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.
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.
Dr. Marina Silva of the Ancient Genomics Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London extracted and decoded Offord’s ancient DNA from a tiny bone taken from his inner ear, which was the best preserved part of the entire skeleton.