The genetics of an early Neolithic pastoralist from the Zagros, Iran

M. Gallego-Llorente, S. Connell, E. R. Jones, D. C. Merrett, Y. Jeon, Anders Eriksson, V. Siska, C. Gamba, C. Meiklejohn, R. Beyer, S. Jeon, Y. S. Cho, M. Hofreiter, J. Bhak, A. Manica, R. Pinhasi

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The agricultural transition profoundly changed human societies. We sequenced and analysed the first genome (1.39x) of an early Neolithic woman from Ganj Dareh, in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, a site with early evidence for an economy based on goat herding, ca. 10,000 BP. We show that Western Iran was inhabited by a population genetically most similar to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus, but distinct from the Neolithic Anatolian people who later brought food production into Europe. The inhabitants of Ganj Dareh made little direct genetic contribution to modern European populations, suggesting those of the Central Zagros were somewhat isolated from other populations of the Fertile Crescent. Runs of homozygosity are of a similar length to those from Neolithic farmers, and shorter than those of Caucasus and Western Hunter-Gatherers, suggesting that the inhabitants of Ganj Dareh did not undergo the large population bottleneck suffered by their northern neighbours. While some degree of cultural diffusion between Anatolia, Western Iran and other neighbouring regions is possible, the genetic dissimilarity between early Anatolian farmers and the inhabitants of Ganj Dareh supports a model in which Neolithic societies in these areas were distinct.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31326
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Aug 9 2016

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