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Journal Article

The genomic origins of the Bronze Age Tarim Basin mummies (advance online)

MPS-Authors
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Ning,  Chao
Eurasia3angle, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Scott,  Ashley
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bjorn,  Rasmus
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Robbeets,  Martine
Eurasia3angle, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Krause,  Johannes
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;
Department of Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Warinner,  Christina G.
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Fulltext (public)

Zhang_Genomic_Nature_2021.pdf
(Publisher version), 18MB

Supplementary Material (public)

Zhang_Genomic_Nature_2021_Suppl.zip
(Supplementary material), 2MB

Citation

Zhang, F., Ning, C., Scott, A., Fu, Q., Bjorn, R., Li, W., et al. (2021). The genomic origins of the Bronze Age Tarim Basin mummies (advance online). Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04052-7.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-6A1E-0
Abstract
The identity of the earliest inhabitants of Xinjiang, in the heart of Inner Asia, and the languages that they spoke have long been debated and remain contentious1. Here we present genomic data from 5 individuals dating to around 3000–2800 BC from the Dzungarian Basin and 13 individuals dating to around 2100–1700 BC from the Tarim Basin, representing the earliest yet discovered human remains from North and South Xinjiang, respectively. We find that the Early Bronze Age Dzungarian individuals exhibit a predominantly Afanasievo ancestry with an additional local contribution, and the Early–Middle Bronze Age Tarim individuals contain only a local ancestry. The Tarim individuals from the site of Xiaohe further exhibit strong evidence of milk proteins in their dental calculus, indicating a reliance on dairy pastoralism at the site since its founding. Our results do not support previous hypotheses for the origin of the Tarim mummies, who were argued to be Proto-Tocharian-speaking pastoralists descended from the Afanasievo1,2 or to have originated among the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex3 or Inner Asian Mountain Corridor cultures4. Instead, although Tocharian may have been plausibly introduced to the Dzungarian Basin by Afanasievo migrants during the Early Bronze Age, we find that the earliest Tarim Basin cultures appear to have arisen from a genetically isolated local population that adopted neighbouring pastoralist and agriculturalist practices, which allowed them to settle and thrive along the shifting riverine oases of the Taklamakan Desert.