HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Science » Science (Group) » Incest uncovered at the e...

Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:13 PM

Incest uncovered at the elite prehistoric Newgrange monument in Ireland.

The paper I'll discuss in this post does not have the title of this post, but does have the title of the news item in the current issue of Nature referring to it. The paper is: A dynastic elite in monumental Neolithic society (Lara M. Cassidy, Ros Ó Maoldúin, Thomas Kador, Ann Lynch, Carleton Jones, Peter C. Woodman, Eileen Murphy, Greer Ramsey, Marion Dowd, Alice Noonan, Ciarán Campbell, Eppie R. Jones, Valeria Mattiangeli & Daniel G. Bradley Nature, Nature volume 582, pages 384–388 (2020))

Perhaps there would be less contempt for science such as we see rising in America if we could have more salacious titles like Trump's pal at the National Enquirer, the aptly named David Pecker, creates in his wide appeals to the preternaturally stupid.

Ignorance rules and ignorance kills.


Another news item, which is in Science , puts it this way:

wenty-five kilometers north of Dublin, a masterpiece of Stone Age engineering rises from the hills: a circular structure 12 meters high, almost the area of a U.S. football field, and made up of more than 200,000 tons of earth and stone. Some of the first farmers to arrive in Ireland erected this monument, called Newgrange, nearly 1000 years before Stonehenge or Egypt's first pyramids were built. Archaeologists have assumed it was a ceremonial site and communal tomb—an expression of an egalitarian society.

Now, DNA from a middle-aged man buried in 3200 B.C.E. at the center of this mighty mound suggests otherwise. His genes indicate he had parents so closely related they must have been brother and sister or parent and child.

Across cultures, incest is almost always taboo—except in inbred royal families. Its genetic traces at Newgrange suggest social hierarchy took hold in Ireland earlier than thought, according to a new study. “Maybe we've been arguing too far that [these people were] egalitarian,” says Jessica Smyth, an archaeologist at University College Dublin who was not part of the team.

Royal families...

It is notable that the First World War, which resumed after a brief interlude as the Second World War, arguably had some of its origins with inbreeding - Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna was both the second and third cousin of her husband, Nicolas II - with the result that their son, Alexis was born a hemophiliac, leading the Czarina to embrace the mystic Rasputin, who greatly influenced the Royal family, this at a time her husband was precipitating the World War. Who knows, a saner environment may have lead to a saner outcome; who knows.

Anyway, from the original paper's introduction:

Previous analyses of ancient genomes have demonstrated common ancestry between the societies of the Atlantic seaboard during the Neolithic7,8,9, while recent modelling of radiocarbon determinations has defined repeat expansions of megalithic architecture from northwest France at a pace that implies more advanced maritime technology than was previously assumed for these regions10. This includes the spread of passage tombs along the Atlantic façade during the fourth millennium BC—a period that also saw the arrival of agriculture in Ireland, alongside other distinct megalithic traditions. These structures reached some of the highest concentrations and diversities known for Europe on the island of Ireland. However, the political systems that underlay these societies remain obscure, as does the genetic input from indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

To investigate these issues, we shotgun-sequenced individuals dating to the Irish Mesolithic (n = 2) and Neolithic (n = 42) periods to a median 1.14× coverage (Fig. 1a, Supplementary Tables 1, 2). We imputed 43 of these individuals alongside relevant ancient genomes (Supplementary Table 3), including an additional 20 British and Irish individuals7,9,11. We then merged these individuals with a published dataset of imputed ancient genotypes12 to allow for fine-scale haplotypic inference of population structure13 and estimations of inbreeding. Four key individuals were subsequently sequenced to higher (13–20×) coverage.

We sampled remains from all of the major Irish Neolithic funerary traditions: court tombs, portal tombs, passage tombs, Linkardstown-type burials and natural sites (Fig. 1a, c, Supplementary Information section 1). Within this dataset, the earliest Neolithic human remains from the island—interred at Poulnabrone portal tomb14—are of majority ‘Early_Farmer’ ancestry (as defined by ADMIXTURE modelling15), and show no evidence of inbreeding (Fig. 1a, Extended Data Fig. 1), which implies that, from the very onset, agriculture was accompanied by large-scale maritime colonization...

...Overall, no increase in inbreeding is seen through time in Neolithic Ireland, which indicates that communities maintained sufficient size and communication to avoid matings between relatives of the fifth degree or closer (Fig. 1a). However, we report a single extreme outlier interred within the Newgrange passage tomb—a focal point of the monumental landscape of Brú na Bóinne, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization world heritage site (Fig. 2a). Incorporating over 200,000 tonnes of earth and stone, this megalithic mound is one of the most spectacular of its kind known from Europe16...

...The exceptional location of these remains is matched by a genomic heritage that—to our knowledge—is unprecedented in ancient genomics. He possessed multiple long runs of homozygosity, each comprising large fractions of individual chromosomes (Fig. 2e, Extended Data Fig. 3a), and totalling to a quarter of the genome (inbreeding coefficient = 0.25). This marks him as the offspring of a first-order incestuous union, which is a near-universal taboo for entwined biological and cultural reasons4. However, given the nature of the interment, his parentage was very likely to have been socially sanctioned...

Some pictures from the full text:

The caption:

a, Timeline of analysed Irish genomes with inbreeding coefficients are shown for those with sufficient coverage. All dates are direct and calibrated, excluding that for individual CAK534 (translucent). The key for the sample sites is given in c. The earliest widespread evidence of Neolithic activity (house horizon) is marked with a black line. The Irish Neolithic ends at about 2500 BC. NA, not applicable. b, Stable isotope values for samples from the Irish and British Neolithic (n = 292). The key for the Irish samples is given in c, and samples included in the ancient DNA analysis are outlined in black. British samples are shown as hollow shapes; black, Scotland; grey, England or Wales; circles, pre-3400 BC; squares, post-3400 BC. An infant with Down syndrome (PN07) is labelled; this individual showed isotope values consistent with a high trophic level. c, Site locations for Irish individuals sampled or included in this study coloured by burial type: yellow, court tomb; blue, portal tomb; green, Linkardstown-type; magenta, passage tomb and related; light pink, natural sites; and light blue, the unclassified Ballynahatty7 megalith. Sites outlined in black were included in ancient DNA analysis. d, ChromoPainter13 principal component (PC) analysis of individuals from the Atlantic seaboard of majority Early_Farmer ancestry (n = 57), generated using a matrix of haplotypic length-sharing. Passage tomb outliers in Fig. 2d are labelled. e, fineSTRUCTURE dendrogram derived from the same matrix as in d with five consistent clusters.

The caption:

a, Front elevation and interior of the Newgrange passage tomb. Photographs by Fáilte Ireland; Photographic Unit, National Monuments Service. b, Plan of chamber, redrawn after ref. 16. Scale bar, 6 m. c, The coefficient of relatedness (pi-HAT) between car004 (an interment from the central monument at Carrowmore)9, and 38 British and Irish Neolithic samples, with the top 5 hits labelled (CAK68 and CAK530 are equal in value). d, Average length of donated haplotypic chunks between all reciprocal pairs of the ‘passage tomb cluster’ (pink; n = 42) and ‘British–Irish cluster’ (grey; n = 1,190) as defined by fineSTRUCTURE in Fig. 1e. The highest values for passage-tomb-cluster pairs are marked along the x axis, with an excess of longer chunks shared between the inferred kin of car004 (CAK533, MB6 and NG10) in c. Darker lines link reciprocal donations. Combined symbols are used for inter-site pairs. e, A sliding window of heterozygosity is plotted for transversions along selected chromosomes of NG10, revealing extreme runs of homozygosity. Scale bar, 50 Mb.

a, Right, the maps show the estimates of shared drift between Irish and British or continental hunter-gatherers (HG) (jittered) from the Mesolithic and Upper Palaeolithic (triangles, Magdalenian culture). Left, the top ten hits with sufficient coverage are cross-compared with one another and with Irish hunter-gatherers in a heat map using the statistic f3(Mbuti; HG1, HG2), in which HG1 and HG2 represent all possible pairs. b, Short and long runs of homozygosity (ROH) spectra in modern and ancient genomes. Hollow shapes indicate direct (rather than imputed) diploid calls. For four Irish samples, both imputed and direct data are presented, showing close agreement. c, Normalized haplotypic length donations from hunter-gatherer populations to Neolithic individuals, arranged by their geographic region (labelled). The top three hunter-gatherer donors are outlined for each individual. Donor hunter-gatherer population colours are as in b; British and northwestern European hunter-gatherers are merged into one donor population (blue).

That the orange racist in the White House has expressed some grotesque - if, we assume, restrained, unnatural interest in his daughter of course doesn't make him royalty, no matter how much he channels Caligula and Nero. We'll have to look for some reason other than inbreeding to account for the intellectual disability of Eric and Don Jr., poor parental genes may be involved, given that their father is an idiot, coupled with poor upbringing in the complete absence of any trace of moral guidance.

Without placing too much emphasis on genetic reductionism, which I oppose, I am happy to think that my own father was quite a different species, at least where moral guidance was involved.

Be this all that it may, it is interesting that we can now sequence long dead individuals to understand something about their societies and social structure. With all due respect to Shakespeare, it does appear that while "The evil men do lives after them, the [evil] is also interred with their bones."

Pretty cool I think.

I wish all fathers out there, the happiest Father's Day. I hope to enjoy my two sons, one remotely, and reflect, with love and affection, on my own father, now long passed but very much alive in my heart.

2 replies, 782 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Incest uncovered at the elite prehistoric Newgrange monument in Ireland. (Original post)
NNadir Jun 19 OP
Loki Liesmith Jun 19 #1
NNadir Jun 19 #2

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri Jun 19, 2020, 08:31 PM

1. In Irish myth

The high king of Ireland has two wives: a mortal wife and the goddess/fairy Madb (Maeve). Maeve never died and each king in succession also had to marry her and sometimes have children with her. One presumes this tradition would have held even if she was their mother (and I believe in at least one instance just such a marriage was alleged).

Perhaps this legend is a call back to royal incest.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 19, 2020, 11:36 PM

2. Quite possibly. The full text in, if I recall one of the news items, indicates...

...that royal incest seemed to be sanctioned in a number of cultures, citing Hawaii, the Inca, and ancient Egypt.

If one thinks about it; this is a claim to genetic superiority, which, on a larger scale, translates into racism, as it is a claim, supported by no evidence, that some humans are intrinsically and superior solely on condition of birth.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread