CE12 - Génétique, génomique et ARN

Paleogenomic study of human populations from the Neolithic to the 17th century in the Paris Basin – ParisAncientDNA

Submission summary

The recent development of paleogenetics, the analysis of ancient DNA, has significantly contributed to a better understanding of the origins and evolutionary history of modern human populations, in Eurasia in particular. From this perspective, the territory of present-day France, notably the Paris Basin, presents a specific interest as a crossroads between Central European, Atlantic, and Mediterranean areas. In addition, the Paris Basin represents a coherent geographical entity, densely populated for millenia, that has been subjected to extensive research and that has been developing into an important political centre during the last two millenia. Taking advantage of the interdisciplinary character of our department Eco-anthropologie (Musée de l’Homme, Paris), that gathers archaeologists, paleogeneticists and population geneticists, the ParisAncientDNA project aims to characterize in details the human demography history of this key territory over a period of seven millenia, from the Early Neolithic until the Modern Age. Three dimensions will be investigated through the analysis of genome-wide ancient DNA data: the evolutionary history of these succeeding populations, the social features that can be inferred from the integration of archaeological and genetic characteristics, and the detection of natural selection processes.

Our main objective will be to assess the genetic relationships among human populations settled in the Paris Basin since the Early Neolithic until today, notably to assess genetic proximities or divergence between time periods. To do so, we will obtain genome-wide data for 15 to 20 individuals from each of eight archaeological periods: the Early Neolithic (5200-4700 BCE), the Middle Neolithic (4700-4300 BCE), the Late Neolithic (3600-2300 BCE), the Bronze Age (2300-800 BCE), the Iron Age (800 BCE until the 1st century BCE), the Gallo-Roman and Late Antiquity period (1st century BCE until the 6th century CE), the Carolingian period (8th-11th centuries CE) and the 17th century CE.

Our second objective will be to thoroughly characterize each archaeological site, and, in particular, to precisely describe the genetic origins and familial relationships of individuals, in order to better understand the socio-cultural practices, social stratification, and selection rules for these burial sites. Indeed, many cultural features (such as patrilinearity, spouse-choice…) have been shown to leave traces in the genomes, allowing past social practices to be inferred from genetic diversity.

Finally, because the Neolithic revolution initiated profound modifications of populations’ lifestyles (changes in diet, sedentarization, increase in population sizes, proximity to domestic animals), it corresponds to a period where human populations have been subjected to multiple novel selective pressures linked to metabolic and immune parameters. Notably the human genome exhibits evidence of adaptation to novel dietary constraints. Furthermore, infectious diseases have had a tremendous impact on the demographic histories of past populations. The role of the Western European Black Death on the demography, migrations, and cultures of the Late Middle Ages is well known, and it has also been suggested that epidemics played a substantial role in the evolution of prehistoric societies. Our third objective will thus be to detect signatures of natural selection over time in the Paris Basin.

Through this multidisciplinary approach combining genetic and social aspects, we aim to give a comprehensive picture of the successive inhabitants that have peopled this western end of Europe for the last seven millenia.

Project coordinator

Madame Marie-Claude Marsolier-Kergoat (Institut des sciences du vivant FRÉDÉRIC-JOLIOT)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MNHN-EA Eco-anthropologie et ethnobiologie
JOLIOT Institut des sciences du vivant FRÉDÉRIC-JOLIOT

Help of the ANR 516,407 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2021 - 48 Months

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