Sheds light on the Genetic History of Europeans
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Sheds light on the Genetic History of Europeans

Iosif Lazaridis is Research Associate at Harvard Medical School. He was born in Kavala, Greece, in 1976. In 1999 he graduated from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). He earned his master’s degree (2002) and received his Ph.D. (2006) in Information and Computer Science from the University of California-Irvine.

He then used his knowledge in genetic data analysis and from 2013 he has been working in the laboratory of Harvard’s Professor David Reich.

Iosif Lazaridis was the head of a research along with geneticist George Stamatogiannopoulos of Washington University, Seattle, which showed that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were very closely related to each other, and to modern Greeks.

The researchers analyzed genome-wide data from 19 individuals, including Minoans, Mycenaeans, a Neolithic individual from mainland Greece, and Bronze Age individuals from southwestern Anatolia, which they were able to recover despite the notoriously poor preservation in the Mediterranean. By comparing the data generated from these persons with previously published data from nearly 3,000 others, both ancient and modern, the researchers were able to clarify the relationships between these groups. The study was published in the leading scientific journal Nature, focused on the era Of the Copper (3rd-2nd millennium BC) in August 2017.

The researchers found that the Minoans, rather than coming from a distant civilization, were locals, descended from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean. They found that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were very closely related, but with some specific differences that made them distinct from each other. The study helps to provide boundaries on the timing of the arrival of both the eastern and the northern ancestry.

“It is remarkable how persistent the ancestry of the first European farmers is in Greece and other parts of southern Europe, but this does not mean that the populations there were completely isolated. There were at least two additional migrations in the Aegean before the time of the Minoans and Mycenaeans and some additional admixture later. The Greeks have always been a ‘work in progress’ in which layers of migration through the ages added to, but did not erase the genetic heritage of the Bronze Age populations,” stated Iosif Lazaridis, lead author of the study.

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