The SUGRIGE project aims at getting a whole-genome picture of ancient and contemporary Finns and Finno-Ugrians. The main questions include: When did the Finno-Ugric people arrive in Finland, North-Western Russia, and Baltic region? Which archeological culture(s) were they related to? Who lived in the area before they arrived? Did the Uralic language family arrive with the genes?
For these aims, we sequence ancient human remains from the regions where Finno-Ugrians live or used to live, in collaboration with Max Planck Institute for the Science of human history, Jena, and University of Tübingen in Germany. The genomes are compared in a population genetic framework with each other and with present-day Finns, Estonians, Karelians, Mari, Mordva, etc.
Current areas of the Uralic languages. Map from Honkola et al. J. Evol. Biol. 2013
In Finland, the remains are usually not older than 1,000 years, due to acidic soils, and therefore the Finnish part of the project focuses on the time interval from the Iron Age to 1800s. To trace the genomes further back in time, the aim is to collect and analyse samples from the areas previously or currently inhabited by Finno-Ugric peoples. In practice this means obtaining samples from archaeological contexts dating to all periods of prehistory: to the Mesolithic and Neolithic Stone Age, to the Bronze Age and up to the Iron Age and medieval period. The area of our interest covers the forest and forest steppe areas of European Russia and western Siberia, but also samples from other neighbouring areas and from adjacent archaeological cultures will be used as references and for studying the contacts and development of different populations.
Currently, we have analysed DNA from five archeological sites in Finland, yielding >50 individuals. The time scale is from the Iron Age to the 1800s. First publications are planned in the beginning of 2016.