The Neolithic European Game of Thrones: a game of lust?

The Neolithic culture, and potentially its people, spread from the Near East to Europe in two major diffusion routes:Rivollat 2015 S1_Fig

  • The Continental route, following the Danube, associated with the linear band ceramic culture (LBK) in Central Europe.
  • The Mediterranean route, along the coast, associated with the impressa and Cardium cultures in southern Europe.

Genetic studies of extant Europeans show a 20-70 % contribution of Neolithic farmers to the European genetic pool (depending on the genetic markers, methods, and population used).

Recent Y-chromosome and mtDNA data favour a demic diffusion of Neolithic farmers with a progressive dilution of Near Eastern genes, and mtDNA studies from early Neolithic groups suggest a change in mitochondrial genetic diversity, and different gene pools associated with each of the Neolithic expansion routes.

Rivollat 2015 S2_FigBoth routes may have “collided” in the territory of present France, as suggested by the clear influence of LBK in the Paris basin RRBP (Rubané Récent du Basin Parisien) and VSG (Villeneuve-Saint Germain) cultures mixed with Mediterranean influences in this region.

The first genetic study of Neolithic settlers in France (Early/Middle Neolithic transition), by Rivollat & al., comprising 102 individuals from the necropolis of Gurgy ‘Les Noisats’, dated 7000-4000 ka and located in the southern part of the Paris Basin, found a gene pool intermediate between those of the Danubian and Mediterranean migration routes, for which the authors propose, as most parsimonious explanation, an equal contribution of maternal lineages from each of the two Neolithic expansion routes.

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