A new study of DNA from ancient remains provides further evidence that farming was first spread to Europe by migrants.
It casts doubt on the alternative theory in which agriculture was adopted by Europe's existing hunter-gatherer populations, spreading via cultural exchange with neighbouring tribes.
|The researchers extracted DNA from 5,000-year-old|
remains found in southern Sweden
They found the "farmer" was genetically distinct from hunters.
Pontus Skoglund, from Uppsala University, Sweden, and colleagues extracted genomic DNA (genetic material contained in the nucleus of cells) from the 5,000-year-old remains unearthed in southern Sweden.
Ensuring the DNA obtained from these remains was genuinely ancient and uncontaminated by modern DNA required the team to use advanced molecular and statistical techniques.
They compared the genetic profiles of the stone age (Neolithic) farmer and contemporary hunter gatherers with those of modern populations.
Although the female farmer appears to have been born in the region, her genetic make-up was most similar to that of modern people from south-east Europe.
This would be consistent with evidence from archaeology, which posits a spread of agriculture from Anatolia (modern Turkey) towards the north and west of Europe after 8,000 years ago.
Meanwhile, the hunter-gatherers did not match any living group well but their DNA most closely resembled that of present-day Finnish people.
The researchers say their research supports the idea that the agricultural revolution was driven by people who migrated from southern Europe. (BBC.co.uk)