School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology

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Ancient DNA

25/01/2016


A team of geneticists led by Professor Dan Bradley from the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with GAP archaeologists Dr Eileen Murphy, Professor Jim Mallory and Barrie Hartwell, has sequenced the first genomes from ancient Irish humans, and the information is already answering pivotal questions about the origins of Ireland’s people and their culture.

The genomes sequenced were those of a Middle-Later Neolithic woman from Ballynahatty, Co. Down, and those of three Early Bronze Age men from Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim. Their landmark results were published in the 28 December 2015 issue of the international journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Substantial media interest has been shown in the research, which has been picked up on by over 220 media organisations, with pieces published in The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe as well as featured on BBC News Online.

The genomes show unequivocal evidence for mass migrations into Ireland during prehistory. These genetic influxes are likely to have brought major cultural changes, including the transitions to agriculture, Bronze metalworking and may even have provided the origin of the western Celtic language.

Further information about the research can be found at:
http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/ceao/News/Title,545708,en.html

The PNAS article can be accessed at:
http://www.pnas.org/content/113/2/368.abstract

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