One of the outstanding mysteries of human history is how agriculture spread across Europe, replacing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Did farmers migrate, bringing a culture of plant and animal domestication that took over? Or did local hunter-gatherer groups merely adopt ideas about those practices?
A new study in the journal Science provides new insights. Researchers suggest that farmers and hunter-gatherers were genetically distinct groups that intermingled after the migration of the agriculturally savvy people.
"These results are important because they are using ancient DNA, extracted from skeletal remains, rather than sampling living populations and making assumptions about the past," British archaeologist Colin Renfrew, who was not involved in the study, said in an e-mail.
The current thinking is that about 11,000 years ago, humans began the agricultural way of life in the Near East. About 5,000 years later, that culture arrived in continental Europe. Farmers and hunter-gatherers had different dietary habits, funeral rites and expressions of material culture, experts say.
To investigate the impact of the farmers, Swedish researchers examined DNA from four samples of human remains, all approximately 5,000 years old, in Sweden. Three were from a hunter-gatherer site, and one was excavated from an ancient burial site from a farming culture.
Researchers sequenced about 250 million genetic base pairs, which is between 1% and 3% of genomes of each of the four individuals, Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, said at a news conference Thursday. The authors of the study compared this genetic information with that of reference materials from many different parts of Europe.
"What we find is that hunter-gatherers are most genetically similar to individuals who today live in the northern ends of Europe," Jakobsson said at the news conference. Specifically, people in Finland, Russia and the Orkney Islands of Scotland have genetic variants in common with the hunter-gatherers these researchers studied.
By contrast, today's residents of Southern Europe, such as Italians and Cypriots, are more genetically similar to the ancient farmers. Even in Sweden today, people who live in the north are closer to the hunter-gatherers' genetic signature than people who live in the south, who have a bit more in common with the ancient farmers.
"In a genetic sense, these two groups live on in a way, although farming is the technique that apparently outlives hunter-gathering in this part of the world," said Anders Götherström, a co-author of the study from Uppsala University.
The ancient farmer was discovered less than 250 miles from the hunter-gatherers but shows these different genetic signatures. This suggests that there were strong genetic divisions between the farmers and hunter-gatherers, which probably existed for 30 to 40 generations, Jakobsson said.
And these divisions would not exist if farming culture had spread only as an idea, the study authors said.
It's likely that the farming practices were brought by people moving from Southern Europe over many generations to Scandinavia, who lived apart from hunter-gatherers. The movement of these people spread farming across the continent. Over time, there was more contact and eventually mixing among these people and the hunter-gatherers.
That's why people who live in Northern Europe today don't look exactly like farmers, or hunter-gatherers, from that time. In fact, it appears that most European populations are genetically somewhere in between the hunter-gatherers and the farmers, according to the study.
Migrations were an important part of the spread of agriculture, but it's important to note that they did not occur in a single advance, said Jan Spora, a study co-author from Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden. Movement was probably sporadic and slow.
The hunter-gatherer skeletons show certain adaptations to cold weather, and the lower part of their legs is shorter, proportionally, than the farmer's.
The study adds support to the theory that the first speakers of a language ancestral to the Indo-European languages of Europe today came in with the first farmers, said Renfrew, the British archaeologist.
But the Swedish results are not decisive evidence. It could be that this one ancient farmer skeleton is not typical of all farmers of Europe 5,000 years ago – or, for that matter, that the hunter-gatherers were unusual in their group, too.
"It will need a much larger number of samples, preferably from different sites, to clinch the picture," Renfrew said.
diffusion of ideas , assimilation of peoples and ideas and culture tied to how and where you live. Nothing new. It's basic anthropology 101. A little more interesting than pot shards and broken flint, and it contributes to the data base, but nothing truly new.
One thing is certain if in fact hunter-gatherer developed alongside of agriculture, the hunter-gatherer must have sed, scratching his head: "U mean I'm busting my butt to survive while this guy sits on his butt most of the time and duznt have to go out to feed his family and put himself in danger to all those wild animals that I'm hunting." Of course, farming is not an easy job now but comparatively speaking hunter-gathering had to be the worst job imaginable. Watching farmers makes me tired. Imagine being one!
Dig up, Nebraska!
Interesting article. But they seem to draw very large conclusions from a very small amount of actual data.
VERY GOOD! You understood the last two paragraphs! Good for you!
Would that the last paragraph or two of EVERY news report on this or that "study" be the first paragraphs instead.
