A western Eurasian male is found in 2000-year-old elite Xiongnu cemetery in Northeast Mongolia



We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNP), and autosomal short tandem repeats (STR) of three skeletons found in a 2,000-year-old Xiongnu elite cemetery in Duurlig Nars of Northeast Mongolia. This study is one of the first reports of the detailed genetic analysis of ancient human remains using the three types of genetic markers. The DNA analyses revealed that one subject was an ancient male skeleton with maternal U2e1 and paternal R1a1 haplogroups. This is the first genetic evidence that a male of distinctive Indo-European lineages (R1a1) was present in the Xiongnu of Mongolia. This might indicate an Indo-European migration into Northeast Asia 2,000 years ago. Other specimens are a female with mtDNA haplogroup D4 and a male with Y-SNP haplogroup C3 and mtDNA haplogroup D4. Those haplogroups are common in Northeast Asia. There was no close kinship among them. The genetic evidence of U2e1 and R1a1 may help to clarify the migration patterns of Indo-Europeans and ancient East-West contacts of the Xiongnu Empire. Artifacts in the tombs suggested that the Xiongnu had a system of the social stratification. The West Eurasian male might show the racial tolerance of the Xiongnu Empire and some insight into the Xiongnu society. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.