Ariets Research Blog

March 16, 2009

Uralic peoples origin in the light of bio-anthropological data

Filed under: Asia, Fino-Ugrics — Ariets @ 10:03 pm

Article by Bagashev Anatoly, saved from old Hbf (Gareth and stuff).

The craniological materials representing the physical characteristics of ancient and modern population of Western Siberia allow to trace the main stages of formation of the formerly existed and contemporary bio-anthropological types. The physical type, which was registered in the territory of Western Siberia in the Neolithic period was the Caucasoid relating to the proto-European type widely spread in Eastern Europe, Karelia, Baltic region and Ukraine. At the same time the West-Siberian Neolithic population was characterized with certain specific features of genesis and physical appearance that were mainly a result of the added Mongoloid elements of various lines of descent. It is possible to distinguish this type as the West Siberian variant of the proto-European type, consisting of two groups of population, the West Siberian and the Upper Ob.

Conventional boundary between the areas of Caucasoid and Mongoloid populations during the Mesolithic and Neolithic time was the area of the Upper Ob region. Part of the Caucasoid population penetrated even further east, an evidence of which was the Caucasoid element in composition of the Neolithic population of Eastern Siberia [Debets 1948; Alexeev 1961; Gokhman 1980; Mamonova 1980]. Part of the Mongoloids settled in the western and the southern directions. As a result of mutual contacts the populations that formed in the Upper Ob region had in their physical composition a Mongoloid component of the Outer Mongolia origin (Ust-Isha, Itkul, Vaskovo). It was, most likely, via these type of groups that the Mongoloid elements of the Outer Mongolia type penetrated into the composition of the Kelteminar population of the north of Central Asia. Reverse contacts facilitated the penetration of Mediterranean type elements into some West Siberian groups. The influence of the Mediterranean can be traced more clearly in the Middle West-Ural region. In the composition of other Neolithic groups in addition to the abovementioned component there was also the Mongoloid elements of taiga origin (Sopka 2, Protoka, Omsk site, Lebedi). With the groups of the Caucasoid populations of the proto-European type this type of component penetrated westward as well – the morphologically similar element was registered in the composition of the population of the Lyalovo culture known in the forest band of Eastern Europe [Alexeeva 1997] and in the composition of the Mesolithic population of Karelia (Yuzhny Oleny Ostrov) [Yakimov 1960].

The racial-genetic processes that took place in Western Siberia during the Neolithic and reconstructed on the basis of archaeological and bio-anthropological material were in many ways related to the cultural processes. The data provide evidence of the penetration into Western Siberia of population different from the locals in their physical appearance and bringing certain innovations into the aboriginal cultures [Zakh, Bagashev 1998]. For example, the inflow of the southern elements into the West Siberian cultures in the early stages of their formation correlates with the appearance in the physical composition of the local population of the racial complexes, genetically related to the Central Asian groups that left after them the burial site Numek-Kichidgik in the Southern Aral region.

In the Bronze Age the differentiation between groups of population, which had started in the previous period, grew stronger. The processes of mixing of the Caucasoid population genetically related to the Neolithic population and the taiga Mongoloids continued in the sub-taiga area of Western Siberia. During that time the physical characteristics typical for the population of the Krotovo culture of pre-Andronovo time and the Chernoozerye-Tomsk variant of the Andronovo cultural community was formed. However, within the composition of the latter it is possible to trace quite clearly the Caucasoid elements related to the Andronovo (Fedorovo) tribes. In the more southern areas of Western Siberia the physical type genetically related to the population of the Andronovo culture, especially its Fedorovo variant, began to spread widely, whereas input of the Alakul type related to the Srubnaya culture tribes was quite insignificant (Samus culture, Ermak 4). Both Andronovo culture variants had genetic roots in the Neolithic population of the south West Siberia, and this territory can be excluded from the centers of their formation. Certain similarities between the types of the Neolithic population of Western Siberia and the Andronovo (Fedorovo) type result, most likely, from their ancient Paleo-Caucasoid substrate.

The morphological type of the late Bronze Age populations – the Irmen, the Elovka, and the Cherkaskul – holds intermediary position between the type of the Neolithic (Krotovo) and the Chernoozerye-Tomsk skulls on the one side, and the type of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) series on the other. This can be taken as an indication that the features of the population of a number of cultures of the late Bronze Age in Western Siberia were formed largely as a result of their mix.

