showing the reduction of gene content during the evolution of VARV. These genomes support suggestions that orthopoxvirus species derive from a common ancestor containing all genes present in orthopoxviruses today, with the reduction in active gene count conjectured to be the result of long-term adaptation within host species.

    CONCLUSION
    The Viking Age sequences reported here push the definitive date of the earliest VARV infection in humans back by ~1000 years. These sequences, combined with early written records of VARV epidemics in southern and western Europe, suggest a pan-European presence of smallpox from the late 6th century. The ancient viruses are part of a previously unknown, now-extinct virus clade and were following a genotypic evolutionary path that differs from modern VARV. The reduction in gene content shows that multiple combinations of active genes have led to variola viruses capable of circulating widely within the human population.

    (The use of “Viking Age” is somewhat misleading, since the oldest finds of the virus predate the conventional beginning of the Viking Age with 200 years. “Late Iron Age Scandinavia” would be better.)

  222. Closer to the topic, both the Avars and the king Bela lineage are mentioned in the new paper on the DNA and burial customs of the turn-of-the-common era Iron Age Xiongnu. The French group studied a multi-generational extended family cemetery in the Khangai highlands of West-Central Mongolia, dating to 1st c. BC – 1st c. AD. A familiar gripe: the research wasn’t done by one of the major ancient DNA labs, and of course it only focused on selected genetic markers (NOT getting into the whole genomic data).

    This particular extended family of the Huns was of a combined “European” (Andronovo / Scythian-like) and “Asian” descent (on both patrilines and matrilines) and, perhaps, even of a variegated appearance. R1a and Q1a Y-chromosomes predominated, and the latter mapped to the same branch as King Bela’s. One more individual (presumably not a member of the immediate family, although without the autosomal data, the authors’ family reconstructions may be incomplete) had an N-haplogroup Y chromosome similar to a one known from Pannonian Avars.
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00439-020-02209-4

  223. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. Very on the point — and a little disconcerting. It’s a Good Thing that more labs and a broader field of scientists get involved in archaeo-genetics, but it’s a Bad Thing when they have to settle for incomplete results for lack of expertice or equipment. I’d expect I hope it’s a Temporary Inconvenience while new countries and universities start working on ancient DNA.

  224. settle for incomplete results for lack of expertice or equipment

    It may be worse than that given that only the minute amounts of ancient DNA can be extracted, and then they are often expended for protocols which use inordinate amounts of the scarce DNA and, often, produce nearly-irrelevant data (but politically expedient or “useful” for the marketing campaigns of their corporate sponsors).

    The Xiongnu research was sponsored by the infamous Verogen (a law-enforcement DNA contractor which is busy trying to convince the cops that it can tell everything about the physical appearance and ethnic origins of the sources of forensic DNA samples … and which in the meantime exposed millions of DNA records and personal details of genealogy hobbyists to the prying eyes of the law enforcement agencies in a feat of stunning incompetence). So the French researchers used their ancient DNA to “find out” what eye, skin nd hair color the Huns were most likely to have, and what kind of an Amerian ethnic minority they resembled the most. Arrgh. The ethnic roots of the ancient tribes are obviously nothing like any extant populations, so the ethnicity guesswork is plain stupid. But the appearance guesswork is also so far fetched. We just don’t know if today’s genetic correlates of eye/skin/hair color were as strongly correlated millennia ago (the links aren’t super strong even today, and often not direct, and the statistics mostly comes from the white people, so in the peoples of very different epochs and roots, the known associations between the genetic variants and the “phenotypes” are expected to be more fuzzy). We also don’t know if the ancient people had other, additional genetic factors defining their appearances which may have been lost since then (or preserved in the less-studied populations but largely lost in the Europeans). So predicting ancient looks by ancient DNA isn’t very scientific or precise … just an interesting guess with many “ifs”. Normally, it’s a byproduct of a complete genome study, anyway. Not much gained, nothing lost from it.

    But these guys actually made the appearance-analysis a whole separate analysis, because they were donated Verogen kits. Expended their ancient DNA … for what? (For what scientific rationale, I mean… I understand the marketing rationale here)

  225. Trond Engen says:

    Ouch. I should say that I haven’t read the paper yet, only requested it through ResearchGate,

    “Phenotype prediction” was also done in the Saag et al paper, and some of the results were quite surprising.

  226. Something genuinely Avar for a change. Despite the pandemic restrictions, Croatian archaeologists had to work on two VII-VIII c. Avar graves in Vinkovci in Slavonia, on the Southern fringes of the Pannonian Plain. The graves were disturbed by an ongoing modern cemetery expansion and couldn’t wait. 5 more Avar graves discovered at the location are awaiting their time.
    https://www.croatiaweek.com/rare-archaeological-find-from-avar-period-unearthed-in-vinkovci/

    The elite-burial artifacts include first-ever Avar saddle to be found in the region. The architectural design of the tombs is quite interesting in a way, too, using bricks, tiles and marble slabs from some kind of on opulent Roman villa, still available two centuries after the end of Roman power there.

    “Phenotype prediction” was also done in the Saag et al paper

    the full-genome papers get their phenotype predictions as a byproduct of a complete-genome scan, using highly efficient ways to use literally every strand of still-readable DNA. In contrast, methods like Verogen’s use only DNA pieces overlapping with the genome locations playing role in appearances, and only the longer intact pieces of DNA there. Anything shorter, or the vast majority of the DNA fragments which came from elsewhere in the genomes, is simply wasted.

