Using a database with the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 513 Neolithic individuals, we quantify the space-time variation of the frequency of haplogroup K, previously proposed as a relevant Neolithic marker. We compare these data to simulations, based on a mathematical model in which a Neolithic population spreads from Syria to Anatolia and Europe, possibly interbreeding with Mesolithic individuals (who lack haplogroup K) and/or teaching farming to them. Both the data and the simulations show that the percentage of haplogroup K (%K) decreases with increasing distance from Syria and that, in each region, the %K tends to decrease with increasing time after the arrival of farming. Both the model and the data display a local minimum of the genetic cline, and for the same Neolithic regional culture (Sweden). Comparing the observed ancient cline of haplogroup K to the simulation results reveals that about 98% of farmers were not involved in interbreeding neither acculturation (cultural diffusion). Therefore, cultural diffusion involved only a tiny fraction (about 2%) of farmers and, in this sense, the most relevant process in the spread of the Neolithic in Europe was demic diffusion (i.e., the dispersal of farmers), as opposed to cultural diffusion (i.e., the incorporation of hunter-gatherers).
- Isern, N., Fort, J. & de Rioja, V.L. (2017). The ancient cline of haplogroup K implies that the Neolithic transition in Europe was mainly demic. Scientific Reports, 7, -.
Peoples: Mesolithic peoples | Places: Anatolia, Europe, Sweden, and Syria | Topics: Demic diffusion model, Mesolithic populations, and Neolithic populations | DNA Type: mtDNA