Xianbei contributed to Chinese and Korean-Sillan lineages, Xiongnu contributed to Korean Kim lineages

Some evidence of which Korean lineages the Xianbei and Xiongnu contributed to is laid out in Sarah Nelson’s Gyeongju: The Capital of Golden Silla, p. 129 where the Korean clan’s Kims are according to tradition said to be descended from a Xiongnu crown prince:

Mound burials which began in Gyeongju* with the arrival of the Kim family were a hallmark of steppe burial. But were they related to the Xiongnu or to the Xianbei?

While most of the people of Silla were probably related to the Xianbei, at least some of the Kim clan believed themselves to be descended from Xiongnu ancestors. Wongtack Hong notes that,

According to Hanshu, King Wudi (r. 140- 180 BCE) launched an attack on the eastern Xiongnu in 121 BCE and captured the golden statue that had been sculpted and used by the Rites to Heaven by the Xiongnu king, Xiu-tu. Ri-Ti (Il-Je in Korea) the crown prince, killed his father and surrendered to Han Wudi, who made him Tu-Ho in appreciation of his military exploits in suppressing the rebellion. Since the Xiongnu king used to make gold statues for rites to heaven Wudi bestowed the surname Jin (Kim in Korean, implying gold) upon Ri-di.                                  (Hong W. 2012:233-234)

Further evidence that the Kim clan of Gyeongju, had a tradition of descent from the Xiongnu-Kim Clan is found in the epitaphs of King Munmu’s(r. 661-681) and a later epitaph on the tomb of a Silla lady(833-834). King Munmu relates that he was descended from “Tu-Ho, the Rites to Heaven” while a long inscription on the Silla lady’s tomb says in part “her remote ancestor was Jin Ri-Di (Kim Il-Je in Korean) whose descendants later escaped to Liaodong.”

*[In 668 AD, Gyeongju became the center of Korean political and cultural life.  The city was home to the Silla court and the great majority of the kingdom’s elite. Its prosperity became legendary, and was reported as far away as Persia according to the 9th century book The Book of Roads and Kingdoms source: History of GyeongjuWikipedia]

Charles Holcombe (2013) THE XIANBEI IN CHINESE HISTORY, Early Medieval China, 2013:19, 1-38, DOI: 10.1179/1529910413Z.0000000006


The Xianbei were perhaps the most prominent of the various non-Chinese peoples active in north China during the Age of Division. They established a number of imperial dynasties there, some of which were admittedly no more than ephemeral footnotes to history, but others of which—notably including the Northern Wei—are commonly viewed as having been major dynasties, squarely in the legitimate line of Chinese dynastic succession. In addition, the Xianbei were also central to the origins of the gloriously reunified Sui and Tang dynasties, even though the Xianbei role in their formation has not always been sufficiently appreciated. Despite their very real importance in Chinese history, the Xianbei remain today relatively little known, especially in English language scholarship. This article therefore aims to provide the most comprehensive study of the Xianbei available yet in English, to assess the overall role of the Xianbei in Chinese history, and also to examine the Xianbei as a critical case study in the more general, and controversial, process known as sinicization.

*Xianbei were also known as the Tu zu by the Chinese and Monguor by the West, for more on this see this article Alex J. Hu (2010) An overview of the history and culture of the Xianbei (‘Monguor’/‘Tu’), Asian Ethnicity, 11:1,95-164, DOI: 10.1080/14631360903531958

Yu CC, Zhao YB, Zhou H. Genetic analyses of Xianbei populations about 1,500-1,800 years old. Genetika. 2014 Mar;50(3):353-9.


To understand the profile of genetic structure of Xianbei and trace its impacts on the formation and development of the minorities from northern China, we analyzed the sequences of the hypervariable segment I (HVS-I, 16.035-16.398) in mtDNA control region of 17 Tuoba Xianbei remains from Shangdu Dongdajing cemetery (Inner Mongolia). Its haplotype diversity and nucleotide diversity were 0.971 ± 0.032 and 0.0184 ± 0.010, respectively, and the haplogroup status presented 29.5% C, 23.5% D4, 17.6% D5, 17.6% A, 5.9% B and 5.9% G. When the data from Qilang Mountain Tuoba remains and other relevant populations were considered, we found that Dongdajing Tuoba Xianbei presented the closest genetic affinity to Qilang Mountain Tuoba Xianbei. Tuoba Xianbei and Murong Xianbei showed a significant differentiation in the maternal lineages. Tuoba Xianbei may contribute to the gene pool of some northern minorities, and it may mix with Xiongnu in northern China.


Zhang Y, et al., The Y-chromosome haplogroup C3*-F3918, likely attributed to the Mongol Empire, can be traced to a 2500-year-old nomadic group.

J Hum Genet. 2018 Feb;63(2):231-238. doi: 10.1038/s10038-017-0357-z. Epub 2017 Dec 5.

The Mongol Empire had a significant role in shaping the landscape of modern populations. Many populations living in Eurasia may have been the product of population mixture between ancient Mongolians and natives following the expansion of Mongol Empire. Geneticists have found that most of these populations carried the Y-haplogroup C3* (C-M217). To trace the history of haplogroup (Hg) C3* and to further understand the origin and development of Mongolians, ancient human remains from the Jinggouzi, Chenwugou and Gangga archaeological sites, which belonged to the Donghu, Xianbei and Shiwei, respectively, were analysed. Our results show that nine of the eleven males of the Gangga site, two of the eight males of Chengwugou site and all of the twelve males of Jinggouzi site were found to have mutations at M130 (Hg C), M217 (Hg C3), L1373 (C2b, ISOGG2015), with the absence of mutations at M93 (Hg C3a), P39 (Hg C3b), M48 (Hg C3c), M407 (Hg C3d) and P62 (Hg C3f). These samples were attributed to the Y-chromosome Hg C3* (Hg C2b, ISOGG2015), and most of them were further typed as Hg C2b1a based on the mutation at F3918. Finally, we inferred that the Y-chromosome Hg C3*-F3918 can trace its origins to the Donghu ancient nomadic group.

