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North African Ancestry Detected in Medieval Remains in Spain

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND—According to a statement released by the University of Huddersfield, researchers have analyzed the genome of an individual whose remains were discovered in an eleventh-century Islamic necropolis located in southeastern Spain. The study suggests his ancestors had migrated from North Africa to southeastern Spain, where they mixed with local people. Known as the Segorbe Giant for his height, the man carried specific North African lineages on both his Y chromosome, inherited from his father, and his mitochondrial DNA, inherited from his mother, indicating that he was descended from a Berber population. Local Spanish ancestry was detected in the rest of his chromosomes, and chemical analysis of his bones suggests he grew up in the area where he was buried. Team member Martin Richards explained that modern people in the Valencia region carry little to none of such Berber heritage in their genes, reflecting the Christian reconquest of Spain and the resettlement of people from further north in the region. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Scientific Reports. To read about a twelfth-century Islamic bathhouse found in Seville, go to "Bathing at the Bar."

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