Monday 19 February 2018

Neolithic Farmers Migration

Summary of paper for review purposes:

The roles of migration, admixture and acculturation in the European transition to farming have been debated for over 100 years. Genome-wide ancient DNA studies indicate predominantly Anatolian ancestry for continental Neolithic farmers, but also variable admixture with local Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Neolithic cultures first appear in Britain c. 6000 years ago (kBP), a millennium after they appear in adjacent areas of northwestern continental Europe. However, the pattern and process of the British Neolithic transition remains unclear. We assembled genome-wide data from six Mesolithic and 67 Neolithic individuals found in Britain, dating from 10.5-4.5 kBP, a dataset that includes 22 newly reported individuals and the first genomic data from British Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Our analyses reveals persistent genetic affinities between Mesolithic British and Western European hunter-gatherers over a period spanning Britain’s separation from continental Europe. We find overwhelming support for agriculture being introduced by incoming continental farmers, with small and geographically structured levels of additional hunter-gatherer introgression. We find genetic affinity between British and Iberian Neolithic populations indicating that British Neolithic people derived much of their ancestry from Anatolian farmers who originally followed the Mediterranean route of dispersal and likely entered Britain from northwestern mainland Europe.

Figure 2: PCA of modern and ancient West-Eurasians. British and additional ancient samples are projected onto the reference space computed on modern West-Eurasian

In summary, our results indicate that the progression of the Neolithic in Britain was unusual when compared to other previously studied European regions. Rather than reflecting the slow admixture processes that occurred between ANFs and local hunter-gatherer groups in areas of continental Europe, we infer a British Neolithic proceeding with little introgression from resident foragers – either during initial colonization phase, or throughout the Neolithic.
This may reflect the fact that farming arrived in Britain a couple of thousand years later than it did in Europe. The farming population who arrived in Britain may have mastered more of the technologies needed to thrive in northern and western Europe than the farmers who had first expanded into these areas. A large-scale seaborne movement of established Neolithic groups leading to the rapid establishment of the first agrarian and pastoral economies across Britain, provides a plausible scenario for the scale of genetic and cultural change in Britain.

Population Replacement in Early Neolithic Britain

Selina Brace, Yoan Diekmann, Thomas J. Booth, Zuzana Faltyskova, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Matthew Ferry, Megan Michel, Jonas Oppenheimer, Nasreen Broomandkhoshbacht, Kristin Stewardson, Susan Walsh, Manfred Kayser, Rick Schulting, Oliver E Craig, Alison Sheridan, Mike Parker Pearson, Chris Stringer, David Reich, Mark G Thomas, Ian Barnes
bioRxiv 267443; doi:
This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.


  1. While laying myself open to the charge of posting another off-topic comment, I'm now - yet again - using/abusing Tim's site to say I've today updated my case for Stonehenge as a speciality and indeed somewhat quirky Brit (pre-Brit? migrant Anatolian?) pre-cremation site, resorting to what in 2016 I called "AFS" (avian-facilitated skeletonization).

    So what's new? There's now the focus on that interesting so-called sarsen Heel Stone (it's beaked animal characteristics seemingly flagged up first on this site by yours truly, albeit via Comments, not previously on my own sites). To those who say it's nothing new, then please supply a link or two. My own internet searches have so far turned up nothing (Wiki being strangely silent!)

    I shall intrude no further on this site, at least as regards my own theorizing, unless or until there are new comments that invite a response, which it would be a discourtesy to ignore.

    Put another way, I shall now watch and wait...


    Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)

  2. Come to think of it, the DNA-based 'Anatolian migrant' discovery (on topic!) provides an entirely new rationale for those causewayed enclosures, henges, stone circles etc in Britain, Ireland, France etc, at least initially.

    It even provides an explanation for gaps in the north-east facing part of a banked-off circle (nope, nothing to do with solstices!).

    If there's anyone out there who's interested in radically new (?) out-of-the-box thinking, then say so soon, failing which I'll make it the next posting on my own site.

    Clue: think geographical conditions pertaining to the Atlantic seaboard of Europe...

  3. The alignment is nothing to do with the summer and winter solstices - a fanciful 18th century idea that should have been laid to rest long ago for lack of corroborating evidence.

    The alignment is almost certainly due to the prevailing southwesterly winds we experience in the UK, coming in off the Atlantic, and bringing that thing which substitutes for climate, namely WEATHER.

    The alignment of causewayed enclosures was initially to serve as WINDBREAKS, later evolving for additional add-on uses too...

    I've tacked the windbreak idea on the end of my current "Heel Stone" posting.

    I hope to give it a posting of its own in due course. There's much reading to be done first. Ideas/criticism always welcome, here or on my own site.

  4. Genuine request for advice: does anyone know of a website on which new ideas and interpretation re Stonehenge and Neolithic Britain can be aired and discussed?

    I keep searching, year after year - but have so far drawn a complete blank.

    My own site gets scarcely any visitors:

    Not being a conspiracy theorist, I shan't attempt to speculate on why ...