In saying farming seems to have spread to Northern from Southern Europe. it seems to me that the study needs to go farther since there was an obvious MAJOR difference between Northern and Southern European farming: cattle and milking. Almost all people of Northern European ancestry can digest milk as adults. That is true with only 50%-75% of Southern Europeans and much lower in all other populations. That would indicate cattle farming or "ranching" began in the North. We know that the last herd of Aurochs -the wild ancestors of cattle- died in 1829 in Poland. And we know of Northern People from Scandinavia and across Northern Asia raising raindeer for milk. Conversely, in the rest of Europe and Asia – even to this day – more goat's milk is used for food than cow's milk. The adaptation of Northern European genetics toward cow's milk shows the genetic makeup within farming groups can vary just as farming/hunter gatherer groups genetics vary.
Animal husbandry is not farming. Herding of animals has been around far longer than systematic agriculture. Humans were hunters well before they were farmers, and early groups would have gravitated toward a lifestyle involving animals over plants because that was what they were familiar with and preferred for high calorie and fat value. Israelite shepherds were not farmers; Saami reindeer herders are not farmers; Mongolian horse herding nomads are not farmers; Maasai cattle herders are not farmers. European hunter-gatherers, whose lives revolved around animals, especially herding animals, developed cattle herds well before availability of grains from the Middle East and the knowledge of how to cultivate them moved into Neolithic Europe.
Yes Nomads often rode horses in Europe and Asia.
The low fequency of lactose tolerence in southern european populations is due to mixing with non european peoples aka the Turks,Moors and arabs
This raises a very interesting question abt one's intolerance to cow's milk vs. tolerance. Which came first? It seems that the former was first and the comparison of "farmer" only may need a third factor the farmer vs. the cattleman. Of course, cattle being the reason the big football players come from cattle countries and the big-man conquerors came from those "fabulous European cattle-eating men." Nothing scientific, mind U.
In our recent history we know the same thing happened to America.. When settlers first came here they brought their own plants and animals.. Totally altering how people in America live, what they eat..The landscape. Altering everything here.
All a study like this proves is that people shared ideas..
But if you have a huge grant to study things .. Then I guess you get busy trying to prove things people already know...
Right, that is all Science is. Science tries to test the current ideas. If what we think is correct, that agriculture migrated via movement of agriculturalists, then there should be a genetic signature. It turns out this is consistent with that idea. Science never does anything other than this. So, is your point that humans should not engage in scientific activity? If that is your point, then I'd say you are a fool.
@Mary: "All a study like this proves is that people shared ideas."
Did we read the same article? "And these divisions would not exist if farming culture had spread only as an idea, the study authors said." Agriculture didn't spread because farmers shared the idea with non-farmers, but because farmers dispersed throughout the continent.
Mary needs to read the article again.
Will someone tell Mary that the "hunter/gathering" period was long gone by the time "the Pilgrims" came here.
Mary must have attended Sarah Palin University.
Native Americans gave Europeans maize (corn) potatoes (South America) chocolate, tobacco. Coastal Native Americans had farms and a sedentary life both on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. The Mound Civilizations in the mid-Mississippi Valley had large cities and extensive farming. Don't be so Eurocentric, Mary.
Potatoes ?? From Indians In pre-1620 America ??
You are kidding, right ??
No, he's not kidding. He is correct.
Yes, potatoes, Ken. In fact it was the American potato that caused the Irish potato blight that resulted in their Great Hunger and supposedly the loss of a million Irish. However, I question the intelligence of a people surrounded by water who died of hunger. Didnt the Irish know how to fish?
We need to find the genetic markers for when religious beliefs evolved.
I think that religion has always been a part of humanity, especially if U accept paganism as a religion or cult.
Yep, the brainwashing began thousands years ago, however Palin and Santorum will say it happened only 6,000 years ago.
I do believe that religion encompasses all supernatural beliefs. So, probably the 'religious genes' were pretty much there from the beginning. I don't know if there hasn't been a time in recorded history where there has not been a belief in the supernatural, whether it be a 'god' or some other crap. We just can't accept that we may be here by some dumb luck.
@ Petty Palin – True, Palin believes man is only 6000 years old, Santorum, doubtful. Most Catholics, to their credit, are not hung up on Biblical chronology.
maybe they wanted some potatoes and beans with their meat
I was thinking the same thing. One group hunts, the other grows / gathers crops. It's a perfect match. Probably some trade involved there somewhere. You know, little caveman co-op of sorts. I don't know, sounds like it could have happened.
