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The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly large population possible.[1] These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed.[2] This new knowledge led to the domestication of plants.[2][3]

Archaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene 11,700 years ago.[4] It was the world's first historically verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution greatly narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition.[5]

The Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it transformed the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary (non-nomadic) societies based in built-up villages and towns. These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments that are found very widely during this era are the domestication of animals, pottery, polished stone tools, and rectangular houses. In many regions, the adoption of agriculture by prehistoric societies caused episodes of rapid population growth, a phenomenon known as the Neolithic demographic transition.

These developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge (e.g. writing), densely populated settlements, specialization and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, and greater property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (c.  6,500 BP); its emergence also heralded the beginning of the Bronze Age.[6]

The relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, and empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, and varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.[7][8] The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent.

Background

Hunter-gatherers had different subsistence requirements and lifestyles from agriculturalists. They resided in temporary shelters and were highly mobile, moving in small groups and had limited contact with outsiders. Their diet was well-balanced and depended on what the environment provided each season. Because the advent of agriculture made it possible to support larger groups, agriculturalists lived in more permanent dwellings in areas that were more densely populated than could be supported by the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The development of trading networks and complex societies brought them into contact with outside groups.[9]

However, population increase did not necessarily correlate with improved health. Reliance on a single crop can adversely affect health even while making it possible to support larger numbers of people. Maize is deficient in certain essential amino acids (lysine and tryptophan) and is a poor source of iron. The phytic acid it contains may inhibit nutrient absorption. Other factors that likely affected the health of early agriculturalists and their domesticated livestock would have been increased numbers of parasites and disease-bearing pests associated with human waste and contaminated food and water supplies. Fertilizers and irrigation may have increased crop yields but also would have promoted proliferation of insects and bacteria in the local environment while grain storage attracted additional insects and rodents.[9]

Agricultural transition

Evolution of temperatures in the Post-Glacial period after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) according to Greenland ice cores. The birth of agriculture corresponds to the period of quickly rising temperature at the end of the cold spell of the Younger Dryas and the beginning of the long and warm period of the Holocene.[10]
Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000 BP) and the New Guinea Highlands (9,000–6,000 BP), Central Mexico (5,000–4,000 BP), Northern South America (5,000–4,000 BP), sub-Saharan Africa (5,000–4,000 BP, exact location unknown), eastern North America (4,000–3,000 BP).[11]

The term 'neolithic revolution' was coined by V. Gordon Childe in his 1936 book Man Makes Himself.[12][13] Childe introduced the concept as the first in a series of agricultural revolutions in Middle Eastern history.[citation needed] The period is described as a "revolution" to denote its importance, and the great significance and degree of change affecting the communities in which new agricultural practices were gradually adopted and refined.[citation needed]

The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BCE in the Fertile CrescentArchaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene 11,700 years ago.[4] It was the world's first historically verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution greatly narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition.[5]

The Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it transformed the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary (non-nomadic) societies based in built-up villages and towns. These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments that are found very widely during this era are the domestication of animals, pottery, polished stone tools, and rectangular houses. In many regions, the adoption of agriculture by prehistoric societies caused episodes of rapid population growth, a phenomenon known as the Neolithic demographic transition.

These developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge (e.g. writing), densely populated settlements, specialization and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, and greater property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (c.  6,500 BP); its emergence also heralded the beginning of the Bronze Age.[6]

The relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, and empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, and varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.[7][8] The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent.

Hunter-gatherers had different subsistence requirements and lifestyles from agriculturalists. They resided in temporary shelters and were highly mobile, moving in small groups and had limited contact with outsiders. Their diet was well-balanced and depended on what the environment provided each season. Because the advent of agriculture made it possible to support larger groups, agriculturalists lived in more permanent dwellings in areas that were more densely populated than could be supported by the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The development of trading networks and complex societies brought them into contact with outside groups.[9]

However, population increase did not necessarily correlate with improved health. Reliance on a single crop can adversely affect health even while making it possible to support larger numbers of people. Maize is deficient in certain essential amino acids (lysine and tryptophan) and is a poor source of iron. The phytic acid it contains may inhibit nutrient absorption. Other factors that likely affected the health of early agriculturalists and their domesticated livestock would have been increased numbers of parasites and disease-bearing pests associated with human waste and contaminated food and water supplies. Fertilizers and irrigation may have increased crop yields but also would have promoted proliferation of insects and bacteria in the local environment while grain storage attracted additional insects and rodents.[9]

