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Basque ancestors were farmers


The ancestors of people from the Basque region of Spain were early farmers — not hunter-gatherers as was thought.

Farming practices emerged around 11,000 years ago in the Near East and later spread to Europe as people migrated in waves, eventually replacing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. To study this influx in Iberia, a team led by Mattias Jakobsson at Uppsala University in Sweden sequenced the genomes of 8 individuals from remains found in a cave in northern Spain. These people lived 5,500–3,500 years ago, after the arrival of Spain's first farmers around 7,000 years ago. The closest living descendants of the sequenced people are modern Basques, contradicting past studies that linked Basques to late hunter-gatherer groups.

The Basque language is distinct from all other European tongues, and the authors say that it could be a relic of Spain's first farmers.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2015)

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Basque ancestors were farmers. Nature 525, 160 (2015).

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