SCIENTIST have made a new claim that one of Britain’s most iconic ancient artefacts and structures Stonehenge was built by people were descended from migrants with origins in modern-day Turkey.
A new genetic study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution has revealed that a dramatic ‘population replacement’ took place after tribes of ‘Anatolian farmers’ started to arrive on these shores in about 4,000 BC. These Neolithic incomers supplanted the Mesolithic population in most of Britain apart from west Scotland, where a small population of hardy natives held out against the invasion.
The conquerors brought farming techniques with them but are also believed to have introduced the tradition of building stone monuments.
DNA reveals that Neolithic Britons were largely descended from groups who took the Mediterranean route, either hugging the coast or hopping from island-to-island on boats. Some British groups had a minor amount of ancestry from groups that followed the Danube route.
‘British Neolithic people derived much of their ancestry from Anatolian farmers who originally followed the Mediterranean route of dispersal and likely entered Britain from north western mainland Europe,’ the scientists wrote in a pre-publication version of their paper. The team said their research backs ups the current hypothesis that genes ‘commonly associated with lighter skin were introduced in Western Europe by Anatolian farmers’. The incursion had devastating effects on the hunter-gatherers who once lived in Britain. Migrants gradually replaced the populations of Western Europe at a relatively slow pace.
The researchers analysed the genes of 6 Mesolithic hunter-gatherers found across the UK and 67 Neolithic individuals. Their results indicate that the ‘the majority (approximately 75%) of ancestry in all British Neolithic individuals could be attributed to Anatolian farmers, indicating a substantial demographic shift with the transition to farming’. This could mean the new arrivals did not breed with the natives at first, although it’s believed the two populations mingled their genes more extensively in the centuries and millennia after the ‘initial colonisation’