Agricultural transition

Evolution of temperatures in the Post-Glacial period after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) according to Greenland ice cores. The birth of agriculture corresponds to the period of quickly rising temperature at the end of the cold spell of the Younger Dryas and the beginning of the long and warm period of the Holocene.[10]
Map of the world showing approximate centers of origin of agriculture and its spread in prehistory: the Fertile Crescent (11,000 BP), the Yangtze and Yellow River basins (9,000

However, population increase did not necessarily correlate with improved health. Reliance on a single crop can adversely affect health even while making it possible to support larger numbers of people. Maize is deficient in certain essential amino acids (lysine and tryptophan) and is a poor source of iron. The phytic acid it contains may inhibit nutrient absorption. Other factors that likely affected the health of early agriculturalists and their domesticated livestock would have been increased numbers of parasites and disease-bearing pests associated with human waste and contaminated food and water supplies. Fertilizers and irrigation may have increased crop yields but also would have promoted proliferation of insects and bacteria in the local environment while grain storage attracted additional insects and rodents.[9]

The term 'neolithic revolution' was coined by V. Gordon Childe in his 1936 book Man Makes Himself.[12][13] Childe introduced the concept as the first in a series of agricultural revolutions in Middle Eastern history.[citation needed] The period is described as a "revolution" to denote its importance, and the great significance and degree of change affecting the communities in which new agricultural practices were gradually adopted and refined.[citation needed]

The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent[14][15] and perhaps 8000 BCE in the Kuk Early Agricultural Site of Melanesia.[16][17] This transition everywhere seems associated with a change from a largely nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled, agrarian-based one, with the inception of the domestication of various plant and animal species – depending on the species locally available, and probably also influenced by local culture. Recent archaeological research suggests that in some regions such as the Southeast Asian peninsula, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was not linear, but region-specific.[18]

There are several competing (but not mutually exclusive) theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are:

  • The Oasis Theory, originally proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by V. Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe's book Man Makes Himself.[12] This theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were then domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because subsequent climate data suggests that the region was getting wetter rather than drier.[19]
  • The Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, and fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication.[20]
Fertile Crescent[14][15] and perhaps 8000 BCE in the Kuk Early Agricultural Site of Melanesia.[16][17] This transition everywhere seems associated with a change from a largely nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled, agrarian-based one, with the inception of the domestication of various plant and animal species – depending on the species locally available, and probably also influenced by local culture. Recent archaeological research suggests that in some regions such as the Southeast Asian peninsula, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was not linear, but region-specific.[18]

There are several competing (but not mutually exclusive) theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are:

Use-wear analysis of five glossed flint blades found at Ohalo II, a 23,000-years-old fisher-hunter-gatherers’ camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel, provides the earliest evidence for the use of composite cereal harvesting tools.[30] The Ohalo site is at the junction of the Upper Paleolithic and the Early Epipaleolithic, and has been attributed to both periods.[31]

The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally.[30] The studied tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle.[30] The finds shed new light on cereal harvesting techniques some 8,000 years before the Natufian and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East.[30] Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.[30]

Domestication of plants

Once agriculture started gaining momentum, around 9000 BP, human activity resulted in the selective breeding of cereal grasses (beginning with emmer, einkorn and barley), and not simply of those that favoured greater caloric returns through larger seeds. Plants with traits such as small seeds or bitter taste were seen as undesirable. Plants that rapidly shed their seeds on maturity tended not to be gathered at harvest, therefore not stored and not seeded the following season; successive years of harvesting spontaneously selected for strains that retained their edible seeds longer.

An "Orange slice" sickle blade element with inverse, discontinuous retouch on each side, not denticulated. Found in large quantities at Qaraoun II and often with Heavy Neolithic tools in the flint workshops of the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. Suggested by James Mellaart to be older than the Pottery Neolithic of Byblos (around 8,400 cal. BP).

