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First European Farmers Came From Turkey, New Study Shows

Jan 06, 2016 03:13 PM EST
Anatolia Skeleton
Skeletal remains excavated from the Anatolia fossil site known as Kumtepe shed light on the expansion of farming 8,000 years ago.
(Photo : Project Troia/Peter Jablonka.)

The first European farmers came from Anatolia, otherwise known as Turkey in the modern world. Following the analysis of human material from a fossil site called Kumtepe, excavated in 1994, researchers from Stockholm University confirm Anatolia played a key role in the expansion of farming 8,000 years ago.

"I have never worked with a more complicated material. But it was worth every hour in the laboratory. I could use the DNA from the Kumtepe material to trace the European farmers back to Anatolia," Ayca Omrak, doctorate student at the Archaeological Research Laboratory Stockholm University, said in a news release. "It is also fun to have worked with this material from the site Kumtepe, as this is the precursor to Troy."

DNA extracted from the skeletons suggest the remains belonged Neolithic farmers who were among the first inhabitants of the Anatolia settlement, which eventually gave rise to the city of Troy, according to the Daily Mail.  

The recent study highlights Anatolia's importance in shaping European culture and transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Although, Jan Storå, associate professor in osteoarchaeology and coauthor to the study, believes further research is required to fully understand this importance.  

"It is complicated to work with material from this region, it is hot and the DNA is degraded. But if we want to understand how the process that led from a hunter-gatherer society proceeded to a farming society, it is this material we need to exhaust," Storå said in the university's release.  

Farming is thought to have first emerged in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean in what is now Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Therefore researchers believe "to fully understand how the agricultural development proceeded we need to dive deeper down into material from the Levant."

Their study follows a similar discovery made in December about the origins of early Irish farmers.

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