From the earliest modern humans to the onset of
farming (45,000-4,500 BP)
January 2011-December 2015
This project, which is led by Ron Pinhasi and is carried out in collaboration with leading European scientists,
investigates the evolution and nature of major prehistoric processes
which are key to our understanding of what happened in European
prehistory: the origins and spread of modern humans during the Late
Pleistocene, their survival during the last Ice Age, post-glacial
expansions, the emergence of the first agricultural societies and the
decline and eventual disappearance of most hunter-gatherer societies in
The focus is on the application of state of the art
methods in genetics, archaeological sciences and anthropology which
allow our team to address for the first time these major processes in
sufficient depth and resolution and to yield new knowledge about the
interface between human biology, climate , culture and life style.
The colonisation of Europe
by anatomically modern humans (AMHs) ca. 45,000 years before present (BP) and
the transition to farming ca. 8,000 BP are two major events in human
prehistory. Both events involved certain cultural and biological adaptations,
technological innovations, and behavioural plasticity which are unique to our
species. The reconstruction of these processes and the causality between them
has so far remained elusive due to technological, methodological and logistical
Major developments in our understanding of the anthropology of
the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, and advances in ancient DNA
(aDNA) technology and chronometric methods now allow us to assess in sufficient
resolution the interface between these evolutionary processes, and changes in
human culture and behaviour.
The project investigates the complex interface between the morphological, genetic,
behavioural, and cultural factors that shaped the population history of
The approach taken include (a) the collection of
bioarchaeological, aDNA, stable isotope (for the analysis of ancient
radiometric data on >700 skeletons from key sites/phases across
Eurasia, and (b) the application of existing and novel aDNA,
and simulation methodologies.
The genetic history of Europeans
A Central European genomic time-series
A petrous bone following cleaning and exposure of its high bone density section
Optimal ancient DNA yields from the inner ear part
of the human petrous bone
Petrous bones versus non-petrous bones. Percentage of non-clonal endogenous DNA recovered after shotgun sequencing. The sampled bone/tooth portion is circled in red. N.A. indicates that the library did not pass quality assessment for sequencing.
The first genomic time-series for the Carpathian Basin, Central Europe spanning 5,000 years from the onset of agriculture to the Iron Age.
PCA of the ancient Hungarian time series (Gamba et al. 2014 Nature Communications). Combined plot of Principal Component Analyses performed on the ancient Hungarian time series of observed genotypes compared with European, Caucasian and Near Eastern modern populations. Published ancient genomic data are plotted as squared points: Ice4, Go4, A70, A52 and Ir8, Bra1 and Bra2.
ANTHROPOLOGY (selected )
Divergence in Male and Female Manipulative Behaviors with the Intensification of Metallurgy in Central Europe
Cranometrics of Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europeans indicates discontinuity before and after the Ice Age Long term decline in mobility across ~6150 years of agricluture in Central Europe