An international team of scientists sequenced the genome of an individual who lived in the 11th century in medieval Muslim Spain (Al Ándalus) and whose remains were found in 1999 in the town of Segobre, located about 30 kilometers to the north. of the Spanish city. of Valencia, near the Mediterranean coast.
The skeleton, nicknamed by archaeologists ‘the giant of Segorbe’ Due to his unusual height of 190 centimeters – an enormous stature for the time – he was found in a Muslim necropolis and later identified as a descendant of the Berbers of North Africa through osteological analysis.
A genetic study then confirmed this identification and found that the two direct lines of the individual – both paternal and maternal – they were African. At this stage of the investigation, it was possible to conclude that he was a descendant of recent immigrants who was not genetically related to the local population.
However, a more detailed analysis has shown that the situation is more complex. Outside of the hotlines, the “giant” had a considerable percentage of Iberian ancestry, more than half of the total. In addition, stable isotope analysis showed that grew up in the area. Taken together, this evidence indicated that the individual came from an established community that had mingled with the local population.
But the most surprising was that the individual presented a great genetic difference with the contemporary population of Valencia, whose Berber heritage is little or not at all. Behind this difference could be a political decision which violently changed the demographic landscape of the region in 1609..
“The decree of expulsion of the Moors of the region of Valence, that is to say of Muslims who had already forcibly converted to Christianity, was followed by the resettlement of people further north, who had little Maghrebian ancestry, which transformed genetic variation in the region ”, explains one of the study’s authors, Gonzalo Oteo-García, quoted in a press release from the University of Huddersfield (United Kingdom) published on Thursday.
“The impact of this dramatic change on the population, the result of a brutal political decision hundreds of years ago, can finally be observed directly through ancient DNA, as seen here in the ancestry of the “giant of Segorbe” and his contemporaries “, says his colleague, Marina Silva.
The study first appeared in the journal Nature Scientific Reports last Monday.
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