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Thursday, November 5, 2009

R1a1a7: a signal of Slavic expansions from Poland

Nature has just published a paper on the discovery of a European-specific subclade of R1a, defined by the M458 mutation and classified as R1a1a7. It's a long-awaited and ground-breaking result, because structure within R1a has been poorly understood to date, despite the fact that it's one of the most dominant Y-chromosome haplogroups in Europe and Asia. The data included in the study point to what is now Poland as the most likely place of origin for R1a1a7. Here's a nice map...

However, as per the figure above, the authors claim that R1a1a7 originated about 10.7K years ago. This, they say, makes it a likely signal of population movements carrying agriculture from Central Europe to what is now Ukraine and European Russia during the Neolithic. Unfortunately, that doesn't make any sense, because R1a1a7 is very rare in Scandinavia, which was largely populated from Central Europe after the Ice Age. Indeed, recent work on the population movements around the Baltic suggests that both R1a and I1a moved up from Germany and Poland into Sweden.

So something's not quite right there, and I think what happened was that the authors grossly overestimated the age of R1a1a7. They did this by using the so called evolutionary effective mutation rate in their Y-STR calculations. This methodology is commonly used by scientists, but it's generally frowned upon by hobby genetic genealogists, who prefer the so called germline mutation rate. The germline rate produces estimates which are about a third of those obtained with the evolutionary effective rate, but they always seem to make more sense. That's been my impression from the results I've seen over the years anyway.

Let's assume then, that R1a1a7 has only been around for 4,000 years or less. If so, that would make it a perfect candidate for a paternal marker of the proto-Slavs, who probably originated in what is now Southern Poland and began expanding during the late Iron Age. Their descendants eventually settled across much of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but rarely in Scandinavia, which correlates well with the current spread of R1a1a7.

The paper also claims that it's unlikely that there were any major post-Neolithic population movements from Eastern Europe to Asia, because R1a1a7 is today basically missing east of the Urals. But what if a different, as yet undiscovered subclade of R1a migrated from Europe to Asia before R1a1a7 had a chance to expand? Ancient DNA results do suggest that Europeans carrying R1a migrated east via the Russo-Kazakh steppe as far as South Siberia during the Bronze Age (see here), but this information was ignored by the authors.

So well done on finding the new R1a subclade, but there's obviously something off about its age/expansion estimates. When will that change I wonder?


Peter A Underhill et al.,
Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a, European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 4 November 2009; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2009.194

T. Lappalainen et al.,
Migration Waves to the Baltic Sea Region, Annals of Human Genetics, Volume 72 Issue 3, Pages 337 - 348, doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2007.00429.x

Update: R1a1a7 is now known as R1a1a1b1a1. See here.


Anonymous said...

"Based on their inflated age estimate for M458, the authors also conclude that it's unlikely there were any major post-Ice Age movements from Eastern Europe to Asia"

Yes, it goes also against other studies such as this one, concerning bronze and iron age Kazakhstan :

"Unravelling migrations in the steppe: mitochondrial DNA sequences from ancient central Asians."

Strange conclusions when so much known elements point to another direction than theirs...

Алексей said...

The lower area of R1a1a7 between Poland and Russia (discussed in relevant Dienekes post comments) may descend to component of Balkans-origin slavs, migrated from Danube to Dniepr in 5-9 centuries a.c.

The thing directing on that explanation is the map of I1b in the Eastern Europe (link), where this marker's maximal concentration shape correlates with "empty" zone of R1a1a7.

Resuming, in lower regions are detecting the slavs of another origin - not only directly from protoslavs, but also some component via Balkans.

rabor said...

It's not just southern Poland which has the highest rates of M-458. There're two regions - central with Łódź (my city!) and Częstochowa, and southeastern with, Lublin and probably Roztocze. It seems like it would be Przeworsk archeological province, where most of the Slovian legions had concentrated at the end of antiquity. (or Przeworsk and Wielbark)

Another point – Russia.

