The first European farmers came from Anatolia, which is presently known to the world as Turkey. Through the study of Anatolian skeletons, researchers were able to determine where the farming industry in Europe originated some 8,000 years ago.
When farming practices were first introduced in Europe, Anatolia's main role was to act as a hub, where genes and new concepts were spread toward the west. Researchers from Sweden, Iran and Anatolia studied the DNA of Anatolian skeletons and revealed how great the importance of Anatolia in Europe's farming industry was.
One of the subject materials exhibited a notable genetic resemblance to the populations in Sardinia. Past researches suggest that present-day Sardinians are more closely connected with European agricultural drivers rather than today's Anatolians. The new study now sheds a light to this idea because Anatolia's geography features some sort of a highway between Europe and Near East. Such information also explains why ancient Turkish farmers had a variety of genetic mixing, which was carried through the present generation.
DNA Study To Reveal Descent Of First European Farmers
Researchers from Stockholm University studied two subjects and made a comparative investigation. The first specimen was obtained from Kumtepe, which is an old town in northwestern Turkey and is believed to be the predecessor to the Iliad's Troy. The second specimen is the DNA of ancient and present-day European farmers. Researchers believe that both samples were Neolithic farmers who were among the pioneer settlers in Kumtepe.
The scientists compared the genetic materials of the subjects and after some gruelling work, they concluded that the first farmers who spread across Europe came from Anatolia.
Complicated Study Materials
The materials obtained from Kumtepe were unearthed in 1994. The specimens were significantly lacking in integrity, but according to the researchers, they gathered sufficient DNA to answer questions about the demographics of ancient European farming.
"I have never worked with a more complicated material," said doctorate student Ayca Omrak from Stockholm University. She said, however, that it was all worth it. Omrak performed her work at the Archaeological Research Laboratory of the university.
Additional Investigation Needed
Co-author Jan Storå agrees that the study findings confirmed Anatolia's important role in Europe's farming history. He also believes that the materials used in the study need to be studied further.
"It is complicated to work with material from this region, it is hot and the DNA is degraded," Storå said. However, to be able to understand the process that changed the society from hunter-gatherer to farming, it is this material that scientists need to work with.
Experts long believed that farming started from the Levant region in what is now known as Lebanon, Israel and Syria. Although the results of the new study highlighted Anatolia's critical role in cultural history, it do not negate the vital contribution of the Levant region.