A study suggests that the first European farmers migrated from modern-day Greece and Turkey. Farming was introduced to Europe from Anatolia in modern-day Turkey. The extent to which this process was mediated by migration of Anatolian farmers versus cultural diffusion has been a subject of debate. Joachim Burger and colleagues obtained DNA sequences from five individuals from early agricultural sites in northwestern Turkey and northern Greece. These sites date from the time of initial spread of farming to Europe, and lie along the proposed route of this spread. The authors observed considerable similarity between the genomes they obtained and those of individuals from early farming societies in central and southern Europe. By modeling ancient and modern genomes as mixtures of DNA from other ancient genomes, the authors could trace most of the ancestry of individuals from ancient farming societies in Germany and Hungary to the ancient Anatolian and Greek genomes. Ancient Greek and Anatolian genomes contributed to all modern day European populations, and are particularly similar to modern Mediterranean populations as well as to Ötzi, the ice mummy from the Alps. According to the authors, the results suggest a continuous chain of ancestry from Europe to Greece and Anatolia, indicative of migration from the latter to the former.
8,500-year-old human burials from the Early Neolithic site of Revenia, Northern Greece. Image courstesy of Fotini Adaktylou and Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria
6,200-year-old human burial from the Late Neolithic site of Kleitos, Northern Greece. Image courtesy of Christina Ziota and Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports
Source: News release of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
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