J Syst Evol

• Letter to the Editor •    

Ancient genome of Empress Ashina reveals the Northeast Asian origin of Göktürk Khanate

Xiao‐Min Yang1,2†, Hai‐Liang Meng1†, Jian‐Lin Zhang3, Yao Yu4, Edward Allen4, Zi‐Yang Xia5, Kong‐Yang Zhu6, Pan‐Xin Du1, Xiao‐Ying Ren4, Jian‐Xue Xiong4, Xiao‐Yu Lu4, Yi Ding4, Sheng Han7, Wei‐Peng Liu8, Li Jin1, Chuan‐Chao Wang2,6,9,10*, and Shao‐Qing Wen4,11*   

  1. 1 Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Contemporary Anthropology, Department of Anthropology and Human Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
    2 Department of Anthropology and Ethnology, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Institute of Anthropology, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China
    3 Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology, Xi'an 710054, China
    4 Institute of Archaeological Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
    5 Division of Biosciences, and Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London Genetics Institute (UGI), University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
    6 State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology, School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China
    7 Department of History, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
    8 College of Cultural Heritage, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China
    9 State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China
    10Institute of Artificial Intelligence, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China
    11Center for the Belt and Road Archaeology and Ancient Civilizations (BRAAC), Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

    These authors contributed equally to this study.
    Authors for correspondence. Chuan‐Chao Wang. E‐mail: wang@xmu.edu.cn; Shao‐Qing Wen. E‐mail: wenshaoqing@fudan.edu.cn
  • Received:2022-08-06 Accepted:2022-11-18 Online:2023-01-09


The first flourishing of the Türkic peoples took place from the 6th to 8th century with the rise of the powerful pastoral nomadic Göktürk Khanate, which was established by the Ashina clan in the region ranging from the Mongolia Plateau to the Caspian Sea (Grousset, 1970). Arriving in the wake of the Xiongnu, Xianbei and other nomadic confederations, the impact of the Türks was felt across Eurasia and would ultimately impact much of the West Eurasian ethnolinguistic over the following millennium and centuries. Unfortunately, historical records of the Göktürk Khanate are sporadic and frequently inconsistent. While the Türks no longer existed as a unified regime following the Göktürk Khanate's collapse in the mid-8th century, Turkic itself has survived as a linguistic subfamily despite prolonged contact and admixture with other Eurasian languages. Comprised of over 40 languages, Turkic is the largest group in Altaic linguistic family, and 170 million people speak Turkic languages in over 10 countries.