Ancient DNA from Chalcolithic Israel reveals the role of population mixture in cultural transformation
The material culture of the Late Chalcolithic period in the southern Levant (4500-3900/3800 BCE) is qualitatively distinct from previous and subsequent periods. Here, to test the hypothesis that the advent and decline of this culture was influenced by movements of people, we generated genome-wide ancient DNA from 22 individuals from Peqi'in Cave, Israel. These individuals were part of a homogeneous population that can be modeled as deriving 57% of its ancestry from groups related to those of the local Levant Neolithic, 17% from groups related to those of the Iran Chalcolithic, and 26% from groups related to those of the Anatolian Neolithic. The Peqi'in population also appears to have contributed differently to later Bronze Age groups, one of which we show cannot plausibly have descended from the same population as that of Peqi'in Cave. These results provide an example of how population movements propelled cultural changes in the deep past.