Congressus XIV Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum

Symposium D.1: Transdisciplinary approach in the studies of the human past


Geneticists: Kristiina Tambets1, Lehti Saag1, Alena Kushniarevich1

Archaeologists: Mari Tõrv1, Valter Lang1

Folklorists: Mari Sarv2

1 – University of Tartu, 2 – Estonian Literary Museum

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Nowadays, studies of the human past employ various approaches and technological capabilities (Racimo et al., 2020). Collaboration between humanities and natural sciences opens up facets of our history that remain inaccessible when examined solely within individual disciplines. While the results obtained within each discipline may not be directly linked, the development, divergence, and pathways manifesting in language and intangible culture are associated with human contacts and communication, migrations, material culture, and changing environments. To study similarities and differences in cultural and biological processes, extensive datasets, new frameworks and methods for their joint analysis are needed. Several recent initiatives have already tackled questions of biological and cultural evolution, for instance, the genetic affinities within language families, spatiotemporal overlaps of material culture and linguistic and genetic origins – both at the Uralic and global level (Barbieri et al., 2022; Creanza et al., 2015; Lang, 2018; Tambets et al., 2018).

This transdisciplinary symposium examines the connections and causes of cultural, and genetic diversity among human groups and provides an overview of the contributions of archaeology, genetics, and other related disciplines to understand the variation seen in linguistic and folklore data. The goal of the symposium is to continue developing cross-disciplinary dialogue and to map the possibilities of the synthesis of datasets related to cultural and genetic heritage. We invite abstracts from researchers of various disciplines (archaeology, folklore, genetics, palaeoclimatology etc) whose data and models shed light on human cultural and biological evolution from various perspectives and in the broadest sense possible.


Barbieri, C., Blasi, D. E., Arango-Isaza, E., Sotiropoulos, A. G., Hammarström, H., Wichmann, S., Greenhill, S. J., Gray, R. D., Forkel, R., Bickel, B., & Shimizu, K. K. (2022). A global analysis of matches and mismatches between human genetic and linguistic histories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(47), e2122084119.

Creanza, N., Ruhlen, M., Pemberton, T. J., Rosenberg, N. A., Feldman, M. W., & Ramachandran, S. (2015). A comparison of worldwide phonemic and genetic variation in human populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(5), 1265–1272.

Lang, V. (2018). Läänemeresoome tulemised. Tartu Ülikooli kirjastus.

Racimo, F., Sikora, M., Vander Linden, M., Schroeder, H., & Lalueza-Fox, C. (2020). Beyond broad strokes: sociocultural insights from the study of ancient genomes. Nature Reviews. Genetics.

Tambets, K., Yunusbayev, B., Hudjashov, G., Ilumäe, A.-M., Rootsi, S., Honkola, T., Vesakoski, O., Atkinson, Q., Skoglund, P., Kushniarevich, A., Litvinov, S., Reidla, M., Metspalu, E., Saag, L., Rantanen, T., Karmin, M., Parik, J., Zhadanov, S. I., Gubina, M., … Metspalu, M. (2018). Genes reveal traces of common recent demographic history for most of the Uralic-speaking populations. Genome Biology, 19(1), 139.

Contact person: Kristiina Tambets