The Prehistoric Society

Who were Britain's first farmers? The genetics of the British Neolithic (Joint Yorkshire Archaeological Society / Prehistoric Society annual lecture) 2pm

Dr Tom Booth, Natural History Museum

Advances in techniques of extracting, sequencing and analysing DNA extracted from ancient human remains over the last 10 years have revolutionised our understanding of the demographic history of prehistoric Europe. These techniques have identified several major large-scale population changes, suggesting that ancient migrations had a significant influence on the demographic and cultural prehistory of Europe. A persistent point of contention in British archaeology is the extent to which the development of Neolithic farming practices in Britain around 4000 BC was driven by migrations of established farmers from continental Europe. Here I will discuss how recent studies of ancient human DNA contribute to the debate about the origins of British Neolithic, as well as the nature of the first farming societies in Britain and Yorkshire specifically.