European Migration Spread Farming, DNA Suggests
Thousands of years ago, farming spread across Europe and replaced the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of early inhabitants. Now a study of ancient DNA says that trend was driven by farmers moving from place to place. Scientists have long debated how farming expanded across Europe. Did farmers migrate? Did the idea of farming spread from culture to culture?
The new work, published in the journal Science, joins some previous DNA research in arguing for migration. Farming originated in the Near East about 11,000 years ago and extended over most of Europe by about 6,000 years ago. For the new study, scientists analyzed genetic material from bones about 5,000 years old that had been found in Sweden. The bones came from three hunter-gatherers who’d been buried on the island of Gotland, which lies off the Swedish coast south of Stockholm, and a farmer buried less than 250 miles away on the mainland.