Meanwhile, on C2b1a1b is Donghu-Rouran and possibly the ancestor of downstream lineages of Xianbei and Shiwei …

Li J1,2, et al. The genome of an ancient Rouran individual reveals an important paternal lineage in the Donghu population

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2018 Apr 21. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23491.

Following the Xiongnu and Xianbei, the Rouran Khaganate (Rouran) was the third great nomadic tribe on the Mongolian Steppe. However, few human remains from this tribe are available for archaeologists and geneticists to study, as traces of the tombs of these nomadic people have rarely been found. In 2014, the IA-M1 remains (TL1) at the Khermen Tal site from the Rouran period were found by a Sino-Mongolian joint archaeological team in Mongolia, providing precious material for research into the genetic imprint of the Rouran.  …whole-genome shotgun sequencing of TL1 were performed. The materials from three sites representing the three ancient nationalities (Donghu, Xianbei, and Shiwei#) were selected for comparison with the TL1 individual.


The mitochondrial haplotype of the TL1 individual was D4b1a2a1. The Y-chromosome haplotype was C2b1a1b/F3830 (ISOGG 2015), which was the same as that of the other two ancient male nomadic samples (ZHS5 and GG3) related to the Xianbei and Shiwei#, which were also detected as F3889; this haplotype was reported to be downstream of F3830 by Wei et al. [indicating that Xianbei and Shiwei# may have emerged from Rouran].


We conclude that F3889 downstream of F3830 is an important paternal lineage of the ancient Donghu nomads. The Donghu-Xianbei branch is expected to have made an important paternal genetic contribution to Rouran. This component of gene flow ultimately entered the gene pool of modern Mongolic- and Manchu-speaking populations.

Finally, 2 sub-branches of Altaic C3b lineages are early expansions of ancestors of modern Mongolic- and Turkic-speaking populations.

Lan-Hai Wei, Phylogeny of Y-chromosome haplogroup C3b-F1756, an important paternal lineage in Altaic-speaking populations Short Communication | 01 June 2017

In previous studies, a specific paternal lineage with a null value for the Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-STR) marker DYS448 was identified as common among Mongolic- and Turkic-speaking populations. This paternal lineage (temporarily named C3*-DYS448del) was determined to be M217+, M93–, P39–, M48–, M407–, and P53.1–, and its origin and phylogeny remain ambiguous. Here, we analyzed Y-chromosome sequences of 10 male that are related this paternal lineage and redefined it as C3b1a1a1a-F1756 (C3b-F1756). We generated a highly revised phylogenetic tree of haplogroup C3b-F1756, including 21 sub-clades and 360 non-private Y-chromosome polymorphisms. Additionally, we performed a comprehensive analysis of the C3*-DYS448del lineage in eastern Eurasia, including 18 270 samples from 297 populations. Whole Y-chromosome sequences, Y-STR haplotypes, and frequency data were used to generate a distribution map, a network, and age estimations for lineage C3*-DYS448del and its sub-lineages. Considering the historical records of the studied populations, we propose that two major sub-branches of C3b-F1756 may correspond to early expansions of ancestors of modern Mongolic- and Turkic-speaking populations. The large number of newly defined Y-chromosome polymorphisms and the revised phylogenetic tree for C3b-F1756 will assist in investigation of the early history of Altaic-speaking populations in the future.


Wei LH, et al., Whole-sequence analysis indicates that the Y chromosome C2*-Star Cluster traces back to ordinary Mongols, rather than Genghis Khan.

Eur J Hum Genet. 2018 Feb;26(2):230-237. doi: 10.1038/s41431-017-0012-3. Epub 2018 Jan 22.

The Y-chromosome haplogroup C3*-Star Cluster (revised to C2*-ST in this study) was proposed to be the Y-profile of Genghis Khan. Here, we re-examined the origin of C2*-ST and its associations with Genghis Khan and Mongol populations. We analyzed 34 Y-chromosome sequences of haplogroup C2*-ST and its most closely related lineage. We redefined this paternal lineage as C2b1a3a1-F3796 and generated a highly revised phylogenetic tree of the haplogroup, including 36 sub-lineages and 265 non-private Y-chromosome variants. We performed a comprehensive analysis and age estimation of this lineage in eastern Eurasia, including 18,210 individuals from 292 populations. We discovered that the origin of populations with high frequencies of C2*-ST can be traced to either an ancient Niru’un Mongol clan or ordinary Mongol tribes. Importantly, the age of the most recent common ancestor of C2*-ST (2576 years, 95% CI = 1975-3178) and its sub-lineages, and their expansion patterns, are consistent with the diffusion of all Mongolic-speaking populations, rather than Genghis Khan himself or his close male relatives. We concluded that haplogroup C2*-ST is one of the founder paternal lineages of all Mongolic-speaking populations, and direct evidence of an association between C2*-ST and Genghis Khan has yet to be discovered.

Combined with the results of historical studies, we found that several modern populations with high frequencies of C2*-ST can be traced back to either an ancient Mongol Niru’un clan or ordinary Mongol tribes, including the Manghit tribe in Uzbekistan and Nogay populations, the Keneges tribe from Uzbekistan, the Hazara population from Afghanistan, the Daur population from China, and the Dulat, Uysun, and Kerey tribe in Kazakh populations. The details of the origin and migration history of these tribes or populations are discussed in the Supplementary Text. The Niru’un Mongols (which translates to “the pure Mongols”) were believed to be the descendants of Alan Quo’a. Genghis Khan belonged to the Kiyan clan in the Niru’un tribe (Supplementary Fig. S2) [33].