The physical composition of the population of Western Siberia of the Early Iron Age became even more complicated. Several main components determined the specifics of the physical type of the West Siberian populations; the relative importance of those components varied in different local groups.

Within the composition of the population of the Sargat and the Gorokhovo cultures the main component was the Caucasoid racial variant with meso-brachycranial skull shape, wide, short and moderately profiled in a horizontal plane face bones. The physic features of the Kulai series (the burial site Kamenny Mys) were determined with the Mongoloid component, the characteristic features of which were the low height of the flattened face bones, low elevation of nasal bones with the medium height of the nose bridge. Apart form the above listed components the Caucasoid complex with the high narrow face also played certain role in the racial genesis of the forest-steppe populations, another component was the Mongoloid with a wide and high face. In some samples, particularly in the Irtysh region, it was possible to register the presence of a Mongoloid component with a dolichocranial skull shape.

The Caucasoid meso-brachycranial component with a wide and low (eurymorphic) face in both variants was genetically related to the population of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) culture of the Bronze Age, particularly to those populations, within the composition of which there was a component, the roots of which went back to the West Siberian Neolithic. During the transition period from the Bronze to the Early Iron Age relatively stable traditions already formed in the archaeological cultures of Western Siberia, but the physical features of different groups of the population were not yet sufficiently stable. Long time infiltration of the taiga low-faced Mongoloid elements into the forest-steppe of Western Siberia resulted in the formation of the local population type with the more brachycranial skull shape and wider horizontally flattened face bones, lower nose bridge and a small angle of the nasal bones elevation. In the Volga and the West-Ural regions in the transitional from the Bronze to the Iron Age period as a result of continued mixing of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) and the Srubnaya-Alakul groups, as well as later, of Savromatian and Scythian populations, the more characteristic type for the local population became more elongated skull shape, somewhat higher and noticeably narrower, well profiled in the horizontal plane face bones, high nose bridge with the high nasal bones elevation angle.

Genesis of physical type characteristic for the skulls from the Kulai burials and the low faced brachycranial component distinguished within the composition of forest-steppe population of the Early Iron Age could be directly related to the Mongoloid low faced population of the West-Siberian taiga regions. Its racial genetic influence on the tribes of the south Western Siberia could be traced from the Neolithic, and in the Bronze Age the low faced Mongoloid component was already recorded as a significant element in the composition of the population of the Western Siberian sub-taiga zone, as well as in the composition of samples from the burials of the Okunevo and the Karaskul cultures of the Minusinsk Kotlovina. This component left a significant imprint on the physical type of the late Bronze Age population that left sites of Elovka and Irmen cultures. It was the element of low faced Mongoloids in the composition of the Early Iron Age population that determined their morphological peculiarities and served as a sufficiently reliable indicator of the degree of their relatedness.

Another Mongoloid component of the physical structure of the forest-steppe populations (highness of the wide face bones and brachycranial type) morphologically did not differ significantly from the population type of the Serov and the Glazkov time of Eastern Siberia. Its genesis was related to the Mongoloids of Outer Mongolia, who slowly and gradually penetrated into Western Siberia from the early Neolithic. During the Bronze Age the Outer Mongolian elements were registered in the composition of Okunev and Karaskul populations of Eastern Siberia, the Krotovo, Andronovo (Fedorovo), Elovka, and Irmen groups of Western Siberia, as well as within the composition of the Cherkaskul culture population of the West-Ural region.

The observed physic proximity of the populations of the Sargat community and some early (Sagar-chaga, Tagisken, Uygarak) and late (Chirik-rabat) Saks of the southern and the south-east Aral regions resulted not only from the common origin of the eurymorphic Caucasoid component in their composition. Another link could also be the same type of the Mongoloid element registered in the craniology of both. The existing craniological data provide evidence on the possible penetration of the Mongoloid racial elements of Outer Mongolia origin into the ethnic environment of the southern and south-eastern Aral region, Kirghizia and Eastern Kazakhstan. However it did not appear in its “pure form”. This Mongoloid component was present within the composition of certain communities of the generally Caucasoid appearance. The early Sak skulls from the territory of the south-east Aral and Kirghizia had similarities in the Bronze Age materials of the South and Eastern Siberia only with the Karaskul series [Yablonsky 1996, 1999; Itina, Yablonsky 1997; Tur 1997]; to which also the Sargat skulls were morphologically close. During the transitional period from the Bronze to the Iron Age the tribes from Eastern Siberia, whose physical type was most close to the type of the population of the Karaskul culture, migrated to the north of Central Asia and Kirghizia, and in the first half of the 1st millennium BC took part in the racial genesis of the populations that left after them a number of burials of the Sak type.

