How did a man born 2,000 years ago in Russia end up dead in the U.K.? DNA solves the mystery.

A man born 2,000 years ago in Russia ended up buried in England — and researchers think they’ve finally figured out how, thanks to DNA. Scientists from London’s Francis Crick Institute, Durham University in England, and MOLA Headland Infrastructure, a consortium of two U.K. archaeology companies, worked together to determine the globe-trotting history of a skeleton found in 2017. The remains, found during a MOLA Headland Infrastructure excavation in Cambridgeshire, were buried near a rural farmstead. However, the man, known as Offord Cluny 203645, may have come from thousands of miles away, the scientists said in research published in Current Biology . Archaeologists excavate the Offord Cluny 203645 burial. MOLA Headland Infrastructure The DNA analysis was conducted as part of a project on ancient genomes in Great Britain, led by the ancient genomics laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute. Marina Soares de Silva, a postdoctoral fellow researching in the laboratory, said in a news release from the institute that she and her fellow researchers “began by extracting and sequencing ancient DNA from the bone of the individual’s inner ear,” noting that that was the spot that was best preserved. Ancient DNA is “very fragmented and damaged,” Soares de Silva said, but the team was “able to sequence enough of his DNA to get good quality,” and compare it to other samples of ancient individuals. “The first thing we saw was that genetically he was very different to the other Romano-British individuals studied so far,” Soares de Silva said. “In fact, our analysis showed that he had common ancestors with previously studied individuals from the Caucasus and Sarmatian groups.” The Sarmatians were a nomadic people who spoke Iranian and were renowned horse riders who lived in the area that would become modern-day Southern Russia and Ukraine, according to the release. […]

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By Donato