The people of the Yamnaya culture are also closely connected to Final Neolithic cultures, which later spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people and the Bell Beaker culture, as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubnaya cultures. Back migration from Corded Ware also contributed to Sintashta and Andronovo. In these groups, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present.[b] Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.
Largest expansion of the Yamna(ya) culture. Modified from  C. 3500 origins of Usatovo culture; 3300 origins of Yamna; c. 3300–3200 expansion of Yamna across the Pontic-Caspian steppe; c. 2700 end of Trypillia culture, and transformation of Yamna into Corded Ware in the contact zone east of the Carpathian mountains; 3100–2600 Yamnaya expansion into the Danube Valley.
Yamnaya culture was defined by Vasily Gorodtsov in order to differentiate it from catacomb and srubnaya cultures that existed in the area but considered to be of later period. Owing to the historical distance of Yamnaya culture, and reliance on archaeological findings, debate continues as to its origin. In 1996 Pavel Dolukhanov suggested that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing "an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures", which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.
According to Mallory (1999), "The origin of the Yamnaya culture is still a topic of debate," with proposals for its origins pointing to both Khvalynsk and Sredny Stog. The Khvalynsk culture (4700–3800 BC) (middle Volga) and the Don-based Repin culture (c. 3950–3300 BC) in the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe, and the closely related Sredny Stog culture (c. 4500–3500 BC) in the western Pontic-Caspian steppe, preceded the Yamnaya culture (3300–2500 BC).
Further efforts to pinpoint the location came from Anthony (2007), suggesting from his research that the Yamnaya culture (3300–2600 BC) originated in the Don–Volga area at c. 3400 BC, preceded by the middle Volga-based Khvalynsk culture and the Don-based Repin culture (c. 3950–3300 BC), arguing that late pottery from these two cultures can barely be distinguished from early Yamnaya pottery. Earlier continuity from eneolithic but largely hunter-gatherer Samara culture and influences from the more agricultural Dnieper–Donets II are apparent.
The spread of the Yamnaya horizon was the material expression of the spread of late Proto-Indo-European across the Pontic–Caspian steppes.
[...] The Yamnaya horizon is the visible archaeological expression of a social adjustment to high mobility – the invention of the political infrastructure to manage larger herds from mobile homes based in the steppes.
Alternatively, Parpola (2015) relates both the Corded ware culture and the Yamnaya culture to the late Trypillia (Tripolye) culture. He hypothesizes that "the Tripolye culture was taken over by PIE speakers by c. 4000 BC," and that in its final phase the Trypillian culture expanded to the steppes, morphing into various regional cultures which fused with the late Serednii Stih (Sredny Stog) pastoralist cultures, which, he suggests, gave rise to the Yamnaya culture. Dmytro Telegin viewed Serednii Stih and Yamna as one cultural continuum and considered Serednii Stih to be the genetic foundation of the Yamna.
The Yamnaya (Pit-grave) culture was succeeded in its western range by the Catacomb culture (2800–2200 BC); in the east, by the Poltavka culture (2700–2100 BC) at the middle Volga. These two cultures were followed by the Srubnaya culture (18th–12th century BC).
Characteristic for the culture are the burials in pit graves under kurgans (tumuli), often accompanied with animal offerings. Some graves contain large anthropomorphic stelae, with carved human heads, arms, hands, belts, and weapons. The dead bodies were placed in a supine position with bent knees and covered in ochre. Some kurgans contained "stratified sequences of graves". It has been argued that kurgan burials were rare, and reserved for special adults, who were predominantly, but not necessarily, male. Status and gender are marked by grave goods and position, and in some areas, elite individuals are buried with complete wooden wagons. Grave goods are more common in eastern Yamnaya burials, which are also characterized by a higher proportion of male burials and more male-centred rituals than western areas.
In the northern Pontic steppes were excavated the oldest wheels in the world, which may tentatively be associated with the Indo-Europeans. The Yamnaya culture had and used two-wheeled carts and four-wheeled wagons, which are thought to have been oxen-drawn at this time, and there is evidence that they rode horses.
