Mail Login:

Archive Siberian Research, 2019, 1, (1)  >  On the origins of the Sakhas' paternal lineages 

Download full text PDF

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


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:




1. RFSSS, 2011. (The Russian Federation, the Federal State Statistics Service) ‘Vserossiyskaya perepis naseleniya 2010 goda ' [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1].  (Retrieved June 29, 2012) [in Russian].

2. Pakendorf B., Wiebe V., Tarskaia L.A., Spitsyn V.A., Soodyall H., Rodewald A., Stoneking M. Mitochondrial DNA evidence for admixed origins of central Siberian populations // Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 2003. 120. P. 211–224.

3. Puzyrev V.P., Stepanov V.A., Golubenko M.V., Puzyrev K.V., Maksimova N.R. et al. MtDNA and Y-chromosome lineages in the Yakut population // Genetika. 2003. 39. P. 975–981.

4. Pakendorf B., Morar B., Tarskaia L.A., Kayser M., Soodyall H., Rodewald A., Stoneking M. Y-chromosomal evidence for a strong reduction in male population size of Yakuts // Hum. Genet. 2002. 110. P. 198–200.

5. Pakendorf B., Novgorodov I.N., Osakovskij V.L., Danilova A.P., Protod'jakonov A.P., Stoneking M. Investigating the effects of prehistoric migrations in Siberia : genetic variation and the origins of Yakuts // Hum. Genet. 2006, 120. P. 334–353.

6. Crubézy E., Amory S., Keyser C., Bouakaze C., Bodner M., Gibert M. et. al. Human evolution in Siberia: from frozen bodies to ancient DNA // BMC Evol. Biol. 2010. 10. 25 p.

7. Ksenofontov, G.V. 'Elleyada: materialyi po mifologii i legendarnoy istorii yakutov' [Elleyada: Materials on the mythology and the legendary history of the Yakuts]. Novosibirsk: Nauka. 1977. 275 p. [In Russian].

8. TDK. Türk Dil Kurumu Büyük Türkçe Sözlük [Turkish Language Institution Big Turkish Dictionary]. Türk Dil Kurumu Yayınları. 2011 [in Turkish]

9. Romanova, E.N. 'G.V. Ksenofontov: mif o stranstvuyuschem geroe' [G.V. Ksenofontov: The myth about a travelling hero], in: Tumarkin, D.D. (Ed.), 'Repressirovannyie etnografyi' [Repressed Etnography]. Vost. lit., Moscow. 2003. P. 78-104 [in Russian].

10. Vasilyev Yu., I., 2008. 'Мой родной древний язык' [My native ancient language]. Bichik, Yakutsk. 2008. P. 20-25 [in Yakut language].

11. Tikhonov D.G. Legendarnyiy rodonachalnik Elley i effekt osnovatelya v populyatsii saha. Mezhdunarodnyiy zhurnal prikladnyih i fundamentalnyih issledovaniy [Elley legendary ancestor and founder effect in a population of Sakha]. 2016. № 9 – 2. P. 241– 243 [in Russian].

12. Zerjal T., Dashnyam B., Pandya A., Kayser M., Roewer L., Santos F.R. et al. Genetic relationships of Asians and Northern Europeans, revealed by Y-chromosomal DNA analysis // Am. J. Hum. Genet. 1997, 60. P. 1174-1183.

13. Thèves C., Balaresque P., Evdokimova L.E., Timofeev I.V., Alekseev A.N., Sevin A. et al. Population genetics of 17 Y-chromosomal STR loci in Yakutia // Forensic Sci. Int. Genet.  2010. 4. e129–130.

14. Lindenau Ia., I. 'Opisanie narodov Sibiri (pervaya polovina XVIII veka): Istoriko-etnograficheskie materialyi o narodah Sibiri i Severo-Vostoka' [A description of people of Siberia (the first half of the XVIIIth century): The historicalethnographic materials about people of Siberia and the North-East]. Magadan Publishing House, Magadan. 1983. P. 18 [in Russian, translated from German].

15. Aprosimov A.M., Popov G.V. 'Rodoslovnaya po naslegam yakutskih ulusov' [A pedigree according to the naslegs of Yakut uluses]. Yakutsk: Bichik. 2015. 62 p. [In Yakut language].