Hazara people were considered as direct descendants of Genghis Khan, and hence become a strong evidence to support the connection between C2*-ST and Genghis Khan in Zerjal et al. [1] However, the original material used in this study indicated that the Hazara were derived from ten military detachments sent by Genghis Khan [34]. According to available historical records, those military detachments, amounting to about 20,000 soldiers in total, were ordinary people of Mongol tribes [3435]. There is no evidence that they were direct descendants of Genghis Khan, whose descendants were well-documented during that era [3335].

According to the revised phylogenetic tree, C2b1a3a2-F8951 is the most closely related lineage to C2*-ST (Fig. 3). We observed C2b1a3a2-F8951 mainly in Daur and Manchu populations in the eastern Greater Khingan Mountains [17], while we observed other C2*-ST lineages in populations in the Mongolia Plateau, Central Asia, or even western regions (Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary Table S2). Interestingly, according to historical records, the northern region of the Greater Khingan Mountains is the home of the Shi-Wei tribes, ancestors of Mongols [36]. The Daur population lived in the middle reaches of the Amur River at the end of 16th century. There is no earlier historical record of the Daur. Additionally, there is no evidence that they were part of the Mongol tribes when Genghis Khan and his descendants started to unify the Mongol populations and subsequently establish a vast empire across Eurasia [33]. Therefore, we concluded that both Hazara and Daur originated from ordinary ancient Mongolic-speaking populations, rather than from Genghis Khan or his close male relatives.

According to historical studies and legends, ancestors of Mongol tribes lived in the northern region of the Greater Khingan Mountains before they moved westward onto the Mongolia Plateau [333536]. Subsequently, they expanded to Central Asia and Europe after the establishment of the Mongol Empire. The estimated age of haplogroup C2*-ST in this study ( ~ 2600 years) was much older than the earliest record of Mongol tribes in Chinese historical materials ( ~ 1300 years ago) [36]. However, the Xian-Bei and Shi-Wei tribes appeared in Chinese historical materials at about 1900 years ago [36]. It is generally accepted that the Xian-Bei and Shi-Wei tribes are the direct ancestors of modern Mongolic-speaking populations. In the context of these historical records, we propose that haplogroup C2*-ST originated in the northern region of the Greater Khingan Mountains, and the genetic expansion of this lineage corresponds to the differentiation of ancient Mongolic-speaking populations.

According to the revised phylogenetic tree of C2*-ST in this study, we propose that sub-lineage C2b1a3a1c2-F5481/SK1075 is an important clade of C2*-ST in Central Asia and adjacent region (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Table S3). Haplogroup C2b1a3a1c2-F5481 only had one definitive marker and gave birth to five different sub-branches determined by samples from Mongolian populations and populations from Central Asia, such as Hazara, Kazakhs, and Kirgiz (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Table S3). As discussed in the Supplementary Text, Manghit, Keneges, Dulat, and Hazara can be clearly traced to Niru’un Mongols. They are all descendants of the armies sent to various regions of the Mongol Empire by Genghis Khan. Therefore, genetic evidence in this study suggests that sub-lineage C2b1a3a1c2-F5481/SK1075 is one of the most important lineages in ancient Mongols, which eventually spread to the west of the Altai Mountain region.

Japan and Korea are C2e


C2’s subgroups are divided into C2b and C2e, and in Mongolia, most belong to C2b(Genghis Khan modal), while very few are C2e. On the other hand, C2b takes minority and most are C2e in Japan and Korea and Southern East Asia. C2e is widely spread in Southern east Asia and east Asia, and it appears that those are part of Y haplogroup of Paleo-Asiatic race on the seaside, not the Y haplogroup which Mongolia wishes for.[29]

C3c is the Manchu cluster, only ~500 years old

Its C-M48 subclade, which has been identified as a possible marker of the Manchu Aisin Gioro and has been found in ten different ethnic minorities in northern China, is absent from many Han Chinese populations (Heilongjiang, Gansu, Guangdong, Sichuan and Xinjiang)

Xue, Y; Zerjal, T; Bao, W; Zhu, S; Lim, SK; Shu, Q; Xu, J; Du, R; Fu, S; Li, P; Yang, H; Tyler-Smith, C (2015-09-28). “Recent Spread of a Y-Chromosomal Lineage in Northern China and Mongolia”Am. J. Hum. Genet77: 1112–6. doi:10.1086/498583PMC 1285168Freely accessiblePMID 16380921.

Manchu cluster chromosomes were present in seven populations: Xibe, Outer Mongolians, Inner Mongolians, Ewenki, Oroqen, Manchu, and Hezhe (fig. 3). With the exception of the Xibe, these populations are all located in northeastern China or Mongolia, and the Xibe migrated to their present location in western China from northeastern China in 1764 (Du and Yip 1993). These findings, therefore, suggest that the cluster originated and spread locally in northeastern China/Mongolia and that this happened before the time of the Xibe migration.

… the Manchu cluster is exceptional, in that its sharing between populations is a lineage-specific phenomenon rather than a general feature of all lineages in these populations….

Notable features are the occurrence of the lineage in seven different populations but its apparent absence from the most populous Chinese ethnic group, the Han. A major historical event took place in this part of the world during this period—namely, the Manchu conquest of China and the establishment of the Qing dynasty, which ruled China from 1644 to 1912. This dynasty was founded by Nurhaci (1559–1626) and was dominated by the Qing imperial nobility, a hereditary class consisting of male-line descendants of Nurhaci’s paternal grandfather, Giocangga (died 1582), with >80,000 official members by the end of the dynasty (Elliott 2001). The nobility were highly privileged; for example, a ninth-rank noble annually received ∼11 kg of silver and 22,000 liters of rice and maintained many concubines. A central part of the Qing social system was the army, the Eight Banners, which was made up of separate Manchu, Mongolian, and Chinese (Han) Eight Banners. The nobility occupied high ranks in the Manchu Eight Banners but not in the Mongolian or Chinese Eight Banners; the Manchu Eight Banners were recruited from the Manchu, Mongolian, Daur, Oroqen, Ewenki, Xibe, and a few other populations. A social mechanism was thus established that would have led to the increase of the specific Y lineage carried by Giocangga and Nurhaci and to its spread into a limited number of populations. We suggest that this lineage was the Manchu lineage.

