Waves of migration in prehistoric Europe

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
Multiple waves of migration identified in genetic studies of prehistoric Europeans:
Game of bones: first Europeans’ shifting fortunes found in DNA

To put it another way, the Goyet individual’s descendants were pushed into the Iberian peninsula by the expanding wave of Gravettians – and after clinging on there for thousands of years they expanded again to occupy the lands of their ancestors, carrying the new Magdalenian culture with them.

Nicolas Zwyns at the University of California, Davis, thinks the population overturns are particularly interesting given when they do – and do not – occur. “Challenging events such as the Last Glacial Maximum, around 20,000 years ago, do not lead to massive population replacement, but instead to a bottleneck,” he says.

We already know what happened next in Europe. An earlier study by Posth and his colleagues showed that yet another population expanded across Europe about 14,000 years ago. Then, about 9000 years ago farmers from the Near East arrived – and about 4500 years ago a wave of pastoralists from the Eurasian steppe swept across the continent too. All of these different populations have left their mark on living European genetics.

“The demographic history of early European populations was much more dynamic that previously thought,” says Posth.