Modern humans first entered Europe during the last Ice Age, which is called the Paleolithic by archeologists, between 45,000 and 38,000 years ago. These early groups hunted and foraged over large ranges due to the scarcity of food and shared the landscape with Neanderthals, an archaic species of human that had evolved independently and had already lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years. Characteristic of this period are Venus figurines and cave art such as Lascaux, Chauvet and Altamira in France and Spain.
While the earlier part of the Paleolithic involved humans moving in and out due to the instability of the climate, the Gravettian Period marked the first truly Pan-European culture. These people were highly skilled hunter-gatherers and focused on hunting mammoths. Not only was this animal used for meat, but also as material for the making of small buildings out of mammoth bones and skin.
A notable Upper Paleolithic or Ice Age site in Central Europe is Dolní Vestonice near Brno in the Czech Republic. It abounds with information about the technology, art, animal exploitation, site settlement patterns and human burial activities of 30,000 years ago.
Ancient DNA samples from the Paleolithic are quite rare, though in recent years there has been a large expansion in the number of individuals successfully sequenced, with some as old as 37,000 to 42,000 years ago. The mitochondrial and Y chromosome lineages of Ice Age Europeans were remarkably uniform by site, though diverse across regions. There are many sites where all the individuals present belonged to the mitochondrial U haplogroup, which was the most common haplogroup among European hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic and still exists in Europe today, although at lower frequencies due to the genetic contribution of incoming European farmers who brought such lineages as H, T and J. Males most frequently belonged to Y chromosome haplogroup I, a well-represented lineage in European males today, thought to have originated in Europe during the Paleolithic. In general, the Ice Age saw unique patterns of diversity, with C, F and T appearing in male lineages and N and M alongside several types of U in mitochondrial lines.
Number of genomes comprising this ancient DNA test: 26 (Anastasiy, Borg, Alberich, Esmetald, Sieglinde, Aeneas, Apep, Clio,Consus, Brigitte, Dagmar, Proserpina, Jarek, Aries, Břetík, Estella, Kriemhild, Luděk, Mime, Oldřich, Pepík, Quin, Sieglinde, Valeriya, Venus, Vesta)
Added: Jan. 15, 2019
Ancient DNA Hub Reference: The European Ice Age
Story ID: 20007
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