       C1a1 – M8 Japanese
      C2a – M93 Japan
      C2b –  L1373 Northern Asia, esp. central Asia
           C2b1 – P39 Amerindian (an exception to the Asian grp.)
      C2d – P62 Mongolia
C2e – Z1338 eastern Asia
The Y haplogroup tree was recently revised with newly suggested Y-SNP markers for designation of several subgroups of haplogroups C2, O2b and O3a, which are predominant in Koreans. Therefore, herein we analyzed these newly suggested Y-SNPs in 545 unrelated Korean males who belong to the haplogroups C2, O2b or O3a, and investigated the reconstructed topology of the Y haplogroup tree. We were able to confirm that markers L1373, Z1338/JST002613-27, Z1300, CTS2657, Z8440 and F845 define the C2 subhaplogroups, C2b, C2e, C2e1, C2e1a, C2e1b and C2e2, respectively, and that markers F3356, L682, F11, F238/F449 and F444 define the O subhaplogroups O2b1, O2b1b, O3a1c1, O3a1c2 and O3a2c1c, respectively. Among six C2 subhaplogroups (C2b, C2e, C2e1*, C2e1a, C2e1b and C2e2), the C2e haplogroup and its subhaplogroups were found to be predominant, and among the four O2b subhaplogroups (O2b*, O2b1*, O2b1a and O2b1b), O2b1b was most frequently observed. Among the O3a subhaplogroups, O3a2c1 was predominant and it was further divided into the subhaplogroups O3a2c1a and O3a2c1c with a newly suggested marker. However, the JST002613-27 marker, which had been known to define the haplogroup C2f, was found to be an ancestral marker of the C2e haplogroup, as is the Z1338 marker. Also, the M312 marker for the O2b1 haplogroup designation was replaced by F3356, because all of the O2b1 haplotypes showed a nucleotide change at F3356, but not at M312. In addition, the F238 marker was always observed to be phylogenetically equivalent to F449, while both of the markers were assigned to the O3a1c2 haplogroup. The confirmed phylogenetic tree of this study with the newly suggested Y-SNPs could be valuable for anthropological and forensic investigations of East Asians including Koreans.
Confirmation of Y haplogroup tree topologies with newly suggested Y-SNPs for the C2, O2b and O3a subhaplogroups | Request PDF. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/278049738_Confirmation_of_Y_haplogroup_tree_topologies_with_newly_suggested_Y-SNPs_for_the_C2_O2b_and_O3a_subhaplogroups [accessed Jul 22 2018].
Confirmation of Y haplogroup tree topologies with newly suggested Y-SNPs for the C2, O2b and O3a subhaplogroups
System 1 is capable of classifying the Japanese population into the major clades C, D, D1, D2, D3, O, O1a, O2, O3, N, and Q. System 2 subdivides clade D2; System 3 subdivides clade O2 Most of the Japanese population can be classified using these three mini Y chromosome SNP multiplex systems. Table 1 shows the frequency for the Japanese population. Mutations RPS4Y711 (haplogroup C), IMS-JST021355 (haplogroup D), and P191 (haplogroup O), respectively, were 8.3%, 30.3%, and  59.0%, haplogroup frequencies similar to those found in past studies [18-21]. Using Systems 2 and 3, we subdivided populations of haplogroups D2 and O2. In this survey, haplogroup D2a1b (16.2%) was the most frequent in Japanese haplogroup D populations and haplogroup O2b (32.2%) the most frequent in the haplogroup O population. The haplogroup frequencies observed in haplogroup D2 and O2 were similar to those reported in previous studies [19,20]
The haplogoup D lineage occurs most frequently in Central Asia and in Japan; the haplogroup D2 lineage is rarely found outside Japan [11]. In this survey, all haplogroup D instances belonged to haplogroup D2, while the frequencies of subhaplogroups D2*, D2a1*, and D2a1b showed no significant differences from previous reports and fine
classifications, suggesting that System 2 may be very useful in subdividing the Japanese haplogroup D2 population. Where further classification is required, IMS-JST022456 may help define the subclades of haplogroup D2 [20].
Haplogroup O, the most prevalent haplogroup in Japan, was divided by System 1 and further divided by System 3. In System 1, 21.3% of samples branched into haplogroup O3. Using System 3, we demonstrated that haplogroup O2 branched into haplogroup O2b (32.2%). Haplogroups O2b and O3 accounted for more than half the Japanese population. Introducing still another system to subdivide haplogroups 2b and O3 should make it still more useful for personal identification. Reports indicate many individuals in the Japanese haplogroup O2b have the 47z mutation (haplogroup O2b1) [11,25]. Additionally, the Japanese haplogroup O3 can be divided into further subgroups [27,28].
We found that haplogroup O accounted for 59.0% of the samples; haplogroup D for 30.3% of the samples; and haplogroup C for 8.3%. Several studies indicate haplogroups C, D, and O are found in more than 95% of the East Asian population [18,28], but at differing proportions from country to country. Japan features high proportions of haplogroup D, while South Korea features high proportions of haplogroup C [28].
Genetic differences between East Asians are also evident in mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.
Mitochondrial DNA is an excellent tool for forensic genetics due to the high copy numbers per cell and maternal inheritance. Certain mitochondrial haplogroups, such as M7a and N9b, occur frequently in the Japanese population but are rarely encountered in other East Asian populations [29]. Using mitochondrial and Y chromosome SNPs, we can exploit these differences to categorize East Asian populations into the appropriate haplogroups.

