A Beaker pot (Photo: Hewa)Almost the entire British population was replaced by newcomers about 4500 years ago. A study analysing DNA from ancient human remains has shown that only around 10% of the ancestry of modern Britons (those who are descended mainly from the ethnic groups that settled in Britain in and before the 11th century) can be traced back to the people who inhabited Britain before that time. The newcomers are known as the “Beaker people”, after the bell-shaped pots they made. Beaker people have been excavated from graves in Britain for many years, but, until now, it was not known whether they were natives or newcomers. Now, as a result of an international project involving hundreds of scientists and archaeologists, we know the answer. Using samples from more than 400 skeletons from across Europe, the researchers have shown that the Beaker people had different genes from the native population. They were part of a new wave of migration that swept across the continent.
Amesbury Archer grave on display (Photo: Pasicles)The study included remains of 155 individuals who lived in Britain between 6000 and 3000 years ago. Among them was the skeleton of the Amesbury Archer, who was buried near Stonehenge in around 2300 BC. Buried with him were five beakers, gold hair ornaments, an archery wrist guard and a dagger. DNA analysis proves he was a Beaker man from central Europe.
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