Monday, February 26, 2018

1,000 Ancient Brits

Poster Dan sends this Science Daily article with comments by Reich and Cunliffe.

David Reich:
"the orthodoxy -- the assumption that present-day people are directly descended from the people who always lived in that same area -- is wrong almost everywhere."
"There was a sudden change in the population of Britain," says Reich. "It was an almost complete replacement." [Early Bronze Age]
Barry Cunliffe:

"absolutely sort of mind-blowing...They are going to upset people, but that is part of the excitement of it."
The article continues: 
For example, Reich's team is working with Cunliffe and others to study more than 1,000 samples from Britain to more accurately measure the replacement of the island's existing gene pool by the steppe-related DNA from the Bell Beaker people. "The evidence we have for a 90 percent replacement is very, very suggestive, but we need to test it a bit more to see how much of the pre-Beaker population really survived," explains Cunliffe.
"Amesbury Archer" Jane Brayne

Here's something interesting. The graph shows the population estimates for England and Wales over several thousand years.  Neolithic Britain had just started recovering from an apocalyptic crash before diving again on the eve of the Beaker invasion.  The population explodes during the Beaker centuries.

Looks like the Neolithics were already having big problems.  Plague?


  1. "Looks like the Neolithics were already having big problems. Plague?"

    Famine and related illness due to collapse of farming yields, probably due to some combination of soil exhaustion due to poor first generation Neolithic farming practices and climate. The busts the population down to pre-food production levels, but lower because they didn't have hundreds of generations of continuous development of cultural knowledge about how to be British hunter-gatherers. Add some indiscriminate murder of locals viewed as inferior by incoming Beaker people.

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  3. A study this large I really hope they make the BAM files public.