View Full Version : European Neolithization and Ancient DNA: An Assessment

Motörhead Remember Me
2012-02-13, 09:06
This should be a very interesting assessment paper for the discussion about European Neolithic migration, colonisation and diffusion:

European Neolithization and Ancient DNA: An Assessment (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/evan.20341/full)

Neolithic processes underlying the distribution of genetic diversity among European populations have been the subject of intense debate since the first genetic data became available. However, patterns observed in the current European gene pool are the outcome of Paleolithic and Neolithic processes, overlaid with four millennia of further developments. This observation encouraged paleogeneticists to contribute to the debate by directly comparing genetic variation from the ancient inhabitants of Europe to their contemporary counterparts. Pre-Neolithic and Neolithic paleogenetic data are becoming increasingly available for north and northwest European populations. Despite the numerous problems inherent in the paleogenetic approach, the accumulation of ancient DNA datasets offers new perspectives from which to interpret the interactions between hunter-gatherer and farming communities. In light of information emerging from diverse disciplines, including recent paleogenetic studies, the most plausible model explaining the movement of Neolithic pioneer groups in central Europe is that of leapfrog migration.

Some interesting conclusions from the paper:

If one point of consensus can be proposed at the moment, it is that there has been a major shift in opinion concerning the ancestry of Europeans. This change has been driven largely by the combined forces of archeology and genetics: Neolithic farmers from the Near East participated in European ancestry, but the majority of European genetic lineages have their roots in the European Paleolithic

We believe that social parameters may also have played a significant role in lineage evolution, especially since the appearance of potentially hierarchic communities in the Neolithic period. We do not know if the maternal lineages identified in different archeological sites provide a snapshot of the whole Neolithic population or of only a socially differentiated group.29 The progressive disappearance of elite lineages through time has been recently described in Hungary,75 where rapid and comprehensive dilution of the haplogroups associated with the Magyar conquerors was demonstrated. Such parameters should be kept in mind when proposing explanations for evolution of the European gene pool.

1. Haplotypes are shared among hunter-gatherer communities from north-central Europe, even those which are distant in time and space. This could reflect some genetic continuity between ancient and late hunter-gatherer communities, as well as potential gene flow among distant hunter-gatherer groups. It could also imply intensification in communication among groups in most regions of continental temperate Europe beginning in the Late Mesolithic.
2. Farmers from LBK communities share haplotypes with late hunter-gatherers from Germany and Sweden who postdate the Neolithic arrival. This observation could either highlight gene flow between culturally distinct communities between 5500 and 3000 cal BC or reflect a degree of hunter-gatherer acculturation, with genetic continuity between the ancient hunter-gatherer gene pool and LBK farmers.
3. Haplotypes shared among LBK communities from Germany underline their genetic proximity. This could reflect some genetic homogeneity in this cultural group, deriving from a shared origin and/or consequent gene flow inside this cultural group.
4. Early Neolithic sequences from north or west France are grouped with or are identical to Neolithic sequences from central Europe (Hungary and Germany). This could highlight the diffusion of haplotypes from central to western Europe, linked to the Neolithic diffusion.
5. The same diffusion of haplotypes can be proposed from central Europe to Sweden (Figs. 2 and 3), but is associated, for the moment, with fewer haplotypes.
6. It is interesting to note that many mtDNA haplotypes from the Late Neolithic Treilles site (south France) are shared with sequences from Early Neolithic groups from central Europe. This could be related to the fact that France is one of the few European regions where the two great currents, Mediterranean and Danubian, responsible for the diffusion of the Neolithic in Europe, came into direct or indirect contact with each other. However, the important chronological gap between groups (about 2,000 years) does not allow us to propose any reliable conclusion concerning these genetic affinities.

Forget the idea of a conquering elite that replaced the Euro aboriginals. It's more a question of a small population layer that brought new methods that were adopted by the locals.
What you say?