Ancient DNA Offers New Insights into Origins and Spread of Languages and Populations Across the Southern Arc

Dr. David Reich

The tales of humanity’s distant past were once revealed only by digging up ancient settlements, bones, and artifacts or by reading ancient texts, from the cuneiform clay tablets of the Hittites to the vivid chronicles of Herodotus. In the past decade, however, a powerful new window has opened into humanity’s past, in the stories written in the genes of our distant ancestors. Since 2014, the number of individuals from thousands of years ago whose DNA has been analyzed has leapt from a mere handful to more than 8,000. That has ushered in what Kristian Kristiansen, PhD, Professor of Archaeology at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, calls a major scientific revolution. “It has created a new kind of independent evidence to answer questions in archeology that had never before been resolved,” Dr. Kristiansen explains.

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