Ancestors travelled more than 3,000km in their lifetime
Until recently, scientists and historians alike based the origins of whole populations on where its citizens were buried
But shocking new research has revealed this may not be the case – and our ancestors could have travelled thousands of miles to reach their final resting place.
Using a recently-developed technology, the ancient Geographic Population Structure (aGPS) tool, a team of researchers were able to find the geographical origins of ancient DNA.
Combining hundreds of snapshots from the past, the group were able to create a reconstruction of modern history from 12,000 BC to the modern era.
Researchers were able to create a reconstruction of modern history from 12,000 BC to today
And in a surprising turn of events, they found around a fifth of people during the Ice age to Late Iron Age migrated up to 3,175km during their lifetime – the equivalent of walking from London to Rome and back.
Dr Eran Elhaik, Assistant Professor of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "This is by far the most comprehensive reconstruction of our genetic history.
"Our work reveals the colonisation of Europe, step by step, and answers many questions concerning the origins and migrations of Europeans."
However the team now face the challenge of trying to determine why the migration took place, and what caused groups of people to travel over 3,000km “at a time travel was complicated and dangerous”.
The Jobs Robots Are Already Stealing From Humans Fri, February 17, 2017 Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 9
CHEF: A start-up called Moley Robotics has invented a 100% automated, intelligent robot chef. The cooking automaton can learn recipes and techniques, whip up gourmet meals and even clean up after itself.
This is by far the most comprehensive reconstruction of our genetic history.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Dr Eran Elhaik
Dr Elhaik said: ”When we combine our results with archaeological and climate data, we can begin to see why.
"For example, we can identify areas where the land became exhausted from over-farming, and thus caused the movement of populations.
"We can also pinpoint the formation of city states and 'biodiversity centres', corresponding to ancient empires that drew immigrants from other countries."
The team looked back as far as the Ice Age for their study
The results also allowed researchers to confirm the theory of the massive migration of populations from the steppes of the Caucasus to Central Europe during the Late Neolithic period, 3500 to 2300 BC.
And the team discovered that Central Europeans were often on the move, particularly in countries such as Germany, Denmark and Hungary.
Dr Elhaik added: “In contrast, Near Eastern peoples tended to stay close to home.
"Genetic data can answer many questions that archaeology alone cannot."
The data was presented to the European Society of Human Genetics today (Monday).