View Full Version : German men find 3000-year old ancestor thanks to DNA test

22-08-08, 10:43
A few months ago, scientists from University of Goettingen published one of the first Y-DNA and mtDNA results from a Bronze Age family.

They had managed to extract a DNA sample from 40 skeletons buried in a cave in Germany's Harz Mountains, in Lower Saxony. The sepulture dates back to some 3000 years ago.

The researchers asked 270 people in the local population to take a DNA test to compare their DNA patterns with those found in the bones. 2 local men matched, proving that they were descendants of the cavemen.

What is amazing is that some of the descendants still lived in the same area 3000 years later. This certainly gives us some insight into population movement. Despite the mass migration of Germanic tribes in ancient times, centuries of upheavals, and the rural exodus during the Industrial Revolution, after all rural populations may not changed all that much over time.

Other DNA studies also showed that populations in Europe have been much more stable than previously thought. For instance, the impact of the Anglo-Saxon invasion in England had been greatly exaggerated by historians, and DNA analysis demonstrated that a big percentage of the genes in the English population was in fact of pre-Anglo-Saxon origins.

Here is the BBC article about the Bronze Age cave in Germany (with a video).

BBC News : Uncovering the ultimate family tree (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7570928.stm)

The 3,000-year-old skeletons were in such good condition that anthropologists at the University of Goettingen managed to extract a sample of DNA. That was then matched to two men living nearby: Uwe Lange, a surveyor, and Manfred Huchthausen, a teacher. The two men have now become local celebrities.

"It's odd, standing here in the same area where my ancestors were buried. I felt really strange when I had the bones, the skull of my great-great-great grandfather dating back 120 generations, in my hands," said Manfred.

Here is the PDF article with the scientific data (including the DNA sequences) :

Lichtenstein Cave Data Analysis. D. Schweitzer, Ph.D (http://dirkschweitzer.net/E3b-papers/LichtensteinCaveAnalysis0804DS.pdf)

All but one of the male lineages belonged to haplogroup I2b (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I1c#I2b.2A) (the old I1c), which has its highest frequency in Central North Germany, around the Harz mountains. The other lineage was the Frisian haplogroup R1b S21+ (aka R1b1c9), most common in North-West Germany and the Netherlands.

Rudiger Roy
07-08-09, 12:35
Did 2 of the male skeletons belong to Y-haplogroup R1a?