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Early Farmers In Europe Have Trail Of Ancestry Back To The Aegean

First Posted: Jun 08, 2016 06:00 AM EDT
Human skeleton from an archaeological excavation in northern Greece
Human skeleton from an archaeological excavation in northern Greece, from where one neolithic genome originates.

(Photo : K. Kotsakis and P. Halstead, Paliambela Excavation Project Archive)

The scientists have been debating for many years how farming spread across Europe. Most people believed that farming came from the idea of the European hunter-gatherers, who inhabited Europe for the past 45,000 years. On the other hand, an emergence of the recent study shows that early farmers from across Europe have lineages to the Aegean.

The Aegean civilization is also referred to as the European Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea, which lies between the coast of Greece and Asia Minor or also known as the modern-day Turkey. There are three regions covered by this civilization namely the Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. It comprises of more than 2,000 islands, which were settled by the ancient Greeks.

The study was led by paleogeneticists of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). It was printed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The researchers examined the DNA of the early farmers from Greece and Turkey. The study shows that the Neolithic settlers from northern Greece and the Marmara Sea region of western Turkey moved to central Europe through a Balkan route and the Iberian Peninsula by a Mediterranean route. They have encountered hunter-gatherers who lived in Europe since the Ice Age. On the other hand, the two groups mingled in a limited extent. Joachim Burger an anthropologist and the lead author of the study said that they exchanged cultural heritage and knowledge, yet hardly spouses. He further said that only after centuries did the number of partnerships increased.

Likewise, Christina Papageorgopoulou from the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece and initiated the study as a Humboldt fellow in Mainz with Joachim Burger explained that the migrating farmers did not only bring a completely foreign culture, yet looked different and spoke a different language.

The sedentary life, farming and animal husbandry existed 10,000 years ago in the place, called Fertile Crescent, which is a region that covers modern-day Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. Susanne Kreutzer and Zuzana Hofmanova, the lead authors of the study concluded that whether the first farmers came ultimately from this area is not yet established. On the other hand, certainly they have seen in their study that these people, together with their revolutionary Neolithic culture, colonized Europe through northern Aegean over a short period of time.

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