In the Middle Ages the bio-anthropological composition of the southern part of Western Siberia changed in comparison with the previous periods. The main Caucasoid component of the racial structure of the Sargat population did not have direct similarities within the composition of the Middle Age populations.

In the taiga zone of Western Siberia during the Middle Ages the ethnogenic situation remained stable. The craniological type of the skulls from the Kulai burials, similar components within the composition of the Novochekino series and all the Sargat samples, related to them low faced Mongoloid component within the composition of the Krotov series of the burial site Sopka 2 and the series from the burial site Elovka 2 of the Bronze Age, as well as the component of the bio-anthropological structure of the Neolithic groups of the proper Western Siberian type – all those were in many respects similar to the morphological type of the Middle Age populations of the south-taiga Irtysh region (Ust-Ishim culture) and the Narym Ob region (ancient Selkup). Apparently, the situation was similar also in the northern part of Western Siberia, but in the absence of craniological material, which relation to the modern ethnic groups is sufficiently proven, we can only assume this on the basis of indirect data reflecting the racial features of the modern Ob-Ugrian peoples.

In the more recent periods a great variety of physical types was registered in the territory of Western Siberia. In some cases it is possible to trace the ethnogenetic ties of the modern peoples with the Caucasoid population of Early Iron Age. More or less significant role can be ascribed to it only in the genesis of physical features of isolated groups of the Tobol-Irtysh Tatar. It is possible also to admit some participation of the Sargat groups in the racial genesis of the Western Mansi, since the analysis of the physical composition of the Western Mansi allowed to identify a number of components in their composition, in the origin of which a certain role could be ascribed to the population of the Sargat community, and hence to the tribes of the Andronovo (Fedorovo) culture of the Bronze Age [Bagashev 1999]. It is interesting to note that the decorative art of Western Mansi assimilated a significant component related to the south Iranian traditions [Ryndina 1995]; the archaeological data also provide evidence of the influence of the southern Iranian elements on the Mansi culture [Chernetsov 1953]. However, in general, there was a significant weakening, on the verge of almost complete break, of the racial genetic ties between tribes of Sargat cultural community and modern populations of Western Siberia (based on the female materials this conclusion would be less categorical). Therefore, the traced line of genesis did not produce a noticeable effect on the formation of the physical features of the modern ethnic groups.

In the West Siberian south taiga area the ethnogenetic ties between various chronological sections of the bio-anthropological pattern can be clearly traced. There is a significant physical similarity between series of skulls from the burial site Kamenny Mys and the Mongoloid type skulls with eurymorphic face bone structure. The first sample reflected the racial features of the population that left the sites of the Kulai archaeological culture, second, though in a dispersed way, also provided information on the physiological features of the people of this cultural community. The morphological features of both samples of the Early Iron Age were practically identical to the morphological type of the Mediaeval Narym Ob population and the modern Narym Selkup. The population of the Kulai culture, therefore, can justifiably be considered as the main race component of the Selkup genesis. However, the representatives of a complex of physical features characteristic for the Kulai culture populations were registered even in the earlier periods. Here we speak of the racial component identified in the composition of the Chernoozerye-Tomsk variant of the Andronovo cultural community, the Krotovo population and the Neolithic Western Siberian groups [Bagashev 2001].

The Mongoloid racial complex identified in the Early Iron Age materials, which had more dolichocranial shape of the cranium, also had analogues among the Western Siberian population. It had the greatest similarity with the Ob-Ugrian populations. Those Ugrian samples, in the composition of which the added Samoyed elements were registered, were morphologically more distant, but the base morphological type of their physical structure and the specific features of the dolichocranial variant were, in principle, the same [Bagashev 2000].

The modern population of Western Siberia is characterized with a number of distinctive physical features, is not racially uniform, has complex physical composition, and the territorial variance of the racial features of some of the modern groups is sometimes quite high. However, in every specific case the racial features of the population form certain morphological complexes tied to a particular territory.

