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Genes Of Ancient Irish Humans Reveal Link Between Early Ireland And Middle East

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Researchers have studied the genes of the first ancient Irish humans and have revealed connections between Early Ireland and Middle East. The investigation may lead to a deeper understanding of the origins of the Irish people and how their present culture came to be.

The genomes of four ancient subjects show clear evidence of huge migration. Among the genomes studied was that of an ancient farmer woman, who was found to have originated from the Middle East. The other three genomes were from Bronze Age men, who exhibited a different ancestry such that they came from ancient Pontic Steppe.

The farmer had brown eyes and black hair and looked more like the Europeans in the southern region. The Bronze Age men had blue eye alleles, the most common Irish Y chromosome and a significant variant of the genetic disease called haemochromatosis.

How The Link Between Early Ireland And Middle East Was Established

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast sequenced the genomes of a farmer woman who lived approximately 5,200 years ago in Belfast and three men who lived some 4,000 years ago, when metal work has just been introduced.

"It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish," said co-author Eileen Murphy from Queen's University Belfast.

The Important Role Of Migration

Migration is a top concept in the field of archeology. Experts have varying opinions about the role of migration in the great transitions in the British Isles. They have been arguing whether the hunter-gatherer, agriculture-based or stone to metal lifestyles were brought about by local adoption of innovative practices or derived from people coming in from different parts of the world.

Study lead author Dan Bradley from Trinity College Dublin said that the team acknowledges the great influx of genome change that run into Europe from above the Black Sea into the Bronze Age, and probably up to the westernmost islands. Such genetic changes may not only be limited to one or two human features such that the ancient language in the region may have also been influenced.

Varied Genetics

Ireland houses an unusual set of genetics, but its exact origins remain unclear. The only method to determine more information about their genetic past is to perform genome sequencing of the very people who lived during that time. Such technique is exactly what the authors did in the new study and for this, stronger data about the central attributes of the Irish genome have been unveiled.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday on Dec. 28.

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