Could have happened? It DID happen. All over the world!
Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends...
Do you know from experience that yellow snow is salty?
Always go where the Huskies go
And don't you eat the yellow snow....
Frank Zappa Crapa.....great album.
Europeans became farmers because of environmental reasons primarily. Wheat was first grown in Europe. Wheat allowed the farming community in the winter to exercise their brains. They created the written word and culture and civilization. They created metal and then guns and spread disease throughout the rest of the world. "Guns, Germs and Steel" is the book that gives the reader a better understanding of why certain people throughout history reigned supreme and while the others faltered. It has to do with the luck of your place of birth even more than your genes.
The written word comes from ancient Babylon, Egypt, and Canaan, LONG before Europe had been settled. Agriculture from Babylon, and Canaan, long before Europe. So "civilization" itself was a settled comodity in the Middle East thousands of years before Europe.
AMEN! Look at Europe in the Dark Ages after the collapse of Rome and compare THAT life to the Middle East from the Byzantine Empire through Persia and South to the Persian Gulf. Look at Egypt as well. They called it the dark ages for a reason. And not because the sun didn't shine. Look also at China and India at this time.
When the "Little Ice Age" hit Europe including Russia, wheat didn't grow and people starved. The potato brought from the Americas helped to end starvation in Germany and Eastern Europe, but those in France and elsewhere who did not change their eating habits died. And this was in the late 1500s.
Good book. It supportes the article, I think.
The hunter gather lifestyle is still superior to the way we live today. I'll eat that way for the rest of my life.
How do you plan to feed 7 billion (or even 1 billion) people by the hunter-gatherer approach?
Let them eat cake!
By hunting each other??
Hunter-gathering is still a way of life in our modern world- with slight adaptations...I hunt in my Chevy pickup going to the drive through, and I gather food in bags with my credit card...
Well, it's kind of hard to build any kind of stable civilization when you're migrating all over the place following the prey. Agriculture was the basis for settlement and all civilization. Just look at the hunter-gatherer cultures versus the agrarian cultures. Look at the Americas. Besides the Mayans and Incas (who were agrarian), the place remained undeveloped until the Euro agraians arrived.
Just maybe those in the northern climes, with shorter growing seasons, would be more proficient at hunting/gathering as a neccesity than those in southern climes with longer growing seasons and variety of crops. Most of the indiginous peoples of northern countries continue to hunt/gather rather than farm. The climate does not support farming.
What you said makes perfect sense. There was no dramatic replacement of hunter-gatherer culture because it worked well, perhaps as well or better than agriculture in those climates. There should be a gradient and surprisingly it appears to persist to some small degree even in modern populations. That's pretty amazing. So are the hunter-gatherers or the agrarians the republicans or democrats? Is their a genetic signature there as well?
Well and simply put.
Amen! Amen! Read the story of the development of Russia from the 800's to the 1600's. Figure out why the Ukraine (the original Rus, with Kiev as capital), was coveted for the wheat that could not be grown along with other grains in the north. Ukraine was and is the breadbasket of Europe.
Everyone knows the earth is only 6,000 years old!!!
Not only that, but all people are the same, everywhere. I mean, if various groups from within such a small geographic area as Sweden were actually genetically distinct, that would mean that people even farther away would be even MORE genetically distinct. But that can't be true, because we are all 100% the same except for our outward phenotypical appearance, which CAN'T possibly be indicative of other genealogical differences.
Do you understand DNA?
He clearly does not.
We can't really tell if the Earth is 6K years old or 4.5B years old. All we have is evidence that the Earth is 4.5B years old.
It is possible that God created the Earth 6K years ago an included evidence that it existed for 4.5B years. In fact, it is possible that the universe was created 1 second ago and God gave us memories and left other evidence behind.
All we are sure of is "I think therefore I am." Everything else could be an illusion.
So, what's your point? (My point is that some of the Creationists and some of the Evolutionists can both be correct. You don't have enough evidence to debunk either. Or if you do have the evidence, you didn't share it.)
Pleze explain how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?
All pseudo-theological arguments aside, the earth is 4.5 billion years old and we did not start existing one second ago....no really, it is, no lie.... With the whole "maybe the earth was created one second ago" and " maybe god just created evidence that the world is 4.5 billion years old", you got to wonder what kind of a conspiracy nut are you to really think that if there really was some master creator of the universe he'd be planting fake evidence just to confound us and leave us with no answers to the world. Just like all religious people, you seem to do these mental gymnastics to convince yourself of things that are just plainly untrue and shamelessly invented.
