In a collaborative study by the University of Oklahoma, University of Chicago, University of California, Merced, and Uppsala University, researchers conduct the first ancient DNA investigation of the Himalayan arc, generating genomic data for eight individuals ranging in time from the earliest known human settlements to the establishment of the Tibetan Empire. The findings demonstrate that the genetic make-up of high-altitude Himalayan populations has remained remarkably stable despite cultural transitions and exposure to outside populations through trade.
Christina Warinner, senior author and professor in the Department of Anthropology, OU College of Arts and Sciences, and corresponding authors Anna Di Rienzo, Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, and Mark Aldenderfer, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, University of California, Merced, collaborated on the study published June 20, 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article, “Long-term genetic stability and a high altitude East Asian origin for the peoples of the high valleys of the Himalayan arc.”
“In this study, we demonstrate that the Himalayan mountain region was colonized by East Asians of high altitude origin, followed by millennia of genetic stability despite marked changes in material culture and mortuary behavior,” said Warinner.
Since prehistory, the Himalayan mountain range has presented a formidable barrier to population migration, while at the same time its transverse valleys have long served as conduits for trade and exchange. Yet, despite the economic and cultural importance of Himalayan trade routes, little was known about the region’s peopling and early population history. The high altitude…