A recent study has found that the oldest continent on the planet only started to resemble its modern-day self about 5.000 years ago.
Ancient immigrants from Russia and Georgia are to be credited for introducing Europe to dairy farming, new technology, languages and religions, as DNA sequencing has show how most Europeans living at the time were lactose intolerant.
For their study, published earlier this week, on Wednesday (June 10, 2015), in the journal Nature, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Harvard University wanted to asses how much mass migrations affected the cultural ferment.
They looked at the genetic material extracted from the teeth of 101 ancient adults and noticed that the ability to break down the lactose sugar found in milk was very rare in Europeans during the Bronze Age. In fact, only 10 percent (10%) of them were lactose tolerant.
The scientific community is somewhat baffles as most modern Europeans are the exact opposite. The working theory is that mass migrations from Russia and Georgia and interbreeding changed the genes of Europeans somewhere between 3.000 and 5.000 years ago, and helped them transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural lifestyle.
The most common infusion of DNA in those living in central and northern Europe was proven to come from a quick growing culture known as the Yamnaya.
The Yamnaya were found to have graves in western Russia and the Ukraine. They rode on horses in order to guide huge herds of sheep and followed them around with supplies of food and water. They had massive funeral mounds and a habit of filling them with jewelry, weapons and entire chariots.
Eske Willerslev, co-author and professor at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), gave a statement to BBC News saying that “It seems like the Bronze Age is the period where the genetic diversity and distribution that we know today is basically formed”. The team of international researchers credit this time period for shaping huge parts of modern-day Europe and Asia.
When seeking out information on the physical appearance of ancient Europeans, the experts conducted tests that revealed most of them had light skin and that there was a medium distribution for blue eyes.
The study also gives reason to believe that mass migrations during the Bronze Age are responsible introducing a diversity in languages. Indo-European languages in particular started out in this time period. They later evolved into modern-day English, German, French, Russian and Hindi.
Not all experts are supporters of this theory as the researchers could not prove that the Yamnaya brought the Indo-European languages with them.
It’s a long debated subject in the scientific community, and Paul Heggarty, a linguistics researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany), gave a statement sharing his theory that modern-day Turkey should be credited from introducing ancient Europeans to Proto-Indo-European languages.
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