News FocusAmerican Schools Of Oriental Research Annual Meeting

Tracking the Med's Stone Age Sailors

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Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1472-1473
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6010.1472-b

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Remains of Neolithic settlements dot the Mediterranean's islands and coastlines. Where did these seafaring migrants come from, or did indigenous peoples pick up technology from their neighbors as new ways of life, including farming, spread around the region? Genetic studies are helping to fill in key pieces of the puzzle. By carefully sorting genetic data from living people, a researcher reported at the meeting that around 6000 B.C.E., early seafarers indeed spread their seed—both agricultural and genetic—from their homeland in the Near East as far west across the Mediterranean as Marseilles, but no farther.