Genetics, the wonder-child of medical sciences, can prove to be quite spectacular when it comes to finding out answers about our heritage. By sequencing the DNA of a 5000-year old woman, a team of researchers from Trinity College has discovered some additional facts about modern Ireland. Irish ancestors came from the Middle East and the Black Sea.
During their study on the genetical build-up of the modern Irish, researchers have come to understand that over the last 1000 years, our own genetical make-up underwent radical changes. Moreover, it would seem that the modern Irish population was highly influenced by the waves of migrations which took place thousands of years ago.
Dwelling ever deep inside the human genome, the team of scientists, consisting of geneticists from the Trinity College and archeologist from the Queen’s University Belfast, has discovered that modern settlers from Ireland are the descendants of farmers and bronze metal-workers, who migrated from the Middle-East and from the area around the Black Sea.
In order to see the changes to the Irish DNA, the team of researchers studies the earthly remains of a woman. According to carbon dating, it would seem that the woman lived about 5200 years ago, in a region in the vicinity of the modern city of Belfast.
Besides the woman’s remains, the scientists also studied the genome sequences of three men who allegedly lived on Rathlin Island, more than 4000 years ago, during a period commonly known as the Bronze Age. In this period, early humans started working with metal in order to produce tools and weapons used for hunting and combat.
Upon a closer inspection of the three sampled genomes, the scientists have come to understand that approximately one-third of the three man’s ancestry originated from the Pontic Sea. Moreover, all of the three males carried the Y-variant chromosome, which is very common around the Irish. Among other inherited properties, the ancestors if the modern Irish had blue eyes.
The study which claimed that Irish ancestors came from the Middle East and the Black Sea was published in an international journal entitles “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. Among their other finding, the scientists have also determined how modern day languages have formed due to the influences brought upon the early inhabitants of Ireland by the wave of migrations.
Understanding our past is very important to how we evolved over time. It also grants us the possibility to even glance into the future of mankind. Thus, further research is needed in order to determine how migrational waves have tipped the balance, from a genetical point of view.