The genetic history of Eastern Eurasia (ARCH-GEN)

The convergence environment will unveil the patterns and processes that have shaped the cultural and genetic landscape of human populations in Eastern Eurasia using a wide range of multidisciplinary tools and approaches. 

Consortium (from left to right)
Nils Chr. Stenseth, Professor, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Jan Bill, Professor, Department of Archaeology, Museum of Cultural History
Chen Yong Zhi, Inner Mongolia Museum (not on photo)


Primary objective

To unveil the patterns and processes that have shaped the cultural and genetic landscape of human populations in Eastern Eurasia using a wide range of multidisciplinary tools and approaches. ARCH-GEN is a unique opportunity for UiO to place itself in the forefront of the human palaeogenomic revolution.

Secondary objective

To train a new generation of truly interdisciplinary scholars that are greatly needed if we are to bridge the gap between entrenched disciplines and fully understand our origins. ARCH-GEN will join key disciplines at UiO to increase our understanding of human history, seen from a shared natural sciences, medicine and humanities point of view, and make an enduring impact on convergence between the natural sciences/medicine and the humanities.


ARCH-GEN is an interdisciplinary life science project on the cultural and genetic history of Eastern Eurasia – one of the major ancient civilization centers and an underexplored region so far lacking palaeogenomic data. Capitalizing on recent developments within the life sciences (e.g. genomics and ancient DNA) ARCH-GEN integrates genetic, climatic, cultural, archaeological and historical research, and will carry out an extensive, groundbreaking study on how natural variability have affected past human change in this region and to what degree human activity have affected its surroundings.  

ARCH-GEN will focus on four sites in Inner Mongolia, China, that combined cover a period of habitation from ~5300 BP to ~630 BP. The selected sites cover a region that is geographically unique lying in the transition zone between monsoon and non-monsoonnclimate with vegetation varying from forests to steppe. Culturally, it belongs to the farming-pastoral ecotone and human populations of this region have been highly dynamic in the past. ARCH-GEN will combine focused analysis with long-term trends to understand the impact of specific events, the significance of long-lasting trends, and the possible correlations between climate change, human mobility and socio-economic transformations.

ARCH-GEN will perform cutting-edge research, which crosses the borders between the natural sciences, medicine and the humanities creating novel ideas and insights into human history. ARCH-GEN will contribute to internationalization and will make use of state-of-the-art infrastructure at UiO, including the Ancient DNA Lab, the Norwegian Sequencing Centre, the Stable Isotope Lab, and the Abel Computer Cluster.

ARCH-GEN will improve the quality and interaction in research by increasing synergy among an international team of researchers coming from disciplines with fundamentally different expertise.

ARCH-GEN will recruit, educate and develop a new generation of truly interdisciplinary researchers.

ARCH-GEN will promote innovation in the life sciences, as understood by OSIRIS5, through impactful studies on human history and past societies.

Wider consortium

  • Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, UiO (NO), Climate research, Isotope analysis
  • Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, Faculty of Humanities, UiO, (NO), Archaeology, History
  • Norwegian Institute in Rome, Faculty of Humanities, (NO), Archaeology
  • Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, Faculty of Humanities, UiO (NO), History
  • Faculty of Medicine, UiO (NO), Pathogens (incl. History of Epidemics)
  • Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, UiO (NO) Microbiomes, Pathogens
  • Inner Mongolia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology  (CN) Archaeology
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (CN) Disease ecology
  • Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CN) aDNA, Archaeology
  • University of Cambridge (GB) Climate research, Ecology
  • Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton (US) History
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine & The Forsyth Institute  (US) Microbial  genomics, Microbiomes
Published May 4, 2017 1:15 PM - Last modified Sep. 26, 2017 10:34 AM