Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 14, pp 2473–2487 | Cite as

Ancestry of modern Europeans: contributions of ancient DNA

  • Marie Lacan
  • Christine Keyser
  • Eric Crubézy
  • Bertrand Ludes


Understanding the peopling history of Europe is crucial to comprehend the origins of modern populations. Of course, the analysis of current genetic data offers several explanations about human migration patterns which occurred on this continent, but it fails to explain precisely the impact of each demographic event. In this context, direct access to the DNA of ancient specimens allows the overcoming of recent demographic phenomena, which probably highly modified the constitution of the current European gene pool. In recent years, several DNA studies have been successfully conducted from ancient human remains thanks to the improvement of molecular techniques. They have brought new fundamental information on the peopling of Europe and allowed us to refine our understanding of European prehistory. In this review, we will detail all the ancient DNA studies performed to date on ancient European DNA from the Middle Paleolithic to the beginning of the protohistoric period.


Paleogenetics European prehistory Neanderthal Neolithic transition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Lacan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christine Keyser
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric Crubézy
    • 1
  • Bertrand Ludes
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire AMIS CNRS UMR 5288Toulouse cedex 3France
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Anthropologie moléculaireCNRS UMR 5288, Université de Strasbourg, Institut de Médecine LégaleStrasbourgFrance

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