Spread of farming in Europe. Cultural diffusion or population replacement? Source Between 9,000 and 3,000 years ago farming spread through Europe and replaced hunting, fishing, and gathering. Was this process just a change in lifestyle? Or was it also a population change? Did Middle Eastern farmers replace native Europeans?For Greg Cochran, the answer is clear: Increasingly, it looks as if the hunter-gatherers who lived in Europe at the end of the ice age have been largely replaced.