Scientists have analyzed the remains of a man found inside a 5,200-year-old Irish tomb made out of stone. What they have discovered is absolutely terrifying: the man is actually the product of incest. DNA extracted from ancient remains of the person contains a ridiculously high number of repeated genes. Such a repletion means that his parents were either a parent and a child, or a brother and a sister. This study was led by two geneticists, Daniel Bradley and Lara Cassidy, and it was published in the academic journal Nature, on June 17.
This novel DNA discovery, combined with the enormous tomb, seems to indicate that leading families who held enough power to lead large building projects appeared among some of the early European farming communities. This seems to be a straightforward conclusion, but it is definitely a big find.
The bones of the man had previously been found in a passage tomb called Newgrange, which is an earthen mound that covers over 4,000 square meters near the river Boyne. Over there, you can find a rooftop opening in a 19-meter-long stone passage, thus allowing sunlight to reach very deep inside a chamber inside the actual mound, but only in some of the shortest days in the year. This led researchers to the conclusion that the structure could have had religious and astrological significance. There is the possibility of the structure being built this way to mark the new year in the most dramatic fashion possible. There is also the possibility that winter solstice ceremonies were carried out at the site, but we cannot know for sure with our current information.
Bradley and Cassidy led the team that studied the DNA from 44 individuals that were buried in a number of Irish tombs, with their graves dating back between 6,4600 and 4,500 years ago. It is only the Newgrange man, which was also interred in the most impressive structure, that had incest patterns in his DNA.
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