Tracking Five Millennia of Horse Management with Extensive Ancient Genome Time Series

Fages A., Hanghoj K., Khan N., Gaunitz C., Seguin-Orlando A., Leonardi M., ...More

CELL, vol.177, no.6, pp.1419-1466, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 177 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.03.049
  • Journal Name: CELL
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1419-1466
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Horse domestication revolutionized warfare and accelerated travel, trade, and the geographic expansion of languages. Here, we present the largest DNA time series for a non-human organism to date, including genome-scale data from 149 ancient animals and 129 ancient genomes (>= 1-fold coverage), 87 of which are new. This extensive dataset allows us to assess the modem legacy of past equestrian civilisations. We find that two extinct horse lineages existed during early domestication, one at the far western (Iberia) and the other at the far eastern range (Siberia) of Eurasia. None of these contributed significantly to modern diversity. We show that the influence of Persian-related horse lineages increased following the Islamic conquests in Europe and Asia. Multiple alleles associated with elite-racing, including at the MSTN "speed gene," only rose in popularity within the last millennium. Finally, the development of modem breeding impacted genetic diversity more dramatically than the previous millennia of human management.