Findings of new ancestral links are always fascinating. As we gain more knowledge of how individuals lived centuries ago, we are sure to learn specific details of how connected we are to those who lived before us.
New information released on Wednesday suggests that first generation Britons were dark-skinned. A detailed DNA analysis of a fossil named “Cheddar Man” concluded the findings. Cheddar Man was said to have lived after settlers moved from continental Europe to Britain at the end of the ice age.
Cheddar Man’s remains were initially exhumed in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England in 1903. In 1996, Bryan Sykes – Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University analyzed DNA extracted from Cheddar Man’s molars; he also analyzed a 12,000-year-old tooth found in the same cave as Cheddar Man. It was ascertained that Cheddar Man belonged to Haplogroup U5. According to The Guardian, 10 percent of Britain’s population belong to the aforementioned group.
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A further investigation by Tom Booth – an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum along with a team assigned to the project uncovered the deeper truth of Cheddar Man’s lineage. Booth commented, “It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all.” British is often synonymous with Anglo-Saxon heritage. Nevertheless, Yoan Diekmann another member of the project confirmed by stating being White and British is “not an immutable truth. It has always changed and will change.”
The team of investigators were able to gather the conclusive DNA findings by drilling a hole in the skull of Cheddar Man and extracting the DNA material from the powder residue of the skull. The testing was specific to DNA markers of skin color, hair color and texture, and eye color. Cheddar Man was determined to be African and having possibly emigrated to the Middle East and then into Europe before finally arriving in England. The testing also eliminated Cheddar Man’s relation to the dwellers of Gough’s Cave.
The current findings will surely open the door to even more discoveries. Black history is truly worldwide.