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Raiding on DNA to explore Vikings’ genetic roots

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Republication from  national geographic

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

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While our modern ideas of these ancient seafarers paint a very homogenous picture, their reality was decidedly diverse.

In popular imagination, Vikings were robust, flaxen-haired Scandinavian warriors who plundered the coastlines of northern Europe in sleek wooden battleships. But despite ancient sagas that celebrate seafaring adventurers with complex lineages, there remains a persistent, and pernicious, modern myth that Vikings were a distinctive ethnic or regional group of people with a “pure” genetic bloodline. Like the iconic “Viking” helmet, it’s a fiction that arose in the simmering nationalist movements of late 19th-century Europe. Yet it remains celebrated today among various white supremacist groups that use the supposed superiority of the Vikings as a way to justify hate, perpetuating the stereotype along the way.

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Out of Africa and into an archaic human melting pot

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Republication from phys.org

by Robyn Mills,

 

Proposed route of the ancestors of modern humans out of Africa and through Island Southeast Asia. Credit: University of Adelaide

Genetic analysis has revealed that the ancestors of modern humans interbred with at least five different archaic human groups as they moved out of Africa and across Eurasia.

While two of the archaic groups are currently known—the Neandertals and their sister group the Denisovans from Asia—the others remain unnamed and have only been detected as traces of DNA surviving in different modern populations. Island Southeast Asia appears to have been a particular hotbed of diversity.

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DNA of early medieval Alemannic warriors and their entourage decoded

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Republication from   sciencedaily

Burial site reconstructions and location. ( Left) Burial orientation of human and horse graves at Niederstotzingen. ( Right) Location of burial site in southwest Germany. (Image: Niall O’Sullivan et al )

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In 1962, an Alemannic burial site containing human skeletal remains was discovered in Niederstotzingen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Researchers at the Eurac Research Centre in Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, and at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, have now examined the DNA of these skeletal remains.

This has enabled them to determine not only the sex and the degree of kinship of those people but also their ancestral origins, which provides new insights into societal structures in the Early Middle Ages. The results of this study demonstrate that genetic research can complement research made by archaeologists and anthropologists through more conventional methods. The research was featured on the front cover of the academic journal Science Advances.

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Archaeological mystery solved with modern genetics

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Republication from chaali.com

Review of the currently accepted demographic model of the Japanese population on the continent. (University of Tokyo )

The current thinking about the origin of the Japanese population maintains that the original residents, Jomon’s people, were met about 2,500 years ago by a separate group mainly from the Korean Peninsula, the Yayoi people. However, archaeological evidence used to achieve this conclusion is insufficient to tell the final story. Now DNA evidence from Y chromosomes provided the necessary data.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo conducted a census of the Japanese population some 2,500 years ago using Y chromosomes living on the main islands of modern Japan. For the first time, the analysis of modern genomes estimated the size of the ancient human population before they were met by a separate ancient population.

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Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland’s population

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Republication from The Conversation

 

The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval “land of saints and scholars”, had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.

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