DNA evidence reveals that the people who civilized Europe were migrants

The New York Times reports: Before the rise of agriculture, Europe was home to a population of hunter-gatherers. Then a wave of people arrived whose DNA resembles that of people in the Near East. It’s likely that they brought agriculture with them.

Finally, about 4,500 years ago, a nomadic population from the steppes of Russia, known as the Yamnaya, swept into Europe.

The analyses that revealed these migrations were based on dozens of ancient European genomes. But in a study published Monday in Nature, David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues analyzed the genomes of 230 people who lived between 8,500 and 2,300 years ago.

The enormous sample size has provided enough data to track individual genetic variations as they become more or less common through the history of ancient Europe.

The remains that Dr. Reich and his colleagues analyzed DNA from span the entire continent of Europe. They also include the Yamnaya as well as 21 people who lived in a region of Turkey called Anatolia 8,500 years ago. The study marks the first time scientists have been able to analyze the DNA of the people who brought farming to Europe. [Continue reading…]

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