Irish roots traced back to Middle Eastern farmers

December 30, 2015 9:54 am

 The most common Irish Y chromosome type, the blue eye gene variant. Photo / Ben Fraser

The Irish are descended from early farmers and from
bronze metalworkers on the steppes around the Black Sea, scientists have
found.
Genome sequencing and DNA analysis of the remains of
people living 5000 years ago in what is now uncovered the
origins of its population.
By sequencing the first genomes from
Irish people of different eras, scientists found unequivocal evidence of
mass migration into Ireland.
These genetic influxes brought
cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze
metalworking – and may have been the origin of western Celtic language.
Geneticists
from Trinity College, Dublin, and archaeologists from Queen’s
University Belfast studied the genome of a woman farmer who lived 5200
years ago near what is now Belfast.

They also carried out DNA analysis of three men on Rathlin
Island from 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age after metalworking began.
The
early farmer’s ancestry originated ultimately in the Middle East, where
agriculture started. She had black hair and brown eyes – like current
south Europeans.
The Bronze Age male genomes are different again
with one-third of their ancestry from the Pontic Steppe. They had the
most common Irish Y chromosome type, the blue eye gene variant.
Dan
Bradley, Trinity professor of population genetics, said: “There was a
great wave of genome change that swept into from above the Black
Sea into Bronze Age Europe. It washed all the way to the shores of its
most westerly island.”
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

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