DNA Analysis Tracks Origins of Scandinavia’s First Farmers

Denmark Bog ManLUND, SWEDEN—According to a statement released by Lund University, DNA analysis of bone and teeth samples from prehistoric human remains unearthed in Denmark suggests that the first farmers to arrive in Scandinavia some 5,900 years ago wiped out the hunter-gatherer population within a few generations. “This transition has previously been presented as peaceful,” said Anne Birgitte Nielsen of Lund University. “However, our study indicates the opposite. In addition to violent death, it is likely that new pathogens from livestock finished off many gatherers,” she added. Then, some 4,850 years ago, seminomadic domestic cattle herders from southern Russia with Yamnaya ancestors entered Scandinavia and replaced those early farmers. This may have also occurred through violence and disease, Nielsen explained. Today’s Scandinavian population in Denmark can be traced to a mix of the Yamnaya and Eastern Europe’s Neolithic people. “We don’t have as much [ancient] DNA material from Sweden, but what there is points to a similar course of events,” Nielsen said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Nature. For more, go to “Europe’s First Farmers.”