Study: Europe's first farmers invaded
Adelaide, Australia (UPI) Nov 9, 2010
An international team led by DNA experts in Australia says it has resolved the longstanding question of who introduced farming to Europe about 8,000 years ago.
A detailed genetic study of one of the first farming communities in Europe, in central Germany, reveals marked similarities with populations living in the Ancient Near East -- modern-day Turkey, Iraq and other countries -- rather than those from Europe, a release from Australia's University of Adelaide says.
"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," says Adelaide's Wolfgang Haak, a researcher at the university's Australian Center for Ancient DNA.
The DNA used in this study came from a complete graveyard of Early Neolithic farmers unearthed at the town of Derenburg in Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany, the researchers said.
"This overturns current thinking, which accepts that the first European farming populations were constructed largely from existing populations of hunter-gatherers, who had either rapidly learned to farm or interbred with the invaders," Professor Alan Cooper, the project leader, said.
The study was published in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS Biology.
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