DNA detectives crack the case of the 2,000-year-old corpse

DNA analysis showed that this young man travelled to Cambridgeshire from the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ag

Skeleton in an excavation site.
DNA detectives crack the case of the 2,000-year-old corpse

How did a young man born 2,000 years ago near what is now southern Russia end up in the English countryside?

DNA sleuths have retraced his steps while shedding light on a key episode in the history of Roman Britain.

Research shows that the skeleton found in Cambridgeshire is of a man from a nomadic group known as Sarmatians.

It is the first biological proof that these people came to Britain from the furthest reaches of the Roman empire and that some lived in the countryside.

The remains were discovered during excavations to improve the A14 road between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

The scientific techniques used will help reveal the usually untold stories of ordinary people behind great historical events.

They include reading the genetic code in fossilised bone fragments that are hundreds of thousands of years old, which shows an individual’s ethnic origin.

Dr Marina Silva extracts the ancient DNA
DNA detectives crack the case of the 2,000-year-old corpse
Dr Marina Silva extracted the ancient DNA and then made sense of its genetic code

Archaeologists discovered a complete, well-preserved skeleton of a man, which they named Offord Cluny 203645, a combination of the Cambridgeshire village he was found in and his specimen number. He was buried by himself without any personal possessions in a ditch, so there was little to go on to establish his identity.

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