European mt DNA U5 in a Chinese tomb.

Evidence of ancient DNA reveals the first European lineage in Iron Age Central China

Received September 24, 2006;
Various studies on ancient DNA have attempted to reconstruct population movement in Asia, with much interest focused on determining the arrival of European lineages in ancient East Asia. Here, we discuss our analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of human remains excavated from the Yu Hong tomb in Taiyuan, China, dated 1400 years ago. The burial style of this tomb is characteristic of Central Asia at that time. Our analysis shows that Yu Hong belonged to the haplogroup U5, one of the oldest western Eurasian-specific haplogroups, while his wife can be classified as haplogroup G, the type prevalent in East Asia. Our findings show that this man with European lineage arrived in Taiyuan approximately 1400 years ago, and most probably married a local woman. Haplogroup U5 was the first west Eurasian-specific lineage to be found in the central part of ancient China, and Taiyuan may be the easternmost location of the discovered remains of European lineage in ancient China.

From the Yu Hong Tomb of the Sui Dynasty in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province (near Mongolia). The tomb is described as..

The tomb is a single chamber grave built with bricks and with a sloping passage leading to it. It is a plain square with arched sides. The relics include a white marble coffin, octagonal white marble columns and a stone sculpture of the heads of people offering a sacrifice. The most valuable aspect is the relief patterns on the base and four sides of the coffin, with color or gilt painting. The decorative figurines, costumes, fittings, vessels, flowers and birds in the patterns bear a strong flavor of Central Asian culture.

This tomb is so far the only archaeological find in the Central Plains region that reflects Central Asian culture. It is also the only one to have been excavated in a scientific way and with an accurate chronological record. It is rich in relics and has been well preserved. It is of great significance in the study of the cultural exchanges between China and Western countries during the Northern Dynasties and the Sui Dynasty, studies of the Silk Road and studies of the history of Jinyang City.


One response to “European mt DNA U5 in a Chinese tomb.

  1. This is fascinating. We have a son adopted from Ukraine who is a U5 as well. He has dark features but almond shaped eyes. We have wondered if there might be some Mongolian heritage. Is there a way to compare DNA strings to see if he is descended from Yu Hong?

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