February 23, 2011

Human migration and cultural change in the origins of European farmers

Here is the press release, I'll update the post when the paper appears on the journal site.

Origins of Farming in Europe Result of Human Migration and Cultural Change, Study Suggests

It has long been debated as to whether the transition from a largely hunter-gatherer to an agricultural subsistence strategy in Europe was the result of the migration of farmers from the Near East and Anatolia, or whether this transition was primarily cultural in nature. A new study, co-authored by researchers at University College Cork and the University of Kent suggests that the prehistoric adoption of farming practices in outlying regions of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic, European Russia and the Ukraine, was the result of cultural diffusion.

Results provide evidence that indigenous hunter-gatherers in central Europe were largely replaced or assimilated by incoming Near-Eastern farmers in the core region of south-east and Central Europe. However, hunter-gatherer populations survived in outlying regions and adopted some of the cultural practices from neighbouring farming communities.

...

The new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, B uses craniometric data from 30 Mesolithic and Neolithic populations to address these questions, as it has previously been shown that cranial measurements can be used as a reliable proxy for genetic information. The results show that while the initial transition to agriculture in central Europe was the result of migrating farmers from the Near-East and Anatolia, agricultural practices were adopted by indigenous hunter-gatherer populations in outlying regions of Europe. Therefore, instead of employing two competing and mutually exclusive models of biological versus cultural diffusion, a mosaic model of both biological and cultural diffusion is a more appropriate model for this demographic change across Europe as a whole

UPDATE:

Looking at the cranial distances table the distance between Çatal Höyük and Nea Nikomedeia 0.00001, which could very well be the smallest in the table leaves little doubt about the affinities of the Neolithic in Macedonia. It is unfortunate that other series from the rest of Greece were not included, but this may not be as important in the context of this paper, as the Neolithic cultures of the Balkans would be derived from those of northern Greece.

Another point of interest is to pay close attention to the different sites. For example, the Russian Neolithic is a late 2,400BC site from NW Russia belonging to the Pit-Comb Ware culture. This culture is labeled Neolithic on account of its use of pottery (one of the hallmarks of the Neolithic), but is essentially a boreal culture of pottery using hunter-gatherers.

Another point of interest is that the Dnieper-Donetz samples from Dereivka and Aleksandrija have close parallels to the Portuguese Mesolithic! This tends to reinforce the view that has emerged from the study of mtDNA of a fairly homogeneous pre-farming substratum that stretched from the Atlantic well to the east.

The Mesolithic and some Forest "Neolithic" samples of hunter-gatherers cluster together, described by the authors as follows:
In the circum-Baltic area, a number of ‘Forest Neolithic’ cultures emerged during the seventh millennium BP, continuing the Mesolithic hunting–gathering–fishing lifestyle by incorporating wild fauna and edible plant species into their diets but also living in semi-permanent locales [23,26].

Proc. R. Soc. B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.2678

Craniometric data support a mosaic model of demic and cultural Neolithic diffusion to outlying regions of Europe

Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, and Ron Pinhasi


The extent to which the transition to agriculture in Europe was the result of biological (demic) diffusion from the Near East or the adoption of farming practices by indigenous hunter–gatherers is subject to continuing debate. Thus far, archaeological study and the analysis of modern and ancient European DNA have yielded inconclusive results regarding these hypotheses. Here we test these ideas using an extensive craniometric dataset representing 30 hunter–gatherer and farming populations. Pairwise population craniometric distance was compared with temporally controlled geographical models representing evolutionary hypotheses of biological and cultural transmission. The results show that, following the physical dispersal of Near Eastern/Anatolian farmers into central Europe, two biological lineages were established with limited gene flow between them. Farming communities spread across Europe, while hunter–gatherer communities located in outlying geographical regions adopted some cultural elements from the farmers. Therefore, the transition to farming in Europe did not involve the complete replacement of indigenous hunter–gatherer populations despite significant gene flow from the Southwest Asia. This study suggests that a mosaic process of dispersal of farmers and their ideas was operating in outlying regions of Europe, thereby reconciling previously conflicting results obtained from genetic and archaeological studies.

Link

22 comments:

eurologist said...

Well, seems they got half the story right.

Yes, of course, in the outlying regions it was local people - that's why with the collapse of the Danubian (likely because of climate and/or disease) those unusual haplogroups associated with them vanished.

However, the first central European agriculturalists were to a much higher degree local people from the northern Balkans - this is both evident from archeological and mtDNA findings.

Dienekes said...

However, the first central European agriculturalists were to a much higher degree local people from the northern Balkans - this is both evident from archeological and mtDNA findings.

Er, the mtDNA findings suggest discontinuity in Central Europe and the craniometric evidence also suggests a West Asian origin for the Central European Neolithic.

eurologist said...

the mtDNA findings suggest discontinuity in Central Europe and the craniometric evidence also suggests a West Asian origin for the Central European Neolithic.

Discontinuity? For sure - from northern Balkan DNA. Western Asian vs. Balkan craniometric evidence? I read the paper back and forth, and I've looked at clouds from both sides, now, from up and down, and still somehow - it's interpreter's illusions, I recall.

44b3fcde-3f60-11e0-9f69-000bcdca4d7a said...

@eurologist

You must have missed reading the following paper showing the genetic origins of the early European farmers.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109172344.htm

Annie Mouse said...

Smoke and mirrors.

Figure B says the German farming graveyard is most like modern people in the spine of Turkey. It does not say that these people are representative of the first farmers.

It also says that the modern Europeans are NOT like the people in that German graveyard. Evidence AGAINST replacement.

apostateimpressions123 said...

So the Mesolithic population in Greece, the rest of SE Europe and Central Europe was replaced by farmers from Anatolia and the Near East?

Would that be when the E3b and J2 male haplogroups entered and spread across Europe?

War Lord said...

I wonder that nobody of you emphasized the Anatolian origin of TBK bearers in Denmark. This makes things complicated, because the body type of the Corded Ware bearers - the likely descendants of TBK - was very dissimilar to that of LBK. And I mean body structure (height, proportions, robuscity), not cranial morphology that is often one-sidedly preferred in research.

apostateimpressions123 said...

"It also says that the modern Europeans are NOT like the people in that German graveyard. Evidence AGAINST replacement."

AM, the Indo-European invasions largely replaced/ assimilated most of the farmers. R1a and R1b about 4000 years ago. So there are three layers: Meslithic (I), Neolithic (E3b, J2) and Indo-European (R1a/ R1b)?

Thats the theory that I favour anyway. http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml

Marnie said...

"Would that be when the E3b and J2 male haplogroups entered and spread across Europe?"

No.

Read Battaglia et al:

http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v17/n6/abs/ejhg2008249a.html

E3b is late Mesolithic

J2 is coastal and Mediterranean, not Central European

Strat said...

"AM, the Indo-European invasions largely replaced/ assimilated most of the farmers. R1a and R1b about 4000 years ago. So there are three layers: Meslithic (I), Neolithic (E3b, J2) and Indo-European (R1a/ R1b)?

Thats the theory that I favour anyway. http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml"

What is your evidence for these claims other than the fairy tales of Eupedia?

Strat said...

"Read Battaglia et al:

http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v17/n6/abs/ejhg2008249a.html

E3b is late Mesolithic

J2 is coastal and Mediterranean, not Central European"

Don't present those highly dubious molecular clock estimates as if they are reliable.

Matt said...

Hi Dienekes,

"a fairly homogeneous pre-farming substratum that stretched from the Atlantic well to the east."

This seemed surprising to me given what you've written about hunter-gatherers earlier (and I find generally seems to ring true) - http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/11/east-eurasian-population-structure-as.html?

"In the world of farmers, with growing population densities and expansion came the breakdown of isolates: this led to a further homogenization of the farmers' gene pool, as different tribes that had adopted the new way of life lost all trace of their past tribal identities and formed new ones based on the common language of the agriculturalists and the new way of life."

"What this plot shows, in tangible form, is a picture of mankind's past: before the invention of agriculture, most humans lived in small tribes, scattered across the world."

