ONE of the world’s oldest farming civilisations is to be investigated in an international project led by Huddersfield University.
The university and Soran University, Kurdistan, will be analysing the DNA of prehistoric human remains found in the autonomous Iraqi region.
The world’s first farmers are thought to have inhabited what is modern day Kurdistan almost 12,000 years ago.
Professor Martin Richards, from Huddersfield University, will lead the project which will use archeological and DNA technologies to assess the genetic make-up of the area’s prehistoric peoples.
It is hoped the results will help discover where these ancient peoples migrated and if present day humans have inherited any of their genes.
Both universities have signed an agreement to split the work between both campuses.
Prof Richards said: “This project is a great departure for us and enormously exciting.
“Kurdistan is archaeologically one of the most fascinating regions in the world – it was inhabited first by Neanderthals, escaping from Europe’s cold during the Ice Age, and soon after by modern humans as they came north from their African homeland about 50,000 years ago.
“Not only that, but it was quite possibly the place where people first took up farming, almost twelve thousand years ago”.