Genetic structure of the early Hungarian conquerors inferred from mtDNA haplotypes and Y-chromosome haplogroups in a small cemetery
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We applied ancient DNA methods to shed light on the origin of ancient Hungarians and their relation to modern populations. Hungarians moved into the Carpathian Basin from the Eurasian Pontic steppes in the year 895 AD as a confederation of seven tribes, but their further origin remains obscure. Here, we present 17 mtDNA haplotypes and four Y-chromosome haplogroups, which portray the genetic composition of an entire small cemetery of the first generation Hungarians. Using novel algorithms to compare these mitochondrial DNA haplogroups with other ancient and modern Eurasian data, we revealed that a significant portion of the Hungarians probably originated from a long ago consolidated gene pool in Central Asia-South Siberia, which still persists in modern Hungarians. Another genetic layer of the early Hungarians was obtained during their westward migrations by admixing with various populations of European origin, and an important component of these was derived from the Caucasus region. Most of the modern populations, which are genetically closest relatives of ancient Hungarians, today speak non-Indo-European languages. Our results contribute to our understanding of the peopling of Europe by providing ancient DNA data from a still genetically poorly studied period of medieval human migrations.