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4,500-year-old tomb in France reveals secrets of how ‘European genome’ came to be

High-resolution analysis of the genomes of individuals buried in a 4,500-year-old collective tomb at Bréviandes-les-Pointes, near the French town of Troyes, has revealed a surprising story with far-reaching implications. As detailed in an article in the journal Science Advances, the final stage in the formation of the European genome is still present in many present-day Europeans.

The human genome is the totality of the genetic information carried by our DNA, and it partially reflects the history of our ancestors. The genome of present-day Europeans was formed over a period of more than 40,000 years as a result of various migrations and the resulting mixing of populations. It is thus made up of the complex heredity of the small populations of hunter-gatherers who occupied Europe until the arrival, around 8,000 years ago, of populations from Anatolia and the Aegean region, who descended from those who invented agriculture and animal domestication in the Fertile Crescent. These Neolithic farmers interbred with the local hunter-gatherers and contributed a very important part of the genome of many of today’s Europeans.

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