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Early European Farmers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In archaeogenetics, the terms Early European Farmers (EEF), First European Farmers (FEF), and Neolithic European Farmers, are names given to a distinct ancestral component that represents descent from early Neolithic farmers of Europe.

Ancestors of EEFs are believed to have split off from Western Hunter-Gatherers (WHGs) around 43,000 BC, and to have split from Caucasian Hunter-Gatherers (CHGs) around 23,000 BC. They appear to have migrated from Anatolia to Europe in large numbers during the Early Neolithic, during which they admixed slightly with WHGs. Large parts of Northern Europe and Eastern Europe do not appear to have been settled by EEFs. The Y-DNA of EEFs was typically types of haplogroup G2a, and to a lesser extent H, T, J, C1a2 and E1b1, while their mtDNA was diverse. During the Middle Neolithic there was a male-driven resurgence of WHG ancestry among the EEFs, leading to increasing frequencies of the paternal haplogroup I2 among them.

During the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age, the EEFs were overwhelmed by successive invasions Western Steppe Herders (WSHs) from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, who were Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHG) with possible CHG admixture. These invasions led to EEF Y-DNA in Europe being almost entirely replaced with EHG/WSH Y-DNA (mainly R1b and R1a). EEF mtDNA however remained frequent, suggesting admixture between ESH/WSH males and EEF females. Through subsequent migrations of WSHs into Northern Europe and back into the Eurasian Steppe, EEF mtDNA was brought to new corners of Eurasia.

EEF ancestry remains throughout Europe, ranging from 90% near the Mediterranean to 30% near the Baltic.


Early European Farmers (EEFs) were identified as a distinct ancestral component in a study published in Nature in 2014. Along with Ancient North Eurasians (ANEs) and Western Hunter-Gatherers, EEFs were determined to be one of the three major ancestral populations of modern-Europeans.[a] EEF ancestry in modern Europe ranged from 30% in the Baltic States to 90% near the Mediterranean Sea. EEFs were determined to be largely of Near Eastern origin, with slight WHG admixture. It was through their EEF ancestors that most modern Southern Europeans acquired their WHG ancestry. About 44% of EEF ancestry was determined to come from a "Basal Eurasian" population that split prior to the diversification of other non-African lineages. Ötzi was identified as EEF.[1]

A groundbreaking genetic study published in Nature in June 2015 found that amount of WHG ancestry among EEFs had significantly during the Neolithic, documenting a WHG resurgence. It was found that EEF Y-DNA was typically types haplogroup G2a, while their mtDNA was diverse. During the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, G2a nearly disappears from Europe and is replaced with types of R1b and R1a, indicating a massive migration of people out of the Pontic-Caspian steppe.[b] It has been suggested that this migration might be connected to the spread of Indo-European languages in Europe.[2]

A genetic study published in Nature Communications in November 2015, found that the ancestors of the EEF had split off from WHG around 43,000 BC, possibly through a migration of WHG into Europe.[c] Around 23,000 BC, EEFs ancestors had again split into EEFs and Caucasian Hunter-Gatherers (CHGs). CHG admixture has been detected among people of the Yamnaya culture, who expanded massively throughout Europe from around 3,000 BC.[d]

A genetic study published in Nature in November 2015 found EEFs to be closely genetically related to Neolithic farmers of Anatolia. EEFs were found to have 7–11% more WHG ancestry than their Anatolian relatives. This suggested that the EEFs belonged to a common ancestral population before their expansion into Europe. With regards Y-DNA, EEF males typically carried types of G2a. The study found that most Europeans could be modeled as a mixture of WHGs, EEFs and descendants of the Yamnaya culture.[e]

A genetic study published in Nature in 2018 found that the EEFs had initially spread agriculture throughout Europe largely without admixture with local WHGs. It was noted that this process had occurred through "a massive movement of people". During the Middle Neolithic however, there was a resurgence of WHG ancestry in Central Europe and Iberia, which was primarily male driven.[f]

Physical appearance

EEFs were shorter than contemporary Western Steppe Herders (WSHs) of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. High frequencies of EEF ancestry in Southern Europe might explain the shortness of Southern Europeans as compared to Northern Europeans, who carry increased levels of WSH ancestry.[g]


  1. ^ "Most present Europeans derive from at least three highly differentiated populations: West European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG), who contributed ancestry to all Europeans but not to Near Easterners; Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) related to Upper Paleolithic Siberians, who contributed to both Europeans and Near Easterners; and Early European Farmers (EEF), who were mainly of Near Eastern origin but also harbored WHG-related ancestry."[1]
  2. ^ "Y chromosome haplogroup G2a, common in early central European farmers, almost disappear during the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age, when they are largely replaced by Y haplogroups R1a and R1b..."[2]
  3. ^ "Given their geographic origin, it seems likely that CHG and EF are the descendants of early colonists from Africa who stopped south of the Caucasus, in an area stretching south to the Levant and possibly east towards Central and South Asia. WHG, on the other hand, are likely the descendants of a wave that expanded further into Europe."[3]
  4. ^ We show that CHG belong to a new, distinct ancient clade that split from WHG ∼45 kya and from Neolithic farmer ancestors ∼25 kya."[3]
  5. ^ "Most present-day Europeans can be modeled as a mixture of three ancient populations related to Mesolithic hunter-gatherers (WHG), early farmers (EEF) and steppe pastoralists (Yamnaya)..."[4]
  6. ^ We provide the first evidence for sex-biased admixture between hunter-gatherers and farmers in Europe, showing that the Middle Neolithic “resurgence” of hunter-gatherer-related ancestry in central Europe and Iberia was driven more by males than by females."[5]
  7. ^ "[R]esults suggest that the modern South-North gradient in height across Europe is due to both increased steppe ancestry in northern populations, and selection for decreased height in Early Neolithic migrants to southern Europe."[4]



Further reading

This page was last edited on 24 March 2020, at 14:41
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