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Farming Was First Introduced By People From Greece And Turkey

First Posted: Jun 07, 2016 06:30 AM EDT
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DNA collected from the skeletons of the earliest farmers in northern Greece confirmed the ancient migration from Anatolia to Central Europe.
(Photo : Erik de Castro / Pool / Getty Images)

A group of scientists have recently revealed that a new strategy for survival known as subsistence agriculture started to spread all across Europe about 8,500 years ago. The new study suggests that the practice was brought by descendants of Aegean people from Greece and western Turkey. The findings weakened the theory that farming spread as an idea, not via migrating farmers.

According to a piece in The Washington Post, the findings were based on genetic samples that were taken from ancient farming communities in European countries like Germany, Hungary, and Spain. This was done by comparing samples with ancient genomes found at sites in Greece and the northwestern part of Turkey, and also in the central and southwestern part of Europe where agriculture was practice centuries ago.

The study was set to challenge the belief that farming spread from one group of people to another only by the diffusion of culture. The findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, upi.com reported. Though they exchanged cultural traditions and subsistence strategies with their new hunter-gatherer neighbors, the evidence suggests interbreeding was initially rare.

Joachim Burger, one of the study's authors, said the genomic analysis showed that early farmers from Anatolia going to the west. Researchers say that the migrant farmers carried with them agricultural practices, and as domestic animals and plants, to their new homes -- first to Central Europe and eventually all the way to the British Isles. This means that farmers came in two separate groups northward into the continent and westward along the coastline to Spain.

"Only after centuries did the number of partnerships increase," explained Burger who is also an anthropologist at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany.

"There are still details to flesh out, and no doubt there will be surprises around the corner, but when it comes to the big picture on how farming spread into Europe, this debate is over," said study co-author Mark Thomas, a researcher at the University College London. "Thanks to ancient DNA, our understanding of the Neolithic revolution has fundamentally changed over the last seven years."

The earliest anthropological evidence of sedentary life, farming and animal husbandry goes back to 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, the land surrounding Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. It's possible that farmers of Anatolia originally hailed from Mesopotamia, but not yet confirmed.

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