In DepthANCIENT DNA

First farmers' motley roots

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Science  15 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6296, pp. 207-208
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6296.207

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Summary

Farming was such a good idea when it was invented 10,000 to 12,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent that it was quickly adopted by several different groups of people. According to three teams who used new techniques to gain glimpses of the nuclear DNA of the world's very first farmers, farming was adopted by at least three genetically distinct groups scattered across the Middle East and Anatolia. The research found that early farmers of Israel and Jordan were genetically distinct from those in the Zagros Mountains, and that both populations were distinct from the western Anatolians. This shows that farming wasn't spread initially by just one group of people, but that it was invented more than once—or was an idea that spread rapidly between groups.