Daniel Zohary identified several plant species as "pioneer crops" or Neolithic founder crops. He highlighted the importance of wheat, barley and rye, and suggested that domestication of flax, peas, chickpeas, bitter vetch and lentils came a little later. Based on analysis of the genes of domesticated plants, he preferred theories of a single, or at most a very small number of domestication events for each taxon that spread in an arc from the Levantine corridor around the Fertile Crescent and later into Europe.[32][33] Gordon Hillman and Stuart Davies carried out experiments with varieties of wild wheat to show that the process of domestication would have occurred over a relatively short period of between 20 and 200 years.[34] Some of the pioneering attempts failed at first and crops were abandoned, sometimes to be taken up again and successfully domesticated thousands of years later: rye, tried and abandoned in Neolithic Anatolia, made its way to Europe as weed seeds and was successfully domesticated in Europe, thousands of years after the earliest agriculture.[35] Wild lentils presented a different problem: most of the wild seeds do not germinate in the first year; the first evidence of lentil domestication, breaking dormancy in their first year, appears in the early Neolithic at Jerf el Ahmar (in modern Syria), and lentils quickly spread south to the Netiv HaGdud site in the Jordan Valley.[35] The process of domestication allowed the founder crops to adapt and eventually become larger, more easily harvested, more dependable[clarification needed] in storage and more useful to the human population.

Neolithic grindstone or quern for processing grain

Selectively propagated figs, wild barley and wild oats were cultivated at the early Neolithic site of Gilgal I, where in 2006[36] archaeologists found caches of seeds of each in quantities too large to be accounted for even by intensive gathering, at strata datable to c. 11,000 years ago. Some of the plants tried and then abandoned during the Neolithic period in the Ancient Near East, at sites like Gilgal, were later successfully domesticated in other parts of the world.

Once early farmers perfected their agricultural techniques like irrigation (traced as far back as the 6th millennium BCE in Khuzistan[37][38]), their crops yielded surpluses that needed storage. Most hunter-gatherers could not easily store food for long due to their migratory lifestyle, whereas those with a sedentary dwelling could store their surplus grain. Eventually granaries were developed that allowed villages to store their seeds longer. So with more food, the population expanded and communities developed specialized workers and more advanced tools.

The process was not as linear as was once thought, but a more complicated effort, which was undertaken by different human populations in different regions in many different ways.

The wear traces indicate that tools were used for harvesting near-ripe semi-green wild cereals, shortly before grains are ripe and disperse naturally.[30] The studied tools were not used intensively, and they reflect two harvesting modes: flint knives held by hand and inserts hafted in a handle.[30] The finds shed new light on cereal harvesting techniques some 8,000 years before the Natufian and 12,000 years before the establishment of sedentary farming communities in the Near East.[30] Furthermore, the new finds accord well with evidence for the earliest ever cereal cultivation at the site and the use of stone-made grinding implements.[30]

Once agriculture started gaining momentum, around 9000 BP, human activity resulted in the selective breeding of cereal grasses (beginning with emmer, einkorn and barley), and not simply of those that favoured greater caloric returns through larger seeds. Plants with traits such as small seeds or bitter taste were seen as undesirable. Plants that rapidly shed their seeds on maturity tended not to be gathered at harvest, therefore not stored and not seeded the following season; successive years of harvesting spontaneously selected for strains that retained their edible seeds longer.

Daniel Zohary identified several plant species as "pioneer crops" or Neolithic founder crops. He highlighted the importance of wheat, barley and rye, and suggested that domestication of flax, peas, chickpeas, bitter vetch and lentils came a little later. Based on analysis of the genes of domesticated plants, he preferred theories of a single, or at most a very small number of domestication events for each taxon that spread in an arc from the Levantine corridor around the Fertile Crescent and later into Europe.[32][33] Gordon Hillman and Stuart Davies carried out experiments with varieties of wild wheat to show that the process of domestication would have occurred over a relatively short period of between 20 and 200 years.[34] Some of the pioneering attempts failed at first and crops were abandoned, sometimes to be taken up again and successfully domesticated thousands of years later: rye, tried and abandoned in Neolithic Anatolia, made its way to Europe as weed seeds and was successfully domesticated in Europe, thousands of years after the earliest agriculture.[35] Wild lentils presented a different problem: most of the wild seeds do not germinate in the first year; the first evidence of lentil domestication, breaking dormancy in their first year, appears in the early Neolithic at Jerf el Ahmar (in modern Syria), and lentils quickly spread south to the Netiv HaGdud site in the Jordan Valley.[35] The process of domestication allowed the founder crops to adapt and eventually become larger, more easily harvested, more dependable[clarification needed] in storage and more useful to the human population.

