News of the WeekArchaeology

Ancient DNA Says Europe's First Farmers Came From Afar

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Science  04 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5945, pp. 1189
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1189

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Researchers have long debated whether the agricultural explosion about 7500 years ago was sparked by massive migrations of farmers themselves, so-called demic diffusion, or by the spread of farming ideas, known as cultural diffusion. In a paper published online this week in Science, European researchers present important new data on this question, for the first time directly comparing ancient DNA from European hunter-gatherers and early farmers. They conclude that outside colonizers brought farming to central Europe in a major migration event. But other researchers warn that the findings might be due in part to contamination, long the Achilles' heel of ancient DNA studies.