Relatively high Russian frequency in comparison to Dniepr region, seems to me due to Wiatycze (Vyatici) who came from what is today Poland, and “sat” on Oka, accoording to Nestor (upper and middle?). It was polish historian Henryk Paszkiewicz, who found, that there was never massive colonisation on Volga from Dniepr region. He argued, that Moscow etnicity had sprung mainly from continental Finns who became Slovians liguisticaly, by religion. Now, we see that he was not right in everything – Moscow Dutchy people seem to be a Y-DNA mixture of continental Finns and Poles (Vyatici Lyahs) (approximately, one to one), first - living on upper Volga, and the second - on upper Oka; All of this, with some minor Dniepr influences. The city of Moscow belongs to Oka, not Volga, system. Some overrepresentation of “polishgenes” in Russian ethnos can be due to this fact.

Alieksiej – supposed Balkan immigrants in Dniepr region, did they aimed Polesie marshes?

Anonymous said...

rabor, upper is my comment as Aleksej.

Yes, according to Nestor (the Kievan chronicle) two East-Slavic tribes came from teritory of nowadays Poland: Vyatichi and Radimichi. But there's no concordance of opinions besides Russian historians how to explain that chronical phrase. In original it sounds as: "пришли от ляхов", transliteration: "prishli ot lyahov", what could be understood in two ways: 1) "came from Poles", or 2) "came from the Polish side". In second variant it means they did come from West. Archeologists, linguists and anthropologists do confirm the fact of similarity of some aspects with more western Slavic people. The time of that income is also unknown. Abstracly, we could assume the more western origin of Wyatichi and Radimichi than another East-Slavic ancestors, to talk about exactly "Polish" origin is too unwisely.

What about Russians as the mixture of Poles and Finns - that is widely-spread but incorrect thesis. The results of deep DNA-analysis of Russians by [Balanovsky, Balanovska, 2007] (principal components maps: link, in Russian, may download for better quality) indicated the appreciable Finnish admixture just eastwards from middle Volga and on the Russian North, but not in historical Russian regions (on Oka or upper Volga in particular). The same results got one of the last researches (link, in English, Figures 1 and 2).

I incline the likeness between Poles and Russians is not due to migrations but to our common origin and the less of foreign admixture. Of course, Poles could have another view for that, but no place for Russian or Polish chauvinism is possible in that question, I think.

Can not say anything particular about the route of supposed migration from Danube to Dnieper. The traditional Russian historical science says that did occured, for example, according to Nestor, and the sharp anthropological difference of Polans (middle Dnieper) from other medieval Eastern-Slavic people. The route is told to be the crossing Carpathian mountains.

Saying frankly, I do not see the suitable route for that migration from the south-west too. It looks as an inappropriate way to explain the fact of existance of Balkanian elemens of anthropology, DNA and culture between Dnieper Slavs. How that elements apperead there is an enigma for me. Clear is one thing - they did come from southern side as the component of Slavs. That could be assimilated Linear Pottery culture bearers.

Coincidence of M-458 highest rates is really good fitted in Przeworsk archeological province. For my view the Przeworsk culture and the eastern part of the Lusatian culture had too hasty been attributed with Germans/Celts. Why not to look for M-458 as one of Proto-Slavic markers.

P.S. Hi Southern Poland! My granny was from somewere South-East. :)

rabor said...


As far as I know Nestor says about Radimichi, and Vyatichi several times, in a way like that: " and was Radimichi 'ot roda Lyahov' ". I have it in polish translation, however - it is almost impossible to make translation mistake on this.

For ex., there is such frase under year 6492 [984].

‘Comments’ in my copy, also states: 'ot roda Ljahov' and insist o this.

My proposal is that comming of Vyatichi to the east was due to the Sejm-Prypet'-Bug-Noteć river way which was the only east-west river way linking northern Slovians (I say 'Slovian' consiously to avoid ‘Slav/Slave’ coincidence, I hate it - I hope you too).

I also believe that western ‘Drzewianie’ were part of eastern ‘Driewlani’. They used the same river way, as ‘Vyatichi’ did, in opposite direction, to escape Olga of Polanie, after 946. They first occured in German text under their name in 1004.

Thanks for links on finnish "element". I will try them.

I agree, I shouldn't write 'Poles', about Vyatici element in Russian ethnos, but <"poles">, for ex., or use some longer description.

BTW: Are you a stalinist? Your blog in Russian looks like you would be... hmm... a fun of this guy.

rabor said...

Russia, once more:

Two local Russian peaks - in the far north and south Ukraine – aren’t they due to Soviet GUL-ag system? Polish prisoners who built Bielomorskij Canal, and slave mine workers in Krivyj Rog?

