Sunday, April 18, 2021

Ancient Siberian DNA Reveals Plague


The picture above shows Lake Baikal where Siberians were infected with the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, about 4,400 years ago. A group of evolutionary geneticists extracted the DNA from 40 eastern Siberian human skeletons. From the 40 DNA samples, 2 of them contained the Yersinia pestis plague bacterium. The 2 skeletons dated back to 4,400 and 3,800 years ago. This data aligns with these two other studies very closely: Paleolithic to Bronze Age Siberians Reveal Connections with First Americans and across Eurasia  and Plagues plagued the Bronze Age. Researchers believe that ancient Siberians may haven been infected with version of Y. pestis that was not so harmful and virulent. Though this hypothesis has not been supported quite yet. In the end, this research has provided new insight on population shifts in that region. There has been research conducted in order to compare the ancient DNA from this region to present-day DNA from participants in Europe, Asia and North America. It was determined that ancient Siberias mixed several populations from within and outside of Siberia. It was concluded that this blending of populations occurred from the Late Stone Age to medieval times. Lastly, it was determined that the 2 ancient Siberians containing the Y. pestis in their DNA underwent large population changes during their lifetime. This genetic information is certainly fascinating and can be referenced when looking at ancient Siberian history. 


Bower, B. (2019, August 08). Plagues plagued the Bronze Age. Retrieved from

Bower, B. (2021, January 07). Plague may have caused die-offs of ancient Siberians. Retrieved from

Yu, H., Spyrou, M. A., Karapetian, M., Shnaider, S., & Radzevičiūtė, R. (n.d.). Paleolithic to Bronze Age Siberians Reveal Connections with First Americans and across Eurasia. Retrieved from


  1. This was such an interesting blog! I think its so cool that we're able to use genetics to learn about past history.

  2. This is very interesesting to be able to pull genetics out of such old skeletons. Especially to help prove the hypothesis that an ancient plague occured in Siberia.