A DNA analysis uncovers the mystery of 17 bodies found in a medieval well

search 17 bodies in an 800-year-old well In Norwich, England In 2004, it surprised a group of workers who were working on the construction of a shopping mall. Scientists argued for years about the origin of the corpses and the circumstances surrounding it. thanks now a DNA analysisOne answer appears to shed light on the matter.

Archaeologists have long wondered why the remains of six adults and 11 children ended up so strangely in that medieval well. The main reason for astonishment is that the bodies were mixed, probably because they were thrown over the head soon after death. However, this scenario is in contrast to the mass burials of that time.

scientific progress in Ancient DNA Sequencing allowed to withdraw genetic material preserved in bones Tried to throw light on the questions. Genome results showed that four of them were related, including three sisters and the youngest was between five and ten years old. A later study suggested that all six were “almost certainly” Ashkenazi Jewsas published cnn.com

From the latest studies, researchers believe that all 17 died during a Anti-Semitic riot in February 1190while doing third crusade Promoted by the Catholic Church. Action against several communities exploded at that time and led to a massacre, the number of victims of which is uncertain.

This is a digital reconstruction of one of the adults found in a medieval well.
This is a digital reconstruction of one of the adults found in a medieval well.cnn.com

Selina Brace, a senior research fellow at the Natural History Museum in London and author of the paper, highlighted the findings. “I am delighted and relieved that 12 years after we began analyzing the remains of these people, technology has helped us understand it. unresolved historical case“, she claimed.

Investigators found that the bodies were of Ashkenazi Jews because their specific genetic lineage, such as the presence of certain markers for specific genetic disorders. The scientists cited Tay-Sachs disease, which is usually fatal in childhood.

According to work published in the journal current biologyThe people found at Norwich Well had a genetic ancestry similar to that of today’s Ashkenazi Jews, who are descendants of medieval populations located in Northern and Eastern Europe.

Evolutionary geneticist and study co-author Mark Thomas, a professor University College London, in this sense contributed to an important aspect. “Nobody had analyzed ancient Jewish DNA before” Prohibition of disturbances in Jewish graves, However, we did not know that they were probably Jewish until after we did the genetic test,” he explained.

“It was quite surprising that the initially unknown remains were filled with historical vacuum That’s when certain Jewish communities first formed and some genetic disorders originated,” he said.

The accuracy of the data they were able to collect allowed the researchers to estimate physical characteristics of a small child Found in the well Based on DNA analysis, he was likely to have blue eyes and red hair, in keeping with historical stereotypes of the European Jew.

The publication details references to anti-Semitic violence that could have killed 17 people found within the framework of the crusade. Along these lines, he specified that actions were taken against specific communities before going to Jerusalem.

A digital reconstruction of the face of one of the children was found.
A digital reconstruction of the face of one of the children was found.cnn.com

“Many of those who hurried to Jerusalem They decided to rise first against the Jews before invading the Saracens., As a result, February 6 [en 1190 d. C.] All the Jews who were in their homes in Norwich were slaughtered; Some had taken refuge in the palace”, the investigators elaborated.

Until now, the Norwich Massacre was depicted in a medieval manuscript. History Images II. There, historian Ralph di DeSetto gives a detailed account of the massacre, which served as the basis for historical research.

The well where the bodies were found was located in a Jewish neighborhood in the Middle Ages. The researchers indicated that the community in that area of ​​Norwich City had descendants. Ashkenazi Jews from Rouen, Normandywho was invited by William the ConquerorWho invaded England in 1066.

anyway, andl link to anti-Jewish riot 1190 is not conclusive. Doubts are still emerging which need to be cleared.

studies of radiocarbon dating indicated that the bodies were thrown into the well Between 1161 and 1216, many years after the rebellion and in another context. That period coincides with several documented episodes of anti-Semitic violence in England, but also includes The Great Rebellion of 1174, when many people were killed in Norwich. That year King Henry II faced an unsuccessful rebellion by his three sons.

Tom Booth, a researcher at the Francis Crick Institute, argued that, beyond doubt, the findings provide insight into the analysis. “Our study shows how effective new scientific techniques like archaeology, and especially ancient DNA, can be in providing new insight About historical events.

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