DNA study finds Beaker migrants from Europe replaced ancient Britons

Updated 2018-02-24 10:23:01 Xinhua

A study on ancient DNA has found that the Beaker folk, migrants from central Europe and beyond who landed in Britain about 4,500 years ago, replaced at least 90 percent of ancient Britons.

The study, based on the examination of more than 400 prehistoric skeletons from across Europe, was published in Nature magazine Wednesday.

According to archaeological discoveries, the Beaker folk came to Britain with their distinctive Beaker culture, called so because of the discovery of clay drinking cups that were found buried with the prehistoric skeletons.

"At least 90 percent of the ancestry of Britons was replaced ... Following the Beaker spread, there was a population in Britain that for the first time had ancestry and skin and eye pigmentation similar to the majority of Britons today," geneticist Ian Barnes from the Natural History Museum in London said.

Hundreds of scientists and archaeologists and almost all the major DNA testing laboratories took part in the international project.

Among the DNA samples, one was from the famous "Amesbury Archer", who was buried around 2300 B.C. and excavated in 2002. With five beakers, gold hair ornaments and other possessions, his grave is the richest ever found in Britain from the period.

The study proves that the Amesbury Archer was a Beaker man from central Europe.

It further explains why the people buried with the beakers didn't have the same DNA as the earlier residents.

However, not all questions have been answered. Where did the Beaker culture originate? And what happened to the pre-Beaker population? These remain to be answered, perhaps by another study.

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