Genetic analysis points to the origin of the first farmers on Earth

(ORDO NEWS) — The earliest farmers in human history originated from two groups of hunter-gatherers, scientists from the University of Bern said. They teamed up to survive drastic climate change, according to Cell.

The authors of the study analyzed genetic samples taken from ancient remains. They studied the burials of people from different regions, including Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Austria and Germany.

The genome of each person was sequenced several times. This made it possible to obtain much more complete information. The results of the analysis were then refined with additional geographic, cultural, archaeological, and climatic data.

The results of the study showed that the first farmers were descendants of hunter-gatherers from different regions: Europe and the Middle East.

The European group headed to the eastern lands after the Last Glacial Maximum – a sharp cooling that occurred 20 thousand years ago. There they met and began to interbreed with the inhabitants of the modern Middle East.

Scientists have concluded that the descendants of this mixed group founded the first farming community about 12,900 years ago. They domesticated plants and animals, later migrated west and eventually reached central Europe. Many modern Europeans are descended from them.

The gradual settlement of farmers led to the fact that the traditions of agriculture spread throughout the continent. Another study showed that farming flourished in the Fertile Crescent (Near East region) 11,000 years ago.

Later, it “moved” from Asia through Europe to the west. So, in Greece, agriculture appeared about 9000 years ago. But regions such as Great Britain and Scandinavia remained unaffected by it for about two thousand years.

Genetic analysis also showed that European hunter-gatherers experienced a sharp decline in numbers during the cold snap. This “demographic crisis” has resulted in their descendants showing less genetic diversity than other groups.

In the future, the team plans to continue analyzing ancient genomes from other geographical locations and eras to better understand the history of Stone Age and Bronze Age cultures. Genetic research has become an effective way to study the life of ancient civilizations, from which there are no written sources left.

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