Are there any clues you know about what made these West Eurasian foragers different (if I'm interpreting things correctly), that they formed a fairly homogenous population while most hunter-gatherers had this diverse structure?

Dienekes said...

Matt: when I spoke about hunter-gatherers in that passage I did not refer to European H-G, but rather to the successful H-G groups that adopted agriculture and became demographically dominant in the world, e.g., the first Chinese farmers that assimilated everyone else except for the outlying groups referred to in the past, the first West Eurasian farmers, and so on.

When we look at the early farmer gene pool, at least in terms of mtDNA it seems much more diverse than that of European Mesolithic groups. Whether it reflects a mix of colonization movements from different West Asian groups or not, or a diverse West Asian population remains to be seen.

I've never really ascribed to the orthodoxy that reigned since the late 90s that Europeans are 75% Paleolithic. I believe that they are mostly Neolithic in origin, with major intra-European reshuffling events _after_ the Neolithic (e.g., Slavo-Germanic migrations, Greek colonization, Roman expansion), and variable outside influences (Eurasiatic steppe groups in the east, Finns in the NE, and Roman era mobility in the south).

Dienekes said...

Are there any clues you know about what made these West Eurasian foragers different (if I'm interpreting things correctly), that they formed a fairly homogenous population while most hunter-gatherers had this diverse structure?

Not sure how you are interpreting it, but I think that the "center" of Caucasoid genetic diversity is in West Asia, probably because glaciation did not cause population crashes there, and the natural setting allowed for larger populations until the economic systematic exploitation of more northern zones was made possible by agro-pastoralism.

Matt said...

Dienekes,

Thanks for your reply. What I was referring to, which might have been unclear, is that it seemed like in the other post you were expressing the idea that pre-farming hunter gatherers in any region were not very homogenous, in terms of between group measures, in terms of cranial shape/overall phenotype, compared to the following populations in a region. And that North Eurasian and other HG populations are a window to this past. While the following farming populations may have been more internally diverse, but had less between group diversity and were mainly the descendants of an expansion by a few HG groups who successfully took up farming.

But this study seems to show that the Mesolithic European HGs were a fairly homogenous population with little between group difference.

I think I have probably misunderstood your earlier post, but many thanks for replying.

Strat said...

Here is a wonderful article by Racial Reality proving once again that even the earliest modern human Europeans from the Upper Paleolithic times were Caucasoid:

http://racialreality.blogspot.com/2011/02/cro-magnons-were-caucasoid-not-negroid.html

Annie Mouse said...

I have spent a little time looking at this paper. It is quite interesting. But I have some criticisms:

(1) I am not all that keen on skull studies under the best of circumstances. This is based on previous inconsistent studies and the variability due to other ethnic and other factors. For example it is reasonable to think that Hunter-Gatherers might look skeletally different from farmers just on the basis of diet. We just have to look at the Maasai and the transformation of modern China (heights rising etc) to know that.

(2) The trees of relatedness (a and b) are not based on the science in the study. If it were the Natufians would cluster closely with the Koros, TRB1 and TRB2. And this does not happen. The trees seem to be the authors best scientific guess based on their preconceptions of the truth.

(3) Red is "mesolithic", black is assumed to be very early neolithic in Turkey, blue/green is neolithic, purple is neolithic with the new label "forest". "Forest" seems to be term invented to describe neolithic communities that dont fit the theory. To imply that these communities are not really neolithic. If they were labelled blue/green plot c would look very different.

(4) Table S1 in the supplementary data is useful and fascinating. It gives the actual dates of the skulls. All the "mesolithic" skulls substantially overlap with the neolithic samples. None are older than the Natufian "neolithic" 11500BCE. There are no paleolithic skulls for comparison. French "mesolithic" skulls are 5300 BCE while the nearby "neolithic" LBK samples are 5200BCE. This is not a significant date difference. The Latvian "mesolithic" skulls are 4550BCE, much younger than many so called neolithic skulls. Its a cyclical argument. The skulls are labelled mesolithic because they dont look neolithic (presumably more robust). Therefore in the in a study of the dimensions of the skulls they duely look different!

This study cannot anything about that happened as the neolithic hit. Because there is NO true true mesolithic data or paleolithic data showing what the situation was before the neolithic.

