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Nature. 2015 Jun 11;522(7555):167-72. doi: 10.1038/nature14507.

Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia.

Author information

  • 1Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
  • 2Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • 3Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs Lyngby, Denmark.
  • 41] Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark [2] Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, 2300 Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • 5Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University, 221 00 Lund, Sweden.
  • 6Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.
  • 7Unit of Forensic Anthropology, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 8Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław, 50-139 Wrocław, Poland.
  • 9Archaeological Institute, University of Zurich, CH-8006, Zurich, Switzerland.
  • 10Department of Anatomy, Wrocław Medical University, 50-368 Wrocław, Poland.
  • 11Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto ONM5S 2S2, Canada.
  • 12Department of Archeology and General History, Gorno-Altaisk State University, 649000 Gorno-Altaisk, Russia.
  • 13Institute of History and Archaeology RAS (South Ural Department), South Ural State University, 454080 Chelyabinsk, Russia.
  • 14Environmental Research and Material Science and Centre for Textile Research, The National Museum of Denmark, 1471 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
  • 15Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS, 199034 St Petersburg, Russia.
  • 16Department of Anthropology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 50-449 Wrocław, Poland.
  • 17Biocentre of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University München, 82152 Munich, Germany.
  • 181] Department of Biological Anthropology, Institute of Biology, Eötvös Loránd University, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary [2] Department of Anthropology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, H-1083 Budapest, Hungary.
  • 19The Archaeological Museum of Wrocław, 50-077 Wrocław, Poland.
  • 20Samara State Academy of Social Science and Humanities, 443099 Samara, Russia.
  • 21Institute of Archaeology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Center for the Humanities, H-1250 Budapest, Hungary.
  • 221] Institute of Archaeology and Museology, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, CZ-602 00 Brno, Czech Republic [2] Department of Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ-602 00 Brno, Czech Republic.
  • 23Department of Archaeology, University of Tartu, 51003 Tartu, Estonia.
  • 24Archaeological Superintendence of Lombardy, 20123 Milano, Italy.
  • 25Department of Archaeology, University of Vilnius, LT-01513 Vilnius, Lithuania.
  • 26The SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.
  • 27Department of Evolutionary Biology, Estonian Biocentre and University of Tartu, 51010 Tartu, Estonia.
  • 28Department of History, Yerevan State University, 0025 Yerevan, Armenia.
  • 291] Hungarian National Museum, H-1083 Budapest, Hungary [2] Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Szeged, H-6726 Szeged, Hungary.
  • 30Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Szeged, H-6726 Szeged, Hungary.
  • 31Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 61-612 Poznań, Poland.
  • 32Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.
  • 33Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 199034 St Petersburg, Russia.
  • 34Department of Archaeology, State Historical Museum, 109012 Moscow, Russia.
  • 35Institute for History of Medicine and Foreign Languages of the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, 121 08 Prague, Czech Republic.
  • 36Research Center for the History and Culture of the Turkic Peoples, Gorno-Altaisk State University, 649000 Gorno-Altaisk, Russia.
  • 37Department of Pre- and Early History, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Eötvös Loránd University, H-1088 Budapest, Hungary.
  • 38Matrica Museum, 2440 Százhalombatta, Hungary.
  • 39Laboratory of Ethnogenomics, Institute of Molecular Biology, National Academy of Sciences, 0014 Yerevan, Armenia.
  • 40Department of Archaeology, Faculty of History, Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia.
  • 411] Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs Lyngby, Denmark [2] Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 42Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genetics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3140, USA.


The Bronze Age of Eurasia (around 3000-1000 BC) was a period of major cultural changes. However, there is debate about whether these changes resulted from the circulation of ideas or from human migrations, potentially also facilitating the spread of languages and certain phenotypic traits. We investigated this by using new, improved methods to sequence low-coverage genomes from 101 ancient humans from across Eurasia. We show that the Bronze Age was a highly dynamic period involving large-scale population migrations and replacements, responsible for shaping major parts of present-day demographic structure in both Europe and Asia. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesized spread of Indo-European languages during the Early Bronze Age. We also demonstrate that light skin pigmentation in Europeans was already present at high frequency in the Bronze Age, but not lactose tolerance, indicating a more recent onset of positive selection on lactose tolerance than previously thought.

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