A new timescale has recently been established for human<br/>mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages, making mtDNA at<br/>present the most informative genetic marker system for<br/>studying European prehistory. Here, we review the new<br/>chronology and compare mtDNA with Y-chromosome<br/>patterns, in order to summarize what we have learnt from<br/>archaeogenetics concerning five episodes over the past<br/>50,000 years which significantly contributed to the settlement history of Europe: the pioneer colonisation of the Upper Palaeolithic, the Late Glacial re-colonisation of the continent from southern refugia after the Last Glacial Maximum, the postglacial re-colonization of deserted areas after the Younger Dryas cold snap, the arrival of Near Easterners with an incipient Neolithic package, and the small-scale migrations along continent-wide economic exchange networks beginning with the Copper<br/>Age. The available data from uniparental genetic systems<br/>have already transformed our view of the prehistory of<br/>Europe, but our knowledge of these processes remains<br/>limited. Nevertheless, their legacy remains as sedimentary<br/>layers in the gene pool of modern Europeans, and our<br/>understanding of them will improve substantially when<br/>more mtDNAs are completely sequenced, the Y chromosome<br/>more thoroughly analysed, and haplotype blocks of<br/>the autosomal genome become amenable to phylogeographic<br/>studies
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