The study of human genetics continually sheds new light on the understanding of human migratory patterns while inferring cultural and technological exchanges throughout the past and in doing so enriches the fields of anthropology, archeology and history. By analysis of the first hypervariable segment (HVS1) of the maternally inherited mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) phylogenetic relationships between geographically distinct populations can be deduced through region-specific mtDNA lineage (haplogroup) assignment. Following all precautions to avoid tissue contamination, HVS1 sequencing of seven specimens from three pre-historic burial mounds in southern Ukraine has given us greater understanding of the affiliation among ancient inhabitants occupying a region connecting Europe and Asia during a time of cultural, technological and ecological change. By piecing together the age of the artifacts, the details of individual burials, and the geographic origins of mtDNA lineages extracted from the bones, we are attempting to re-create the life histories of individuals interred in these ancient burial plots. On first examination, our results suggest a dynamic continuum of long distance human travel to the Black Sea from as far as Siberia and Central Asia, likely precipitated by a cooling environment and sustained by stockbreeding and the new power of copper trade.
Faculty Mentor: Alexey Nikitin, Biology