16. Tokarev S.A. 'Obschestvennyiy stroy yakutov XVII – XVIII vv.' [Public formation of Yakuts in the XVII – XVIIIth centuries]. Yakutsk: Yakut State Publishing House. 1945. 240 p. [In Russian].

17. CNAYASSR. (Central National Archive of the Yakut ASSR) 'Vedomost' o razdele pokosnyih mest Meginskogo ulusa Moyrutskago naslega. Genvarya 19-go dnya 1776 g.' [Register about division of harvest places in Meginsky ulus of Moruksky nasleg, January 19,1776]. 1776. Fond No. 43, List No. 1. Case No. 2154 [in Russian].

18. Rootsi S., Zhivotovsky L.A., Baldovic M., Kayser M., Kutuev I.A., Khusainova R. et al. A counter-clockwise northern route of the Y-chromosome haplogroup N from Southeast Asia towards Europe // Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 2007. 15. P. 204–211.

19. Karmin M., Saag L., Vicente M., Wilson Sayres M.A., Järve M., Talas U.G. et al. A recent bottleneck of Y chromosome diversity coincides with a global change in culture // Genome Res.  2015. 25. P. 459–466.

20. Gao T., Yun L., Gu Y., He W., Wang Z., Hou Y. Phylogenetic analysis and forensic characteristics of 12 populations using 23 Y-STR loci // Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2015. 19. P. 130–133.

21. Willuweit S., Roewer L. The new Y Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database // Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2014. 15. P. 43–48.

22. Derenko M., Malyarchuk B., Denisova G., Wozniak M., Grzybowski T., Dambueva I., Zakharov I. Y-chromosome haplogroup N dispersals from south Siberia to Europe // J Hum Genet. 2007. 52. P. 763–770.

23. Ballantyne K.N., Goedbloed M., Fang R., Schaap O., Lao O., Wollstein A. et al. Mutability of Y-chromosomal microsatellites: rates, characteristics, molecular bases, and forensic implications // Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2010. 87. P. 341–353.

24. Adamov D. O gaplogruppe N1c1 sakha (yakutov). [About haplogroup N1c1 of Sakha people (Yakuts)]. The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy (Русская версия ). 2010. 2, 31-42 [in Russian].

25. Balaresque P., Poulet N., Cussat-Blanc S., Gerard P., Quintana-Murci L., Heyer E., Jobling M.A. Y-chromosome descent clusters and male differential reproductive success: young lineage expansions dominate Asian pastoral nomadic populations // Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 2015. 23. P. 1413–1422.

26. Keyser-Tracqui C., Blandin A.P., Ricaut A.F.X., Petkovski B.E., Crubézy A.E., Ludes B.B. Does the Tat polymorphism originate in northern Mongolia // Int. Congr. Ser. 2004. 1261. P. 325–327.

27. Keyser C., Hollard C., Gonzalez A., Fausser J.L., Rivals E., Alexeev A.N. et al. The ancient Yakut’s: a population genetic enigma // Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B. Biol. Sci. 2015. 370.

28. Jobling M.A., Tyler-Smith C. The human Y-chromosome: an evolutionary marker comes of age // Nat. Rev. Genet. 2003. 4. P. 598–612.

29. Guo F., Song L., Zhang L. Population genetics for 17 Y-STR loci in Korean ethnic minority from Liaoning Province, Northeast China // Forensic Sci. Int. Genet. 2016. 22. e9–e11.

30. Gurkan C., Sevay H., Demirdov D.K., Hossoz S., Ceker D., Teralı K., Erol A.S. Turkish Cypriot paternal lineages bear an autochthonous character and closest resemblance to those from neighboring Near Eastern populations // Ann. Hum. Biol. 2017, Mar; 44(2):164 – 174. DOI: 10.1080/03014460.2016.1207805.

31. Chen W.Q., Feng Z., Jin W., Zhang Y.J., Wang Q., Li P. et al. Genetic analysis of 17 Y-STR loci from 1026 individuals of Han populations in Jilin Province, Northeast China // Int. J. Legal. Med. 2018. 132(5). P. 1309–1311.

32. Gogolev A.I. 'Yakutyi (problemyi etnogeneza i formirovaniya kulturyi)' [The Yakut (Problems of ethnic genesis and formation of culture)]. Ilin, Yakutsk: Ilin. 1993. 200 p. [In Russan].

