Prague, June 23 (CTK) – Two Czech experts have participated in a breakthrough study analysing the genome of individuals from the Bronze Age and proving that the genetic profile of the current European population was strongly influenced by migrants from the Caucasus, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday.
The paper refers to an article entitled Population Genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia, published in the prestigious journal Nature on June 11.
It is based on an analysis of 603 human samples from 101 individuals, such as teeth, bones and hair, found on a large area from the Altai Mountains in Central Asia across Hungary to Denmark, that date from the period of 3400 BC until around 600, LN adds.
Six of the analysed individuals come from Czech territory, in particular Moravska Nova Ves, south Moravia, and Knezeves and Brandysek, central Bohemia, said archaeologist Jan Kolar, from Brno’s Masaryk University, one of the two Czechs who have contributed to the study.
The other is surgeon and pelaeopathologist Vaclav Smrcka, from the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague, who has been cooperating with researcher Douglas T. Price from the United States for years.
Smrcka said he had taken and prepared samples mainly fom the Czech localities.
The analysis using the latest very precise method of DNA sequencing, which was carried out in the Danish Centre for Geogenetics in Copenhagen, has proved that the Bronze Age was a very dynamic period of mass migration and population transfers that helped create the main parts of the current demographic structure in Europe and Asia, LN writes, referring to the article’s abstract.
A total of 66 authors from many countries participated in the study, including Russians, Hungarians, Poles and Danes. They areleading researchers from the universities in Copenhagen and Gothenburg, Sweden, who work on an extensive project of the European Research Council (ERC). It is to describe the development of European society of the Bronze Age between 3000 and 1000 BC, LN says.
“The team also had samples from the territory of the present Czech Republic, so they needed to find archaeological information on their dating, the context of the finds and their anthropological characteristics,” said Kolar, who studied in Austria and Germany, and this is why foreign colleagues turned to him.
“The aim of the work is to clarify the beginnings of the Bronze Age in Europe and answer the questions of how social changes could get there – whether it was a form of migrations or whether they occurred through short contacts and the transfers of ideas and technologies only,” Kolar told LN, explaining that such transfer of artifacts and ideas from one culture to another is called diffusion.
However, LN writes, the new study shows that massive transfers of people were behind the changes in the Bronze Age.
Researchers have found out that the present Eurasian populations are genetically much closer to those from the Bronze Age than to the previous farmers from the Neolithic Era, or the New Stone Age, and the mesolithic hunters, LN says.
According to the results of the genetic analyses, a significant impulse from the Caucasus appeared in DNA of the population in North and Central Europe at the beginning of the Bronze Age, LN writes.
In that era, the areas from Scandinavia to the Altai became genetically connected, Kolar said.
Moreover, the nomads from the steppes around the Black and Caspian seas who were heading for Central and North Europe as well as eastwards to Central Asia, digested milk better than the original population and they spread a higher tolerance to lactose in central Europe, LN writes.
The latest issue of Nature also published another related study that connected the massive migration from Asian steppes with the expansion of some Indo-European languages in Europe. The study is based on the genetic analysis of 69 persons.
Both studies have been the largest ones focused on the ancient DNA. They together have analysed 170 samples and they give testimony in a long debate on the origin of the Indo-European language family, LN says, citing geneticist John Novembre, from the University of Chicago.
The articles have proved the genetic affinity between Central European “Corded Ware Culture” and the previous steppe “Pit Grave or Ochre Grave” Culture, LN writes.