It would be interesting proof of treating polish people by Soviets - massive ethnic purge.

It is well known in Poland about it in general, but not about Krivyj Rog. Everybody knows Katyń, or Solovki and Siberia concentration camps. Krivyj Rog, however, is not widely recognised as a place of polish martyrology.

Underhill 2009, and modern history. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

On Radimichi and genetics.

What about Nestor's words literally, truth is your: there are really two places where is directed on the origin of Radimichi. One you pointed is under 6492 (984): "Быша же радимичи от рода ляховъ" ('ot roda Ljahov'), and the second I talked about placed in Nestor's introduction: "радимичи бо и вятичи от ляховъ" ('oba Radimichi i Vyatichi ot Lyahov'). The first says directly, the second is indirect but it talks about origin too (the original in Russian up to the 1117 year, click on word "Оригинал" under the title for all the text). Nevertheless between Russian historians there's no particular view on this and they do not dot that Vyatichi and Radimichi did origin from those who later became nowadays Poles.

You did correctly specified there's no matter these were "Poles" in narrow sense and I agree with you. For my view wide term "Poles" may be used here the same as wide "Russians". In Russia we call all the ancient Eastern Slavs as "Russians" and think it fits good. In last twenty years Belarusian and Ukranian nationalists got another point but calling another than "Russians" is still nonsense. Everybody agree that Belarusians and Ukranians started to mark out just in 14-15 centuries. The same is about Russians and Poles: hard to say who were the people between Bug and Northern Dvina in 6-9 century - more Poles or more Russians (difficulty of great nations :). Leting them be Poles or Russians let's keep in mind they had been another Poles or Russians than present.

Want to point out the interesting acticle on the discussing question: "Traces of the Baltic Slavs in East Europe gene pool" by B.Malyarchuk (link in Russian, hope you've got no allegry to Cyrillic :). In short, the scientist compared mithohondial gene pool of two regions: Suwałki - first, Pskov, Veliky Novrogod, Volot - second, neighbour regins as Lithuania, Estonia, Karelia, Finland, other Russian and Polish areas - third. The result says that maternal lines of present populations of North-Eastern Poland and North-Western Russia have great likeness and grouping separately from other Russian and Polish populations. The special difference appeared when that population had been compared to Lithuania-Estonia-Karelia-Finland cluster. Features of Suwałki-Pskov-Novgorod mtDNA are very high portion of U5a (near 16% against 7%) and rare R1/R2 (near 2,2% for both). I don't mind that are Poles again. Looks like these populations had gone out of the common one. Not the Baltic Slavs by origin comming across the sea but likely somewhere from nowadays Belarus.

In whole I don't like the idea of crowding Russia from Poland. And not because I am Russian. The population genetics says the Russians have the genetic continuity on our territory much far than 6-9 centuries. The same are the Poles on the territory of Poland. Who needs looking for strange theories? Lets better find any for Germans. :)

Anonymous said...

On politics.

There just two posts on Stalin, why fan? I do respect him. The same do much people in Russia, for example USA 'Time' says near 50% of Russians value his activity as positive (entertain anti-USSR propaganda on our TV). I do not deny that Stalin made any felonious acts but I also don't like demonising him for what he didn't do. I know the West people hate him and think of him having been a criminal. But many things you are said are exaggerated. One of them is GULAG. That were not the concentration camps, people were not send there guiltlessly and there were no milliards of killed. It is counted from archival documents that from 1921 to 1954 (Stalin ruled 1929-53) had been convicted near 4 millions of people: of them to be exiled are 750.000, to be shooted - 640.000. During the 33 years of civil war, devastation, industrialization and the most terrible war. Amount of "political" prisoners did not exceed 1/3 or a bit over million. Many liberals tried to count more but they could not. Somebody may argue all the documents were destroyed but that are fantasies not facts. To compare. You now in USA there were 2 million prisoners in 1999?

I do not want to say all the West is deceived and just Russians now the Truth about Stalin. Many of us just better know our history and remember that Lenin and Trotsky were destroying our nation, our people, our chirch and our state; Stalin had his own sins but he did create strong state, shooted brutal trotskists, people were happy with him, he recovered Patriarch and launched the man into space. There no many fans besides Russians. We only want to be realists.

