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Regular version of the site

Article

The Impact of Genetics Research on Archaeology and Linguistics in Eurasia

Russian Journal of Genetics. 2019. Vol. 55. No. 12. P. 1472-1487.
Mallory J., Dybo A., Balanovsky O.

This article attempts to outline the current impact that genetics is having on the fields of archaeology and historical linguistics across the Eurasian continent. It positions the relationship between all three disciplines by reviewing the earlier history of their interactions. In the area of archaeology, there has been a long
history of research into the subject of human migration. We briefly review the application of such techniques
as craniometry, pigmentation, dermatoglyphics, classical markers and the retrospective reconstruction of
population movements from the modern DNA of human populations. We then turn to the revolution created
by the application of ancient DNA in three separate areas: Early Man dispersals and legacies, the spread of
agriculture and the massive expansion of populations during the Early Bronze Age. Examples are provided of
how aDNA is impacting on the study of the origin and dispersals of ethno-linguistic groups. In addition to
human migrations, genetics is also impacting on the reconstruction of past lifeways and examples are drawn
from research on palaeodiet, palaeopathology and palaeodemography. Genetics is also contributing to major
issues of historical linguistics involving the origins and dispersals of the major Eurasian language families. It
provides evidence that helps distinguish between instances involving significant migration from those effected
by language shift with a minimal genetic trail. Two cases, the Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Altaic
homelands are reviewed along with some of the methodological problems of synchronizing genetic and linguistic evidence.