Zoroastrian genetic origins revisited

About a year ago I found that the ancestry of present-day Iranians was best explained as largely a mixture between early Anatolian and Iranian farmers and Sarmatians from the Pontic-Caspian steppe (see here).
Things have now changed somewhat after the release of several hundred ancient samples from across Eurasia. Below are the best qpAdm models that I was able to find for various Iranian ethnic/regional populations based on my new dataset.

Ganj_Dareh_N 0.363±0.031
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.481±0.029
Karagash_MLBA 0.156±0.019
tail: 0.753635
Full output
Ganj_Dareh_N 0.056±0.042
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.883±0.039
Karagash_MLBA 0.061±0.027
tail: 0.862141
Full output
Dashti_Kozy_BA 0.143±0.025
Ganj_Dareh_N 0.286±0.034
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.571±0.029
tail: 0.994129
Full output
Ganj_Dareh_N 0.309±0.035
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.556±0.029
Yamnaya_Samara 0.134±0.019
tail: 0.383344
Full output
Ganj_Dareh_N 0.279±0.045
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.600±0.048
Yamnaya_Samara 0.073±0.048
West_Siberia_N 0.048±0.033
tail: 0.413456
Full output
Ganj_Dareh_N 0.417±0.033
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.464±0.031
Karagash_MLBA 0.120±0.020
tail: 0.777933
Full output
Bustan_BA 0.352±0.053
Dashti_Kozy_BA 0.168±0.031
Hajji_Firuz_ChL 0.480±0.036
tail: 0.921955
Full output

However, all of the Iranian groups are still scoring a fair amount of ancient steppe ancestry, with the Zoroastrians ahead of the rest, which is potentially important, because they’re basically a population relict from pre-Islamic Persia. Hence, this might be betraying their stronger ties to pre-Turkic, early Indo-Iranian Central Asia relative to the other Iranians. Also worth noting:

– As far as I can see, the Zoroastrians are the only Iranians in this analysis that really benefit from the addition of an Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) reference population to their model, which might also be important, for the same reason outlined above
– There’s no point modeling most of the Iranian groups as partly of Western Siberian forager (West_Siberia_N) origin, except perhaps the Mazandarani Iranians
– Indeed, Mazandarani Iranians are also the only group better modeled as part Yamnaya rather than Steppe_MLBA, which might be explained by Yamnaya-related incursions into what is now Northwestern Iran during the Early Bronze Age (see here)
– No matter what, I can’t find a working model (P-value >0.05) for the Bandari Iranians using the new set of right pops aka outgroups, probably because the Bandaris harbor recent admixture from outside of Iran, including from Africa

On a related note, there’s yet another feature in the Indian media about the impending publication of ancient DNA from the Harappan burial site at Rakhigarhi (see here). I’ve lost count of how many articles like this I’ve read over the last few years. But unlike the rest, this one actually reveals some specific information about the results: the lack of Y-haplogroup R1a and steppe ancestry in the Harappan sample or samples. So this time, I’d say that we’re only days or weeks away from the publication of the relevant paper.
My final prediction in this context is that we’ll see an ancient genome, or, hopefully, genomes, basically identical to the Indus_Periphery samples from Narasimhan et al. 2018 (see here). And then, apart from a few crazy people still shouting online that we need many more Harappan genomes because almost anything is yet possible, it’ll be game over.
See also…
The mystery of the Sintashta people
On the doorstep of India
Indian smoke and mirrors

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