Ancient genomes from North Africa evidence prehistoric migrations to the Maghreb from both the Levant and Europe

Rosa Fregel, Fernando L. Méndez, Youssef Bokbot, Dimas Martín-Socas, María D. Camalich-Massieu, Jonathan Santana, Jacob Morales, María C. Avila-Arcos, Peter A. Underhill, Beth Shapiro, Genevieve Wojcik, Morten Rasmussen, André E.R. Soares, Joshua Kapp, Alexandra Sockell, Francisco J. Rodríguez-Santos, Abdeslam Mikdad, Aioze Trujillo-Mederos, Carlos D. Bustamante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The extent to which prehistoric migrations of farmers influenced the genetic pool of western North Africans remains unclear. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Neolithization process may have happened through the adoption of innovations by local Epipaleolithic communities or by demic diffusion from the Eastern Mediterranean shores or Iberia. Here, we present an analysis of individuals’ genome sequences from Early and Late Neolithic sites in Morocco and from Early Neolithic individuals from southern Iberia. We show that Early Neolithic Moroccans (∼5,000 BCE) are similar to Later Stone Age individuals from the same region and possess an endemic element retained in present-day Maghrebi populations, confirming a long-term genetic continuity in the region. This scenario is consistent with Early Neolithic traditions in North Africa deriving from Epipaleolithic communities that adopted certain agricultural techniques from neighboring populations. Among Eurasian ancient populations, Early Neolithic Moroccans are distantly related to Levantine Natufian hunter-gatherers (∼9,000 BCE) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic farmers (∼6,500 BCE). Late Neolithic (∼3,000 BCE) Moroccans, in contrast, share an Iberian component, supporting theories of trans-Gibraltar gene flow and indicating that Neolithization of North Africa involved both the movement of ideas and people. Lastly, the southern Iberian Early Neolithic samples share the same genetic composition as the Cardial Mediterranean Neolithic culture that reached Iberia ∼5,500 BCE. The cultural and genetic similarities between Iberian and North African Neolithic traditions further reinforce the model of an Iberian migration into the Maghreb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6774-6779
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume115
Issue number26
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 26 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ancient DNA
  • Neolithic transition
  • North Africa
  • Paleogenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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