Neolithic grindstone or quern for processing grain

Selectively propa

Selectively propagated figs, wild barley and wild oats were cultivated at the early Neolithic site of Gilgal I, where in 2006[36] archaeologists found caches of seeds of each in quantities too large to be accounted for even by intensive gathering, at strata datable to c. 11,000 years ago. Some of the plants tried and then abandoned during the Neolithic period in the Ancient Near East, at sites like Gilgal, were later successfully domesticated in other parts of the world.

Once early farmers perfected their agricultural techniques like irrigation (traced as far back as the 6th millennium BCE in Khuzistan[37][38]), their crops yielded surpluses that needed storage. Most hunter-gatherers could not easily store food for long due to their migratory lifestyle, whereas those with a sedentary dwelling could store their surplus grain. Eventually granaries were developed that allowed villages to store their seeds longer. So with more food, the population expanded and communities developed specialized workers and more advanced tools.

The process was not as linear as was once thought, but a more complicated effort, which was undertaken by differe

Once early farmers perfected their agricultural techniques like irrigation (traced as far back as the 6th millennium BCE in Khuzistan[37][38]), their crops yielded surpluses that needed storage. Most hunter-gatherers could not easily store food for long due to their migratory lifestyle, whereas those with a sedentary dwelling could store their surplus grain. Eventually granaries were developed that allowed villages to store their seeds longer. So with more food, the population expanded and communities developed specialized workers and more advanced tools.

The process was not as linear as was once thought, but a more complicated effort, which was undertaken by different human populations in different regions in many different ways.

One of the world's most important crops, barley, was domesticated in the Near East around 11,000 years ago (c. 9,000 BCE).[39] Barley is a highly resilient crop, able to grow in varied and marginal environments, such as in regions of high altitude and latitude.[39] Archaeobotanical evidence shows that barley had spread throughout Eurasia by 2,000 BCE.[39] To further elucidate the routes by which barley cultivation was spread through Eurasia, genetic analysis was used to determine genetic diversity and population structure in extant barley taxa.[39] Genetic analysis shows that cultivated barley spread through Eurasia via several different routes, which were most likely separated in both time and space.[39]

Development and diffusion

Beginnings in the Levant

Agriculture appeared first in Southwest Asia about 2,000 years later, around 10,000–9,000 years ago. The region was the centre of domestication for three cereals (einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and barley), four legumes (lentil, pea, bitter vetch and chickpea), and flax. Domestication was a slow process that unfolded across multiple regions, and was preceded by centuries if not millennia of pre-domestication cultivation.[40]

Finds of large quantities of seeds and a grinding stone at the Epipalaeolithic site of Ohalo II, dating to around 19,400 BP, has shown some of the earliest evidence for advanced planning of plants for food consumption and suggests that humans at Ohalo II processed the grain before consumption.[41][42] Tell Aswad is the oldest site of agriculture, with domesticated emmer wheat dated to 10,800 BP.[43][44] Soon after came hulled, two-row barley – found domesticated earliest at Jericho in the Jordan valley and at Iraq ed-Dubb in Jordan.[45] Other sites in the Levantine corridor that show early evidence of agriculture include Wadi Faynan 16 and Netiv Hagdud.[14] Jacques Cauvin noted that the settlers of Aswad did not domesticate on site, but "arrived, perhaps from the neighbouring Anti-Lebanon, already equipped with the seed for planting".Epipalaeolithic site of Ohalo II, dating to around 19,400 BP, has shown some of the earliest evidence for advanced planning of plants for food consumption and suggests that humans at Ohalo II processed the grain before consumption.[41][42] Tell Aswad is the oldest site of agriculture, with domesticated emmer wheat dated to 10,800 BP.[43][44] Soon after came hulled, two-row barley – found domesticated earliest at Jericho in the Jordan valley and at Iraq ed-Dubb in Jordan.[45] Other sites in the Levantine corridor that show early evidence of agriculture include Wadi Faynan 16 and Netiv Hagdud.[14] Jacques Cauvin noted that the settlers of Aswad did not domesticate on site, but "arrived, perhaps from the neighbouring Anti-Lebanon, already equipped with the seed for planting".[46] In the Eastern Fertile Crescent, evidence of cultivation of wild plants has been found in Choga Gholan in Iran dated to 12,000 BP, suggesting there were multiple regions in the Fertile Crescent where domestication evolved roughly contemporaneously.[47] The Heavy Neolithic Qaraoun culture has been identified at around fifty sites in Lebanon around the source springs of the River Jordan, but never reliably dated.[48][49]

