Nomadic populations have played a significant role in the history of not only China but also in many nations worldwide. Because they had no written language, an important aspect in the study of these people is the discovery of their tombs. It has been generally accepted that Xiongnu was the first empire created by a nomadic tribe in the 3rd century BC. However, little population genetic information is available concerning the Donghu, another flourishing nomadic tribe at the same period because of the restriction of materials until the Jinggouzi site was excavated. In order to test the genetic characteristics of ancient people in this site and to explore the relationship between Jinggouzis and Donghus, two uniparentally inherited markers were analyzed from 42 human remains in this site, which was located in northern China, dated approximately 2500 years ago. With ancient DNA technology, four mtDNA haplogroups (D, G, C, and M10) and one Y chromosome haplogroup (C) were identified using mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms. Those haplogroups are common in North Asia and East Asia. The Jinggouzi people were genetically closest to the Xianbeis in ancient populations and to the Oroqens among extant populations, who were all pastoralists. This might indicate that ancient Jinggouzi people were nomads. Meanwhile, according to the genetic data and the evidences in archaeology, we inferred that Jinggouzi people were associated with Donghu. It is of much value to trace the history of the Donghu tribe and this might show some insight into the ancient nomadic society.
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Vol. 84 • No. 4