Domestication of the horse
Nordic Bronze Age
Painted Grey Ware
Northern Black Polished Ware
Peoples and societies
Religion and mythology
Copenhagen Studies in Indo-European
Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
The Horse, the
Wheel and Language
Journal of Indo-European Studies
Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
Indo-European Etymological Dictionary
Yamna culture or Yamnaya culture (traditionally known as the Pit
Grave culture or
Ochre Grave culture) was a late
Copper Age to early
Bronze Age culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester
and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BC.
Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans,
and is the strongest candidate for the
Urheimat (homeland) of the
Yamna and Yamnaya are borrowed from Ukrainian Ямна
культура and Russian Ямная культура respectively.
Both mean "pit-culture". This refers to the characteristic
The people of the Yamnaya culture were the likely result of admixture
between eastern European hunter-gatherers (via whom they also descend
Mal'ta-Buret' culture or other, closely related people) and a
Near Eastern people, with some research identifying the latter as
hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus or a similar people also related
Chalcolithic people from what is now Iran. Their material
culture is very similar to the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries
in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that
the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.
They are also closely connected to later, Final Neolithic cultures
which spread throughout
Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded
Ware people, but also the Bell
Beaker culture as well as the peoples
of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubna cultures. In these groups,
several aspects of the
Yamna culture (e.g., horse-riding, burial
styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy) are present.
Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived
large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.
1.2.1 Eastern European hunter-gatherers
Near East population
2.2 Physical characteristics
3 Yamna-related migrations
3.1 Western Europe
Europe and Finland
3.3 Central and South Asia
5 See also
8.1 Printed sources
9 External links
Yamna culture originated in the Don-Volga area, and is dated
3300–2600 BC. It was preceded by the middle Volga-based
Khvalynsk culture and the Don-based Repin culture (ca.
3950–3300 BC), and late pottery from these two cultures can
barely be distinguished from early Yamna pottery.
According to Anthony (2007), the early Yamnaya horizon spread quickly
across the Pontic–Caspian steppes between ca. 4000 and
3200 BC. According to Anthony, "the spread of the Yamnaya
horizon was the material expression of the spread of late
Proto-Indo-European across the Pontic-Caspian steppes." Anthony
further notes that "the Yamnaya horizon is the visible archaeological
expression of a social adjustment to high mobility - the invention of
the political infrastructure to manage larger herds from mobile homes
based in the steppes." According to Pavel Dolukhanov the emergence
of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various
Bronze Age cultures, representing "an expression of social
stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social
structures", which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between
essentially heterogeneous social groups.
In its western range, it was succeeded by the Catacomb culture
(2800–2200 BC); in the east, by the Poltavka culture
(2700–2100 BC) at the middle Volga. These two cultures were
followed by the
Srubna culture (18th–12th century BC).
According to Jones et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015), autosomic
tests indicate that the Yamnaya-people were the result of admixture
between two different hunter-gatherer populations: distinctive
"Eastern European hunter-gatherers" with high affinity to the
Mal'ta-Buret' culture or other, closely related people from Siberia
and a population of "
Caucasus hunter-gatherers" who probably arrived
from somewhere in the Near East, probably the Caucasus.[web 1] Each
of those two populations contributed about half the Yamnaya
DNA.[web 1] According to co-author Dr. Andrea Manica of the
University of Cambridge:
The question of where the Yamnaya come from has been something of a
mystery up to now [...] we can now answer that, as we've found that
their genetic make-up is a mix of Eastern European hunter-gatherers
and a population from this pocket of
Caucasus hunter-gatherers who
weathered much of the last Ice Age in apparent isolation.[web 1]
Three genetic studies in 2015 gave support to the
Kurgan theory of
Marija Gimbutas regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to
those studies, haplogroups
R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe
R1a also being common in South Asia), would have expanded from
the Pontic-Caspian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages.
They also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans
which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been
introduced with paternal lineages
R1b and R1a, as well as
Indo-European Languages in Bronze Age.
Eastern European hunter-gatherers
Man from Yamna culture, Sculptural Reconstruction. (ca.1930s)
According to Haak et al. (2015), "Eastern European hunter-gatherers"
who inhabited today's Russia were a distinctive population of
hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ~24,000-year-old Siberian
from Mal'ta-Buret' culture, or other, closely related people from
Siberia.[web 1] Remains of the "Eastern European hunter-gatherers"
have been found in Mesolithic or early Neolithic sites in
Samara Oblast, Russia, and put under analysis. Three such
hunter-gathering individuals of the male sex have had their DNA
results published. Each was found to belong to a different Y-DNA
haplogroup: R1a, R1b, and J.
