The article "Bronze Age Eurasian population genomics" was publicized in the prestigious scientific journal "Nature" in June, presenting the findings of the international research project on the genetic testing results generated over the past few years.
Algimantas Merkevičius, the Associated Professor of Department of Archaeology of the VU History Faculty is one of the co-authors of this article.
According to A. Merkevičius "the research team applied new, improved methods to sequence low-coverage genomes from 101 ancient humans from across Eurasia: Northern Italy, Central and Northern Europe, the region between the Black and Caspian Sea, regions to the north and east of the latter, around the Ural Mountains and Siberia. The ancient samples of the Eastern Baltic region population from Estonia and Lithuania have been included as well. New genetic research technology and methodology enabled us to obtain a wide range, fairly reliable information about the ancient inhabitants."
The Bronze Age of Eurasia (around 3000–1000 BC) was a period of major cultural changes. However, there is debate about whether these changes resulted from the circulation of ideas or from human migrations, potentially also facilitating the spread of languages and certain phenotypic traits.
The team demonstrates that the Bronze Age was a highly dynamic period involving large-scale population migrations and replacements, responsible for shaping major parts of present-day demographic structure in both Europe and Asia. The findings are consistent with the hypothesized spread of Indo-European languages during the Early Bronze Age. The researchers also demonstrate that light skin pigmentation in Europeans was already present at high frequency in the Bronze Age, but not lactose tolerance, indicating a more recent onset of positive selection on lactose tolerance than previously thought.