Monday, March 4

The oldest genealogical tree is thanks to the DNA of some Neolithic tombs of 5,700 years ago

After studying the DNA of the bones and teeth of 35 individuals buried in a Neolithic tomb, they have succeeded in reproducing the genealogical tree of those who lived there. An investigation that explains how they lived and related in the Neolithic, in addition to becoming the oldest genealogical tree in the world, belonging to an extensive family that lived approximately 5,700 years ago, between 3,700 and 3,600 BC.

The grave is located in Great Britain. It is the Hazleton North burial mound, very well preserved. A team made up of archaeologists from the University of Newcastle and geneticists from the University of the Basque Country have found 27 close biological relatives, revealing that most of the people in that tomb belonged to an extended family, spread over five generations.

Descendants of four women with the same man

The genealogical tree of this ancient family reveals that they are descendants of four women, who had children with the same man. This study, published in the journal Nature, details how families were structured in the Neolithic and how the shape of family trees has changed since then, more vertical today.

The tomb consists of two L-shaped chambers. After their death, the individuals were buried inside these chambers. Thanks to DNA and the family tree it is now known that men were generally buried with their father and male brothers. This is not the case with women. This shows that the next generations in the tomb were linked to the first generation through men.

If we look at the women, the researchers explain that two of the daughters of the lineage who died in infancy were buried there as well, but there are no adult daughters. This leads to think that by the time women reached reproductive age they left the family of origin or that their bodies were buried in the tomb of the men with whom they had had children.

Inigo Olalde

Iñigo Olalde, Ikerbasque researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU) and head of the research geneticist.

The family tree and the location of the remains also shows some complexities. Depending on the first-generation woman from whom they descended, individuals were buried in the north or south., which means that the mother of origin was significant in the memory of the community.

Were "four geeks" of genealogy, now there are millions and they are helping us understand the genetics of lengthening life

There are also indications that the “stepchildren” were adopted into the family line. Among the remains, eight had no biological relatives to the rest, reinforcing the idea that being a relative was not the only criterion for being buried there.

“This study offers us unprecedented insight into the kinship of a Neolithic community,” explains Dr Chris Fowler, head of archeology at the University of Newcastle.

The excellent preservation of DNA in the tomb and the use of the latest technologies for the recovery and analysis of ancient DNA They have allowed us to discover and analyze the oldest genealogical tree ever built, and thus understand more fully the social structure of these groups “, explains Iñigo Olalde, geneticist at the University of the Basque Country.

More information | Nature