Modern Eurasia: Massive Migration, language & lactose tolerance

Modern Europe was formed just around 5,000 years back when people from Georgia and southern Russia migrated into the continent in large groups. With them, these people brought new technology, and languages; another big contribution of this migrated population was dairy farming.

All these facts have been revealed by a group of researchers engaged in one of the biggest studies of DNA of Bronze Age skeletons. During the study, the research team has come to know that during the 3rd millennium BC, large groups of people from the Caucasus region migrated into northern Europe. They brought with them a genetic mutation that made adults tolerant to the habit of drinking cow milk.

DNA analysis conducted by the researchers revealed that the Caucasus region of southern Russia used to be the home of the Yamnava people. The term “Caucasian” originated from the name of this Russian region.

Reconstruction: Alexey Nechvaloda

The Yamnava people migrated into Europe in large groups and spread their DNA and ideas all across the continent. This mass migration took place during early Bronze Age. The countries inhabited by these people include the Netherlands, Germany and France.

Other than introducing the continent to a range of new skills, they also introduced it to a new language, which eventually became the basis of almost all the European languages we get to hear now; these include English, German, Latin, Greek, etc. The Yamnava people also spread their DNA all across Europe.

Natalia Shishlina

The migrants from Russia replace the hunter-gatherers of northern Europe. The hunter-gatherers knew how to herd cattle and smelt metals like copper. Knowing the art of herding cattle is important for dairy farming.

Analysis of DNA obtained from skeletons found in Central Asia and Europe provided researchers with some surprising facts. They came to know that Europeans developed lactose tolerance due to the migrants from southern Russia.

Prof Martin Sikora, who is one of the co-authors of the study, said earlier it was believed that lactose tolerance developed in the Middle East or Balkans when dairy farming began in those regions during the Stone Age. However, now the researchers have come to know that even during the Bronze Age, the gene mutation responsible for causing the tolerance was extremely rare among people in Europe.