Mysterious Minoans Were European, DNA Finds

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The findings argue against Evan's hypothesis and suggest that locals, not African expats, developed the Minoan culture.

"It was a period of excitement around the Mediterranean," so although the Minoans definitely had contact with their African neighbors across the Mediterranean, any similarities in art were probably the result of cultural exchange, Stamatoyannopoulos said.

Ancient language?

The findings suggest that the ancient Minoans were likely descended from a branch of agriculturalists in Anatolia (what is now modern-day Turkey and Iraq) that fanned out into Europe about 9,000 years ago. If so, the Minoans may have spoken a proto-Indo-European language derived from the one possibly spoken by those Anatolian farmers, the researchers speculate.

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Knowing that the Minoan language has Indo-European roots could help archaeologists decipher a mysterious Minoan writing system, known as Linear A, Stamatoyannopoulos said.

The prevailing theories hold that Minoan was a separate language family.

The analysis of DNA from the Lassithi cave is a "valuable contribution," said Colin Renfrew, an archaeologist from the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study.

However, to make a clearer connection to the Anatolian migration, the researchers should have compared the Minoan DNA with more DNA samples from modern and ancient Anatolia, he said.

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