"In fact, it is possible that the universe was created 1 second ago and God gave us memories and left other evidence behind." I hope you are being sarcastic here
NASA that's a big negatory there with a lot of hogwash to dress it up. You want to talk about existance just sniff some pollen.
If the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, God is a figment of the imagination, and I will not worship him.
If the Earth is younger than that and God makes it appear to be that old, he is a filthy underhanded lair, and I will not worship him.
What kind of argument is that?
It ranks with "90% of statistics are made up!"
hear-the-truth.....I don't want to hurt you, but there is a huge flaw in all the biblical quotes on that web site....the bible(in this case christian) quotes various persons in various times with various translations from over hundreds of years-yet all today are considered God's word and sacred...is God guiding the words of the bible? What about the words left out, or the books removed from the bible? Did God guide Luther to "improve" his original word...? hearing-the-truth seems to be a bit removed from the logical, scientific nature of this discussion....
to people in a forum held in Jaffna that If poilce powers are given to Tamil province now It will act as another para military. But what I commented was seriously criticized. The bloody elitist scoundrel living in Europe and USA wish to make another fight in Sri Lanka. Because their children will be never affected .Do you agree or not?Regards,Bharthipan
Anybody but Obama 2012, unless you've liked what he's done the last few years and if you do you've been under a rock.
Actually, here in SE Michigan things are picking up. The autos are doing very well. Adding second and third shifts and hiring 1,000's. Same with their suppliers. Homes are starting to sell quicker. All thanks to Obama's stimulus plan.
Maybe you'd like some more Bush with that rock? Or how about some Santorum?
The GOP hates women.
Palin and Santorum in 2016!!! IF this happens science programs will no longer exist and the high school and college dropout rate will increase 200%! Since according to Santorum college is only for snobs.
Obama 2016! Don't worry , you don't have to vote!!!!
Clinton 2016. Your wife is voting for her.
The article is about farmers and hunter / gatheres, the sit on the rock all day and expect to share in the wealth of the farmers and hunter / gatherers lineage didn't come along until much later.
"In a genetic sense, these two groups live in on a way, although farming is the technique that apparently outlives hunter-gathering in this part of the world," these two groups live ON IN a way... editors people. They are called editors. hire some.
You are right – I have corrected this. Thanks!
Elizabeth Landau, CNN
You also missed this one; "said at a at news conference Thursday".
I didn't get much out of this story. Too superficial, for those of us who have had ancestry DNA tests, and have studied DNA and human migration for the past 10 years.
Dear Nadesan,I wish to know your opinion about the Jeneva deicoisn. I think this situation has increased the diffrences between tamil and Singalese. But most of Tamil (About 99.9%) in jaffna believe that America should send their nato force against Singala rulers and economic embargo etc ..Bharthipan
I wonder how much neanderthal DNA was there was the hunters and how much in the farmers bones. Anybody?
Researches at the prestigious Sarah Palin University claim this article is a hoax because the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
I'm off for the weekend. Thanks for filling in.
No problem. Anytime
Yes, that is true. We are doing research on ancient bones from the cemetery near Sarahs house, next to the church that was built in 1954. We have found that many family members buried in the same plot seem to be of the same family DNA. More research needs to be done of course, but this seems to be occurring at each family plot. A pattern is developing.
Their sample size is horrible. Nothing can be "likely" based on this
This is all BS according to the Holy Lie-ble.
Europeans are by far the best group on the planet. Most of the world speaks one of their languages. It is not surprising that they are doing this dig in Sweden, its a lovely place where you don't have to worry about getting robbed or murdered, they couldn't try this anywhere in Africa without an armed escort.
Most of the people in the world speak one of their languages because they robbed and murdered(colonize) various places around the world.
another article on how great europeans are
great at murdering and raping maybe
we need more articles on the birthplace of civilization- AFRICA
Which proves their superiority to the indigenous losers.
Bambata--they have numerous articles on the Greatness of Africa--There's a lovely piece on the last country to outlaw slavery, various Kony stories, Somalia is there somewhere, Zuma took another wife to infect with AIDS, Egypt allows it's male citizens goodbye intercourse and I'm sure Mugabe has a story in there somewhere. Africa may be the dawn of civilization but the sun still hasn't risen in that great continent.
European languages have Middle Eastern roots
No the Near Eastern civilizations have Indo european roots
The Indo-European roots are from India. e.g. Pitar, padre, vater, father.) The Indo speaks of India like Indo-China.
