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Keywords:

  • ancient DNA;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • human origins;
  • China

Abstract

Analysis of DNA from human archaeological remains is a powerful tool for reconstructing ancient events in human history. To help understand the origin of the inhabitants of Kublai Khan's Upper Capital in Inner Mongolia, we analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphisms in 21 ancient individuals buried in the Zhenzishan cemetery of the Upper Capital. MtDNA coding and noncoding region polymorphisms identified in the ancient individuals were characteristic of the Asian mtDNA haplogroups A, B, N9a, C, D, Z, M7b, and M. Phylogenetic analysis of the ancient mtDNA sequences, and comparison with extant reference populations, revealed that the maternal lineages of the population buried in the Zhenzishan cemetery are of Asian origin and typical of present-day Han Chinese, despite the presence of typical European morphological features in several of the skeletons. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.