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 Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants

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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Thu 22 Feb 2018, 00:12

The ancient population of Britain was almost completely replaced by newcomers about 4,500 years ago, a study shows.
The findings mean modern Britons trace just a small fraction of their ancestry to the people who built Stonehenge.
The astonishing result comes from analysis of DNA extracted from 400 ancient remains across Europe.
The mammoth study, published in Nature, suggests the newcomers, known as Beaker people, replaced 90% of the British gene pool in a few hundred years.
Lead author Prof David Reich, from Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, US, said: "The magnitude and suddenness of the population replacement is highly unexpected."
The reasons remain unclear, but climate change, disease and ecological disaster could all have played a role.
People in Britain lived by hunting and gathering until agriculture was introduced from continental Europe about 6,000 years ago. These Neolithic farmers, who traced their origins to Anatolia (modern Turkey) built giant stone (or "megalithic") structures such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire, huge Earth mounds and sophisticated settlements such as Skara Brae in the Orkneys.
But towards the end of the Neolithic, about 4,450 years ago, a new way of life spread to Britain from Europe. People began burying their dead with stylised bell-shaped pots, copper daggers, arrowheads, stone wrist guards and distinctive perforated buttons.

An extract from this : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43115485
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Thu 22 Feb 2018, 18:20

Featured on BBC R4 "Inside Science" today for those with access. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rwt8l
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Thu 01 Mar 2018, 20:40

Yes Gil, I read recently in the papers overhere or was it on BBC world, about recent discoveries, but hadn't by my illness no time to investigate it in depth. I hope in the future...

Kind regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Fri 02 Mar 2018, 08:08

There has been some disquiet here in Norway among geneticists over how this "story" has been presented to the public, the problem being with the word "replace". Within DNA terminology the term is often used, quite accurately, to account for displacement of genotype sequences over time. Within this context the term implies simply that two "snapshots" of related DNA genotype separated by a period of time reveal that chunks within the sequence exhibit proof of something having happened in between to disrupt what had appeared to be a steady progression in development within a particular related population. These quite naturally present themselves in analysis all the more when the space of time between "snapshots" increases.

However they do not automatically imply a "replacement" of one population with another - in fact they imply the opposite, with sufficient common sequencing remaining to highlight these disruptions as the anomaly they represent. Climate, more than anything else, is cited as the most obvious and likely reason for such apparent mutation. However this does not by any means imply "disaster" - ecological or pathological in nature - as all the UK articles have opted to speculate upon,.

As one biologist remarked on the radio here, if anyone in about a thousand years were to examine human genome sequencing within a pretty stable population genetically (her example was the Finno-Ugric Sami people), and sampled evidence separated by two hundred years between 1800 and today, they would find exactly the same "replacement" having taken place. This has occurred within about a dozen generations as the members of the population adapted genetically to slight changes in climate, huge changes in protein source, and several other smaller but cumulatively important exposures to DNA entering the population from non-traditional sources. Anyone deducing that this implied a mass genocidal slaughter of Sami, an ecological "disaster" wiping out their majority, a virulent and deadly outbreak of disease doing the same, or indeed any other attention-grabbing but unsustainable projection based on this evidence, would be rightly laughed out of academia and consigned to a life making YouTube videos about alien abduction (or whatever the equivalent version of sensationalist bullshit might be in a thousand years' time).

What passes for "news" these days is actually quite worrying. People in the UK it seems now cannot distinguish between being titillated with sensationalised data and being informed. This is just a small example, I reckon, but a very worrying indication of a more prevalent malaise given the number of so-called "academics" who are apparently happy to promote it. If the alleged intelligentsia within a society subscribe to the subjective corruption of objective data then there is little hope that common sense of any description will prevail.

