A detailed genetic study of one of the first farming communities in central Germany has revealed marked similarities with populations living in the ancient near east, areas now known as Turkey, Iraq and other neighbouring countries.
The findings overturn current thinking which accepts that the first European farming populations were constructed largely from existing populations of hunter-gatherers.
“We have finally resolved the question of who the first farmers in Europe were – invaders with revolutionary new ideas, rather than populations of stone age hunter-gatherers who already existed in the area,” lead author Wolfgang Haak said.
“We’ve been able to apply new, high-precision ancient DNA methods to create a detailed genetic picture of this ancient farming population, and reveal that it was radically different to the nomadic populations already present in Europe.
“We have also been able to use genetic signatures to identify a potential route from the near east and Anatolia, where farming evolved around 11,000 years ago, via southeastern Europe and the Carpathian Basin into Central Europe.”