African DNA

24 Sep 2017

At ... DNA from sub-Sahara Africa has opened a window on prehistoric population movements over the past 8000 years. However, the results are not too much in dispute with African prehistory prior to the use of genetics and the DNA code of humans. In fact, they seem to agree quite remarkably - especially where it concerns the movement of Bantu people from western Africa across the top of the equatorial zone into East Africa and down towards South Africa, a process that was still going on at the start of the colonial period.

South of the equator, and at some early stage, large parts of East Africa, were inhabited by hunter gatherer groups - until 3000 years ago. This date coincides with the end of the Bronze Age in western Asia and the Mediterranean region and whatever the event involved it impelled people to migrate long distances - as in northern regions of EuroAsia. Various herding groups and somewhat later, Bantu farmers, moved into regions occupied by hunter gatherers. Unlike in Europe and East Asia farmers and animal herders expanded into new areas and mixed with hunter gatherers living there - but in sub Sahara Africa there is no trace of hunter gatherer genes in the modern population. It was a population replacement event. These appear to be the Khoe-San people (better known as Bushmen) but surprisingly their genes pop up in islands off the coast of Tanzania - indicating their once widespread dispersal.

  The story is also at      ... where we are told 16 ancient skulls were used for DNA, dating between 8100 and 400 years ago, as well as the DNA of 584 present day Africans from 59 different population groups - as well as 300 genomes from 142 populations in other parts of the world. Surprisingly, it found evidence of the spread of people with an origin in the Near East, migrating into East Africa 3000 years ago - long before the spread of Islamic culture 1500 years ago.