The Archaeogenetics of European Ancestry

Maria Pala, Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Pedro Soares, Martin Richards

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


The archaeogenetics of Europe remains deeply controversial. Advances in ancient deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis have suggested gene flow between Neanderthals and modern humans, who arrived in Europe <50 000 years ago, but have so far failed to support evolution of Neanderthals from a population of Homo heidelbergensis represented by remains in northern Spain. The extent to which European Mesolithic forager populations versus Neolithic pioneers from the Near East contributed to the extant gene pool of Europeans also continues to be contested. Whilst analyses of extant mitochondrial lineages have emphasised late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic expansions, ancient DNA (aDNA) results suggest significant Neolithic dispersals from the southern ‘refugial’ zone into the northern ‘bio-tidal’ zone. However, whether these had a primarily Near Eastern or North Mediterranean source remains a matter for debate. Meanwhile, aDNA has also begun to highlight an important role for later dispersals, especially during the late Neolithic, in shaping the European gene pool.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopaedia of LIfe Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2014


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