    The genotype-phenotype correlations known from today’s people (mostly Europeans) are expected to be still valid for the ancient peoples more distantly related to today’s Europeans. But the quantitative strength of these associations is expected to be weaker in the ancient samples, and they may have possessed additional genomic variations which also impacted their appearance, but which couldn’t be evaluated today due to their diminished frequency. So the phenotype predictions aren’t completely bogus. Just far less exact than they would have been today (and it isn’t super exact even today).

  227. Looked up that Xiongnu cemetery in Mongolia (Tamiryn Ulaan Khoshuu cemetery in Ugiinuur soum, Arkhangai province).

    It turns out they found something interesting – an undeciphered seal.

    Here it is

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D-yRfPFX4AAhz_W?format=jpg&name=small

    Can anyone recognize the script?

  228. Looked up that Xiongnu cemetery in Mongolia (Tamiryn Ulaan Khoshuu cemetery in Ugiinuur soum, Arkhangai province).

    It turns out they found something interesting – an undeciphered Xiongnu seal.

    Here it is

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D-yRfPFX4AAhz_W?format=jpg&name=small

    Can anyone recognize the script?

  229. David Marjanović says:

    Illiterate imitation of Chinese.

  230. @David Marjanović: I agree. It looks to me like a purely geometric imitation of the appearance of a Chinese stamp seal.

  231. They sequenced several genomes thought to belong to the dynasty, and only two (one apparently securely ascribed to king Béla III) contained the “Árpád chromosome”.

    BTW it just has been reported that the remains of Bela III’s son, king Andrew, have been founded in excavations of the XIII c. Cistercian abby of Egres (where he’s known to have been buried). No word about DNA study plans 🙂
    https://balkaninsight.com/2020/09/02/archeologists-in-romania-discover-revered-hungarian-kings-tomb/

  232. Trond Engen says:

    Choongwon Jeong et al (2020): A Dynamic 6,000-Year Genetic History of Eurasia’s Eastern Steppe, Cell 183, 1–15

    The genetic history of Mongolia in open access, uncovering the processes leading up to the formation of the Xiongnu.

    Summary

    The Eastern Eurasian Steppe was home to historic empires of nomadic pastoralists, including the Xiongnu and the Mongols. However, little is known about the region’s population history. Here, we reveal its dynamic genetic history by analyzing new genome-wide data for 214 ancient individuals spanning 6,000 years. We identify a pastoralist expansion into Mongolia ca. 3000 BCE, and by the Late Bronze Age, Mongolian populations were biogeographically structured into three distinct groups, all practicing dairy pastoralism regardless of ancestry. The Xiongnu emerged from the mixing of these populations and those from surrounding regions. By comparison, the Mongols exhibit much higher eastern Eurasian ancestry, resembling present-day Mongolic-speaking populations. Our results illuminate the complex interplay between genetic, sociopolitical, and cultural changes on the Eastern Steppe.

    My summary:

    They identify a population they dub Ancient North Asians, inhabiting the steppe or forest steppe from the Botai to the Pacific, and distinct from both the Siberians further north and the Chinese down south, though there’s a cline of ANE admixture from “some” in the west to “none” in the east.

    The Afanasievo introduce dairy pastoralism, which becomes widespread on the steppe, but leave little genetic impact in Mongolia.

    In the western part of the ANA belt, intrusions from Shintashta (Andronovo?) peoples and admixture from both north and south lead to the formation of a hybrid Bronze Age population of partly North Asian, partly Iranian/BMAC, and mostly Western Steppe origin. Up through the early Iron Age they ruled the western parts of modern-day Mongolia. These are the Saka or peoples generally related to them.

    Meantime in the eastern parts, a population of ANAs lived happily for 4000 years without significant admixture from any side. Suddenly, with the Xiongnu empire, the wall came down, and the two populations started moving into eachothers territory, producing a hybrid culture and offspring with all degrees of genetic admixture. Towards the end of the Xiongnu era, there’s also some genetic “Sarmatians” from the central steppe. These seem to live between the Xiongnu but don’t mix with them.

    This is the situation into the Medieval period, when the Türkics and Uyghurs arrive with a mix of fresh “Eastern” ANA genes mixed half and half with “Alans”. Another fresh stream of eastern ANA arrives with the Khitans, who also mix with more western groups, but the sample size is too small tp say much.

    The final batch of unspoiled Eastern genes comes with the Mongols, who nevertheless end up with roughly a fourth of their genes from “Alans” and and a sixth from Han Chinese.

    Gender-biased admixture is suggestive of the power dynamics. Before the Xiongnu, the increase in various forms of Western Steppe ancestry is male-biased. After the Xiongnu, the new waves of unmixed ANA are male-biased. No surprises there. But in the Xiongnu period different local clans acquire male-biased admixture from different sources. It seems to be a matri-local clan society of stable marriage alliances or something. This is supported by an overweight of females among close relatives found in the same graveyards.

    Finally, there’s a lot of evidence for milk consumption but none whatsoever for selection for lactase persistence. They suggest that Mongolian milk digestion is outsourced (insourced? intrasourced?) to the gut microbe Bifidobacterium.

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