Sequencing of genomes of earliest Irish settlers reveals interesting facts

A team consisted of scientists from Belfast and Dublin has recently looked into early history of Ireland for discovering a pretty familiar migration pattern. The pattern elaborates migration of Stone Age colonizers from Fertile Crescent and economic migrants of Bronze Age, who have their origin in the eastern territories of Europe.

The fresh evidence gathered by scientists was embedded in the bones of a woman who used to live over 5,000 years back and remains of three men that are between 3,000 and 4,000 years old. The woman’s bones were unearthed from a tomb located in Ballynahatty, a region close to Belfast. The remains of the men, on the other hand, were found in Rathlin Island, County Antrim.

A research team at the Trinity College Dublin, instead of reading the unique features of each individual, studied a much broader history of prehistoric exodus and settlement when analyzing the DNA obtained from all the four bodies. They did so using a technique known as whole-genome analysis.

The analysis has allowed the scientists to validate a picture which has been surfacing through archaeological studies for several decades. To put it more bluntly, the analysis allowed the researchers to confirm that the migrants didn’t need to compete with the native Irish. Instead they became Irish themselves.

The predecessors of the farmers from Stone Age started their voyage at the Bible Lands i.e. the parts of the world where agriculture first started. Their final destination was Ireland, where they probably reached southern Mediterranean territories. The migrants inhabited the region along with cereals, cattle, and ceramics. That’s not all; due to them, newborns in the region started to get brown eyes and back hair.

After these colonizers, the area got migrants from southern Russia’s Pontic steppe. The natives of the region got to know about copper mining and working with gold from these migrants. The other notable thing these people brought with them is a genetic variant known for causing a blood disorder called hemochromatosis.

For those who don’t know: Hemochromatosis is a hereditary genetic disorder extremely common among people of Ireland. Many also refer to this condition as a Celtic disease. These inhabitants also contributed to dietary changes of people in the region. Natives in Ireland learnt to digest milk due to genetic contributions from these migrants.