The classical Greeks did of course notice that the inhabitants of the north Pontic hinterland, collectively known as Scythians, were extraordinarily light-pigmented. This would imply that major pigmentation change occurred in the steppe over a time span of Bronze Age-Classical Antiquity rather than Bronze Age-present; this would imply even higher selection coefficients if selection over a population exhibiting continuity is at play.The Scythians were also thought to be recent arrivals from the east so it is not clear if they were descended from the Bronze Age population of eastern Europe; the crazy selection coefficients that would need to be assumed if there was indeed population continuity might imply that Herodotus got it right again, and the Scythians did in fact arrive from elsewhere. That would of course also imply that people from Central Asia and Siberia where the Scythians may have come from were originally lighter than Europeans which does find support from an older study on southern Siberian remains. Ironically, if that is the case, it would mean that the famous light-pigmented mummies of different parts of Inner Asia may not be long-lost European descendants — as it has sometimes been presumed on the basis of modern-day clines of pigmentation. As usual, ancient DNA continues to surprise.

via Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: Dark pigmentation of Eneolithic and Bronze Age kurgan groups from eastern Europe.