Metallurgists and other craftsmen are given a special status in Yamnaya society, and metal objects are sometimes found in large quantities in elite graves. New metalworking technologies and weapon designs are used.
Diet stable isotope ratios of Yamna individuals from the Dnipro Valley suggest the Yamna diet was terrestrial protein based with insignificant contribution from freshwater or aquatic resources. Anthony speculates that the Yamnaya ate a diet consisting of meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, and soups made from seeds and wild vegetables, and probably consumed mead.
Mallory and Adams suggest that Yamnaya society may have had a tripartite structure of three differentiated social classes, although the evidence available does not demonstrate the existence of specific classes such as priests, warriors, and farmers.
Admixture between EHGs and CHGs is believed to have occurred on the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe starting around 5,000 BC, while admixture with Early European Farmers (EEF) happened in the southern parts of the Pontic-Caspian steppe sometime later. More recent genetic studies have found that the Yamnaya were a mixture of EHGs, CHGs, and to a lesser degree Anatolian farmers and Levantine farmers, but not EEFs from Europe due to lack of WHG DNA in the Yamnaya. This occurred in two distinct admixture events from West Asia into the Pontic-Caspian steppe.
People of the Yamnaya culture are believed to have had mostly brown eye colour, light to intermediate skin, and brown hair colour, with some variation. A 2022 study by Lazaridis et al. found that the typical phenotype among the Yamnaya population was brown eyes, brown hair, and intermediate skin colour. None of the Yamnaya samples were predicted to have either blue eyes or blonde hair. Some individuals are believed to have carried a mutation to the KITLG gene associated with blond hair, as several individuals with Steppe ancestry are later found to carry this mutation. The Ancient North Eurasian population, who contributed significant ancestry to Western Steppe Herders, are believed to be the source of this mutation. A study in 2015 found that Yamnaya had the highest ever calculated genetic selection for height of any of the ancient populations tested. It has been hypothesized that an allele associated with lactase persistence (conferring lactose tolerance into adulthood) was brought to Europe from the steppe by Yamnaya-related migrations.
The geneticist David Reich has argued that the genetic data supports the likelihood that the people of the Yamnaya culture were a "single, genetically coherent group" who were responsible for spreading many Indo-European languages. Reich's group recently suggested that the source of Anatolian and Indo-European subfamilies of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language was in west Asia and the Yamna were responsible for the dissemination of the latter. Reich also argues that the genetic evidence shows that Yamnaya society was an oligarchy dominated by a small number of elite males.
The genetic evidence for the extent of the role of the Yamnaya culture in the spread of Indo-European languages has however been questioned by Russian archaeologist Leo Klejn and Balanovsky et al., who note a lack of male haplogroup continuity between the people of the Yamnaya culture and the contemporary populations of Europe. Klejn has also suggested that the autosomal evidence does not support a Yamnaya migration, arguing that Western Steppe Herder ancestry in both contemporary and Bronze Age samples is lowest around the Danube in Hungary, near the western limits of the Yamnaya culture, and highest in Northern Europe, which Klejn argues is the opposite of what would be expected if the geneticists' hypothesis is correct.
According to David W. Anthony, the genetic evidence suggests that the leading clans of the Yamnaya were of EHG (Eastern European hunter-gatherer) and WHG (Western European hunter-gatherer) paternal origin and implies that the Indo-European languages were the result of "a dominant language spoken by EHGs that absorbed Caucasus-like elements in phonology, morphology, and lexicon." It has also been suggested that the PIE language evolved through trade interactions in the circum-Pontic area in the 4th millennium BCE, mediated by the Yamna predecessors in the North Pontic steppe.
