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From the earliest modern humans to the onset of farming (45,000-4,500 BP): the role of climate, life-style, health, migration and selection in shaping European population history

Final Report Summary - ADNABIOARC (From the earliest modern humans to the onset of farming (45,000-4,500 BP): the role of climate, life-style, health, migration and selection in shaping European population history)

The colonisation of Europe by modern humans ~45,000 years ago and the transition to farming ~10,000 years ago in the Near East/Anatolia and its spread to other world regions are major events in human history.

The project harnessed major advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) technology and innovative anthropological and archaeological methods to
investigate the complex interface between the morphological, genetic, behavioural, and cultural factors that shaped the population history of Europeans and other world populations.

The outcomes of the project include the following:
Ancient DNA results:
1. A major innovation in the capacity to obtain high aDNA yields from the inner ear region of the petrous bone.
2. The first genome-wide study of Neolithic specimens from NW Anatolia provides strong support to a model that the origins of Agriculture in SE and Central Europe was mainly the result of a process of dispersal of farmers during the Neolithic period from NW Anatolia into Europe.
3. The study of a 5000-year time series of prehistoric individuals from Hungary shows that there were some genomic shifts with the advent of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, with interleaved periods of genome stability.
4. Two ancient genomes from Georgia revealed an ancient human population of Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) that belong to a distinct ancient clade that split from western hunter-gatherers ~45,000 years ago.
5. Evidence of selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height in a series of European and Anatolian specimens (8,500 and 2,300 years ago).
6. The first ancient genome of a Late Stone Age male from southwest Ethiopia who lived approximately 4500 years ago with evidence of genetic continuity in this region.
7. Ancient genome-wide data for prehistoric individuals from the Levant, Mesopotamia, southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, Nubia and remote Oceania.

Anthropological results based on the analyses of foraging and farming populations from Central/Southeast Europe (~7100 calBC to 850 AD):
1. A significantly reduced mean stature, body mass, and crural index in Neolithic agriculturalists relative both to Late Mesolithic hunter-gatherer-fishers and to later farming populations.
2. Tibial curvature and cross-sectional geometry that suggests that changes in mechanical loading may have influenced a suite of morphological features related to bone adaptation in the lower limb.
3. A divergence in the lateralization of upper limb biomechanical properties by sex and impacted more on women than men.
4. A study in malocclusion which indicates an incongruity between dental and mandibular form began with the shift towards sedentism and agricultural subsistence practices in the Near East and Anatolia.
5. Demographic and palaeopathological analysis indicate that from the onset of agriculturalism until the Iron Age, Central European populations lived a very mobile lifestyle with a non-negligible influence from outside groups, in agreement with much archaeological and molecular genetic data. However, despite this cultural and genetic flux, masticatory activity appeared to change very little. Additionally, these patterns highlight the complexity of the cranio-mandibular structure and the need for a strong awareness of this when utilising the skull as an indicator of past behaviour.
6. 3D cranial morphometric data indicate that these populations were highly mobile, and the introduction of new morphologies during most archaeological periods. Sex-specific cranial disparity patterns suggest that geographical movement was a generally male dominated process. However, the transition to an agricultural lifestyle appears to have led to an increase in relative amount of migrating females suggesting a change to more patrilocal residence patterns.