World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Research Council (ERC) has given Turkish scientists a €2.5 million ($2.9 million) grant for the DNA analysis of 1,500 people who lived in the Anatolian region -- present-day Turkey's Asian part -- during the Neolithic period.
Mehmet Somel, a professor of biological sciences at the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University (ODTU), told Anadolu Agency on Monday that they would work with archaeologists, biologists and anthropologists in their project named 'Neogene'.
The study will cover the period from 10,000-7,000 BC.
He said that DNA analysis and archaeological data belonging to the Neolithic period -- a term scientists use to refer to the last stage of the Stone Age -- would be evaluated together.
"Our goal is to tell the true story of one of the most important milestones of human history," Somel said.
Somel added that during that period, human societies saw a transition from hunting and gathering to one where animals were domesticated and crops were cultivated. This transition took 3,000 to 4,000 years.
"During the study, genetic samples which belong to almost 1,500 people from 20 Neolithic Anatolian settlements will be scanned through a DNA sequencing method."
The study will then be narrowed down to 350 people whose samples will be subject to deeper analysis.
The second stage will be devoted to bioinformatic analysis so that genetic proximity and gene flow among communities can be determined.
Somel added that at this stage, bio-archaeological data would be obtained and scientists would gather objective cultural data.
The last part of the research will be a joint analysis of genetic, bio-archaeological and archaeological data.
The ERC grant will last for five years, he added.