Haak et al. (2015) conducted a genome-wide study of 69 ancient skeletons from Europe and Russia. They concluded that Yamnaya autosomal characteristics are very close to the Corded Ware culture people, with an estimated 73% ancestral contribution from the Yamnaya DNA in the DNA of Corded Ware skeletons from Germany. The same study estimated a (38.8–50.4 %) ancestral contribution of the Yamnaya in the DNA of modern Central, and Northern Europeans, and an 18.5–32.6 % contribution in modern Southern Europeans; this contribution is found to a lesser extent in Sardinians (2.4–7.1 %) and Sicilians (5.9–11.6 %). Haak et al. also note that their results state that haplogroup R-M269 spread into Europe from the East after 3000 BC. Studies that analysed ancient human remains in Ireland and Portugal support the thesis that R-M269 was introduced in these places along with autosomal DNA from the Eastern European steppes.
Autosomal tests also indicate that the Yamnaya are the vector for "Ancient North Eurasian" admixture into Europe. "Ancient North Eurasian" is the name given in literature to a genetic component that represents descent from the people of the Mal'ta–Buret' culture or a population closely related to them. That genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people as well as modern-day Europeans. 
Eastern Europe and Finland
According to Allentoft (2015), the Sintashta culture probably derived from the Corded Ware Culture.
In the Baltic, Jones et al. (2017) found that the Neolithic transition – the passage from a hunter-gatherer economy to a farming-based economy – coincided with the arrival en masse of individuals with Yamnaya-like ancestry. This is different from what happened in Western and Southern Europe, where the Neolithic transition was caused by a population that came from Anatolia, with Pontic steppe ancestry being detected from only the late Neolithic onward.
Per Haak et al. (2015), the Yamnaya contribution in the modern populations of Eastern Europe ranges from 46.8% among Russians to 42.8% in Ukrainians. Finland has one of the highest Yamnaya contributions in all of Europe (50.4%).[c]
Map of the approximate maximal extent of the Andronovo culture. The formative Sintashta-Petrovka culture is shown in darker red. The location of the earliest spoke-wheeled chariot finds is indicated in purple. Adjacent and overlapping cultures (Afanasevo, Srubna, Bactria-Margiana Culture are shown in green.
Studies also point to the strong presence of Yamnaya descent in the current nations of South Asia, especially in groups that are referred to as Indo-Aryans. According to Pathak et al. (2018), the "North-Western Indian & Pakistani" populations (PNWI) showed significant Middle-Late Bronze Age Steppe (Steppe_MLBA) ancestry along with Yamnaya Early-Middle Bronze Age (Steppe_EMBA) ancestry, but the Indo-Europeans of Gangetic Plains and Dravidian people only showed significant Yamnaya (Steppe_EMBA) ancestry and no Steppe_MLBA. The study also noted that ancient south Asian samples had significantly higher Steppe_MLBA than Steppe_EMBA (or Yamnaya). The study identified the Rors and Jats as the population in South Asia with the highest proportion of Steppe ancestry. Lazaridis et al. (2016) estimated (6.5–50.2 %) steppe-related admixture in South Asians, though the proportion of Steppe ancestry varies widely across ethnic groups.[d] According to Narasimhan et al. (2019), the Yamnaya-related ancestry, termed Western_Steppe_EMBA, that reached central and south Asia was not the initial expansion from the steppe to the east, but a secondary expansion that involved a group possessing ~67% Western_Steppe_EMBA ancestry and ~33% ancestry from the European cline. This group included people similar to that of Corded Ware, Srubnaya, Petrovka, and Sintashta. Moving further east in the central steppe, it acquired ~9% ancestry from a group of people that possessed West Siberian Hunter Gatherer ancestry, thus forming the Central Steppe MLBA cluster, which is the primary source of steppe ancestry in South Asia, contributing up to 30% of the ancestry of the modern groups in the region.
According to Unterländer et al. (2017), all Iron Age Scythian Steppe nomads can best be described as a mixture of Yamnaya-related ancestry and an East Asian-related component, which most closely corresponds to the modern North SiberianNganasan people of the lower Yenisey River, to varying degrees, but generally higher among Eastern Scythians. 
