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Dec 29, 2015 10:20 AM EST

Ancient Irish Genomes Indicate Multiple Migrations from Different Peoples

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A team of researchers sought to explain the Irish's origins by sequencing the genomes of four individuals some thousands of years old.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study detailed the Irish people's interesting origins. For example, one Irishwoman the researchers examined likely came from the Middle East.

"There was a great wave of genome change that swept into Europe from above the Black Sea into Bronze Age Europe and we now know it washed all the way to the shores of its most westerly island, and this degree of genetic change invites the possibility of other associated changes, perhaps even the introduction of language ancestral to western Celtic tongues," study lead author Dan Bradley, a professor of population genetics at Trinity College in Dublin, said in a press release.

According to The Washington Post, the female farmer had black hair and dark eyes, but was just one of several migrants that made their way to Ireland. She lived about 5,000 years ago and preceded a large migration to Ireland by about 1,000 years.

One indicator of Ireland experiencing multiple migrations from different places in the world is how easily the people transitioned from hunting and gathering to the use of tools with metal and stone. Coming up with new ways to do things would take much longer than if the ideas were introduced by incomers.

Eileen Murphy, a senior lecturer in osteoarchaeology at Queen's University Belfast and a co-author on the study, said in the release: "It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish."

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