From deepest Siberia to Europe’s edge

A history of Finnish genes and culture: part 4 of 6

Give a gift subscription


Between early inferences from skull morphology and transparent linguistic affinity to Samoyedic dialects of Central Siberia, scholars once entertained theories of an immense genetic gulf between Finns and their European neighbors to the west and the south. Today, using the massively more powerful and precise tools and techniques of modern genomics, we can verify that native Finnish people actually average only 10% Siberian in overall ancestry (despite the fact that linguistically, Samoyedic is far closer to Finnish than Swedish). Estonians, whose language strongly resembles Finnish, are a smaller fraction still, likely due to long-term interaction with Slavic and Baltic Indo-Europeans to their south and east, who diluted the original Siberian fraction. In contrast, the Saami, who occupy the more impenetrable lands of the north, and seem to have originally been present much further south until the Finns pushed them out, are as much as 25% Siberian. Clearly, the genetic imprint of these outsiders is far more modest than their cultural influence.

This post is for paying subscribers