Each dot on the atlas represents an ancient human genome. The dots are coloured by genetic ancestry (e.g. hunter-gatherer or farmer). You can click on each dot to get more information. By moving along the timeline at the bottom of the map, you can follow how certain cultures and the genes they carry spread through space and time.
The genomes on this atlas represent fragmented DNA from across the 23 chromosome pairs (3.2 billion basepairs) in the nucleus of the cell of a sampled human. The genomes are either sequenced by SNP capture methods that target selected genome-wide SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or "mutations"), by random "shotgun" sequencing across the whole genome, or a combination of these methods. The mitochondrial DNA (not in the nucleus, but maternally inherited) of each of these humans is also represented in each genome popup by its mitochondrial haplogroup ("mtDNA haplogroup"). The Y-chromosome, only found in males and paternally inherited, is also represented in the popups as "Y-Chr haplogroup". Each ancient genome on the atlas is anchored in time by its date estimate, (from radiocarbon where available), in space by its geographical coordinates and is represented with one colour. This is a very simplified representation, because all genomes are a mix of different ancestries, and we only show the dominant ancestry. Individual comments about the different ancestry proportions of (almost) each genome can be found in the popups. Often, new mixes emerge to form new populations or "clusters" with shared ancestry sources and proportions. The names of these are often taken from the literature. The resolution of such groupings will improve as more genomes are published. Where possible, we try to make the colour of newly formed populations a mix of the colours of their main ancestry sources, and where this is not possible (because the resulting colour is already in use by another population or the two colours do not mix in a meaningful way), we have tried to "tweak" the resulting colour in a new direction. In any case, the general ancestry sources of each colour is always explained in the popup.
The hatched coloured areas are archaeological culture distributions. Although both the definitions, subdivisions, distribution areas, dates, etc. of these cultures are often debated, we attempt to draw them in generalised form to give an overview of which archaeologically defined cultures were roughly where in comparison with the ancient genomes. The colours of the culture areas are based on the colours of the ancient genomes from these cultures. However, we want to stress that genetic ancestry and cultural or ethnic groupings are not necessarily the same, and should not be taken as such. In some cases with lacking genomes but assumed continuity we interpolate the colour between earlier and later periods in that area. When there are no genomes at all in an area it is left blank (i.e. white). Click on each culture area to learn more and see external links and references.
The dotted areas are rough estimates on early distributions of language branches. A language branch (e.g. Germanic or Celtic) is a group of closely related languages. Language branches are often related to other language branches in a language family (e.g. Indo-European). This layer is primarily based on early written sources, sometimes supported by place names and historical references. This layer is a work in progress, so missing languages and distributions should not be taken literally. We will improve this layer during 2020. We have attempted to colour the language areas using nuances for each branch in a language family, inspired by our genome colour palette. We have done this to make language families stand out from each other. In a few cases (e.g. Anatolian and Greek), genome and language colours contrast because the language is classified as Indo-European (green nuances), but no or only low "Steppe" ancestry is found in that area. In many cases, it is not clear what ancestry group (if any) is/was most dominant in a given language area, so the colours used in this layer, should not be taken literally. Click each language area to learn more and see external links and references.