Papers of BAS. Humanities and Social Sciences

Vol. 6, 2019, No. 1

Archaeological and genetic data suggest Ciscaucasian origin

for the Proto-Bulgarians

Todor Chobanov, Svetoslav Stamov

Abstract. The present study aims to properly introduce the newly acquired genetic data from various surveys into the debate for the origin of the Proto-Bulgarians. A part of the research focuses on the archaeological definition of Proto-Bulgarians with all their key features, identifying the most likely key area of Proto-Bulgarian ethnogenesis - the Kuban River area. The archaeological features that prove solid contacts with early Alans are discussed, as the emerging of biritualism or even multiritualism in the same zone. Аvailable genetic data are processed with the Past software to produce principle component analysis (PCA) for the modern Bulgarians, comparing them with various ancient populations. The results prove close ties with Saltovo-Mayaki peoples and particularly with Caucasian Alans. Based on this observation and particularly the placing of various Alan samples firmly within the phylogenetic tree of modern Bulgarians, the enthnogenesis zone of the Proto-Bulgarians is reviewed again and its early start - 1st - 2nd c. - is confirmed. The general conclusion is that Proto-Bulgarians were a mixture of Late Sarmatians and older Caucasus populations, closely related to the Alans and preserving their genetic inheritance, even after arriving on the Balkans and mixing with Slav peoples and the remnants of the local Late Antiquity peoples.

Keywords: Proto-Bulgarians, Alans, ancient DNA, Kuban