DNA from this sixth-century-BC Hungarian skeleton helps to reveal early European genetic exchange.

DNA from this Hungarian skeleton, buried in the sixth century BC with pottery and a shell bangle, helps to reveal early European genetic exchange. János Jakucs


Early European farmers and hunters mingled repeatedly

But level of genetic mixing varied by region.

Prehistoric farmers who migrated to Europe from what is now Turkey more than 8,000 years ago immediately began having children with indigenous hunter-gatherers, a practice continued by the farmers’ descendants for millennia.

The findings come from an analysis of 180 ancient genomes by Mark Lipson at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues. The analysis suggested that farmers had liaisons with neighboring hunter-gatherers rather than those living far afield. The team also found that the timing and extent of genetic exchange varied widely across the continent. In what is now Hungary, for example, farmers seem to have intermingled with their new neighbours less than did farmers in parts of Germany and Iberia.