March 11th, 2015
The origins of Indo-European languages (which include English, Greek, Russian, Italian, Farsi, and Hindi, among others) are a subject of debate among linguists. Some think early Anatolian farmers introduced the languages to Europe during the Early Neolithic period. Others think the shift happened later and came from the steppe in modern Ukraine and southern Russia. Researchers led by Broad senior associate member David Reich sequenced the DNA of 69 ancient Europeans to reveal that an early German population shared 75 percent of its ancestry with a population of Russian steppe herders that lived 500 to 1,000 years before them. The results suggest a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from the eastern periphery around 4,500 years ago and lend new support for the steppe hypothesis. You can read the team’s study in Nature and learn more in stories from the BBC and Al Jazeera America to learn more.