Archeologists trace the emergence of food-producing societies in the Levantine region of southwest Asia at the close of the last glacial period around 12,000 BCE, and developed into a number of regionally distinctive cultures by the eighth millennium BCE. Remains of food-producing societies in the Aegean have been carbon-dated to around 6500 BCE at Knossos, Franchthi Cave, and a number of mainland sites in Thessaly. Neolithic groups appear soon afterwards in the Balkans and south-central Europe. The Neolithic cultures of southeastern Europe (the Balkans and the Aegean) show some continuity with groups in southwest Asia and Anatolia (e.g., Çatalhöyük).

Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia. All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics, and contain the plants and animals domesticated in Southwest Asia: einkorn, emmer, barley, lentils, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle. Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia.[50] The only domesticate not from Southwest Asia was broomcorn millet, domesticated in East Asia.[51]The earliest evidence of cheese-making dates to 5500 BCE in Kujawy, Poland.[52]

The diffusion across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain,

Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia. All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics, and contain the plants and animals domesticated in Southwest Asia: einkorn, emmer, barley, lentils, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle. Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia.[50] The only domesticate not from Southwest Asia was broomcorn millet, domesticated in East Asia.[51]The earliest evidence of cheese-making dates to 5500 BCE in Kujawy, Poland.[52]

The diffusion across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain, took about 2,500 years (6500–4000 BP). The Baltic region was penetrated a bit later, around 3500 BP, and there was also a delay in settling the Pannonian plain. In general, colonization shows a "saltatory" pattern, as the Neolithic advanced from one patch of fertile alluvial soil to another, bypassing mountainous areas. Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula and along the Atlantic coast.[53]

The spread of the Neolithic from the Near East Neolithic to Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of Carbon 14 age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available.[55] Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that, on average, the Neolithic spread at a constant speed of about 1 km/yr.[55] More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level.[55]

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA

Since the original human expansions out of Africa 200,000 years ago, different prehistoric and historic migration events have taken place in Europe.[56] Considering that the movement of the people implies a consequent movement of their genes, it is possible to estimate the impact of these migrations through the genetic analysis of human populations.[56] Agricultural and husbandry practices originated 10,000 years ago in a region of the Near East known as the Fertile Crescent.[56] According to the archaeological record this phenomenon, known as “Neolithic”, rapidly expanded from these territories into Europe.[56] However, whether this diffusion was accompanied or not by human migrations is greatly debated.[56] Mitochondrial DNA – a type of maternally inherited DNA located in the cell cytoplasm – was recovered from the remains of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) farmers in the Near East and then compared to available data from other Neolithic populations in Europe and also to modern populations from South Eastern Europe and the Near East.[56] The

Since the original human expansions out of Africa 200,000 years ago, different prehistoric and historic migration events have taken place in Europe.[56] Considering that the movement of the people implies a consequent movement of their genes, it is possible to estimate the impact of these migrations through the genetic analysis of human populations.[56] Agricultural and husbandry practices originated 10,000 years ago in a region of the Near East known as the Fertile Crescent.[56] According to the archaeological record this phenomenon, known as “Neolithic”, rapidly expanded from these territories into Europe.[56] However, whether this diffusion was accompanied or not by human migrations is greatly debated.[56] Mitochondrial DNA – a type of maternally inherited DNA located in the cell cytoplasm – was recovered from the remains of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) farmers in the Near East and then compared to available data from other Neolithic populations in Europe and also to modern populations from South Eastern Europe and the Near East.[56] The obtained results show that substantial human migrations were involved in the Neolithic spread and suggest that the first Neolithic farmers entered Europe following a maritime route through Cyprus and the Aegean Islands.[56]

South Asia