The first peasants originated from the mixture of two groups of hunter-gatherers brought together in a dramatic way climate change 12,900 years ago, a study says.
Researchers have excavated a mine of new genetic information taken from the bones of previously found ancient humans.
The findings suggest that the world’s first farmers did not come from just one group Asiaas previously thought, before they spread west to Europe.
Indeed, the earliest farmers were the descendants of hunter-gatherers from both Europe and the Near East, the researchers say.
European hunter-gatherers had headed east after the last glacial maximum, a major climatic event in which temperatures plummeted.
When they reached the east, these European hunter-gatherers were then raised with the hunter-gatherers of the Near East.
Eventually, their descendants (who became the first farmers) headed west, essentially marking the spread of agriculture in Europe.
The first peasants were the descendants of hunter-gatherers from both Europe and the Near East. These hunter-gatherers from Europe headed east due to the last glacial maximum and then reproduced with Asian populations in Asia. Their descendants (the first farmers) headed west, marking the spread of agriculture in Europe
Humans have gone from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (consisting of killing animals and searching for plants) to an agricultural lifestyle (where they planted crops and settled more in one place). Some of the earliest European farmers are depicted
THE LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM
About 20,000 years ago, a major climatic event called the Last Glacial Maximum caused a drop in global temperature.
During the last glacial maximum, the continental ice sheets reached their maximum total mass, while the land near the ice sheets that escaped the ice age was cold and overgrown with tundra vegetation.
Due to the lowering of temperatures, a group of hunter-gatherers in the west has experienced an extreme reduction in their population, where some have grown close to extinction.
“We now find that the first farmers of Anatolia and Europe emerged from a mixed population of hunter-gatherers from Europe and the Near East,” said study author Nina Marchi at the University of Bern.
It is already known that the first agriculture took place in the so-called “Fertile Crescent”, a region of the Near East about 11,000 years ago.
People began taming animals and plants in a stable place, rather than moving around happily in search of food.
Agriculture gradually spread from Asia westward through Europe, starting around 9,000 years ago in Greece.
Areas further west, such as Great Britain, were not affected for another 2,000 years and Scandinavia only later.
Genetic analyzes of prehistoric skeletons have already suggested that early European farmers descended from hunter-gatherer populations of Anatolia, the great peninsula of western Asia.
While it may very well be the case, this new study shows that Neolithic genetic origins cannot be clearly attributed to a single region.
Researcher analyzing ancient human remains for paleogenetic research at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany
The Klein7 individual from the Kleinhadersdorf site in the Weinviertel of Lower Austria, whose genome was analyzed in the paper
AGRICULTURE HAS MADE OUR VINTAGES SHORTEST, STUDY FINDS
Our ancestors got shorter when they switched from foraging to farming 12,000 years ago, according to a new study.
The researchers analyzed DNA and measurements taken from the skeletal remains of 167 ancient individuals found around Europe.
The bones had already been dated before, after or around the time when agriculture emerged in Europe 12,000 years ago.
Experts found that the transition from hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agricultural crops took an average of 1.5 inches from their height.
A lower height is an indicator of worse health, they say, because it suggests they weren’t getting enough nutrition to support adequate growth.
For their study, the researchers analyzed bone genomes, taken from skeletons of ancient peoples from a wide range of places, including Anatolia, Greece, Serbia, Austria and Germany.
The researchers used a technique called deep sequencing, in which the genome of each ancient human was sequenced multiple times.
This resulted in higher quality data and much more information than conventional analyzes based on shallower or partial sequencing.
“We get a lot more detail on the demographic history of those populations, including population divergence, expansion and the inference of mixing dates, which is really impossible to do before,” said study author Laurent Excoffier of the University of Bern, Switzerland.
The model was then refined with additional geographic, cultural, archaeological and climatic data.
The findings suggest that the early farmers represented a mix of Ice Age hunter-gatherer groups, spread from the Near East to Southeastern Europe.
Some of the earliest farmers emerged from the mixture of hunter-gatherers of a Western group and an already mixed group that lived in the east about 12,900 years ago.
These farmers who domesticated plants and animals then migrated west, eventually bringing their culture to Central Europe.
Today many people from all over Europe are descended from them.
Location of archaeological sites with newly sequenced genomes and additional genomes used for modeling
There was also evidence that western European hunter-gatherers went through a period of extremely low population during the last glacial maximum.
Descendants of European hunter-gatherers show less diversity than early farmers because their ancestors went through a very strong population bottleneck during which they lost a lot of diversity.
In the future, the team plans to further analyze ancient genomes from other geographic sites and times to understand cultures and populations that appeared during the different stages of the Stone Age and potentially the Bronze Age.
“Although our study has brought new findings to history, I think what it really shows is that it is worth investing in high-quality genomic data,” said Excoffier.
‘These ancient materials are limited and too valuable not to be optimally analyzed. We should extract as much information as possible, which will become lasting assets that could be shared. ‘
The study was published today in the journal Cell.
GREAT BRITAIN DURING THE LAST Ice Age
The last glacial maximum dates back to about 22,000 years ago, when much of Europe was covered in ice.
During the Ice Age, which ended about 11,500 years ago, ice covered about 30% of the world’s earth.
In Britain, glacial ice and water streams spread to the Bristol Channel.
Average temperatures were 5 ° C (8 ° F) colder than today, allowing a kilometer-thick sheet of ice to cover much of the country.
The temperature remained below 0 ° C all year round in the northern regions, particularly Scotland, allowing the fabric to stay on land all year round.
The ice connected Britain with Scandinavia, allowing a host of large wildlife to roam freely between the UK and mainland Europe.
During this time, Britain would have seen woolly mammoths, giant deer and wolves roam its frozen planes.
Great glacial lakes covered Manchester, Doncaster, Newcastle and Peterborough, and much of the country was uninhabitable to humans.
Corridors of near-sliding ice, known as ice streams, flowed east on Edinburgh and west on Glasgow.
All of Ireland was covered in ice, which flowed across the Irish Sea where it met Welsh ice and then flowed south to the Isles of Scilly.
Much of Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and northern England was covered in perpetual ice.
Cambridge, which was covered by a huge glacial lake, was the southernmost region to be heavily affected by the freezing climate.
Over time the ice and its heavy streams of water have carved up the land of Great Britain, forming geological scars that can still be seen today.
These include glacial ridges carved by moving ice and winding streams of rock that have traveled for miles across the country.