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Ancient (proto-) Bulgarians have long been thought to as a Turkic population. However, evidence found in the past three decades show that this is not the case. Until now, this evidence does not include ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. In order to fill this void, we have collected human remains from the VIII-X century AD located in three necropolises in Bulgaria: Nojarevo (Silistra region) and Monastery of Mostich (Shumen region), both in Northeast Bulgaria and Tuhovishte (Satovcha region) in Southwest Bulgaria. The phylogenetic analysis of 13 ancient DNA samples (extracted from teeth) identified 12 independent haplotypes, which we further classified into mtDNA haplogroups found in present-day European and Western Eurasian populations. Our results suggest a Western Eurasian matrilineal origin for proto-Bulgarians as well as a genetic similarity between proto- and modern Bulgarians. Our future work will provide additional data which will further clarify proto-Bulgarian origins; thereby adding new clues to current understanding of European genetic evolution.
Nesheva, D V.; Karachanak-Yankova, S; Lari, M; Yordanov, Y; Galabov, A; Caramelli, David; and Toncheva, Draga, "Mitochondrial DNA Suggests a Western Eurasian origin for Ancient (Proto-) Bulgarians" (2015). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 69.