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Archive for the tag “Bronze Age”

Richard III’s Prehistoric Foremother?

Recently I came across this fascinating blogpost by an archaeologist called Katharina, who was working on a Bronze Age burial site in Austria. The skeletons her team excavated have recently been DNA tested–and one of them carried the maternal haplogroup J1c2, which is part of the group to which Richard belonged.

Richard’s Bronze Age foremother?

Now there are differences in their DNA sequences; Richard has a rare mutation, making his exact group J1c2c3. So far, only about a dozen people from all worldwide testing sites have been found to carry this exact mutation. None as far as I know, have been found in continental Europe, so it looks as if the rare mutation occurred recently in his maternal line–either with Cecily Neville, his mother, Joan Beaufort, grandmother, Katherine Swynford, his great-grandmother, or Katherine’s mother, who was a migrant to England.

Haplogroup J, called ‘Jasmine’ by geneticist Bryan Sykes, is thought to be one of the last female haplogroups to enter Europe, first appearing in the Near East around Syria. It is a ‘sister’ to Mtdna haplogroup T, with both  groups having split off from  a foremother carrying the Haplogroup JT, which is not commonly found in Europe but still can be  found in the Near and Middle East. (I am Haplogroup T2b4 ,’Tara’, by the way, so part of the ‘sister’ group.) J and T are both considered, in particular,  hallmarks of the Neolithic revolution (agriculture)  in Europe and maybe even associated with the spread of Indo-European languages, although there were probably some earlier people with these haplogroup in the Mesolithic as well.  Today J and T are considered mid-size DNA groups, with about 12% of Europeans carrying some form of J and 9% carrying T.

All the people with haplogroup J will share a common maternal ancestor with Richard at some point…but it might be well be a 100 generations ago or even earlier! Obviously there are different clades of each haplogroup, each with different mutations, which show where the groups split and diversified, and hence some people with MTdna J will be closer  matches to Richard than others, the closest being those who have that elusive ‘3’, who all seem to come from Richard’s close family. (I myself am in the same maternal group as the last Tsar of Russia but my mutations are quite different to his; I’m more closely related to the outlaw Jesse James! And Ozzy Osborne! Still, they are all my relatives on some kind of  remote level, though!)

It’s quite fascinating to be able to look into the deepest past and see where we all came from, and how interrelated we really all are.

 

mtDNA-J-map

Another Car Park, Another Find

What is it about carparks? They seem to hide a wealth of archaeology.

My own local one may not have held a king, but it certainly contained burials–a handful of   Bronze Age people who had been cremated and buried in long-vanished barrows strung out  along what once was a prominent  ridge. Several thousand years later their graves were desecrated by Anglo-Saxons, who inserted their own inhumation burials into the earlier mounds–one of them taking  a stunning amethyst bead into the afterlife.

The latest famous carpark find is from Switzerland, however, rather than Britain, and it is probably the oldest by far. It is the five thousand year old door of a neolithic hut, rather fine in its craftmanship, with a prominent hinge still existing–not at all what most people imagine when they hear the word ‘neolithic.’ It was discovered  while making, rather than digging up, a NEW carpark in Zurich, in an area where there were a number of ancient lake villages. It wasn’t the only door found either–others had been located in the area in previous digs, but it was the best preserved and most ‘modern’ to look at.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/20/swiss-unearth-neolithic-door-zurich

door

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