The Yuwen clan of Xianbei:

References to the Khitan in Chinese sources date back to the fourth century. The Yuwen clan of the Xianbei, an ethnic group situated in the area covered by the modern Liaoning province, preceeded the Khitans. After Murong clan conquered their regime, the remnants scattered in the modern-day Inner Mongolia, mixing with the original Mongolic population. They had been identified as a distinct ethnic group since paying tribute to the Northern Wei Dynasty in the mid-sixth century. Khitans came under control of Uighurs during the Tang dynasty. Once the Uighurs left their home in the Mongolian Plateau in 842, that created a power vacuum that gave the Khitan the opportunity to rise. The Khitan invaded the areas vacated by the Uighurs.

The Khitan knew of the Korean kingdom of Silla which they referred to as a little China.

The Liao Dynasty, founded in 907 when Abaoji, posthumously known as Emperor Taizu, rose to leadership of the Khitans. When the Khitan conquered the kingdom of Balhae, the border with Korea had been pushed to the Yalu River. Korea underwent significant transformations at the same time. Goryeo, founded in 918, eventually unified the entire Korean Peninsula. The Silla kingdom, which had ruled most of the peninsula since the seventh century, fell in 935. In 993, the Khitan invaded Goryeo’s northwest border with 800,000 troops. They withdrew, ceding territory to the east of the Yalu River when Goryeo agreed to end its alliance with Song China. Goryeo continued to communicate with Song, having strengthened its position by building fortresses in the newly gained northern territories.

In 1010, Emperor Shengzong of Liao led a massive invasion with 800,000 men, commanding the army himself. He easily defeated the resisting army of General Gang Jo, whom the Khitans executed. Gang Gam-chan urged to King Hyeonjong to escape from the palace rather than surrender to invading Liao troops. King followed Gang Gam-chan’s advice, managing to escape from the burning capital. A Korean insurgency began to harass Khitan forces. Finally Shengzong ordered a withdrawal of the entire force of Khitans; Khitans lost the war and disappeared from the map entirely. Dna research shows modern-day Daur people have a genetic match to the Qidan of ancient China, making them possible descendants of the Qidan people.

The Khitan

The Khitan (or Khitai, Chinese: 契丹; pinyin: Qìdān), are an ethnic group that dominated much of Manchuria (Northeast China) in the tenth century. Chinese historians classified the Khitan as one of the Eastern proto-Mongolic ethnic groups Donghu (Simplified Chinese: 东胡族; Traditional Chinese: 東胡族; pinyin: Dōnghú zú). They established the Liao Dynasty in 907 but fell to the Jin Dynasty of the Jurchen in 1125. Following the fall of the Liao Dynasty, many moved further west and established the state of Kara Khitai. Their name survived in the Russian word for China (Китай, Kitay), as well as the archaic English (Cathay), Portuguese (Catai), and Spanish (Catay) appellations of the country

Khitans had much in common with the Mongolians that came after them. After defeating Balhae dynasty in 936, the region passed through the hands of other regional powers over then following centuries, including ?

Genetic Structure Analysis of Human Remains from Khitan Noble Necropolis
says Daur not descended from Khitans (R1a1h)

Donghu, 2,500 BC. Zhinggouzis, Chifeng city burial site in Inner Mongolia, in North China. Ydna C*(C1,2, 3,5) mtdna D4,5, C, M10, G2…closest to Xianbei, and then to Oroqens, all pastoralists. Bronze swords, daggers, no farming tools.


Ydna C3 Liao, Khitan, NE China / Inner Mongolia

Ydna C3c Oroqen, 700AD, NE China/Inner Mongolia …Rouran/Uighur Khaganate/Liao dynasty

Molecular Genetic Analysis of Khitan Population in Liao Dynasty
Posted on March 12, 2010 source China Papers

Abstract: Khitan was an ancient nomadic ethnic population in northern China and came of the boundless grasslands upriver of the Liao River. The Khitan Kingdom was established in 907, then changed its national title to Liao forty years later. In 1125, Liao Kingdom was defeated by Jurchen. At that time some Khitans moved towards the west to Central Asia and established a new empire called Western Liao, which was conquered by Mongolia in 1218. Khitan has completely disappeared from all the historical record till the end of Yuan dynasty. Khitan had profound influences at that time on the politics, the economy and the culture of China, North Asia and Central Asia, although Khitan has not existed for a long time. Therefore, it is significant on the history and archaeology.

According to sinologists Denis C. Twitchett and Klaus-Peter Tietze, it is generally held that the Khitans emerged from the Yuwen branch of the Xianbei people. Following a defeat at the hands of another branch of the Xianbei in 345, the Yuwen split into three tribes, one of which was called the Kumo Xi. In 388 the Kumo Xi itself split, with one group remaining under the name Kumo Xi and the other group becoming the Khitans.[10] This view is partially backed up by the Book of Wei, which describes the Khitans as being of Xianbei origins.[10] There are also several competing theories on the origin of the Khitans….

Beginning with Rashid-al-Din Hamadani in the fourteenth century, several Western scholars have theorized that the Khitans were Mongolic[12][13] in origin, and in the late 19th century Western scholars made the claim that the Khitans were Tungusic in origin—modern linguistic analysis has discredited this claim.[14] Many similar words exist between Khitan and Koreanic languages that are not found in Tungusic or Mongolic languages.[15]

By the time the Book of Wei was written in 554, the Khitans had formed a state in what is now China’s Jilin and Liaoning Provinces.[10] The Khitans suffered a series of military defeats to other nomadic groups in the region, as well as to the Chinese Northern Qi (550-577) and Sui (589-618) Dynasties. Khitan tribes at various times fell under the influence of Turkic tribes such as the Uighurs and Chinese dynasties such as the Sui and Tang. This influence would significantly shape Khitan language and culture.[16] In the Suishu (Book of Sui, Volume 84) the Khitan are described as “bellicose in plundering and raiding borders” and “the most uncourteous and arrogant among all barbarians”. The Liaoshi (LS, vol. 32 and 59) gives the following account of the early Khitan:

Residing in the Great Desert (大漠 – dàmò), where there is much cold and much wind, they had livestock tending and fishing as food source, fur as dress and migrated with the seasons. Their specialty was carts and horses…In the old Khitan custom, their wealth was horses, their strength was soldiers. Horses were released all through the open country and demobilized soldiers were spread throughout the people. When a matter of importance or battle arose they were called to arms. If the order was given at 5am they would all assemble forthwith at 7am. Horses followed water and grass. People relied on milk and kumiss. They bent the powerful bow and shot animals for their daily use. They had dried food and fodder. This was their Way (道 – dào). On account of this they maintain victory and wherever they look they encounter no opposition.

