Repository logo

Palaeogenomics of Upper Palaeolithic to Neolithic European hunter-gatherers

Published version

Change log


Ghalichi, Ayshin 
Crevecoeur, Isabelle 


Modern humans have populated Europe for more than 45,000 years1, 2. Our knowledge of the genetic relatedness and structure of ancient hunter-gatherers is however limited, owing to the scarceness and poor molecular preservation of human remains from that period3. Here we analyse 356 ancient hunter-gatherer genomes, including new genomic data for 116 individuals from 14 countries in western and central Eurasia, spanning between 35,000 and 5,000 years ago. We identify a genetic ancestry profile in individuals associated with Upper Palaeolithic Gravettian assemblages from western Europe that is distinct from contemporaneous groups related to this archaeological culture in central and southern Europe4, but resembles that of preceding individuals associated with the Aurignacian culture. This ancestry profile survived during the Last Glacial Maximum (25,000 to 19,000 years ago) in human populations from southwestern Europe associated with the Solutrean culture, and with the following Magdalenian culture that re-expanded northeastward after the Last Glacial Maximum. Conversely, we reveal a genetic turnover in southern Europe suggesting a local replacement of human groups around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, accompanied by a north-to-south dispersal of populations associated with the Epigravettian culture. From at least 14,000 years ago, an ancestry related to this culture spread from the south across the rest of Europe, largely replacing the Magdalenian-associated gene pool. After a period of limited admixture that spanned the beginning of the Mesolithic, we find genetic interactions between western and eastern European hunter-gatherers, who were also characterized by marked differences in phenotypically relevant variants.


Acknowledgements: The authors thank G. Marciani and O. Jöris for comments on archaeology; C. Jeong, M. Spyrou and K. Prüfer for comments on genetics; M. O’Reilly for graphical support for Fig. 5 and Extended Data Fig. 9; the entire IT and laboratory teams at the Department of Archaeogenetics of MPI-SHH for technical assistance; M. Meyer and S. Nagel for support with single-stranded library preparation; K. Post, P. van Es, J. Glimmerveen, M. Medendorp, M. Sier, S. Dikstra, M. Dikstra, R. van Eerden, D. Duineveld and A. Hoekman for providing access to human specimens from the North Sea (The Netherlands); M. D. Garralda and A. Estalrrich for providing access to human specimens from La Riera (Spain); J. Górski and M. Zając for providing access to human specimens from Maszycka cave; C. Di Patti for providing access to human specimens from San Teodoro 2 (Italy); P. Blaževičius for providing access to the Donkalnis human remains and the new radiocarbon dates; the Italian Ministry of Culture and Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Verona, Rovigo, and Vicenza for granting access to the human remains of Tagliente 2; F. Fontana, who carries out investigations of the Riparo Tagliente site (Italy); the Friuli Venezia Giulia Superintendency for providing access to the human tooth Pradis 1; and the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Barletta-Andria-Trani and Foggia for providing access to the Paglicci human remains. This project has received funding by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements no. 803147-RESOLUTION (to S.T.), no. 771234-PALEoRIDER (to W.H.), no. 864358 (to K.M.), no. 724703 and no. 101019659 (to K.H.). K.H. is also supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG FOR 2237). E.A. has received funding from the Van de Kamp fonds. PACEA co-authors of this research benefited from the scientific framework of the University of Bordeaux’s IdEx Investments for the Future programme/GPR Human Past. A.G.-O. is supported by a Ramón y Cajal fellowship (RYC-2017-22558). L. Sineo, M.L. and D.C. have received funding from the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MUR) PRIN 2017 grants 20177PJ9XF and 20174BTC4R_002. H. Rougier received support from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences of CSUN and the CSUN Competition for RSCA Awards. C.L.S. and T. Saupe received support from the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (project no. 2014-2020.4.01.16-0030) and C.L.S. received support from the Estonian Research Council grant PUT (PRG243). S. Shnaider received support from the Russian Science Foundation (no. 19-78-10053).


Article, /631/181/27, /631/208/457, /631/181/19/2471, /631/181/2474, /45, /45/23, article

Journal Title


Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Nature Publishing Group UK