The North Altai and the southern Siberian populations of Southern Siberia, for example, morphologically occupy the intermediary position between Mongoloid and Caucasoid racial groups; within both complexes there are Caucasoid and Mongoloid racial components of similar origin, it is only their proportion that is different. The long process of mixing of the representatives of those racial types was the dominating factor of the physical formation of the modern South Siberian population. The metis character of the Southern Siberian community can be conclusively proven with the study of the paleo-anthropological materials [Alexeev 1958; 1960; 1961; Bagashev 1988; Dremov 1980; 1997; Ginsburg, Debets, Levin, Cheboksarov 1954; Ginsburg, Trofimova 1972; Ismagulov 1970; Kim 1987; Levin 1954].

Contrary to Altai and Khakasia, in the territory of Western Siberia there existed the populations, in the physical features of which a number of characteristics were determined not so much by the added Mongoloid and/or Caucasoid elements, but by the specific combination of the racial characteristics, in which the normal historical correlation was distorted, which indicates the traces of pre-differentiation. Eventually, this is the feature that determined the uniqueness of the ancient and the modern population of Western Siberia.

Combination of Caucasoid and Mongoloid traits of Western Siberia and Ural population inevitably leads researchers to the conclusion of a metis character of its formation. Another view on the mechanism of formation of the Western Siberia and Ural peoples was put forward by V. V. Bunak. According to his theory, they were formed not as a result of the mixing, but as a result of preservation of the ancient proto-morphologic type, which only partially resembled the Mongoloid [Bunak 1956; 1958; 1965; 1980]. This theory gained a strong support in the studies of the discrete-variable characteristics of the skulls of the Uralic groups [Kosintsev, Moiseev 1995; Moiseev, Kosintsev 1998; Moiseev 1999].

Among the Western Siberian groups several super-population communities tied to particular territories can be distinguished. These are the Turks of the Tobol-Irtysh and Baraba regions, the Turks and the Selkups of the Tomsk-Narym Ob region; the differences between them are insignificant and are determined by the various proportion of the South Siberian component (the populations of the Ob-Irtysh physical type).

Within the composition of the Ugrian populations of the Middle and Lower Ob region there was a significant share of undifferentiated elements, no South Siberian or North Altai elements, though in some groups the Samoyed component was registered. High diversity of the Ob-Ugrian populations reflected rather territorial, than ethnical or bio-anthropological, disintegration among Ugrians; the uniting role in physical pattern was played by a complex of undifferentiated elements (populations of the Ural physical type).

Thus, in the population of Western Siberia there are two main physical types, and both are characterized with a sufficiently clear type of morphology. The Ural type is represented by Khanty and Mansi of taiga and forest-tundra zones, i.e. it is common in the northern part of Western Siberia. The Ob-Irtysh physical type is represented by Narym Selkup and Turkic groups of the Western Siberian plain in the south taiga and forest-steppe zones of the middle and the southern parts of Western Siberia.

The racial specifics and inner similarities of the populations of the Ural and the Ob-Irtysh types caused by a common race-forming factor in the common territory, a lot of similarities of the ethnogenetic processes, which occurred here in approximately the same natural-climatic conditions, are the evidence of the former unity of these groups. Therefore, they are combined and distinguished as a separate West Siberian race [Bagashev 1998; 1998а], which lost ties with the main racial trunks quite long ago, even before the period of formation of clear Caucasoid and Mongoloid features, and is an ancient proto-Asian formation.

Western Siberian center of race-formation in terms of hierarchy can be considered a secondary center, which, together with the Asian continental and coastal areas, belongs to the Eastern primary center. Within the secondary Western Siberian race-formation center two subsidiary tertiary centers can be distinguished, the north Western Siberian (the Ugrian line of genesis) and the southern Western Siberian (the Samoyed line of genesis). The time of formation of the Western Siberian secondary center can be referred to the period, when genetic bridge between the Mongoloids of Asia and North America still existed; starting with the meso-Neolithic time it is possible to speak of its differentiation into the tertiary centers. Most likely, it occurred in time, when divergence of the Uralic population of Western Siberia into Ugrian and Samoyed branches began.

1 Comment »

  1. IT seems like ugrian,mongolian,scythian,and turkish groups have had the Aral mountains as a border area..Scythians in the south east,mongolians in the east, ugrians in the west and north west, turks in the north and northeast. I am speaking of ethnical groups and language maybe 2000 years ago and possibly earlier.
    This is very intresting and seems to correspond to the writings of Herodotes and early Chineese writers.

    Comment by Bo Skog — July 4, 2012 @ 12:06 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: