Stone Age Europeans

Stone Age Europeans | Northern Europe | 15,000 – 5,000 BCE

The people of the Mesolithic were the direct descendants of Ice Age populations and maintained a hunter-gatherer way of life. Not only did these societies have to cope with large shifts in sea levels but also rapidly expanding forests. The people living in these environments began forming larger groups and without the open plains of the Paleolithic to wander, they constructed permanent buildings such as those found at the site of Padina in the Iron Gates region in present-day Serbia.

A notable British Mesolithic site is Gough’s Cave, located in Cheddar Gorge on the Mendip Hills, in Cheddar, Somerset, England. It contains the Cheddar Yeo, the largest underground river system in Britain and was the find site in 1903 of Cheddar Man, a natural mummy dated to 7150 BCE. This denizen of the Northern European Stone Age appeared to have met a violent death and to have had dark skin, blue eyes and dark curly or wavy hair. Curiously, his maternal line matched the mitochondrial DNA of Adrian Targett, a retired history teacher living nearby.

Genetic analysis of Stone Age Europeans
The Mesolithic was quite different from the preceding Paleolithic. During the Paleolithic, human hunter-gatherer bands lived in small groups that moved across large tracts of land and were constantly changing where they lived as the ice sheets expanded and contracted. This meant that Ice Age Europeans were genetically very similar across much of the continent. After the ice sheets melted, two distinct genetic regions appeared, known to geneticists as Western Hunter Gatherers and Eastern Hunter Gatherers. Many of the Mesolithic samples found across Europe show that they were mixtures of both Eastern and Western Hunter Gatherers, rather than one or the other.

Such findings underscore the great mobility of ancient peoples.

The mitochondrial haplogroups of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers have often been found to be different from the Paleolithic people that preceded them. Mitochondrial haplogroup U was still very common. It had been the dominant haplogroup in the Paleolithic. A few examples of haplogroup K have been found, however, one of the lineages thought to have originated in the Middle East. Y chromosome diversity increased. Many males belonged to haplogroup I, the most common in the Paleolithic and probably European-born, but some individuals belonged to J and F, haplogroups more commonly associated with West and Central Asia.

The mitochondrial DNA of Cheddar Man was haplogroup U5b1, an Old Europe type. Ötzi, the frozen mummy from 3300 BCE recovered in the Alps in 1991, belongs to a K1 mitochondrial subclade and to Y-DNA haplogroup G2a4.

Code: SAE-13

Number of genomes comprising the ancient DNA test: 42 (Bohdanko, Tihana, Astrid, Ambroz, Lina, SvenMiloje, Elvinas, Maja, Aina, Hagen, Lorelei, Katrya, Gediminas, Rasa, Urte, Tianna, Azuolas, Domantas, Vlad, Aldona, GoryaAnatolijusAleksandrIvanVesnaVladoBoryskoSavaCamilaJosephine,

Added: Jan. 15, 2019

Ancient DNA Hub References: The European Mesolithic

Story ID: 20006

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