The Liaoshi (LS, vol. 32) names the ancient eight tribes of the Khitan (who are also mentioned in the Weishu):

These are the ancient eight tribes: the Xiwandan tribe, the Hedahe tribe, the Fufuyu tribe, the Yuling tribe, the Nilin tribe, the Pixie tribe, the Li (Black) tribe, the Tuliuyu tribe…Soon after increasing in population they invaded the Northern Qi (北齊 – Běi Qí) but lost a hundred thousand people to captivity. Then, being pressed by the Turks (突厥 – Tūjué), they temporarily resided in Korea (高麗 – Gāolí) numbering not much more than ten thousand families. The tribes became scattered and were no longer the eight tribes of old.
For most of the century between 630 and 730, the Khitans were under the influence of the Tang dynasty. The arrangement was largely the doing of the Khitan Dahe clan. The Tang emperor bestowed the Chinese surname Li on the Dahe and appointed their leader to a governorship that Twitchett and Tietze described as “an office specifically created for the indirect management of the Khitan tribes”.[17] Towards the turn of the century, however, Tang control of the north began to slip as it focused attention on its other borders. In 696 the Dahe leader, Li Jinzhong, launched a rebellion and led Khitan forces into Hebei. Although the rebellion was defeated, it took over fifteen years before the Tang were able to reassert control over the Khitans, and that control would never be strong or long-lived. Re-disintegration of Khitan-Liao relations in the 730s saw the Yaolian clan replace the Dahe as the Khitan ruling clan, forcing Tang governor An Lushan to launch two invasions into Khitan territory in 751 and 755. After being soundly defeated by the Khitans during the first invasion, An Lushan was successful in the second, but he then led a rebellion against the Tang that included Khitan troops in his army. The An Lushan Rebellion marked the beginning of the end of the Tang dynasty.[18]

Following the An Lushan Rebellion, the Khitans became vassals of the Uighurs, while simultaneously paying tributes to the Tang, a situation that lasted from 755 until the fall of the Uighurs in 840. From 840 until the rise of Abaoji, the Khitans remained a tributary of the Tang dynasty.[19]

Abaoji and the rise of the Khitans
Main article: Emperor Taizu of Liao
Abaoji,[20] who later became Emperor Taizu of Liao, was born in 872, the son of the chief of the Yila tribe. At that time, the Yila tribe was the largest and strongest of the eight affiliated Khitan tribes; however, the Great Khan, the overall leader of the Khitans, was drawn from the Yaolian lineage. In 901 Abaoji was elected to be the chief of the Yila tribe by its tribal council. By 903, Abaoji had been named the Yüyue, the overall military leader of the Khitans, subordinate only to the Great Khan. Four years later, in 907, Abaoji became the Great Khan of the Khitans, ending nine generations of Yaolian rule.[21] Abaoji acquired the prestige needed to secure the position of Khitan Great Khan through a combination of effective diplomacy and a series of successful military campaigns, beginning in 901, against the Han Chinese forces to the south, the Xi and Shiwei to the west, and the Jurchens in the east.[21]

The same year that Abaoji became Great Khan, the Chinese warlord Zhu Wen, who in 904 had murdered the last legitimate emperor of the Tang dynasty, declared the Tang over and named himself emperor of China. His dynasty dissolved quickly, ushering in the fifty-three-year period of disunity known as the Five Dynasties period. One of the five dynasties, the Later Jin (936–947), was a client state of the Khitans.[22

Q: Donghu – Who were they? How were they related to the other nomads?

A: The study below finds that the Donghu are closest to the Xianbeis and the Oroqens.

Haijing Wang et al., Genetic characteristics of an ancient nomadicgroup in northern China, Available from : http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol_preprints/1
Nomadic populations have played a significant role in the history of not only China but also in many nations worldwide. Because they had no written language, an important aspect in the study of these people is the discovery of their tombs. It has been generally accepted that Xiongnu was the first empire created by nomadic tribe in the 3rd century B.C. However, little population genetic information is available concerning the Donghu, another flourishing nomadic tribe at the same period because of the restriction of materials until Jinggouzi site was excavated. In order to test the genetic characteristics of ancient people in this site and explore the relationship between Jinggouzis and Donghus, two uniparentally inherited markers were analyzed from 42 human remains in this site, which located in northern China, dated approximately 2,500 years ago. With ancientDNA technology, four mtDNA haplogroups (D, G, C and M10) and one Y chromosome haplogroup (C) were identified using mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNPs). Those haplogroups are common in North Asia and
East Asia. And the Jinggouzi people were genetically closest to the Xianbeis in ancient populations and to the Oroqens among extant populations, who were all pastoralists. This might indicate that ancient Jinggouzi people were nomads. Meanwhile, according to the genetic data and the evidences in archaeology, we inferred that Jinggouzi people were associated with Donghu. It is of much value to trace the history of Donghu tribe and might show some insight into the ancient nomadic society.