By the way there in my blog is a note in memory of Polish soldiers fighting against nazi agression at 01.09.1939. I really respect them. Why we could not stop being obsessed by offences of past? Why we both could not stop permanently walking on others toes? You always remind us Katyń (Gebbels' view) as answer we remind you 40 thousands of Russian captives died in Poland of tortures, hunger and illnesses in 1921. The answer is socialism, then the Moscow in 1613 and so on. Who wins of our permanent quarrels? Everybody but neither Russians nor Poles.

Hope Polish prisoners as the source of Russian R1a1a7 is a joke.

P.S. Happy Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the forgotten link on article by B.Malyarchuk.

Henry said...


Family Tree DNA database is very interesting. You cand find DNA geographical or surnames projects. One of them is about people of Polish origins.

I analyzed it and heres the outcomes for principal Y haplogroups :

Polish from Poland (N=950)
Y Haplogroup
R1a 49,5
I1 7,4
R1b 12,4
N 4,7
I2 8,8
J 7,3
E 5,2
G 2,4

And if you look for people whose surname finish by Ski (N=950)
Y Haplogroup :

R1a 52,4
I1 12,4
R1b 11,4
N 7,1
I2 5,7
J 4,8
E 4,3
G 1,0

Surnames that finishes by ski have more R1a, I1 and N than other polish.


Henry C.

Henry said...

Sorry, for surnames that finishes by ski, N=250

Kriz said...

To the guy, who claims that Crimes of Stalin are exaggerated:

Mate: Stalin Killed more people than Hitler Did. He killed serious number of Baltic states citizens, so that they had serious problems to overcome the loses. Lithuanians and Latvijans were close to extinction. Departures to Siberia were common things to happen in Poland occupied by soviet.

Please stop saying that calling Stalin 'a criminal' is an exaggeration. He comitted genocide on much more massive scale than Hitler did. No, people on West dont consider him as a criminal. Thanks to clever soviet, and nowadays Russian propaganda they dont even know about it. Thanks to well prepared brainwash did to Russians, such Russians like you are defending this monster. They used you, they fooled you to win another ideological battle. Kill people and then make others to forget about those crimes is indeed a perfect crime. Thefore I am full of respect of Russian system.

On more thing. RUSSIA HAS NOTHING TO DO with early medieval slavinic groups! RUSSIA was established as an evolution of Muscovy in 15 c. Nowadays Ukrainian and Belarussian had they own language "Ruski" and their early medieval state was called RUŚ (Ruthenia in English). Ruthenia is the thing we are talking here about NOT RUSSIA. Russia emerge thanks to Golden hord, and a loyalty to tatars.

Early medieval state of eastern slavonic people was 'RUS' (Ruthenia in English) not RUSSIA which emerged in 15/16 c due to the fall of Golden Horde.

RUS in X-XIII c got splited and was conquered by Lithaunia, but Lithuania adopted their language and was in fact a country of Ruthenian culture, language and believes. It was Ruthenian not Lithuanian a formal language in 14/15c Lithaunia. Then when Lithuania established a Union with Poland, Ruthenian become one of three oficial language of Commonwealth of Both nations, Rzeczpospolita. Therefore, My Russian friend, It is not about chouvinism. It is about some clear historical facts. You are indeed playing a bit on facts that RUSSIA must be the same as this state in VIIIc with Kiev and Novogrod.

The answear is: No. The muscovy principality was simply outside of all those facts and manage to conquere those lands later using mongol tactics of making politics (tactics of their former lords).

So: Ruthenia was in early medieval times. Russia was established on completly diffrent soil in 15 c. Ruthenia in 10c. half of milenium earlier. And it is Ukrainian anf Belarussian languages that emerges directly from Ruthenian. Russian later on too.

Anonymous said...

tell your fairytales to Poles and Ukrainian/Belarussian nationalists who does not know the Russian history the way it really happend. You have nothing to do with it in Russia or between Russians.

The remark about languages: ask Ukrainians and Belarussians to read medieval Rus' (medieval Russia) chronicles with their modern languages. Watch their tortures. With modern Russian these chronocles are reading as they are. So once more: tell you fairytales about Russia to someone who knows nothing about Russia.

Zeta said...


Quoting? References?