R1b is also the most common Y-DNA
haplogroup found among both the Yamnaya and modern-day Western
Near East population
See also: Maykop culture, Kura-Araxes culture, and Leyla-Tepe culture
Near East population were most likely hunter-gatherers from the
Caucasus (CHG), in this case
Chalcolithic related people with
a CHG-component, who partially descended from the early neolithic
Jones et al. (2015) analyzed genomes from males from western Georgia,
in the Caucasus, from the Late Upper Palaeolithic (13,300 years old)
and the Mesolithic (9,700 years old). These two males carried Y-DNA
haplogroup: J* and J2a. The researchers found that these Caucasus
hunters were probably the source of the farmer-like DNA in the
Yamnaya, as the Caucasians were distantly related to the Middle
Eastern people who introduced farming in Europe.[web 1] Their genomes
showed that a continued mixture of the Caucasians with Middle Eastern
took place up to 25,000 years ago, when the coldest period in the last
Ice Age started.[web 1]
Lazaridis et al. (2016) proposes a different people, likely from Iran,
as the source for the Middle Eastern ancestry of the Yamna people,
finding that "a population related to the people of the Iran
Chalcolithic contributed ~43% of the ancestry of early Bronze Age
populations of the steppe." That study asserts that these Iranian
Chalcolithic people were a mixture of "the Neolithic people of western
Iran, the Levant, and
Caucasus Hunter Gatherers."[note 1] However,
a different analysis, carried out by Gallego-Llorente et al. (2016),
concludes that Iranian populations are not a likelier source of the
'southern' component in the Yamnaya than Caucasus
Yamna culture grave, Volgograd Oblast
Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans
(PIE) in the
Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas. It is the strongest
candidate for the
Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European
language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that
archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been
closely tied to the evidence from linguistics and genetics.
Significantly, animal grave offerings were made (cattle, sheep, goats
and horse), a feature associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans. The
culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced
near rivers and a few hillforts. Characteristic for the culture
are the inhumations in pit graves under kurgans (tumuli). The dead
bodies were placed in a supine position with bent knees and covered in
ochre. Multiple graves have been found in these kurgans, often as
later insertions. The earliest remains in
a wheeled cart were found in the "Storozhova mohyla" kurgan (Dnipro,
Ukraine, excavated by Trenozhkin A.I.) associated with the Yamna
The genetic basis of a number of physical features of the Yamnaya
people were ascertained by the ancient DNA study conducted by Haak et
al. (2015), Wilde et al. (2014), Mathieson et al. (2015): they were
genetically tall (phenotypic height is determined by both genetics and
environmental factors), overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired
and had a skin colour that was moderately light, though somewhat
darker than that of the average modern European. Despite their
pastoral lifestyle, there was little evidence of lactase
Main article: Indo-European migrations
Corded Ware culture
Haak et al. (2015) conducted a genome-wide study of 69 ancient
Europe and Russia. They concluded that Yamnaya
autosomal characteristics are very close to the
Corded Ware culture
people, with an estimated a 73% ancestral contribution from the
Yamnaya DNA in the DNA of
Corded Ware skeletons from Germany. The same
study estimated a 38.8–53.5% ancestral contribution of the Yamnaya
in the DNA of modern Western, Central & Northern Europeans, and a
18.5–32.6% contribution in modern Southern Europeans; this
contribution is found to a lesser extent in
Sicilians (5.9–11.6%).[web 2] Haak et al. also note that
their results "suggest" that haplogroups
R1a "spread into
Europe from the East after 3,000 BC." Studies which analysed
ancient human remains in
Portugal support that thesis,
R1b was introduced in these places along with autosomal DNA from
the Eastern European steppes.
Autosomal tests also indicate that the Yamnaya are the most likely
vector for "Ancient North Eurasian" admixture into Europe. "Ancient
North Eurasian" is the name given in literature to a genetic component
that represents descent from the people of the Mal'ta-Buret'
culture or a population closely related to them. That genetic
component is visible in tests of the Yamna people as well as
modern-day Europeans, but not of Europeans predating the Bronze
Europe and Finland
In the Baltic, Jones et al. (2017) found that the Neolithic transition
— the passage from a hunter-gatherer economy to a farming-based
economy — coincided with the arrival en masse of individuals with
Yamnaya-like ancestry. This is different from what happened in Western
and Southern Europe, where the Neolithic transition was caused by a
population which came from the Near East, with
Pontic steppe ancestry
only being detected from the
Bronze Age onward.
Per Haak et al. (2015), the Yamnaya contribution in the modern
populations of Eastern
Europe ranges from 46.8–64.9% among Russians
to 42.8% in Ukrainians.
Finland has one of the highest Yamnaya
contributions in all of
Central and South Asia
See also: Sintashta culture
Lazaridis et al. (2016) "While the Early/Middle Bronze Age
‘Yamnaya’-related group (Steppe_EMBA) is a good genetic match
(together with Neolithic Iran) for ANI (Ancestral North Indians), the
Bronze Age steppe population (Steppe_MLBA) is
not."[note 2] Lazaridis et al. (2016) "The demographic impact of
steppe related populations on South Asia was substantial, as the Mala,
a south Indian population with minimal ANI along the ‘Indian
Cline’ of such ancestry is inferred to have ~18% steppe-related
ancestry, while the Kalash of Pakistan are inferred to have ~50%,
similar to present-day northern Europeans." Lazardie et al. (2016)
study estimated 50%–30% steppe related admixture in Northern South
Asians and 20% to 6% in Southern South Asians.[note 3]
Lazaridis et al. (2016) further notes that "A useful direction of
future research is a more comprehensive sampling of ancient DNA from
steppe populations, as well as populations of central Asia (east of
Iran and south of the steppe), which may reveal more proximate sources
of the ANI than the ones considered here, and of South Asia to
determine the trajectory of population change in the area
According to Unterländer et al. (2017),
Scythians from the
southern Ural region, East
Tuva can best be described
as a mixture of Yamnaya-related ancestry and an East Asian component,
the latter occurring only at trace levels—if at all—among earlier
Hermitage Museum collections
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yamna culture.
^ See also:
* eurogenes.blogspot, The genetic structure of the world's first
farmers (Lazaridis et al. preprint)
* anthrogenica.com, Lazaridis et al: The genetic structure of the
world's first farmers (pre-print)
^ (Steppe_EMBA) refers to Yamnaya-related group, which is good genetic
match for ANI. While (Steppe_MLBA) Sintashta/Andronovo-related group
^ Lazaridis et al. (2016) Supplementary Information, Table S9.1 :
"Kalash - 50.2%, Tiwari Brahmins - 44.1%, Gujarati (four samples) -
46.1% to 27.5%, Pathan - 44.6%, Burusho- 42.5%, Sindhi - 37.7%,
Punjabi - 32.6%, Balochi - 32.4%, Brahui - 30.2%, Lodhi - 29.3%,
Bengali - 24.6%, Vishwabhramin - 20.4%, Makrani - 19.2%, Mala - 18.4%,
Kusunda - 8.9%, Kharia - 6.5%.."
^ Allentoft 2015.
^ Morgunova & Khokhlova 2013.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Haak 2015.
^ a b c Jones 2015.
^ a b c d Lazaridis 2016, p. 8.
^ a b c d Mathieson 2015.
^ a b Morten E. Allentoft; et al. (2015). "Population genomics of
Bronze Age Eurasia". Nature. 522: 167–172.
^ Morgunova, Nina (2013). "Chronology and Periodization of the
Pit-Grave Culture in the Area Between the Volga and Ural Rivers Based
on 14C Dating and Paleopedological Research". Radiocarbon. University
of Arizona. 55 (2-3).
^ Anthony 2007, p. 300.
^ Anthony 2007, p. 275.
^ Anthony 2007, p. 274-277, 317-320.
^ Anthony 2007, p. 321.
^ Anthony 2007, p. 301-302.
^ Anthony 2007, p. 303.
^ Dolukhanov 1996, p. 94.
^ Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European
languages in Europe, Haak et al, 2015
^ Population genomics of
Bronze Age Eurasia, Allentoft et al, 2015
^ Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe, Mathieson et
^ Gallego-Llorente, M.; et al. (2016). "The genetics of an early
Neolithic pastoralist from the Zagros, Iran". Scientific Reports.
^ Anthony 2007.
^ a b Zimmer 2015.
^ Fortson 2004, p. 43.
^ Mallory 1997.
^ Sandra Wilde (2014). "Direct evidence for positive selection of
skin, hair, and eye pigmentation in Europeans during the last 5,000
y". PNAS. 111: 4832–4837. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316513111.
^ Haak, 2015
^ Haak 2015, p. 121-124.
^ Haak 2015, p. 5.
^ Lara M. Cassidy; et al. (2016). "Neolithic and
Bronze Age migration
Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome". PNAS.
113 (2): 368–373. doi:10.1073/pnas.1518445113. CS1 maint:
Explicit use of et al. (link)
^ Rui Martiniano; et al. (2017). "The population genomics of
archaeological transition in west Iberia: Investigation of ancient
substructure using imputation and haplotype-based methods". PLoS
Genet. 13 (7). doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006852. CS1 maint:
Explicit use of et al. (link)
^ Lazaridis 2014.
^ Eppie R. Jones; et al. (2017). "The Neolithic Transition in the
Baltic Was Not Driven by Admixture with Early European Farmers".
