The skeletons of Roopkund Lake: Genomic insights into the mysterious identity of ancient Himalayan travelers
Eadaoin Harney, Niraj Rai, Nick Patterson, Kumarasamy Thangaraj, David Reich
The high-altitude lake of Roopkund, situated over 5000 meters above sea level in the Himalayas, remains frozen for almost 11 months out of the year. When it melts, it reveals the skeletons of several hundred ancient individuals, thought to have died during a massive hail storm during the 8th century, A.D. There has been a great deal of speculation about the possible identity of these individuals, but their origins remain enigmatic. We present genome-wide ancient DNA from 17 individuals from the site of Roopkund. We report that these individuals cluster genetically into two distinct groups-consistent with observed morphological variation. Using population genetic analyses, we determine that one group appears to be composed of individuals with broadly South Asian ancestry, characterized by diffuse clustering along the Indian Cline. The second group appears to be of West Eurasian related ancestry, showing affinities with both Greek and Levantine populations.
Sunday, December 3, 2017
The Skeletons of Roopkund Lake, or, Greeks Lost in the Himalayas
a great example of the things that good genetic testing will continue to tell us about mysteries of the past: