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5 May 2009
A link between ancient Wales and the Mediterranean?

Welsh people are needed for DNA tests to prove their distant ancestors moved from the Mediterranean to north west Wales as migrant workers 4,000 years ago. Participants will be asked for a cheek swab sample for genetic analysis. Researchers at the University of Sheffield hope to link the migration of men in the Bronze Age to the discovery of copper.
     The metal was found at both Parys Mountain on Anglesey, and on the Great Orme at Llandudno, Conwy. The researchers are building on previous work carried out in the area which found a much higher-than-average presence of a DNA marker that is commonly found in people from the Balkans and Spain. "The more men we get the better as the previous work involved only a handful of people. Really we need figures into the hundreds," said Dr Bob Johnston, from the research team. "If it does turn out that there is a distinctive genetic signature we can find where they came from, and if it is genuinely from the Mediterranean we can find when they got here," said Dr Johnston. "After finding when the workers came here the researchers will then be able to discover what skills they bought with them," he added.
     Despite the evidence still being traceable it is unlikely that the population in north west Wales will look Mediterranean however. "It was probably only a small number, and it was 4,000 years ago, so the actual physical looks is not there any more," said Dr Johnson. Parys Mountain is one of only three sites in Wales which have evidence of copper mining during the Bronze and Roman Ages.

Source: BBC News (20 April 2009)

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