How did European farmers spread agriculture?
By analyzing ancient human remains, scientists have revealed that Stone Age farmers in Europe likely migrated from south to north.
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Interestingly, these ancient genomes don't share many similarities with modern-day Swedes, despite their discovery and excavations in Sweden.Skip to next paragraph
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These southern Europeans, who were genetically distinct from the hunter-gatherer societies in the area, seem to have brought their agriculture knowledge north, where they made their homes and likely interbred with hunter-gatherers in what is now Sweden. [10 Wedding Traditions from Around the World]
"When you put these findings in archaeological context, a picture begins to emerge of Stone Age farmers migrating from south to north across Europe," said study researcher Pontus Skoglund, a graduate student at Uppsala University. "And the result of this migration, 5,000 years later, looks like a mixture of these two groups in the modern population."
Spread of agriculture
This finding agrees with previous reports on the age of farming. Researchers think that agriculture emerged about 11,000 years ago in the Near East before reaching Europe about 5,000 years later (about 6,000 years ago in total). The new study supports this idea and suggests that farming was first introduced to southern Europe before it spread north about 1,000 years later.
This spread of agriculture also seems to have been a movement of people, and as a result introduced new genetic diversity into northern European communities.
"The results suggest that agriculture spread across Europe in concert with a migration of people," Skoglund said. "If farming had spread solely as a cultural process, we would not expect to see a farmer in the north with such genetic affinity to southern populations."
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