33. Fedorova S.A. ‘Geneticheskie portretyi narodov Respubliki Saha (Yakutiya): analiz liniy mitohondrialnoy DNK i Y-hromosomyi’ [Genetic portraits of the peoples of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia): analysis of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome lines]. Yakutsk: Publishing House of the Yakutsk Scientific Center SB of the RAS. 2008. 182 p. [In Russan].

34. Alekseev A.N., 2013. 'Rannie kochevniki v Yakutii' [Early nomads in Yakutia] // 'Vestnik Severo-Vostochnogo federalnogo universiteta im. M.K. Ammosova.' [A journal of M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University]. 2013. P. 62-69 [in Russian].

35. Cui Y., Li H., Ning C., Zhang Y., Chen L., Zhao X.  et al. Y chromosome analysis of prehistoric human populations in the West Liao River Valley Northeast China // BMC Evol. Biol. 2013. 13. P. 216.

36. Chekunova E.M., Yartsev, N.V., Chekunov, M.K. et al. 'Pervyie rezultatyi genotipirovaniya korennyih zhiteley i chelovecheskih kostnyih ostankov iz arheologicheskih pamyatnikov Verhnego Podvinya' [The first results of genotyping of indigenous peoples and human bone remains from archaeological monuments of Verkhnee Podvinie] // 'Arheologiya ozYornyih poseleniy IV—II tyis. do n.e.: hronologiya kultur i prirodno-klimaticheskie ritmyi' [The archeology of lake settlements of IV-II centuries B.C.: A chronology of cultures and naturalclimatic rhythms]. "Periphery" LLC, Saint Petersburg, 2014. P. 287-294 [in Russian].

37. Biran M. The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2005. 279 p.

38. Xu Y., Zhang X., Cuy Y., Zhang Q., Zhou H., Zhu H.. Genetic Structure analysis of Human Remains from Khitan Noble Necropolis // Chem. Res. Chin. Univ. 2006. 22. P. 123–128.

39. Xue Y., Zerjal T., Bao W., Zhu S., Shu Q., Xu J. et al. Male demography in East Asia: a north-south contrast in human population expansion times // Genetics. 2006. 172. P. 2431–2439.

40. Tszaitsi, L. 'Chaynaya torgovlya mezhdu Kitaem i Rossiey' [Tea trade between China and Russia] // 'Teoriya i praktika obschestvennogo razvitiya' [Collection: A theory and practice of society development]. 2009. P. 63-75 [in Russian].

41. Amory S., Crubézy E., Keyser C., Alekseev A.N., Ludes B. Early influence of the steppe tribes in the peopling of Siberia // Hum. Biol. 2006. 78. P. 531–549.

42. Keyser-Tracqui C., Crubézy E., Pamzsav H., Varga T., Ludes B. Population origins in Mongolia : genetic structure analysis of ancient and modern DNA // Am J Phys. Anthropol.  2006. 131. P. 272–281.

43. Schmidt R.W., Seguchi N. Craniofacial variation of the Xiongnu Iron Age nomads of Mongolia reveals their possible origins and population history // Quat. Int. 2016. 405. Part B. P. 110–121.

44. Gogolev A.I., 2014'Otrazhenie istokov hunnskogo vremeni v yakutskoy kulture' [Reflection of Hunnish time sources in Yakut culture] (in Russian) // 'Vestnik Severo-Vostochnogo federalnogo universiteta im. M.K. Ammosova' [A journal of M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University], 2014. 60-65.

45. Ubryatova, E.I., 1960. 'Yakutskiy yazyik v ego otnoshenii k drugim tyurkskim yazyikam, a takzhe k yazyikam mongolskim i tunguso-manchzhurskim' [Yakut in its relation to other Turkic languages, as well as to Mongol, Tungus and Manchurian languages], 'Sb. trudov. Sektsiya: Altaistika)' [Collected papers. Section: Altaic languages studies]. Moscow: Vost. Lit. 1960 [in Russian].

46. Beyoglu E. Cyprus Turkish Fairy Tales: Glimpse of a Harmonious Past // Am. J. Psychoanal. 2015. 75. P. 382–393.

47. Duranli M. Yakut Efsaneleri' [Yakut Legends] (in Turkish). Social Sciences Institute. T.C. Ege University. Zmir. 2004. P. 505.