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 Europe.

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 complexities.

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 European AMHs.

The approach taken include (a) the collection of bioarchaeological, aDNA, stable isotope (for the analysis of ancient diet) and radiometric data on >700 skeletons from key sites/phases across Eurasia, and (b) the application of existing and novel aDNA, bioarchaeological and simulation methodologies.




\Trends in GeneticsThe genetic history of Europeans

           Nature Communications    A Central European genomic time-series

A petrous bone following cleaning and exposure of its high bone density section


ptimal 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.


Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent


Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians



Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature16152.html        The genetic history of Ice Age Europe


 Genomic insights into the origin of farming in the ancient Near East


        Genomic insights into the peopling of the Southwest Pacific

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

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.09.001Long term decline in mobility across ~6150 years of agricluture in Central Europe

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