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Genetic analysis reveals incest practices among Ireland’s prehistoric elite



Genetic analysis reveals incest practices among Ireland’s prehistoric elite


Scientists analyzed the remains of a man who was buried in Newgrange, an archaeological monument built more than 5,000 years ago in Ireland. Genome analysis of the remains of a Late Stone Age man found in one of the Newgrange tombsin Ireland, revealed cases of consanguinity among first-degree relatives of the social elite of that time.

“We all inherited two copies of the genome: one from our mother and one from our father,” he began to explain Lara Cassidya researcher at Trinity College Dublin and lead author of the study published this Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The expert stressed that, in this case, both “were extremely similar“, Which suggested a sign of incest. And “in fact, our analyzes allowed us to confirm that her parents were first degree relatives,” she added.

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Relationships of this kind, for example between brothers and sisters, are an almost universal taboo for cultural and biological reasons. Social acceptance of this situation has always been found among the elites, especially within a deified royal family. By breaking the rules, the elite separated themselves from the common people, intensifying the hierarchy and legitimizing their power.

An “extreme” hierarchy

“The prestige of the burial makes it very likely that it was a union accepted by society,” he said Dan Bradleyl, professor at the same Irish university. “This demonstrates such an extreme hierarchy that the only people worthy of the elite were members of their own family,” he adds.

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In addition to this discovery, the team found a network of family relationships between this man and other people from different parts of Ireland. “This appears to be a powerful group of distant relatives who have had access to elite burial sites in many regions of the island for at least 500 years,” concluded Cassidy.

Although Newgrange is even older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, not much is known about who was buried in this 200,000-ton archaeological monument or the Neolithic society that built it. more than 5,000 years ago.