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Palaeontology: A European origin for the first advance civilization

Nature Communications

May 15, 2013

The first major civilization, the Minoans, had European origins according to research published this week in Nature Communications. The remains from the Minoan civilization present similarities with Egyptian and Libyan elements and, since its discovery by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, it has been thought to have African Origins.

The Minoans are known to have lived in the island of Crete until their demise - thought to be linked to a volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini, estimated to have happened around 2,000 years BC. George Stamatoyannopoulos and colleagues extracted genetic data from well preserved Minoan skeletal remains found in caves in Crete, and compared their DNA fingerprint with DNA from existing and ancient populations across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Their results suggest a strong relation of the ancient Minoans with Neolithic and modern European populations, and with the modern inhabitants of the Lassithi plateau in Crete.

Most likely the Minoan civilization originated from a Neolithic population that migrated to Europe some 9000 years ago. It is also highly probable that the same ancestral population that spread to Europe from the region of Anatolia in Turkey, also spread to Crete and contributed to the founding of the early Minoan civilization.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2871

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