"One of the big questions in European archaeology has been whether farming was brought or borrowed from the Near East," University of Wisconsin-Madison archaeologist T. Douglas Price said.
Price, along with Dusan Boric of Cardiff University in Wales, measured strontium isotopes in the teeth of 153 humans from Neolithic burials in an area known as the Danube Gorges in modern Romania and Serbia.
Strontium and other chemicals found in the teeth and bones of Neolithic humans help archaeologists track the movement of ancient peoples from region to region by determining if an individual was local or foreign to the place where their remains were discovered.
The data from the teeth of prehistoric farmers and the hunter-gatherers with whom they briefly overlapped shows agriculture was introduced to Central Europe by migrants from the Near East who brought farming technology with them, Price and Boric said.
"The evidence from the Danube Gorges shows clearly that new people came in bringing farming and replaced the earlier Mesolithic hunter-gatherers," Price said in a UWM release Tuesday.