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Thread: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

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    Post British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    Despite invasions by Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and others, the genetic makeup of today's white Britons is much the same as it was 12,000 ago, a new book claims.

    In The Tribes of Britain, archaeologist David Miles says around 80 percent of the genetic characteristics of most white Britons have been passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters.


    Miles, research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford, England, says recent genetic and archaeological evidence puts a new perspective on the history of the British people.

    "There's been a lot of arguing over the last ten years, but it's now more or less agreed that about 80 percent of Britons' genes come from hunter-gatherers who came in immediately after the Ice Age," Miles said.

    These nomadic tribespeople followed herds of reindeer and wild horses northward to Britain as the climate warmed.

    "Numbers were probably quite small—just a few thousand people," Miles added.

    These earliest settlers were later cut off as rising sea levels isolated Britain from mainland Europe.

    New evidence for the genetic ancestry of modern Britons comes from analysis of blood groups, oxygen traces in teeth, and DNA samples taken from skeletal remains.

    Ice Age hunter-gathers also colonized the rest of northwest Europe, spreading through what are now the Netherlands, Germany, and France. But Miles said differences between populations can be detected in random genetic mutations, which occurred over time.

    The most visible British genetic marker is red hair, he added. The writer Tacitus noted the Romans' surprise at how common it was when they arrived 2,000 years ago.

    "It's something that foreign observers have often commented on," Miles said. "Recent studies have shown that there is more red hair in Scotland and Wales than anywhere else in the world. It's a mutation that probably occurred between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago."

    Stonehenge Manpower

    Britain's population in the late Stone Age may have much been larger than historians once supposed. For instance, scientists have calculated that it would have taken around 30 million hours to create Stonehenge.


    "By the time Stonehenge was built you'd had about a thousand years of farming," Miles said. "The population's expanding, and people are getting together to form big labor forces to put up these big public buildings."

    Population estimates based on the size and density of settlements put Britain's population at about 3.5 million by the time Romans invaded in A.D. 43.

    Many historians now believe subsequent invaders from mainland Europe had little genetic impact on the British.

    The notion that large-scale migrations caused drastic change in early Britain has been widely discredited, according to Simon James, an archaeologist at Leicester University, England.

    "The gene pool of the island has changed, but more slowly and far less completely than implied by the old invasion model," James writes in an article for the website BBC History.

    For the English, their defining period was the arrival of Germanic tribes known collectively as the Anglo-Saxons. Some researchers suggest this invasion consisted of as few as 10,000 to 25,000 people—not enough to displace existing inhabitants.

    Analysis of human remains unearthed at an ancient cemetery near Abingdon, England, indicates that Saxon immigrants and native Britons lived side by side.

    "Probably what we're dealing with is a majority of British people who were dominated politically by a new elite," Miles said. "They were swamped culturally but not genetically."

    Genetic Continuity

    "It is actually quite common to observe important cultural change, including adoption of wholly new identities, with little or no biological change to a population," Simon James, the Leicester University archaeologist, writes.

    One such change is the emergence of a Celtic identity in Britain. There are no historical references to Celts in ancient Britain.

    Miles explained that "Celts" was a name applied to tribes in Gaul—modern-day France—though their language shared the same root as those spoken by British tribes.

    "In the 18th and 19th centuries, as Ireland, Wales, and Scotland started to assert national identity, they began to talk about themselves as Celts," Miles added.

    Miles acknowledged that the techniques used to explore genetic ancestry are still in their infancy and that many more samples are needed to fully understand the origins of the British people.

    "By mapping the genetic variability of humans around the world, geneticists can begin to track their dispersal, migrations, and interrelationships," Miles writes.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...ishgene_2.html

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    I read that.

    But what makes them think that the "genetic characteristics" of most Saxons, Vikings and Normans are not "passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters".

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    I recall a study that was made concerning the genetic make up on the British Isles. It concluded that the only parts where there was no influence of Danish, Norwegian or Saxon genes were Ireland and the very south of Britain. I can posts some more details if anyone is interested.

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    A member asked me to post some more about the article. It is about a survey regarding the British DNA-profile. DNA samples of 1700 men in various British small town was compared with 400 DNA samples from Denmark, Norway and Germany. The Y-chromosome proved to be more or less identical, and this, argues the scientists, proves that they are related. Sixty percent of the men who lives on the northern Scottish islands have Norwegian ancestors while men in central and eastern England have Danish and Saxon (Anglosaxon) ancestry. Southern England and Ireland have mostly celtic DNA. According to the map which was included in the article Saxon and Danish DNA can be found as far up as the Northwest Highlands. Norwegian DNA can be found at the area around Northwest Highlands down to Firth of Clyde (incidentally the word firth comes from the Norwegian word fjord) as well as Isle of Man and the Cumbrian Mountains area. The celtic DNA area is located at the Cambrian Mountains area stretching eastwards towards a line between Wye, Welshpool and Birkenhead (Birkenhead being another name of Scandinavian origin).
    Last edited by Frid; Sunday, August 7th, 2005 at 11:05 PM.

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    I always thought the red hair came from the Danes who established the Danelaw and other Scandinavians. And also are they trying to claim that the ancient Brythonic people were not Celtic!?
    SVMDEVSSVMCAESARSVMCAELVMETINFERNVM

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperator X
    I always thought the red hair came from the Danes who established the Danelaw and other Scandinavians. And also are they trying to claim that the ancient Brythonic people were not Celtic!?
    Thats a new one to me.

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    And also are they trying to claim that the ancient Brythonic people were not Celtic!?
    I think they're just trying to be clever with words actually. The Britons wouldn't have referred to themselves as Celts, but neither would the Ancient Hellenes have referred to themselves as 'Greeks'. So if we're going to be picky then we should say the Spartans were not Greek, because that's not the exact word they used to describe themselves.

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    Quote Originally Posted by simplex
    Thats a new one to me.
    Which? The Danish red hair influence, or the fact that they might be claiming the Brythonics were not Celtic?
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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    Red hair does not come with one sort of morphology. There are red-headed Nordids in Denmark, more so than central Sweden. Darker ginger hair as seen in the British Isles is rare. That is associated with other types. Texture is also different.

    Furthermore, what they call Celtic can be pre-Celtic or what was there before.

    Baker's explanation about the Celts is more satisfying.

    Quote Originally Posted by simplex
    Thats a new one to me.

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    Post Re: British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

    [QUOTE=Glenlivet]
    Furthermore, what they call Celtic can be pre-Celtic or what was there before.
    QUOTE]


    Interesting and probable.

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