It is acceptable by the worldwide that the Xiongnu was the first empire created by nomadic tribe in the 3rd century B.C. in history (Christine et al. 2003). Nonetheless few knew that there was another ancient nomadic
tribal union in the same period—the Donghu, located in the eastern of Xiongnus in the record of some ancient Chinese literature (Lin 1989), had been flourishing in North China for many years. After being defeated by Xiongnus in early western Han dynasty (about 206 BC), the underlings broke up to two new nomadic tribes– the Wuhuan and Xianbei (Lin 1989). And some later important tribes or ethnic groups such as the Khitan, Shiwei, Mongol, Daur and Xibo, among others, also belonged to the Donghu lineage (Lin 1989).
Because the Donghu tribe had neither writings nor buildings, and the record on it was scarcity, so that it couldn’t be known to the world. Some scholars try to find the remains of the Donghu to testify its existence and study the ancient tribe, but they didn’t obtain valuable clues for many years until the Jinggouzi site was excavated.
The Jinggouzi site consisted of diverse burial patterns (21 single burials, 12 double and 22 multiple burials). Many animal bones, such as those of horse, cattle, sheep, donkey, mule and dog, were found at this archaeological site, while no farming tools and farming products were discovered. This observation implied that stockbreeding was a dominant activity for their livelihood (Wang et al. 2010). The Jinggouzi site was estimated to have been used in the late Spring-Autumn period (770–476 BC) and the early War States period (475–221 BC) based on the associated funeral material and was corroborated by reasonable radiocarbon (14C) measurements (2485 ± 45 B.P.) (Wang et al. 2010).

MtDNA polymorphisms and haplogroup identification 42 mtDNA sequences were all successfully amplified from position 16017 to 16409 of the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS). There were a total of 32
phylogenetically informative sites, and 26 mtDNA haplotypes were obtained, as presented in Table 2. A majority of the mtDNA of these specimens fully exhibited haplogroup motifs and therefore could be safely assigned to the relevant haplogroups, which were consistent with the APLP and sequencing results. The 26 different haplotypes were further assigned to 4 haplogroups: C, D, G and M10. Out of 42 obtained sequences, 6 were assigned to haplogroup C, 25 to haplogroup D, 10 to G and 1 to M10 (Table 2). The high frequency of the 16223-16362 motif was the main characteristic of the mtDNA sequences, and haplogroups D and G were dominant in the ancient Jinggouzi people
Moreover, almost all of the samples belonging to the mtDNA haplogroup D were in the sub-haplogroup D4, except for one (sample code 29) which was assigned to haplogroup D5 based on the mutation 16189 (Yao et al. 2002a) and another one (sample code 14) which could not be further classified. All of the haplogroup G samples were further divided into haplogroup G2 based on the mutation 16278 (Yao et al. 2002a). All of these results are shown in Table 2.
In this study, a set of Y-SNP markers was investigated, including M8-derived (Hg C1), M38-derived (Hg C2), PK2-derived (Hg C3) and M356-derived (Hg C5) markers, none of which matched our samples …[hence], these samples were assigned to the Hg C* group in this study.

Jinggouzi cemeteries were composed of relatively well-preserved skeletons. Indeed, the climatic conditions (cold and dry) and the archaeological context encountered at this site had undoubtedly protected the most recovered specimens against DNA degradation.
In the present article, strict precautions were taken to avoid the contamination of samples with modern DNA during sampling and laboratory analysis. With appropriate effort to exclude possible errors in the obtained sequences, genetic data were successfully obtained from a sample of 42 human skeletal remains in this site using maternal and paternal markers.
From the maternal standpoint, four mtDNA haplogroups (D, C, G and M10) were observed, which all belonging to the macrohaplogroup M and could be assigned to an Eastern Eurasian mtDNA gene pool. Some individuals sharing the same sequence (shown in Table 2) had close maternal genetic relationships (Vernesi et al. 2004, Ainhoa et al.
Regarding the paternal inheritance, only one Y-SNP haplogroup
(Hg C*) was detected. It indicated that ancient Jinggouzi people had simplex paternal genetic structure.
According to MDS, the results indicated some degree of genetic similarity between Jinggouzis and nomadic populations (Xiangbeis, Xiongnus, Oroqens and Mongols) rather than farming groups (Hengbeis, Taojiazhais, Nuheliangs, South Hans and North Hans) (Fig.2). Meanwhile, according to the excavation report, animal skulls, bronze swords, as well as daggers but no farming tools were found at the Jinggouzi burial site. These burial objects implied that the ancient Jinggouzi people lived by hunting and stockbreeding(Wang et al. 2010). Moreover, a high ratio of 15N isotopes in these bones of remains from
the Western zone of the Jinggouzi cemetery was found, indicating that the animal food intake in their daily nutrition was rather high(Zhang et al. 2008). This finding also suggests that activities related to animal raising and hunting played a significant role in the subsistence of the Jinggouzi people at the time. Combined with the genetic data, we inferred that ancient Jinggouzi people were nomads.
Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA diversity were comparable to that of ancient and contemporary populations. Jinggouzi people exhibited the nearest genetic distance with Xianbeis among ancient groups (Figure 2), indicating that Jinggouzi people had the closest relationship with Xianbeis, who were the descendants of Donghus.
Interestingly, both the mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA frequency analyses indicate that Jinggouzis are most closely related to Oroqens (Fig. 3 and 4), who are originating from the north of Asia (Pu 1983). This result was consistent with that of MDS analysis And most scholars consider the Shiwei was the ancestor of Oroqens, who were also the Donghus’ descendants.
It can be inferred that Jinggouzis had some relationship with Donghus.
In addition, the location of the burial ground, Chifeng city of Inner Mongolia, was part of the Donghu territory, and the 14C analysis dated the site to 2485 ± 45 B.C., coinciding with the time in which the Donghu flourished according to the Chinese historical records (Wang et al. 2010). Based on these findings, we inferred that the ancient Jinggouzi people associated with the Donghu culture, they might belong to Donghu population. It is of much value to trace the history of Donghu and know more about the development and disappearance of this ancient nomadic tribe. Moreover, it might help us to explore the structure of the ancient nomadic society.