All the data has been heavily compromised by preconceptions.

There are no modern skull comparison controls either.

So lots of useful data. But this paper does not even prove people moved into western europe during the neolithic.

Dienekes said...

We just have to look at the Maasai

The Maasai are pastoralists, they are not hunter-gatherers

the transformation of modern China (heights rising etc) to know that.

That is why it's not a good idea to use traits with a strong environmental component such as height. Despite their rise in height, the Chinese have not lost their Mongoloid craniofacial morphology, that is why it's a good idea to use a large number of craniofacial traits in paleoanthropological analyses.

If it were the Natufians would cluster closely with the Koros, TRB1 and TRB2. And this does not happen.

I am not sure what you mean by that. The Natufians were Levantine non-farmers, so I don't see why they would cluster with European farmers.

"Forest" seems to be term invented to describe neolithic communities that dont fit the theory. To imply that these communities are not really neolithic.

It's not a new observation that in the periphery of the Neolithic expansion there were groups of ambiguous status. It was actually quite commonplace for people in the ex-Soviet Union to label as Neolithic pottery-using cultures, pottery being one of the hallmarks of the Neolithic, even if these cultures did not practice agriculture.

The Latvian "mesolithic" skulls are 4550BCE, much younger than many so called neolithic skulls. Its a cyclical argument.

What are you talking about? It's not a new discovery that the Neolithic arrived in different places at different times, and you find Mesolithic cultures in the periphery postdating Neolithic ones at the center of the expansion by thousands of years. Nothing "cyclical" about it.

eurologist said...

All the data has [have] been heavily compromised by preconceptions.

That's my viewpoint.

Annie Mouse said...

"The Maasai are pastoralists, they are not hunter-gatherers"

I never said they were. I am talking about the effect of diet.

"If it were the Natufians would cluster closely with the Koros, TRB1 and TRB2. And this does not happen.

I am not sure what you mean by that. The Natufians were Levantine non-farmers, so I don't see why they would cluster with European farmers."

I mean the tree is not based on the science, as the science (eg figure c) shows these groups clustering, in so far as anything in the paper can be said to cluster. There is a lot of spread in my opinion. The tree assumes that these groups are not closely related. Probably rightly so given the ages. But the tree is thus corrupted.

"The Latvian "mesolithic" skulls are 4550BCE, much younger than many so called neolithic skulls. Its a cyclical argument.

What are you talking about? It's not a new discovery that the Neolithic arrived in different places at different times, and you find Mesolithic cultures in the periphery postdating Neolithic ones at the center of the expansion by thousands of years. Nothing "cyclical" about it."

I know that the neolithic arrive at different times. I mention Latvia becasue it is the youngest so called "mesolithic" samples illustrating the ridiculous nature of the labelling.
What is cyclical is to label skulls as mesolithic because they do not match the neolithic assumptions. and then to measure them and say "oh look, they are different from the neolithic skulls". Well of course they are.

We do not know exactly when the neolithic arrived in different regions. We use papers like this to try find evidence and work it out. All of these so called "mesolithic" skulls date to the global neolithic period. At most a couple of years walk away to the east. The Latvian "mesolithic" people were born 5,000 years after the neolithic started. At best they are transitional skulls. Not mesolithic.

Annie Mouse said...

Incidentally, I recently stumbled across this news article.

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2009/06/02-01.html

Chinese pottery dating back 18,000 years. This appears from other findings to be a classic paleolithic hunter-gatherer culture. Although rice was found (not clear if wild or cultivated).

eurologist said...

"44b3fcde-3f60-11e0-9f69-000bcdca4d7a"
You must have missed reading the following paper showing the genetic origins of the early European farmers.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109172344.htm


You can find my extended criticism of that paper in Dienekes' blog. Haak's conclusions are ridiculously overreaching, and the raw data pretty much prove the opposite of what he tries to show. I remarked about the huge and very well known impact of diet on skull dimensions elsewhere.

As Annie has put it, for both papers:

All the data has been heavily compromised by preconceptions.

It's a shame - lots of good and diligent work, but extremely shabby interpretation.