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European massive migration
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Genomes document ancient mass migration to Europe

DNA analysis has revealed evidence for a massive migration into the heartland of Europe 4,500 years ago.
Data from the genomes of 69 ancient individuals suggest that herders moved en masse from the continent's eastern periphery into Central Europe.

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Europeans
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Europeans drawn from three 'tribes'

The modern European gene pool was formed when three ancient populations mixed with one another within the last 7,000 years, Nature journal reports.
Blue-eyed, swarthy hunters mingled with brown-eyed, pale skinned farmers as the latter swept into Europe from the Near East.
But another, mysterious population with Siberian affinities also contributed to the genetic landscape of the continent.
The findings are based analysis of the genomes of nine ancient Europeans.

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Earliest farmers
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Ancient DNA harvested from pigs has allowed scientists, for the first time, to accurately determine the arrival of early farmers into Europe 11,000 years ago during the latter part of the Stone Age.
A study involving 18 international researchers including Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide, reveals that pigs - first domesticated in the Middle East - were definitely brought into Europe by the earliest farmers.
Professor Cooper, who heads the University's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, is the senior author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

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European civilisation
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Europe's oldest known civilisation has been discovered by archaeologists across the continent, The Independent newspaper in London said on Saturday.

More than 150 large temples, constructed between 4800BC and 4600BC, have been unearthed in fields and cities in Germany, Austria and Slovakia, predating the pyramids in Egypt by some 2 000 years, the newspaper revealed.

The network of temples, made of earth and wood, were constructed by a religious people whose economy appears to have been based on livestock farming.

Excavations have taken place over the past three years but the discovery is so new that the civilisation has not yet been named.

The most complex centre discovered so far, beneath the city of Dresden in Saxony, eastern Germany, comprises a temple surrounded by four ditches, three earthen banks and two palisades.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication used by these early farming communities to create Europe's first truly large scale earthwork complexes," - Harald Staeuble, from the Saxony state government's heritage department.

The temples, up to 150m in diameter, were made by a people who lived in long houses and villages, the newspaper said. Stone, bone, and wooden tools have been unearthed, along with ceramic figures of people and animals.

A village at Aythra, near Leipzig in eastern Germany, was home to some 300 people living in up to 20 large buildings around the temple.

Their civilisation seems to have died out after about 200 years.
Archaeologists are now beginning to suspect that hundreds of these very early monumental religious centres, each up to 150 metres across, were constructed across a 400-mile swath of land in what is now Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and eastern Germany.
The monuments seem to be a phenomenon associated exclusively with a period of consolidation and growth that followed the initial establishment of farming cultures in the centre of the continent.

It is possible that the newly revealed early Neolithic monument phenomenon was the consequence of an increase in the size of - and competition between - emerging Neolithic tribal or pan-tribal groups, arguably Europe's earliest mini-states.
After a relatively brief period - perhaps just one or two hundred years - either the need or the socio-political ability to build them disappeared, and monuments of this scale were not built again until the Middle Bronze Age, 3,000 years later. Why this monumental culture collapsed is a mystery.

The archaeological investigation into these vast Stone Age temples over the past three years has also revealed several other mysteries. First, each complex was only used for a few generations - perhaps 100 years maximum. Second, the central sacred area was nearly always the same size, about a third of a hectare. Third, each circular enclosure ditch - irrespective of diameter - involved the removal of the same volume of earth. In other words, the builders reduced the depth and/or width of each ditch in inverse proportion to its diameter, so as to always keep volume (and thus time spent) constant.

Archaeologists are speculating that this may have been in order to allow each earthwork to be dug by a set number of special status workers in a set number of days - perhaps to satisfy the ritual requirements of some sort of religious calendar.
The multiple banks, ditch and palisade systems "protecting" the inner space seem not to have been built for defensive purposes - and were instead probably designed to prevent ordinary tribes’ people from seeing the sacred and presumably secret rituals which were performed in the "inner sanctum”.

The investigation so far suggests that each religious complex was ritually decommissioned at the end of its life, with the ditches, each of which had been dug successively, being deliberately filled in.
The people who built the huge circular temples were the descendants of migrants who arrived many centuries earlier from the Danube plain in what is now northern Serbia and Hungary. The temple-builders were pastoralists, controlling large herds of cattle, sheep and goats as well as pigs. They made tools of stone, bone and wood and small ceramic statues of humans and animals. They manufactured substantial amounts of geometrically decorated pottery, and they lived in large longhouses in substantial villages.

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