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Gelabert, P., Blazyte, A., Chang, Y., Fernandes, D.M., Jeon, S., Hong, J.G., Yoon, J., Ko, Y., Oberreiter, V., Cheronet, O., Özdoğan, K.T., Sawyer, S., Yang, S., Greytak, E.M., Choi, H., Kim, J., Kim, J.-I., Jeong, J., Bae, K., Bhak, J., Pinhasi, R., 2022. Northeastern Asian and Jomon-related genetic structure in the Three Kingdoms period of Gimhae, Korea. Current Biology
The genetic history of prehistoric and protohistoric Korean populations is not well understood because only a small number of ancient genomes are available. Here, we report the first paleogenomic data from the Korean Three Kingdoms period, a crucial point in the cultural and historic formation of Korea. These data comprise eight shotgun-sequenced genomes from ancient Korea (0.7×–6.1× coverage). They were derived from two archeological sites in Gimhae: the Yuha-ri shell mound and the Daesung-dong tumuli, the latter being the most important funerary complex of the Gaya confederacy. All individuals are from between the 4th and 5th century CE and are best modeled as an admixture between a northern China Bronze Age genetic source and a source of Jomon-related ancestry that shares similarities with the present-day genomes from Japan. The observed substructure and proportion of Jomon-related ancestry suggest the presence of two genetic groups within the population and diversity among the Gaya population. We could not correlate the genomic differences between these two groups with either social status or sex. All the ancient individuals’ genomic profiles, including phenotypically relevant SNPs associated with hair and eye color, facial morphology, and myopia, imply strong genetic and phenotypic continuity with modern Koreans for the last 1,700 years.