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Jun 15, 2015 03:59 PM EDT

Ancient Europeans Migrated During Bronze Age, New Studies Suggest


A team of geneticists analyzed the remains of ancient Europeans dating back to the Bronze Age to try and learn more about the language they spoke at the time.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the researchers published their work in two studies, both appearing in the journal Nature. They aimed to further examine a massive movement that took place between 3,000 B.C. and 1,000 B.C.

Contrary to past work, the geneticists suggested the movement was a physical migration that led to the spread of various cultural aspects in Europe.

"Both archaeologists and linguists have had theories about how cultures and languages have spread in our part of the world," Morten Allentoft, a geneticist at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen and the first author of one study, said in a press release. "We geneticists have now collaborated with them to publish an explanation based on a record amount of DNA-analyses of skeletons from the Bronze Age."

David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, conducted the other study and examined remains of people that lived in Europe and Central Asia between 6,000 B.C. and 900 B.C. In comparing their work with one another, the two studies' authors found evidence that Bronze Age Europeans likely migrated both north and west.

"Our study is the first real large-scale population genomic study ever undertaken on ancient individuals," study co-author Eske Willerslev, a University of Copenhagen colleague of Allentoft's, said in the release. "We analyzed genome sequence data from 101 past individuals. This is more than a doubling of the number of genomic sequenced individuals of pre-historic man generated to date. The study is without any comparison to anything previously made. The results show that the genetic composition and distribution of peoples in Europe and Asia today is a surprisingly late phenomenon - only a few thousand years old."

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