November 30, 2022

Ancient DNA Rewrites the History of Prehistoric Orkney – “Britain’s Ancient Capital”

A global group led by researchers at the University of Huddersfield has used ancient DNA to rewrite the history of the Orkney islands. The research has been released by the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and is entitled Ancient DNA at the edge of the world: Continental immigration and the persistence of Neolithic male family trees in Bronze Age Orkney by Katharina Dulias, George Foody, Pierre Justeau et al. Credit: Graeme Wilson
Bronze Age women transformed genetic landscape of Orkney, research study finds.
A worldwide group led by scientists at the University of Huddersfield has utilized ancient DNA to reword the history of the Orkney islands to show that Orkney actually experienced large-scale immigration throughout the Early Bronze Age, which replaced much of the regional population.
The task was a close partnership in between hereditary researchers in Huddersfield and Edinburgh, led by Professor Martin Richards and Dr. Ceiridwen Edwards, and archaeologists living and working on Orkney.
Orkney is world-famous for its archaeological heritage. Around 5000 years earlier, during the Neolithic duration when farming first took hold, it was an extremely influential cultural. With numerous superbly maintained stone dwellings, temples, and megalithic monuments, and a style of ceramics that appears to have actually spread out across Britain and Ireland, it has actually even been described as “Britains ancient capital.”

Over the thousand years that followed however, as Europe moved into the Bronze Age, it has been widely seen that somehow Orkney became left behind. Its influence dwindled and the islands became more insular. With less archaeological remains to study, much less was understood about this time.
By integrating archaeology with the study of ancient DNA from Bronze Age human remains from the Links of Noltland site, on the remote northern island of Westray, researchers now know much more about this time than ever in the past, and the outcomes have come as a great surprise to archaeologists and geneticists alike.
” This research shows how much we still need to discover one of the most memorable occasions in European prehistory– how the Neolithic concerned an end.”
— Professor Martin Richards, University of Huddersfield
To start with, despite the expected insularity, the group has revealed that Orkney experienced large-scale immigration throughout the Early Bronze Age, which replaced much of the regional population. The new arrivals were probably the very first to speak Indo-European languages, and carried hereditary origins derived in part from pastoralists living on the steppe lands north of the Black Sea.
This mirrored what was occurring in the rest of Britain and Europe in the 3rd millennium BC. But the researchers discovered a remarkable difference that makes Orkney extremely distinctive.
In Orkney the scientists found precisely the opposite. The Bronze Age newbies were generally ladies, while male lineages from the original Neolithic population made it through for at least another thousand years– something not seen anywhere else.
Why was Orkney so various? Dr. Graeme Wilson and Hazel Moore of the Orkney-based EASE Archaeology, who excavated the Links of Noltland, argue that the response may lie in the long-lasting stability and self-sufficiency of farmsteads on Orkney, which the genetic data recommends may have already been male controlled by the peak of the Neolithic. When a Europe-wide recession struck towards completion of the Neolithic, they may have been uniquely put to weather harsher times and keep their grip on the population as newbies got here.
This suggests that Orkney was much less insular than has long been presumed, and that there was a protracted duration of settlement in between the native males and the newbies from the south, over many generations.
” This shows that the third-millennium BC expansion across Europe was not a monolithic procedure but was more complicated and differed from place to place,” discussed Dr. George Foody, one of the lead scientists on the job from the University of Huddersfield.
The results have actually been unexpected for both the archaeologists and geneticists on the team, although for various reasons: the archaeologists did not expect such large-scale immigration, whereas the geneticists did not visualize survival of the Neolithic male lineages.
The Universitys Director of the Evolutionary Genomics Research Centre Professor Martin Richards stated: “This research reveals how much we still have to discover one of the most memorable events in European prehistory– how the Neolithic concerned an end.”
The research has been published by the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Reference: “Ancient DNA at the edge of the world: Continental migration and the determination of Neolithic male family trees in Bronze Age Orkney” by Katharina Dulias, George Foody, Pierre Justeau et al., 7 February 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The work became part of a Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship program awarded to Professor Richards and Dr. Maria Pala, and the excavations at the Links of Noltland were funded by Historic Environment Scotland.

A global group led by researchers at the University of Huddersfield has actually utilized ancient DNA to reword the history of the Orkney islands. The research study has been released by the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and is entitled Ancient DNA at the edge of the world: Continental immigration and the perseverance of Neolithic male lineages in Bronze Age Orkney by Katharina Dulias, George Foody, Pierre Justeau et al. Over the thousand years that followed nevertheless, as Europe moved into the Bronze Age, it has actually been extensively viewed that in some way Orkney became left behind. In Orkney the researchers found exactly the opposite. Dr. Graeme Wilson and Hazel Moore of the Orkney-based EASE Archaeology, who excavated the Links of Noltland, argue that the answer might lie in the long-term stability and self-sufficiency of farms on Orkney, which the genetic data suggests may have currently been male dominated by the peak of the Neolithic.

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