The present paper divides the generally recognized Xianbei tombs into five groups. The first group is in the Haila’er River valley on the western side of the northern Greater Hinggan Mountains; the second group, in the West Liaohe River valley; the third group, in the Chaoyang area; the fourth group, on the boundary between Inner Mongolia and Shanxi; and the fifth group, in northern Shanxi, middle Inner Mongolia and the zone a little west of them. In cultural aspect, the second group tombs show certain similarity to the cemeteries at Lamadong of Beipiao and Qilangshan of Qahar Right Wing Banner, which present Xianbei features in pottery but distinct difference from the already affirmed Xianbei graves in burial manner, a cultural element maybe more expressive of ethnic attribution than pottery.As the shape of the second group tombs is unlike that of the generally recognized Xianbei tombs, there is no sufficient evidence to assign these graves to the Xianbei.Referring to literal records, it must be reasonable to attribute them to the Wuhuan rather than to the Eastern Xianbei as early researchers believed. The third group tombs centering on Chaoyang belong to the Murong Xianbei and present distinct features related to the second group tombs, which suggests that the Murong Xianbei culture represented by the third group may have partly inherited the Wuhuan culture represented by the second group. The fifth group tombs are the closest to the Northern Wei burials so far excavated, so they may represent the source of the Tuoba Xianbei culture. The first group of remains, judged by their cultural aspect, can hardly be taken as the direct successor of the fifth group graves and Northern Wei tombs, so the burials on the western side of the Greater Hinggan Mountains may have belonged to the Eastern Xianbei rather than to the Tuoba Xianbei. As the fifth group tombs show certain similarity in funeral objects to the fourth group that may have belonged to Tan Shi Huai’s reign, to speak in temporal terms, it was hardly possible that the Tuoba Xianbei entered the Datong area through the route on the western side of the Greater Hinggan Mountains.Moreover, as the fifth group tombs are related to a certain extent to the Xiongnu tombs near Baikal Lake, it can be inferred that the Tuoba Xianbei originated in the northern Greater Hinggan Mountains, then went into the zone near Hulun Buir, from there migrated southwestwards, and later, turning eastwards, entered the middle area of present-day Inner Mongolia.


This area as a whole, including the drainage plain of the West Liaohe River, probably had a very moist climate during the mid to late Eastern Han Dynasty.
2. The hypothesis that the remains of Group 5 (including the Bagou cemetery in Xinghe and others) are those of the Tuoba Xianbei. The main characteristics of the Bagou remains and others are unique; at the same time, they also have some connections with the remains at Jalainur in Xin Barag Banner and Sandaowan Cemetery in Qahar Right Rear Banner. It is possible that the remains of
Bagou have their own origins. Comparing to the Jalainur and Nan Yangjiayingzi remains, the remains at the Bagou Cemetery and others seem to have closer and more direct ties to the typical Tuoba Xianbei burials. That is to say,
the most important resource of Tuoba Xianbei culture is located in the Bagou remains. In other words, the Jalainur remains and others that were deduced to be Tuoba Xianbei remains may not be genuine Tuoba Xianbei remains but
the remains of the Eastern Xianbei.
Lending support to the views above is the interpretation of Mr. Ma Changshou’s early study of the origins and migration routes of the Tuoba Xianbei. According to this study, the Tuoba Xianbei and the Donghu Xianbei may have had the same origin, but they increasingly diverged with the passage of time. The main argument is based on the understanding that the Tuoba Xianbei came
from the integration of the Xianbei and the Xiongnu.
The earliest birthplace of the Tuoba Xianbei is located in the northeastern corner of present Inner Mongolia, corresponding to the southeast part of the present Argun River. Juru (the swampy zone), the place where first Tuiyin led the mass migration of the Xianbei people to settle down, may have been in the area of the present Lake Hulun. Six generations later, the so-called second Tuiyin
(also called Tuiyan) became one of the Great Chiefs of the western tribes joined under Tanshihuai’s alliance. If Tanshihuai’s alliance successively incorporated the five Great Chiefs of the western Xianbei tribes from east to west according to textual records, then the herding base of the Tuiyan would be located in the Hovd region in the west part of Mongolia (east of present-day Altai Mountains). Later, they migrated to the central region of Inner Mongolia.
3. The hypothesis that Group 1 (Jalainur cemetery and others) remains are those of the Eastern Xianbei. This theory had been proposed by historians a long time ago. Representative of this view is the study of Mr. Zhang Boquan who says: “The Xianbei cultural remains in the areas of former activity of the Dong Hu, Wuhuan and Eastern Xianbei should belong to the Eastern Xianbei and the Wuhuan, and there should not have been any remains of the Tuoba Xianbei. The so-called Xianbei culture that existed in the Hulun Buir steppe did not leave much
evidence for comparison with that of the Tuoba Xianbei.

On the other hand, it could be compared to the historical record in Houhan Shu (the Book of Later Han) concerning the society and customs of the Wuhuan and the Eastern Xianbei…. In particular, the admixture of Han cultural artifacts clearly points to the special cultural character of the Eastern Xianbei that stemmed from the Dong Hu. It is different from the Tuoba Xianbei culture that manifests the dictum: ‘Xianbei as father, Hu as mother.’”

III. Conclusion
Based on the excavated materials at the two cemeteries
– Lamadong in Beipiao and Qilangshan in Qahar Right Middle Banner, the present study finds that the core subject of archaeological study – burial customs
and pottery vessels of ancient ethnic groups – may indicate certain incongruities. What was once inferred to be Eastern Xianbei remains in the west of presentday
Liaoning Province, which was “earlier than” the Murong Xianbei, are now  deduced to be probably that of Wuhuan; what were once assumed to be Tuoba Xianbei remains before are now construed to be probably that of the Eastern Xianbei. Meanwhile, the historical origin of the Tuoba Xianbei is still unclear. However, the second massive migration of the Tuoba Xianbei may not have
taken the route along the western side of the Greater Khingan Mountains as proposed in the past. Extant archaeological materials seem to suggest the merging of the Tuoba Xianbei and the Xiongnu; perhaps the dictum from textual records “Xianbei as father and Hu as mother” could be interpreted with the study of archaeology.

See also Liao Dynasty