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Nonmetric cranial trait variation and population history of medieval east slavic tribes


  • Alla A. Movsesian

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, Lomonosov State University, Moscow, Russian Federation
    • Correspondence to: A.A. Movsesian; Department of Anthropology, Lomonosov State University, Moscow, Russian Federation 119234. E-mail:

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The population history of the East Slavs is complicated. There are still many unanswered questions relating to the origins and formation of the East Slavic gene pool. The aims of the current study were as follows: (1) to assess the degree of biological affinity in medieval East Slavic tribes and to test the hypothesis that East Slavic peoples have a common origin; (2) to show their genetic connections to the autochthonous populations of the northern part of Eastern Europe (Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes); and (3) to identify a genetic continuity between the bearers of Chernyakhov culture and medieval Eastern Slavs. In this study, nonmetric cranial trait data for medieval East Slavic tribes and comparative samples from unrelated groups were examined. Analyzes of phenotypic differentiation were based on Nei's standard genetic distance and hierarchical GST statistics. The results obtained suggest that the genetic affinity of the East Slavic tribes is due not only to inter-tribal gene flow, but is, more importantly, a result of their common population history. Evidence of gene flow from the Baltic and Finno-Ugric groups was showed in the gene pool of Eastern Slavs, as was genetic continuity between medieval East Slavic tribes and the populations of the preceding Chernyakhov culture. These findings support a “generalizing” hypothesis of East Slavic origin, in which a Slavic community was formed in some particular ancestral area, and subsequently spread throughout Eastern Europe. Am J Phys Anthropol 152:495–505, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.