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Investigation of Ancient DNA from Western Siberia and the Sargat Culture


Mitochondrial DNA from 14 archaeological samples at the Ural State University in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was extracted to test the feasibility of ancient DNA work on their collection. These samples come from a number of sites that fall into two groupings. Seven samples are from three sites, dating to the 8th-12th century AD, that belong to a northern group of what are thought to be Ugrians, who lived along the Ural Mountains in northwestern Siberia. The remaining seven samples are from two sites that belong to a southern group representing the Sargat culture, dating between roughly the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD, from southwestern Siberia near the Ural Mountains and the present-day Kazakhstan border. The samples are derived from several burial types, including kurgan burials. They also represent a number of different skeletal elements and a range of observed preservation. The northern sites repeatedly failed to amplify after multiple extraction and amplification attempts, but the samples from the southern sites were successfully extracted and amplified. The sequences obtained from the southern sites support the hypothesis that the Sargat culture was a potential zone of intermixture between native Ugrian and/or Siberian populations and steppe peoples from the south, possibly early Iranian or Indo-Iranian, which has been previously suggested by archaeological analysis.