Genetic History of Europe: Adaptation and Migration in Prehistory


TUE 14 NOVEMBER, 20:00

Auditorium Minderbroedersberg 4-6


Prof. dr. Johannes Krause

Director Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology


Ancient DNA can reveal prehistoric events that are difficult to discern through the study of archaeological remains and modern genetic variation alone. Over the last decade, the newly founded field of archaeogenetics has analysed more than 5,000 ancient human genomes spanning the last 10,000 years of Western Eurasian prehistory.


We have uncovered at least two major genetic turnover events at the beginning and at the end of the Neolithic period that dramatically changed the genetic landscape of Europe. These changes are likely to have been caused by at least two major migration events.


Firstly, from around 8,000 years ago, early farmers dispersed from Anatolia and brought agriculture and domestic animals to Europe. At the end of the Neolithic period, around 5,000 years ago, we find the first genetic evidence for another major migration event, when groups from the Eastern European pontic steppe, north of the black sea, entered the heartland of Europe. The newcomers were herders, practiced pastoralism and were highly mobile. Besides introducing new cultural practices, they may have been responsible for the spread of Indo-European languages.


In this lecture, Johannes Krause will introduce us to the field of archaeogenetics and its discoveries. He will show that all modern European populations today are a genetic mix of those steppe herders, early Anatolian farmers and indigenous European hunter-gatherers, in varying proportions. Furthermore, he will show that over the course of the past 10,000 years, genetic mix and local biological adaptation have brought about major changes in human phenotypes, such as eye colour, skin colour and the ability to digest lactose.



This lecture is organised in cooperation with the Eugène Dubois Foundation, Eijsden, in special remembrance of Prof. dr. Joep Geraedts. He was the founding father of the Department of Clinical Genetics at Maastricht UMC+ and one of the founders and the first chairman of the Eugène Dubois Foundation.



14 November 2023

20:00 - 21:30