Current Biology. 27 (4): 576–582.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.060. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al.
^ Haak 2015, p. 121-122.
^ a b Lazaridi et al. (2016), pp. 123.
^ Lazaridis, Iosif; Nadel, Dani; Rollefson, Gary; et al. (16 June
2016). "Supplementary Information : The genetic structure of the
world's first farmers" (PDF). 536: 419–424.
^ Lazaridis, Iosif; Nadel, Dani; Rollefson, Gary; Merrett, Deborah C.;
Rohland, Nadin; Mallick, Swapan; Fernandes, Daniel; Novak, Mario;
Gamarra, Beatriz; Sirak, Kendra; Connell, Sarah; Stewardson, Kristin;
Harney, Eadaoin; Fu, Qiaomei; Gonzalez-Fortes, Gloria; Alpaslan
Roodenberg, Songül; Lengyel, Gyorgy; Bocquentin, Fanny; Gasparian,
Boris; Monge, Janet M.; Gregg, Michael; Eshed, Vered; Mizrahi,
Ahuva-Sivan; Meiklejohn, Christopher; Gerritsen, Fokke; Bejenaru,
Luminita; Blueher, Matthias; Campbell, Archie; Cavalleri, Gianpero;
Comas, David; Froguel, Philippe; Gilbert, Edmund; Kerr, Shona M.;
Kovacs, Peter; Krause, Johannes; McGettigan, Darren; Merrigan,
Michael; Merriwether, D. Andrew; O'Reilly, Seamus; Richards, Martin
B.; Semino, Ornella; Shamoon-Pour, Michel; Stefanescu, Gheorghe;
Stumvoll, Michael; Tonjes, Anke; Torroni, Antonio; Wilson, James F.;
Yengo, Loic; Hovhannisyan, Nelli A.; Patterson, Nick; Pinhasi, Ron;
Reich, David (2016). "The genetic structure of the world's first
farmers". bioRxiv 059311 .
^ Unterländer, Martina; et al. (2017). "Ancestry and demography and
Iron Age nomads of the Eurasian Steppe". Nature
Communications. 8: 14615. doi:10.1038/ncomms14615.
ISSN 2041-1723. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse, The
Wheel and Language: How
Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern
Dolukhanov, Pavel M. (1996), The Early Slavs: Eastern
Europe from the
Initial Settlement to the Kievan Rus, New York: Longman,
Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004), Indo-European Language and Culture: An
Introduction, Blackwell Publishing
Haak, W.; Lazaridis, I.; Patterson, N.; Rohland, N.; Mallick, S.;
Llamas, B.; Brandt, G.; Nordenfelt, S.; Harney, E.; Stewardson, K.;
Fu, Q.; Mittnik, A.; Bánffy, E.; Economou, C.; Francken, M.;
Friederich, S.; Pena, R. G.; Hallgren, F.; Khartanovich, V.; Khokhlov,
A.; Kunst, M.; Kuznetsov, P.; Meller, H.; Mochalov, O.; Moiseyev, V.;
Nicklisch, N.; Pichler, S. L.; Risch, R.; Rojo Guerra, M. A.; et al.
(2015). "Massive migration from the steppe was a source for
Indo-European languages in Europe". Nature. 522: 207–211.
Bibcode:2015Natur.522..207H. bioRxiv 013433 .
doi:10.1038/nature14317. PMC 5048219 .
Jones, Eppie R. (2015). "Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots
of modern Eurasians". Nature Communications. 6: 8912.
doi:10.1038/ncomms9912. PMC 4660371 . PMID 26567969.
Lazaridis, Iosif (2014). "Ancient human genomes suggest three
ancestral populations for present-day Europeans". Nature. 513:
409–413. doi:10.1038/nature13673. PMC 4170574 .
Lazaridis, Iosif (2016). "The genetic structure of the world's first
farmers". bioRxiv 059311 .
Mallory, J. P. (1997), "Yamna Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European
Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn
Mathieson, Iain (2015). "Eight thousand years of natural selection in
Europe". bioRxiv 016477 .
Morgunova, Nina; Khokhlova, Olga (2013). "Chronology and Periodization
of the Pit-Grave Culture in the Area Between the Volga and Ural Rivers
Based on 14C Dating and Paleopedological Research". Radiocarbon.
Zimmer, Karl (2015). "DNA Deciphers Roots of Modern Europeans". New
^ a b c d e f BBC (Nov 16, 2015), Europe's fourth ancestral 'tribe'
^ Ann Gibbons (10 June 2015), Nomadic herders left a strong genetic
mark on Europeans and Asians, Science (AAAS)
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy, Yamnaya, Light Skinned, Brown
Science Daily, Genetic study revives debate on origin and expansion of
Eupedia, Yamna Culture