Newgrange, County Meath

This afternoon.

Via Mail Online:

Little had been known, however, about the prehistoric society that assembled this monument and other — prompting archaeologists and geneticists to analyse the genomes of 44 neolithic individuals from sites across Ireland.

Among these was the inbred individual that had been found buried in the most ornate recess of the Newgrange tomb — and likely belonged to a dynastic elite.

‘I’d never seen anything like it. We all inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father,’ said paper author and geneticist Lara Cassidy of Trinity College Dublin.

‘Well, this individual’s copies were extremely similar, a tell-tale sign of close inbreeding.’

‘In fact, our analyses allowed us to confirm that his parents were first-degree relatives.’

Ah here.

Ireland’s ancient kings married their sisters and fathered inbred children to maintain dynastic bloodlines, analysis of 5,000-year-old genomes found in Newgrange passage tomb reveals (MailOnline)

Genetics study shines light on early periods of Ireland’s human history (RTÉ)

Pic: Getty

Thanks Charger Salmon

44 thoughts on “Hillbillies

    1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

      sure they are still at it,
      quick Google says
      Numerous British royals have even married their first cousins, including Queen Victoria and her beloved husband Prince Albert.

  1. f_lawless

    Ah here. Send in the bulldozers!

    Seriously though, this new insight is quite the thing to digest. Newgrange is firmly established in the Irish psyche. An iconic structure linking us back to a mystical, idealised past.

    1. millie von strumpet

      I have to recommend the Candlelit Tales podcast for anyone wanting a listen to some very good retellings of our ancient myths and folklore. They usually set it to some music and have a very interesting discussion afterwards. Highly recommended.

      1. Vanessanelle

        they got back at us in ’99
        and stopped another double
        knackers and tramps
        every single one’ah them

        Maybe not Trevor Giles
        Class Act, like Maurice Fitzgerald,
        And like Maurice, I’d say he’s a foreign adoption
        Too classy and decent, both of them, to be from Meath and Kerry respectively

  2. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

    ” Other ruling dynasties from the archaeological world include the Inca god-kings and Egyptian pharaohs, though the Irish Neolithic period is much earlier than those civilizations.

    Such unions are a near-universal taboo for biological and cultural reasons, though given his privileged burial within the chamber of the Newgrange monument, the researchers suggest his parentage was very likely to have been socially sanctioned.

    The Trinity College Dublin research group notes that socially sanctioned mating of this nature is very rare, and in global scientific studies has been documented almost exclusively among politico-religious elites—specifically within royal families that are headed by god-kings. In globally documented cases of this, such as in Hawaii, the Inca empire and in ancient Egypt, such behaviour is typically limited to ruling families whose perceived divinity exempts them from social convention. Researchers have generally viewed such close unions as a means of intensifying hierarchy and legitimizing power. The evidence from this study suggests a similar dynamic may have existed here in Ireland during the Neolithic period which heralded the introduction of farming and saw the construction of large megalithic burial and ritual monuments.

    and ” The 12th century Book of Leinster records the tale of a union between a sister and a brother which lent itself to the ancient name for Dowth.

    The team of scientists also revealed a web of distant familial relations between the man buried at Newgrange and other individuals buried at other Neolithic passage tombs across the country, namely the cemeteries of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in Co. Sligo, and the tomb at Millin Bay in Co. Down.

    The genome survey led by Trinity College Dublin stretched over two millennia and unearthed other unexpected results. Within the oldest known burial structure on the island built around 3,800BC, Poulnabrone portal tomb in the Burren, the earliest yet diagnosed case of Down Syndrome was discovered in a male infant buried there. The remains were excavated by Dr Ann Lynch of the National Monuments Service in the 1980’s as part of urgent conservation work at the burial monument. Isotope analyses of this infant by TCD showed a dietary signature of breastfeeding. In combination with being afforded burial in the chamber, an honour afforded to very few, the researchers suggest this provides an indication of care and that visible difference was no barrier to prestige burial.

    Additionally, the genetic analyses showed that the monument builders were early farmers who migrated to Ireland and replaced the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who preceded them. The scientific evidence suggests that there was a ‘swamping’ of the earlier population rather than any forced displacement or extermination. ”


    for full article…pretty cool

    1. italia'90

      Excellent post Janet Everyday is a school day,
      especially at the moment with the home schooling malarkey ;)
      I can’t wait for my new teaching contract to end!
      Very illuminating

    1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

      :) I’m an archeology geek since I was a kid
      gets all the cylinders firing, this is super exciting, I wonder will similar results show up for similar structures in France and England too, will the same family DNA pop up there too ?

          1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

            Be warned, archaeologists are fickle. They’re always dating other people. hahahaha

          2. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

            layer (1069 ) was a light sandy reddish brown loam forming, perfect for a sudden need for a lie down and a cool off,

    1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

      I wouldn’t honour him with this, he sent this post in trying to ridicule our rich heritage, these equate to Egypt’s pyramids and are in fact older, well be just showed his own ignorance as per usual and he can fupp right off

      1. Vanessanelle

        But shur’ isn’t his own Monarch out of a Royal house that practice ‘close breeding’ with their relatives in other European Royal Families

        It’s not just Game of Thrones stuff, this Keeping the Crown within the same family

  3. SOQ

    Ah here- I know of one town in Ireland where most of the people actually look the same- genuinely, they look alike. Inbreeding was not just limited to a particular class or creed- its still going on- sure how else would the Dáil be in the state it is in?

    1. jamesjoist

      I am gobsmacked that dna was retrieved from bones placed in these very ancient mounds. I was under the impression that the bodies were cremated and the bones retrieved to placed in the mounds.

      1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

        my guess is if indeed they extracted this from cremated remains it survives because it is inside the bone and teeth which protect it.  All the bone and teeth don’t disintegrate during the cremation process and sometimes the pieces that survive are crushed after the process so where there’s bone—there’s a chance it contains DNA.

        1. Papi

          Janet knows her stuff. Teeth especially survive the cremation process and the larger joints and longbones.

  4. Steph Pinker

    This discovery isn’t new regarding DNA in osteoblasts, osteoclasts or osteocytes; it has been retrieved from human bones since the early 80s in China from 2,000 yr-old mummified bodies. The DNA [usually mitochondrial] which hasn’t been contaminated can establish genetic relationships among settlements of people, particularly those of high-status who have been through a burial process – each type of burial process displays the various aspects of ancient tradition, culture and class and can determine where the remains were/ are discovered due to Geology, climate etc., which play a crucial role in the preservation and destruction of every organic and non-organic material on this small planet within which we all live.

    1. Janet, dreams of spidercrab

      correct it’s the information about these Irish sites that is new and in particular what they tell us about the ruling family

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