Steppe 2.0: would you swipe right on a steppe brother?
The biological and social consequences of Yamnaya nomadism
Recently, I tweeted Philip Edwin's above-imagined reconstruction of a Bronze-Age Yamnaya male. For my own entertainment, I wanted to see what ethnicity people with a modern eye would peg him as. Among many others, I got back Persian, Tatar, Mongol, Scythian, Punjabi, Vulcan, Central Asian, Brazilian, Turkic, Jatt, Conquistador+Nahuatl, Sephardi, Russian, Finnish, North Indian, Southern Italian, Moldovan, Romanian, Iberian, etc.
But sprinkled in among the guesses were comments like this: “let me know because I'll be using this for my online dating profile,” “Handsome bugger,” and “But the real question is: Do you have his number?”
So let's do this. They came, they saw, they re-peopled large parts of a couple of continents. Overwhelmingly the impact was from males. So what would a woman who “swiped right” 5,000 years ago on a Yamnaya arriviste be in for? In previous editions of this series on the steppe's human legacy, I've looked at their nomadism, pastoralism, cultural versatility, assimilationist capacity and openness to change. I’ve also noted their systematic brutality and winner-take-all ethos, as some of the killer apps of this conqueror race. But today let's look at what my parents' people, with their devotion to arranged marriages, call the "biodata'' of these male upstarts whose lineages so many of us modern humans carry forward today. What did it mean to be Yamnaya on the scale of a dating prospect?