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On the origins of the Sakhas' paternal lineages: Reconciliation of population genetic / ancient DNA data, archaeological findings and historical narratives


DOI: 10.33384/26587270.2019.01.004e


D.G. Tikhonov, C. Gurkan, K.D. Demirdov, E. Beyoglu



     Sakhas are Turkic-speaking people from Northeastern Siberia, constituting the largest ethnic population in Yakutia. According to popular legends, two heroes who arrived from the Asian Steppe during the late medieval ages, namely Elley Bootur and Omogoy Baay, are the progenitors of all Sakhas. While there is ample historical evidence towards the existence of such legendary characters, archaeological findings and ancient DNA studies provide further insights on actual Sakha ethnogenesis. This study aims to establish the genetic basis of the legendary characters Elley and Omogoy, at least through their paternal lineages, and then to reveal the prevalence of these Y-chromosomes among the contemporary Yakut population. To this end, an attempt was made to delineate fact from fiction with respect to the Sakhas’ paternal lineages through a reconciliation of population genetics data on contemporary and ancient Sakhas, along with archaeological evidence and well-recorded historical narratives. To achieve this, 17-loci Y-chromosomal STR and haplogroup analyses were conducted on a contemporary Sakha who was presumably a direct descendant of Elley’s paternal line. Furthermore, 367 Sakha Y-chromosomal STR haplotypes were compiled from the literature and elsewhere, and searched against the Y-chromosome STR Haplotype Reference Database to find potential matches with non-Sakha populations. Sakhas’ paternal lineages were found to comprise 6 major descent clusters, each corresponding to an ancient clan. The most prevalent haplotype indeed corresponded to that of the contemporary Elley descendant. Furthermore, data presented in the current work suggests a Khitan origin for this paternal line. As shown before, Sakhas’ paternal lineages were found to be very homogenous and exhibit signs of a strong population bottleneck. Reconciled genetic and archaeological data agree well with Sakhas’ historical narratives, whereby, at least from a paternal lineage perspective, only a few individuals may have arrived from Central Asia and had reproductive success that led to the Sakha Y-chromosomal diversity today.

Key words: Geneology, Elley and Omogoy, haplogroup N, founder effect, Xiongnu, autochthons.

For citations: Tikhonov D.G., Gurkan C., Demirdov K.D., Beyoglu E. On the origins of the Sakhas’ paternal lineages: Reconciliation of population genetic / ancient DNA data, archaeological findings and historical narratives // Siberian Research. 2019. 1(1). P. 91 - 111.

Supporting Online Material  Click here


Received December 3, 2018; accepted for publication March 01, 2019; published April 15, 2019.



1. TIKHONOV Dmitry Gavrilievich, MD, Professor, Senior Research Officer of the Scientific Research Center of the Medical Institute of the North-Eastern Federal University, 677009, Yakutsk, St. Bld. 8, Russia,, e-mail:

2. GURKAN Cemal, Director of the Turkish Cypriot DNA Laboratory / Academic Staff, Dr Fazil Kucuk Faculty of Medicine, Eastern Mediterranean University, Nicosia (North Cyprus), Turkey,, e-mail:

3. DEMIRDOV Damla, Turkish Cypriot DNA Laboratory, Committee on Missing Person in Cyprus Turkish Cypriot Member Office, Nicosia (North Cyprus), Turkey, e-mail:

4. BEYOGLU Erdem, Baris Mental and Neurological Disorders State Hospital, Nicosia (North Cyprus), Turkey, e-mail:




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