Neolithic farmers from Greece and Anatolia

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A couple of new papers appeared this week. First, an article in Nature on natural selection in ancient Europe includes a sample of Anatolian Neolithic farmers and concludes that the European Neolithic farmers were descended from them with a bit of extra European hunter-gatherer admixture. Second, a new preprint on thebioRxiv includes Neolithic samples from northern Greece and finds that they too resemble the Anatolian and European farmers. I think it is time to declare the problem of "Neolithization of Europe" done. It took less than 4 years to solve it with ancient DNA. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of papers in historical review:

Nature (2015) doi:10.1038/nature16152

Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians

Iain Mathieson et al. 

Ancient DNA makes it possible to observe natural selection directly by analysing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report a genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest ancient DNA data set yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians who lived between 6500 and 300 BC, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide ancient DNA from Anatolian Neolithic farmers, whose genetic material we obtained by extracting from petrous bones, and who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe’s first farmers. We also report a transect of the steppe region in Samara between 5600 and 300 BC, which allows us to identify admixture into the steppe from at least two external sources. We detect selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.



Early farmers from across Europe directly descended from Neolithic Aegeans

Zuzana Hofmanová, Susanne Kreutzer et al.

Farming and sedentism first appear in southwest Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes. Conspicuous uncertainties remain about the relative roles of migration, cultural diffusion and admixture with local foragers in the early Neolithisation of Europe. Here we present paleogenomic data for five Neolithic individuals from northwestern Turkey and northern Greece, spanning the time and region of the earliest spread of farming into Europe. We observe striking genetic similarity both among Aegean early farmers and with those from across Europe. Our study demonstrates a direct genetic link between Mediterranean and Central European early farmers and those of Greece and Anatolia, extending the European Neolithic migratory chain all the way back to southwestern Asia.