This is of course related to academic funding - as we have increasingly seen within the discipline of archaeology too. Unless the body of work can be presented in sensationalist terms it will not receive the recognition and subsequent funding it requires. However the old argument that these "high profile" publicity stunts support other more erudite and level-headed work within the associated discipline seems to hold less and less water as time goes on.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Fri 02 Mar 2018, 17:51

nordmann,

"What passes for "news" these days is actually quite worrying. People in the UK it seems now cannot distinguish between being titillated with sensationalised data and being informed. This is just a small example, I reckon, but a very worrying indication of a more prevalent malaise given the number of so-called "academics" who are apparently happy to promote it. If the alleged intelligentsia within a society subscribe to the subjective corruption of objective data then there is little hope that common sense of any description will prevail.

This is of course related to academic funding - as we have increasingly seen within the discipline of archaeology too. Unless the body of work can be presented in sensationalist terms it will not receive the recognition and subsequent funding it requires. However the old argument that these "high profile" publicity stunts support other more erudite and level-headed work within the associated discipline seems to hold less and less water as time goes on."

fully agree with you about the "news", people seem to be only interested in sensational news and not in in depth reports from serious journalists, which with their boring but on reality based information try to make good journalism. And yes by the now sensational journalistic, which is poured over the ignorant public, who are too lazy to seek for in depth and unbiased information...

But as you say this trend is also debording to the academic world, where it is more the sensation sparking a wider reader's public from academic and business donors and means money for the "sensational find". I don't say that real worthy inventions don't come through too, as they are that worthy that they cannot be ignored, but in the meantime a lot of money is spent idly because of these sensation seeking academics.

I have a Dutch language montly about science working together with The Scientific American and there was one month a lengthy and in depth article about the problem that you mentioned here.

Speaking about this problem with the grandson, who is now in his last months to defend a paper on cancer research for his Phd, he says that there are that many obstacles to reach the top. The difficulties come many times from an unexpected corner, but yes first your subject has to be nevertheless valuable, but then it is important that you have a way to explain your stuff in a coherent and easy to catch for the academic public, way. Secondly now the lingua franca even in Belgium to defend papers is English (the Dutch speaking have already half of English in their language and the French speaking too Wink ), but the speaking of the English is also important, as for instance on international colloquia (of course the English have an advantage, although many speak also an abominable English Wink ) as in Bologna Italy, those with the best grasp of English are most appreciated.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Sun 04 Mar 2018, 11:58

And now I have received my monthly e-magazine from Blindern which has an article about this very topic too. In it a member of the research team whose findings were published in such spurious form in the British media (and who tellingly does not wish to be identified) acknowledges that the sensationalist historical interpretation that has been placed on the DNA analysis was never even discussed or considered by the people involved, and came as much as a surprise to them when it was "released" a few weeks ago as to historians. The article is not about British history, or even genetics, but about the future of funding academic research in post-Brexit British universities. The prognosis is a gloomy one given that these institutions will no longer have access to the EU-administered educational subsidies currently in use that ensure a spread of investment across all member states' third level establishment faculty research budgets. In Norway its EEA membership has been used in the past to secure and safeguard investment from this source, though in effect it pays almost as much for the privilege as then comes back in form of subsidy (it is essentially one of the voluntary tariffs paid to secure access to the single market, along with free movement of citizens), and it is assumed that this delicately negotiated arrangement could well become banjaxed and void if a post-Brexit UK attempts to cite it stupidly as "precedence" in a bid to avail of the same subsidy "for free" based on a wish to emulate EEA member state treaties with the EU.

In all there are four different faculty heads from the UK interviewed and all of them admit two things - they are in for very lean times indeed and the net effect in terms of education will be that the UK must eventually follow US models in which research is paid for by private investors with potentially agenda-driven reasons for their investment and commercial rather than academic assessments of a return on this investment, and/or crowd-funding projects in which the "crowd is wowed" by sensationalist and educationally ignorant claims made on the researchers' behalf. It is acknowledged, even within the US, that either of these methods can lead in effect to intellectually profligate material that may even all too often end up in curricular educational text books posing as objective data, the very antithesis to education itself.

