New research from Trinity College in Dublin using ancient DNA suggests that hunter-gatherers in the Baltic region began farming without the influence of migration! Ancient DNA analysis has revealed that unlike central and western Europe farmers from the Near East did NOT overtake hunter-gatherer populations in the Baltic region and this is significant because this research indicates that the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family originated in the steppe grasslands of the East.
It’s believed that farmers from the Levant contributed greatly to farming in Central and Western Europe but this apparently was not the case in the Baltic region. Thus, people in the Baltic are were not overrun by migrant farmers from the Levant (Middle East). It may be that the Baltic people likely gained knowledge of farming and ceramic making by sharing cultures, ideas, and interbreeding with people of other areas and began farming on their own. This new research is based on ancient DNA collected in Latvia and the Ukraine dated between 5-8 kyr.
The Neolithic period saw the dawn of agriculture in Europe and people moved from being hunter-gatherer-nomads to settled agriculturalists. Past research has shown that large numbers of early farmers came into Europe from the Levant. But in the case of the Baltic region people learned farming and ceramic making from cultural exchange and interaction with other people.
So apparently migration from the Levant was NOT a “universal driver” across all of Europe but only PARTS of Europe! This new evidence also shows that there was NO REPLACEMENT OF HUNTER-GATHERERS IN THE BALTIC REGION as is believed to have happened in Central and Western Europe. The ancient DNA from Baltic hunter-gathers matches Baltic farmers and that blows the replacement theory out of the water in northern Europe!!
Rather than migration and replacement it was trade and contact with Levant farmers in other parts of Europe that brought about farming and ceramic making in northern Europe. Thus migrations are NOT the only way that ancient people gained new technology during prehistoric times!
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