The British archeologist Sir Arthur Evans in the early 1900′s named the Minoans after a legendary Greek king, Minos. Based on similarities between Minoan artifacts and those from Egypt and Libya, Evans proposed that the Minoan civilization founders migrated into the area from North Africa. Since then, other archaeologists have suggested that the Minoans may have come from other regions, possibly Turkey, the Balkans, or the Middle East. Now, a team of researchers in the United States and Greece has used mitochondrial DNA analysis of Minoan skeletal remains to determine the likely ancestors of these ancient people. Mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells, contain their own DNA, or genetic code. Because mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mothers to their children via the human egg, it contains information about maternal ancestry. By comparing DNA from 4,000-year-old Minoan skeletons with genetic material from people living throughout Europe and Africa in the past and today, results suggest that the Minoan civilization arose from the population already living in Bronze Age Crete. The findings indicate that these people probably were descendants of the first humans to reach Crete about 9,000 years ago, and that they have the greatest genetic similarity with modern European populations. Travel to Greece with Far Horizons!