I think (and the article's authors suggest) that this process is already underway. Given the long-term nature of such investment with hard to define "proof" of success the very indication that the UK will voluntarily divorce itself from the infrastructure which sustained its (considerable) academic reputation and research facilities has been enough to stop it abruptly in its tracks and for good. The "replaced Britons" stupidity is as evident proof of this as one could wish to see.
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Sun 04 Mar 2018, 15:44

Regarding the article in the op, here's a link to the original publication.

When I see an newspaper feature of this type these days, all I usually do is try to access the research to see what it really is saying. The alleged 'archaeology' correspondents, like the 'science' ones, seem to behave like lazy students rushing to knock off an essay and read only the abstract and occasionally the discussion before producing their sexed up version.


As regards to your point, nordmann, regarding funding - too bloody true and what little there is goes into the very high profile projects like the black hole that is Stonehenge into which millions (literally) are poured annually. Some others such as the Ness of Brodgar seem to have tapped into a rich seam of private, largely American, cash. The other source of funding is developer funded archaeological evaluations before work starts and that has its own set of problems. Not just the occasional really dodgy stuff where the remains uncovered are hastily destroyed to avoid hold-ups (as well depicted in the sadly missed 'Detectorists') but the problems that can arise when everyone is behaving impeccably. Just this week I have been reading about just such an example. In a small Ayrshire village in an area with some significant prehistoric remains, before a fairly small development, the evaluation uncovered first a medieval village and then extensive, major, neolithic features. The developers paid up and the site was well excavated and recorded with its pit groups, stake-hole/post-hole-defined structures, gully-defined structures, a putative palisaded enclosure, burnt mound troughs, post-hole/pit arcs, and associated potentially ritualistic features such as a solitary very substantial pit, a large timber hall, and a possible kiln. Also present were a number of isolated features, mostly sterile pits and isolated stake-holes/post-holes and large quantities of pottery and lithics. The finds were packed away and put in storage, the development went ahead and since then - nothing. The developers had no money left, the excavation had already required them to commit a considerable amount of additional, unbudgeted-for money, to do the post excavation analysis, the extensive write-ups, interpretation and then submit for publication despite the archaeological services company's best efforts to raise the profile of the site in the press. They too are a commercial organisation and extremely lengthy professional services have to be paid for. This has now been largely forgotten for over ten years and does not appear in any detail even in the Grey Literature. This in what the papers at the time described as 'The longest, continuously inhabited settlement in Scotland'.

And it's worse now, there's no money for anything, even the almost free volunteer projects that district and county archaeologists ran and the service companies have little funding to do more than the very basic tasks. The universities (or their administrators) are hugely reluctant to put their hands in their pockets when it comes to funding this sort of thing which doesn't fit with the brave new world where their approved function is to delivery oven-ready fodder to feed  the 'real' economy.

And breathe.........
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PostSubject: Re: Ancient Britons "replaced" by European immigrants   Sun 04 Mar 2018, 19:27

Thanks for that link, ferv.

It appears to me that the paper does in fact step into the realm of controversy, though only gingerly with their big toe and not very deep, in that it more or less states that this genome-disparity has been noticed throughout Europe in the 3rd millennium BCE, that there it has been interpreted as a demographic shift and was down to migration, that Britain and Ireland match this time frame and pattern, and that therefore migration should not be discounted. Where it pulls its punches of course is in the "replacement" assertion the PR people came up with, and in fact concludes that their data should motivate further archaeological research into this and other possible scenarios accounting for the apparent suddenness of the phenomenon in archaeological terms.

The poor guys were actually trying to generate a stimulus for further archaeological research into this period in their toe-dipping exercise. Instead they led the university's PR people to announce to the Daily Mail that some past genocide had occurred at the hands of those pesky "Europeans".

The past ten years has seen a collapse in funding in Ireland also for properly completed archaeological research related to industrial/housing/infrastructure development. In Ireland it's a cross-border shared dilemma (one of those little things that brings us all together - bad political management) as this BBC news story from 2014 highlighted. From what I hear the problem has actually got worse since then - and after Brexit there may even be the added complication of NI having to "import" its own artefacts back again, should money ever be found to process them there of course, so maybe it will never happen.
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