Publications by authors named "Bryan Hanks"

4 Publications

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The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia.

Science 2019 09;365(6457)

Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.

By sequencing 523 ancient humans, we show that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia. After the Indus Valley Civilization's decline, its people mixed with individuals in the southeast to form one of the two main ancestral populations of South Asia, whose direct descendants live in southern India. Simultaneously, they mixed with descendants of Steppe pastoralists who, starting around 4000 years ago, spread via Central Asia to form the other main ancestral population. The Steppe ancestry in South Asia has the same profile as that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe, tracking a movement of people that affected both regions and that likely spread the distinctive features shared between Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.
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September 2019

Life in the fast lane: Settled pastoralism in the Central Eurasian Steppe during the Middle Bronze Age.

Am J Hum Biol 2018 07 19;30(4):e23129. Epub 2018 Apr 19.

Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260.

Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that the purported unstable climate in the South Urals region during the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) resulted in health instability and social stress as evidenced by skeletal response.

Methods: The skeletal sample (n = 99) derived from Kamennyi Ambar 5 (KA-5), a MBA kurgan cemetery (2040-1730 cal. BCE, 2 sigma) associated with the Sintashta culture. Skeletal stress indicators assessed included cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, dental enamel hypoplasia, and tibia periosteal new bone growth. Dental disease (caries, abscess, calculus, and periodontitis) and trauma were scored. Results were compared to regional data from the nearby Samara Valley, spanning the Early to Late Bronze Age (EBA, LBA).

Results: Lesions were minimal for the KA-5 and MBA-LBA groups except for periodontitis and dental calculus. No unambiguous weapon injuries or injuries associated with violence were observed for the KA-5 group; few injuries occurred at other sites. Subadults (<18 years) formed the majority of each sample. At KA-5, subadults accounted for 75% of the sample with 10% (n = 10) estimated to be 14-18 years of age.

Conclusions: Skeletal stress markers and injuries were uncommon among the KA-5 and regional groups, but a MBA-LBA high subadult mortality indicates elevated frailty levels and inability to survive acute illnesses. Following an optimal weaning program, subadults were at risk for physiological insult and many succumbed. Only a small number of individuals attained biological maturity during the MBA, suggesting that a fast life history was an adaptive regional response to a less hospitable and perhaps unstable environment.
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July 2018

Weaning practices among pastoralists: New evidence of infant feeding patterns from Bronze Age Eurasia.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2017 03 31;162(3):409-422. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Institute of Northern Development, Tyumen, Russia.

Objectives: This paper investigates infant feeding practices through stable carbon (δ C) and nitrogen (δ N) isotopic analyses of human bone collagen from Kamennyi Ambar 5, a Middle Bronze Age cemetery located in central Eurasia. The results presented are unique for the time period and region, as few cemeteries have been excavated to reveal a demographic cross-section of the population. Studies of weaning among pastoral societies are infrequent and this research adds to our knowledge of the timing, potential supplementary foods, and cessation of breastfeeding practices.

Materials And Methods: Samples were collected from 41 subadults (<15 years) and 27 adults (15+ years). Isotopic reference sets from adult humans as well as faunal remains were utilized as these form the primary and complementary foods fed to infants.

Results: Slight shifts in δ C and δ N values revealed that weaning was a multi-stage process (breastfeeding, weaning, and complete cessation of nursing) that began at 6 months of age, occurred over several years of early childhood, and was completed by 4 years of age.

Discussion: Our results indicate that weaning was a multi-stage process that was unique among late prehistoric pastoralist groups in Eurasia that were dependent on milk products as a supplementary food. Our discussion centers on supporting this hypothesis with modern information on central and east Eurasian herding societies including the age at which complementary foods are introduced, the types of complementary foods, and the timing of the cessation of breastfeeding. Integral to this work is the nature of pastoral economies and their dependence on animal products, the impact of complementary foods on nutrition and health, and how milk processing may have affected nutrition content and digestibility of foods. This research on Eurasian pastoralists provides insights into the complexities of weaning among prehistoric pastoral societies as well as the potential for different complementary foods to be incorporated into infant diets in the past.
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March 2017

Reconstructing the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppe.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 May 7;109(21):8202-6. Epub 2012 May 7.

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom.

Despite decades of research across multiple disciplines, the early history of horse domestication remains poorly understood. On the basis of current evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal sequencing, a number of different domestication scenarios have been proposed, ranging from the spread of domestic horses out of a restricted primary area of domestication to the domestication of numerous distinct wild horse populations. In this paper, we reconstruct both the population genetic structure of the extinct wild progenitor of domestic horses, Equus ferus, and the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppes by fitting a spatially explicit stepping-stone model to genotype data from >300 horses sampled across northern Eurasia. We find strong evidence for an expansion of E. ferus out of eastern Eurasia about 160 kya, likely reflecting the colonization of Eurasia by this species. Our best-fitting scenario further suggests that horse domestication originated in the western part of the Eurasian steppe and that domestic herds were repeatedly restocked with local wild horses as they spread out of this area. By showing that horse domestication was initiated in the western Eurasian steppe and that the spread of domestic herds across Eurasia involved extensive introgression from the wild, the scenario of horse domestication proposed here unites evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal DNA.
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May 2012