Ancient DNA from Chalcolithic Israel reveals the role of population mixture in cultural transformation

Éadaoin Harney*, Hila May, Dina Shalem, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Iosif Lazaridis, Rachel Sarig, Kristin Stewardson, Susanne Nordenfelt, Nick Patterson, Israel Hershkovitz, David Reich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The material culture of the Late Chalcolithic period in the southern Levant (4500–3900/3800 BCE) is qualitatively distinct from previous and subsequent periods. Here, to test the hypothesis that the advent and decline of this culture was influenced by movements of people, we generated genome-wide ancient DNA from 22 individuals from Peqi’in Cave, Israel. These individuals were part of a homogeneous population that can be modeled as deriving ~57% of its ancestry from groups related to those of the local Levant Neolithic, ~17% from groups related to those of the Iran Chalcolithic, and ~26% from groups related to those of the Anatolian Neolithic. The Peqi’in population also appears to have contributed differently to later Bronze Age groups, one of which we show cannot plausibly have descended from the same population as that of Peqi’in Cave. These results provide an example of how population movements propelled cultural changes in the deep past.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3336
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
Dan David Foundation
Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean
U.S. National Institutes of Health
National Science FoundationBCS-1032255
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
National Institute of General Medical SciencesR01GM100233
International Max Planck Research School for Advanced Methods in Process and Systems Engineering


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