And dont forget that GHOST comes from the oldest of the Indo-European languages- Sanskrit (see Wikipedia).
Dick Diamond...Indo europeans conqueared India via the kyber pass introducing Indo european languages,technology and genetics not the other way around.
My Dutch ancestors went all over the world beating people up and teaching them Dutch, and I'm sure you can say the same for French, English, and Spanish.
If you keep saying it then those nagging thoughts of worthlessness may go away.
English is by far the most used on the planet, hands down.
It depends upon how you define "widely used". More people speak Chinese.
It means "used in more places."
bambta...sorry the egyptian pharoahs weren't black they were white
Actually, they were both.
Unfortunately, Sweden is a bad example of –diversity. They all look the same!
If sturdy one history Europe is south Africian area. . Said enough.
So much speculation in archaeology. I would speculate that Farming went hand in hand with the Hunter Gatherer or was just an evolution not a division.
The point of the study was to figure out if that was true. The evidence suggests that it is not.
This is obviously a race bating article. This ignores our African brothers and sisters contributions. How come there is no mention of Africans in this article. We demand to be acknowledged!
Because this is an article about Farming in EUROPE not Africa.
What are you talking about Gerald. The article is only talking about Europe. It claims nothing about any other part of the world. It's not ignoring Africa at all, merely focusing on Europe. You're just looking for a fight I think.
It specifically says it's about Europe, moron.
You're acknowledged – you're a goof!!
Really? Who's going to believe a black man named Gerald Miller wrote this rant loll We got it. Let's make black people look foolish... Nobody cares
That was what I was thinking. Not so much from the name alone but whenever I see an obviously ridiculous statement of whatever stripe, I sense that it is a plant designed to manipulate.
You are about as black as a Saltine.
I'll bet you hate just about everything.
There is a lot of archaeology on farming in Africa. I took an African history course and it was nearly half archaeology on the spread of agrarian lifestyles. However, genetic markers are much more difficult to trace in Africa because of its genetic diversity and the length of time humans have lived there. It is much easier in Europe, Asia outside of the Middle East and everywhere else that is not Africa. Another problem is that the climate of Northern Europe is friendlier to preserving ancient DNA and Scandinavia in particular was one of the last places in the Old World to adopt farming. This means the DNA did not need to last nearly as long. To do a similar study in Anatolia or Libya, you would need to go back about ten thousand years instead of five thousand.
A similar study that could probably be done would be on the Bantu expansion to find out how much intermixing and how much replacement of the Khoisan and Pygmy populations there was, but I suspect that even that would be very difficult.
JLS639, thank you very much for an educated and scientific answer to the questions brought up in the comments. It's always better to have that then people snapping at each other.
Fail...agriculture was brought to africa like everything else...unless you're one of the afrocentric morins who think the egyptian pharoahs were black...
It cant be a "race baiting" item because we are all ONE RACE, the Human Race, proved by our ability to produce offspring. Dogs and cats cannot produce dog-cats or cat-dogs. Get it?!
Try to start a Farm nowadays in the United States. Not so easy anymore.
Try to gather in the United States. It's not so easy anymore. Some shoot moose from helicopters and some shoot hunting compainions in the face, but they made it hard to survive.
I gathered (wild foraged) garlic mustard shoots and lambs quarter leaves from my suburban neighborhood this evening. Sauteed and scrambled with one of my own hen's eggs...very good! There are people who forage/gather as a hobby or to add dense nutrients that haven't been been 'modified'. The lesser known and underrated wild roots, fruits, nuts and veggies are the only way to eat non-genetically messed with due to cross breeding and accidental contamination, just get a good guide book and know what you are doing first.
You didn't tell us about sleeping outside in your makeshift tree house every night, starting your own fire with two sticks, your rain catch or catching fish with pieces of a cannibalized harmonica, Suzanne.
What's the matter? Run out of room or imagination. Which is it?
You have laying hens in a "suburban area" Suzanne? You must be real popular with the neighbors.
And did that "catch" of yummy mustard shoots and lambs quarter leaves taste a bit salty?
Seriously, dude, you don't know what you are talking about. I had laying hens for three years on my 1/4 acre, and neither of the people on either side of me had any idea. Hens hardly make any noise at all, roosters are noisy. If you just have a few hens, people who have lived their whole lives in the city can't tell their sounds apart from any other bird, and people who grew up in the country don't care about them.