Scandinavia’s first farmers likely wiped out hunter-gatherer population – study

Scandinavia’s first farmers likely wiped out hunter-gatherer population – study

After the arrival of the first farmers in Scandinavia 5.9 thousand years ago, the hunter-gatherer population was wiped out within several generations. According to scientists, their death could be both violent and caused by new pathogens.

This is evidenced by a study conducted by scientists from Lund University in Sweden and about 40 European, American and Australian higher education institutions and organizations. New conclusions were made thanks to the DNA analysis of skeletons and teeth of prehistoric people found on the territory of modern Denmark, writes Arkeonews.

Scientists came to the conclusion that over the past 7,300 years, two complete population changes have occurred in Denmark. The first is 5.9 thousand years ago, when farmers displaced the gatherers, hunters and fishermen who previously inhabited Scandinavia. Within a few generations, almost the entire hunter-gatherer population was wiped out.

This “transition” was previously imagined as peaceful. However, our research suggests the opposite. It could be both a violent death and new pathogens transmitted from livestock“, says Ann Birgit Nielsen, geologist and head of the radiocarbon dating laboratory at Lund University.

Photo: National Museum of Denmark

According to the scientists, another population change took place about 4,850 years ago, when people with genetic roots of the Yam culture – a herding people spread across Eastern Europe from the Urals to the middle Danube – came to Scandinavia and “replaced” the agricultural population. The study emphasizes that it could be both forced displacement and the influence of new pathogens.

The people who settled on the territory of ancient Scandinavia became the descendants of a combination of representatives of the Pit culture and Eastern European Neolithic peoples. This genetic type is now the main one in modern Denmark, while the DNA of the first farmers has been “virtually wiped out”, the scientists note.

There was a rapid change in the population, and practically no descendants of the predecessors remained. We don’t have much DNA material from Sweden, but what we do have points to a similar course of events. In other words, many Swedes are largely also descendants of these semi-nomads“, says Birgitte Nielsen.

The results of the study, according to scientists, not only overturn previous theories about peaceful “meetings” between these groups of people, but also provide a deeper understanding of the historical migration of peoples and archaeological findings.

Research helps expand knowledge about our heredity and understanding of the development of certain diseases“, concludes Birgit Nielsen.

It will be recalled that archaeologists in Spain found evidence of cannibalism among Neanderthals who lived more than 53,000 years ago.

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