Origins and Genetic Legacy of Neolithic Farmers and Hunter-Gatherers in Europe

Science. 2012 Apr 27;336(6080):466-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1216304.


The farming way of life originated in the Near East some 11,000 years ago and had reached most of the European continent 5000 years later. However, the impact of the agricultural revolution on demography and patterns of genomic variation in Europe remains unknown. We obtained 249 million base pairs of genomic DNA from ~5000-year-old remains of three hunter-gatherers and one farmer excavated in Scandinavia and find that the farmer is genetically most similar to extant southern Europeans, contrasting sharply to the hunter-gatherers, whose distinct genetic signature is most similar to that of extant northern Europeans. Our results suggest that migration from southern Europe catalyzed the spread of agriculture and that admixture in the wake of this expansion eventually shaped the genomic landscape of modern-day Europe.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / history*
  • Burial
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Demography
  • Emigration and Immigration / history
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / history
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Haplotypes
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Population Dynamics
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sweden


  • DNA, Mitochondrial