Ancient (proto-) Bulgarians have long been thought of as a Turkic population. However, evidence found in the past three decades shows that this is not the case. Until now, this evidence has not included ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. To fill this void, we collected human remains from the 8th to the 10th century ad located in three necropolises in Bulgaria: Nojarevo (Silistra region) and Monastery of Mostich (Shumen region), both in northeastern Bulgaria, and Tuhovishte (Satovcha region) in southwestern Bulgaria. The phylogenetic analysis of 13 ancient DNA samples (extracted from teeth) identified 12 independent haplotypes, which we further classified into mtDNA haplogroups found in present-day European and western Eurasian populations. Our results suggest a western Eurasian matrilineal origin for proto-Bulgarians, as well as a genetic similarity between proto- and modern Bulgarians. Our future work will provide additional data that will further clarify proto-Bulgarian origins, thereby adding new clues to the current understanding of European genetic evolution.


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pp. 19-28
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