Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jun 26;115(26):6774-6779. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800851115. Epub 2018 Jun 12.

Ancient genomes from North Africa evidence prehistoric migrations to the Maghreb from both the Levant and Europe.

Author information

Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305;
Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, 6828 Rabat, Morocco.
Departmento de Prehistoria, Universidad de La Laguna, 38320 San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Spain.
Department of Archaeology, Durham University, DH1 3LE Durham, United Kingdom.
Departamento de Ciencias Históricas, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35003 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
International Laboratory for Human Genome Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico, 76230 Querétaro, Mexico.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.
Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, 39005 Cantabria, Spain.


The extent to which prehistoric migrations of farmers influenced the genetic pool of western North Africans remains unclear. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Neolithization process may have happened through the adoption of innovations by local Epipaleolithic communities or by demic diffusion from the Eastern Mediterranean shores or Iberia. Here, we present an analysis of individuals' genome sequences from Early and Late Neolithic sites in Morocco and from Early Neolithic individuals from southern Iberia. We show that Early Neolithic Moroccans (∼5,000 BCE) are similar to Later Stone Age individuals from the same region and possess an endemic element retained in present-day Maghrebi populations, confirming a long-term genetic continuity in the region. This scenario is consistent with Early Neolithic traditions in North Africa deriving from Epipaleolithic communities that adopted certain agricultural techniques from neighboring populations. Among Eurasian ancient populations, Early Neolithic Moroccans are distantly related to Levantine Natufian hunter-gatherers (∼9,000 BCE) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic farmers (∼6,500 BCE). Late Neolithic (∼3,000 BCE) Moroccans, in contrast, share an Iberian component, supporting theories of trans-Gibraltar gene flow and indicating that Neolithization of North Africa involved both the movement of ideas and people. Lastly, the southern Iberian Early Neolithic samples share the same genetic composition as the Cardial Mediterranean Neolithic culture that reached Iberia ∼5,500 BCE. The cultural and genetic similarities between Iberian and North African Neolithic traditions further reinforce the model of an Iberian migration into the Maghreb.


Neolithic transition; North Africa; ancient DNA; paleogenomics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center