Each marker was an identifiable paternal DNA variation that was inherited by the male descendents of the person in which the variation first occurred.
According to archaeologists Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, each figurine had been placed atop deposits of light, fine-grained sand and red ochre before being covered with a mammoth scapula and buried in earth.
Twenty such circles had been located with ground-penetrating radar, and seven had been excavated to date.
The pillars, up to 4 m (13 ft) in height, were thought to be highly stylized anthropomorphic figures, and many of them were carved with the images of animals, including boars, birds, snakes, foxes, lions, and scorpions.
The tomb of the Roman general Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a confidant of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled AD 161–180), was found during construction work on the Via Flaminia on the east bank of Rome's Tiber River.
Among the ruins of the 15-m (50-ft)-long column-lined mausoleum, a team led by archaeologist Daniela Rossi documented about one dozen biographical inscriptions that detailed the career of the Brescia-born general, who had served as a police commissioner and magistrate before playing a key role in the emperor's campaigns against the Germanic tribes of the North.