The plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis may have first come to Europe with the large-scale migration of steppe nomads in the Stone Age, millennia before the first known historical epidemics.
Early farmers who migrated to Europe from the Near East spread quickly across the continent, where they lived side-by-side with existing local hunter-gatherers while slowly mixing with those groups over time.
The partners of the new Max Planck-Harvard Research Center are investing a total of five million Euros in order to understand the key processes that shaped human history in the ancient Mediterranean by using cutting-edge scientific approaches.
Mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthal individual who died in Swabian Jura in modern-day southwest Germany suggests that Neanderthals received genetic contribution from Africa by hominins that are closely related to modern humans more than 220,000 years ago.
On April 25, 2017, Prof. Dr. Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena was awarded the Thuringian Research Prize for Top Performance in Basic Research by the Thuringian Ministry of Economy, Science and the Digital Society.
With their research project “Heirloom Microbes: The History and Legacy of Ancient Dairying Bacteria”, Dr. Jessica Hendy (Department of Archaeology) and Prof. Christina Warinner (Department of Archaeogenetics) have won the Max Planck Society’s Annual Donation Award 2017 in the amount of 200,000 €.
Only some 3500 years ago people began to colonize the South Pacific archipelagos of Oceania. An international team of researchers including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena now analyzed for the first time, the genomes of the first settlers who lived on the island chains Tonga and Vanuatu 3100-2500 years ago.
Archaeologicaland genetic research about the timing and process of the colonization of theAmericas has revealed an early colonization 15,000-20,000 years ago followed bya “Beringian standstill”, and subsequent expansion from the North as well as alater expansion of Inuit-Aleut peoples. Ancient DNA analyses have contributed toour understanding of this process using first mitochondrial DNA and more recentlynuclear DNA data.
For the first time, scientists have succeeded to fully reconstruct a genome of the Justinianic Plague causative pathogen, Yersinia pestis, from a skeleton of a victim excavated 50 years ago in Altenerding, Southern Germany.
An international team of researchers including scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has succeeded for the first time in sequencing the genome of Chalcolithic barley grains.
An international team of researchers led by Hélène Rougier with participation of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History presents the first case of Neandertal cannibalism in Northern Europe and the first example of multiple Neandertal bones used as tools from a single site.
A single strain of plague bacteria sparked multiple historical and modern pandemics. This was revealed by the analysis of three reconstructed historical genomes from the causative agent of plague, Yersinia pestis, isolated from plague victims between the 14th and 16th century.
Researchers paint a genetic portrait of Ice Age Europe
Fu, Q.; Posth, C.; Hajdinjak, M.; Petr, M.; Mallick, S.; Fernandes , D.; Furtwängler , A.; Haak, W.; Meyer, M.; Mittnik, A. et al.: The genetic history of Ice Age Europe. Nature 534 (7606), pp. 200-205 (2016)
Up to now, the dispersal of modern humans outside of Africa is a highly debated topic both in terms of the number of major expansions and their timing. An international team of researchers retrieved DNA from 35 ancient hunter-gatherers spanning almost 30,000 years of European pre-history.
Historical pathogens survived for more than four centuries in Europe
Bos, K.; Herbig, A.; Sahl, J.; Waglechner, N.; Fourment, M.; Forrest, S. A.; Klunk, J.; Schuenemann, V. J.; Poinar, D.; Kuch, M. et al.: Eighteenth century Yersinia pestis genomes reveal the long-term persistence of an historical plague focus.
Gastritis pathogens found in Oetzi the iceman
Nowadays, the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is present in the stomachs of approximately one-half of the world's population. Under unfavourable conditions, it can cause stomach ulcers and even cancer. An international research team involving researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has now succeeded in decoding an H. pylori genome from the 5,300-year-old glacier mummy Oetzi.