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European hunter-gatherers and immigrant farmers lived side-by-side for more than 2,000 years

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Posted October 11, 2013
Hunter-gatherers and immigrant farmers lived side-by-side for more than 2,000 years in Central Europe, before the hunter-gatherer communities died out or were absorbed into the farming population.

 
European hunter-gatherers and immigrant farmers lived side-by-side for more than 2,000 years
Burials provide not only important insights into social and ritual life of prehistoric populations, but also biological information that can be used to reconstruct past population movements. A female of the Corded Ware culture was buried together with hundreds of shell sequins. Karsdorf, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. This image relates to the paper by Dr. Brandt et al. Credit: Juraj Lipták
 

In a paper published today in Science, researchers describe their analysis of DNA and isotopes from human bones found in the ‘Blätterhöhle’ cave near Hagen in Germany, where both hunter-gatherers and farmers were buried.

The team, led by anthropologist Professor Joachim Burger of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany, used stable isotopes to determine their diet, DNA to investigate how they were related, and radiocarbon to establish how old the bones were.

“It is commonly assumed that the European hunter-gatherers disappeared soon after the arrival of farmers”, said Dr Ruth Bollongino, lead author of the study. “But our study shows that the descendants of the first European humans maintained their hunter-gatherer way of life, and lived in parallel with the immigrant farmers, for at least 2,000 years. The hunter-gathering way of life only died out in Central Europe around 5,000 years ago, much later than previously thought.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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