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Apr 26, 2012

DNA Research Concludes Adoption of Agriculture in Europe Slow Process of Co-Existence With Hunter Gatherers

On 26 April 2012 Science published on article by a Swedish and Danish researchers, which concluded from studying human DNA that the adoption of agriculture was spread by migrants from southern Europe.  Hunter-gatherers only made the transition to agriculture after farmer migrants had been settled in their vicinity.

According to Anders Götherström assistant professor at the Evolutionary Biology Centre and Mattias Jakobsson, assistant professor at Stockholm University and the University of Copenhagen, "European genetic variation changed dramatically with the migration of Stone Age farmers.  They had very different genetic backgrounds from hunter-gatherers and lived side by side for more than a thousand years before interbreeding. While agriculture originated in the Middle East approximately 11,000 to 10,000 years ago, it did not arrive in Europe until 5,000 year ago.  It was adopted at different rates in different parts of the continent.

Götherström and Jakobsson based their study on "good material, modern laboratory methods and a high level of analytical expertise."  They used "advanced DNA techniques to characterize almost 250 million base pairs from four skeletons of humans who lived during the Stone Age, 5,000 years ago."  Three of these were hunter gatherers, the other was a farmer.  These genetic markers were compared with a large amount of genetic data from living individuals.  The Stone Age farmer's DNA matched the genetic profile of people currently living in the Mediterranean, near Cyprus.  The hunter-gatherers matched the profile of northern Europeans

For more:

P. Skoglund, H. Malmstrom, M. Raghavan, J. Stora, P. Hall, E. Willerslev, M. T. P. Gilbert, A. Gotherstrom, M. Jakobsson. Origins and Genetic Legacy of Neolithic Farmers and Hunter-Gatherers in Europe. Science, 2012; 336 (6080): 466 

About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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