At myDNA.global we combine science with history to create the full picture of your past. Genetics, phylogeography, archaeology and historical analysis, along with an understanding of human behaviour and response to major historical events are pulled together for the first time… Here is an example of how DNA analysis can shed light on the deep past.
In a glacier high in the Alps near the border between Italy and Austria, a mummy was found perfectly preserved in the ice. In September 1991 two German tourists, Erika and Helmut Simon, at first thought they had found a modern corpse. Eventually nicknamed Ötzi, the body was, in fact, dated to around 3,300BC. Amazingly, much of the man's clothing and equipment had survived intact for more than 5,000 years. He had been killed in a violent manner, probably by a blow to the head, and his forearm was freeze-framed in a protective position across his neck and face. Very soon after he was left for dead, and the ice buried him.
In 2011 scientists were able to sequence Ötzi's whole genome and the results were published in 2012. They offered fascinating insights. His Y chromosome was found to be in the G group of lineages, but very surprisingly, he shared his Y chromosome DNA with what has been extracted from 26 other ancient skeletons. These men were all farmers, amongst the earliest to bring farming techniques to Europe. This was the greatest revolution in human history but – because of its great antiquity – its spread and origins are not well understood. Men with Ötzi's G group DNA appear to have been incomers, men who brought the new way of life and its techniques into Europe. They appear to have taken native women for partners and what their DNA shows is that the introduction of farming was an event as well as a process.
New people brought new knowledge about how to feed ourselves; how to plant, tend and harvest crops, how to domesticate and manage animals and how to change the landscape to accommodate a different way of living.
Ötzi's DNA appears to have come from close to where he died. A comparison with 1,300 contemporary Europeans indicated close genetic affinities with Southern Europeans and in particular, the inhabitants of the Tyrrhenian islands of Corsica and Sardinia. Reaching across millennia, DNA can show how the mummy found in the ice and the first farmers to cultivate crops and milk animals in Europe have modern descendants, some of whom have been found in Britain and Ireland.
Many waves of immigration followed the end of the last ice age and the introduction of farming, right up to recent times. Consequently Britain and Ireland is now a nation of men and women of tremendously diverse origins. This richness can be measured by DNA testing and, by using an aggregate of many individual stories, a genetic map of Britain and Ireland can at last be drawn. And finally, with your help, two central questions can be answered; where do we all come from and who are we?