^The Eastern European hunter-gatherers were themselves mostly descended from ancient North Eurasians, related to the palaeolithic Mal'ta–Buret' culture.
^Yamnayan cultural aspects, for example, were horse-riding, burial styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy.
^Per Haak et al. (2015), adding a north-Siberian people as a fourth reference population improves residuals for northeastern European populations. This accounts for the higher than expected Yamnaya contribution and brings it down to expected levels (67.8–50.4 % in Finns, 64.9–46.8 % in Russians).
^Novembre 2015, "evidence to support theories of a back-migration from Corded Ware-related populations that contributed to the origins of the Sintashta culture in the Urals and their descendants, the Andronovo."
^Holm, Hans J. J. G. (2019): The Earliest Wheel Finds, their Archeology and Indo-European Terminology in Time and Space, and Early Migrations around the Caucasus. Series Minor 43. Budapest: ARCHAEOLINGUA ALAPÍTVÁNY. ISBN 978-615-5766-30-5. With 306 references, six greyscaled and coloured images, and miniature images within the table of 130 representative finds, including new finds in Germany and Western China.
^P., Mallory, J. (2003) . In search of the Indo-Europeans : language, archaeology, and myth. Thames and Hudson. p. 213. ISBN0-500-27616-1. OCLC886668216.
^Callaway, Ewen. "DNA data explosion lights up the Bronze Age". Nature. "the 101 sequenced individuals, the Yamnaya were most likely to have the DNA variation responsible for lactose tolerance, hinting that the steppe migrants might have eventually introduced the trait to Europe"
^Balanovsky, O.; Chukhryaeva, M.; Zaporozhchenko, V. (2017). "Genetic differentiation between upland and lowland populations shapes the Y-chromosomal landscape of West Asia". Human Genetics. 136 (4): 437–450. doi:10.1007/s00439-017-1770-2. PMID28281087. S2CID3735168."The ancient Yamnaya samples are located on the "eastern" R-GG400 branch of haplogroup R1b-L23, showing that the paternal descendants of the Yamnaya still live in the Pontic steppe and that the ancient Yamnaya population was not an important source of paternal lineages in present-day West Europeans."
^Klejn 2017, p. 201: "In the tables presented in the article by Reichs’ team (Haak et al. 2015) the genetic pool connecting the Yamnaya culture with the Corded Ware people is shown to be more intense in Northern Europe (Norway and Sweden) and decreases gradually from the North to the South (Fig. 6). It is weakest around the Danube, in Hungary, i. e. areas neighbouring the western branch of the Yamnaya culture! This is the reverse image to what the proposed hypothesis by the geneticists would lead us to expect. It is true that this gradient is traced back from the contemporary materials, but it was already present during the Bronze Age [...]"
^Unterländer et al. 2017Genomic inference reveals that Scythians in the east and the west of the steppe zone can best be described as a mixture of Yamnaya-related ancestry and an East Asian component. Demographic modelling suggests independent origins for eastern and western groups with ongoing gene-flow between them, plausibly explaining the striking uniformity of their material culture. We also find evidence that significant gene-flow from east to west Eurasia must have occurred early during the Iron Age." and "The blend of EHG [European hunter-gatherer] and Caucasian elements in carriers of the Yamnaya culture was formed on the European steppe and exported into Central Asia and Siberia". We therefore considered an alternative model in which we treat them as a mix of Yamnaya and the Han (Supplementary Table 25). This model fits all of the Iron Age Scythian groups, consistent with these groups having ancestry related to East Asians not found in the other populations. Alternatively, the Iron Age Scythian groups can also be modelled as a mix of Yamnaya and the north Siberian Nganasan (Supplementary Note 2, Supplementary Table 26).
Nordgvist, Kerkko; Heyd, Volker (2020). "The Forgotten Child of the Wider Corded Ware Family: Russian Fatyanovo Culture in Context". Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 86: 65–93. doi:10.1017/ppr.2020.9. S2CID228923806.