Coherence: Individuals from genetically distinguishable groups should not be given the same name; individuals from genetically indistinguishable ones should.
Accessibility: The names given to genetic clusters should be recognisable and easy to remember.
Effective communication among researchers requires a common vocabulary.
The goal of this paper is to address these issues of terminology and to make some suggestions about naming conventions researchers can choose to use in order to facilitate discussions across fields.
All of these systems are based on the same four elements for inventing names that they variably combine and order: 1. The “mixed system (a)” usually combines two of the four elements mentioned.
For example individuals from present-day Spain dating to the Early Neolithic are called Spain_EN, individuals from the site Esperstedt in Germany, dating to the Middle Neolithic are designated Esperstedt_MN.Genome-wide ancient DNA analysis of skeletons retrieved from archaeological excavations has provided a powerful new tool for the investigation of past populations and migrations.An important objective for the coming years is to properly integrate ancient genomics into archaeological research.For example individuals associated with the Bell Beaker Complex are not genetically homogeneous across Europe, and thus it is in genetic terms appropriate to use classifications that distinguish subgroups, e.g. Flexibility: The nomenclature needs to be flexible enough to adjust when there are new genetic findings.An appropriately flexible nomenclature should offer the possibility of both subdividing previously named groups into smaller ones and merging clusters which were at first found to be distinguishable.In part (I) we review the naming conventions for genetic clusters used in the past five years.Part (II) deals with the meaning of archaeological cultural designations that are frequently borrowed to name genetically distinguished groups of individuals and aims at providing geneticists with a better understanding of the problematic nature of these terms in the history of archaeological research.This data can be analysed to identify statistical groupings of individuals who share more genetic variants with each other than with individuals outside these groups. The majority of genome-wide ancient DNA data comes from Western Eurasia.Studies on these data have revealed that the region’s genetic landscape has been shaped by at least two major migrations after the initial settlement by hunter-gatherers in the Upper Palaeolithic – one from the Near East by the first farmers of Anatolian origin starting around 7000 BCE.These can be summarised in five words: brevity, coherence, accessibility, flexibility, and stability.Brevity: Each name used in the papers should be as short as possible while containing sufficient detail to distinguish the cluster from other genetic clusters in the same study and beyond.