• gerard van weyenbergh

10,000 years ago, British were black!

Analysis of the skeleton of an individual who lived in the southwest of England ten thousand years ago showed that he had black skin, brown hair, and blue eyes, thus contradicting the idea that the first Britons were white and blond.

Named "Cheddar Man", this well-preserved skeleton discovered in 1903 in Cough Cave, near Cheddar's village in Somerset, underwent a comprehensive DNA analysis that allowed the faithful facial reconstruction of its owner who belonged to a group black-skinned human. Researchers eventually established that clear-skinned Europeans did not appear until around 4000 BCE. Due to genetic changes and to a change in diet, hunters moved to agriculture and a more sedentary life with climatic conditions different from those experienced by their ancestors from Africa.

"Cheddar Man" therefore, belonged to a group of individuals who came to Great Britain (we could then pass on foot between France and England) after having passed through Europe 14,000 years ago. According to researchers, 10% of Brits are said to be genetically linked to them. The skeleton analysis has enabled researchers to observe that immigrants' successive waves had reached the British Islands over the millennia.

Researchers were also able to find that humans were endowed with different pigmentations when they swarmed across Africa 300,000 years ago before arriving in Europe 250,000 years later.

It may be recalled that the study of the fossil of a 7000-year-old individual found in Spain had already suggested that he had dark skin and blue eyes, whereas until now, we had remained in doubt concerning humans living during the Mesolithic period in Great Britain where the study of more recent skeletons showed that they belonged to farmers from the Near East, some of whom already had fair skin.

Adrian Darmon for artcult.com