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

Iosif Lazaridis, Dani Nadel, Gary Rollefson, Deborah C. Merrett, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Daniel Fernandes, Mario Novak, Beatriz Gamarra, Kendra Sirak, Sarah Connell, Kristin Stewardson, Eadaoin Harney, Qiaomei Fu, Gloria Gonzalez-Fortes, Eppie R. Jones, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, György Lengyel, Fanny Bocquentin, Boris GasparianJanet M. Monge, Michael Gregg, Vered Eshed, Ahuva Sivan Mizrahi, Christopher Meiklejohn, Fokke Gerritsen, Luminita Bejenaru, Matthias Blüher, Archie Campbell, Gianpiero Cavalleri, David Comas, Philippe Froguel, Edmund Gilbert, Shona M. Kerr, Peter Kovacs, Johannes Krause, Darren McGettigan, Michael Merrigan, D. Andrew Merriwether, Seamus O'Reilly, Martin B. Richards, Ornella Semino, Michel Shamoon-Pour, Gheorghe Stefanescu, Michael Stumvoll, Anke Tönjes, Antonio Torroni, James F. Wilson, Loic Yengo, Nelli A. Hovhannisyan, Nick Patterson, Ron Pinhasi, David Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report genome-wide ancient DNA from 44 ancient Near Easterners ranging in time between ∼12,000 and 1,400BC, from Natufian hunter-gatherers to Bronze Age farmers. We show that the earliest populations of the Near East derived around half their ancestry from a 'Basal Eurasian' lineage that had little if any Neanderthal admixture and that separated from other non-African lineages before their separation from each other. The first farmers of the southern Levant (Israel and Jordan) and Zagros Mountains (Iran) were strongly genetically differentiated, and each descended from local hunter-gatherers. By the time of the Bronze Age, these two populations and Anatolian-related farmers had mixed with each other and with the hunter-gatherers of Europe to greatly reduce genetic differentiation. The impact of the Near Eastern farmers extended beyond the Near East: farmers related to those of Anatolia spread westward into Europe; farmers related to those of the Levant spread southward into East Africa; farmers related to those of Iran spread northward into the Eurasian steppe; and people related to both the early farmers of Iran and to the pastoralists of the Eurasian steppe spread eastward into South Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-424
Number of pages6
Issue number7617
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.F. and M.N. were supported by Irish Research Council grants GOIPG/2013/36 and GOIPD/2013/1, respectively. S.C. was funded by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) ERC Support Programme. Q.F. was funded by the Bureau of International Cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (L1524016) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Discipline Development Strategy Project (2015-DX-C-03). The Scottish diversity data was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates (CZD/16/6), the Scottish Funding Council (HR03006), and a project grant from the Scottish Executive Health Department, Chief Scientist Office (CZB/4/285). M.S., A.T?n., M.B. and P.K. were supported by the German Research Foundation (CRC 1052; B01, B03, C01). M.S.-P. was funded by a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork grant (9005), and by the National Science Foundation DDRIG (BCS-1455744). P.K. was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (FKZ: 01EO1501). J.F.W. acknowledge the MRC 'QTL in Health and Disease' programme grant. The Romanian diversity data was supported by the EC Commission, Directorate General XII (Supplementary Agreement ERBCIPDCT 940038 to the Contract ERBCHRXCT 920032, coordinated by A. Piazza, Turin, Italy). M.R. received support from the Leverhulme Trust's Doctoral Scholarship programme. O.S. and A.Tor. were supported by the University of Pavia (MIGRAT-IN-G) and the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research: Progetti Ricerca Interesse Nazionale 2012. The Raqefet Cave Natufian project was supported by funds from the National Geographic Society (grant 8915-11), the Wenner-Gren Foundation (grant 7481) and the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Foundation, while radiocarbon dating on the samples was funded by the Israel Science Foundation (grant 475/10; E. Boaretto). R.P. was supported by ERC starting grant ADNABIOARC (263441). D.R. was supported by NIH grant GM100233, by NSF HOMINID BCS-1032255, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.

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