British researchers claim to have found DNA in sediments near artificial islands in Scotland and Ireland dating back to 4,000 BC, suggesting these structures were once used by elites in ancient times.
The findings were described in a study, published Wednesday in the journal Antiquity, which focused on ancient man-made islands known as crannogs, which were built above lakes and used across the British Isles of the Neolithic period to the 16th century.
The researchers performed DNA analysis of samples found inside sediment cores obtained near crannogs using a process known as “sedaDNA”. The crannogs involved in the study were located around White Loch of Myrton in Scotland and Lough Yoan in Northern Ireland.
Evidence has shown that these crannogs were likely the power centers of these societies, used by the “high-ranking” members of this ancient society and replete with resources.
DNA belonging to cows, sheep and goats has been found in these sediments, suggesting that these animals were kept on the crannogs for food. Bone fragments were also found, indicating that animals may have been slaughtered there for feasts or ceremonies.
“Focusing more specifically on crannogs, the frequent identification of ‘high status’ activities and assets at some of these sites not only supports their role as places of protective custody of valuable resources, but also suggests a degree of ‘social exclusion combined with the display of power and wealth,’ the researchers wrote.
The researchers say the sediment cores also showed evidence of litter and pollution as a result of activities on these crannogs. Examination of pollen and plant data showed evidence of environmental changes related to deforestation to build crannogs and land clearing to raise cattle.
Evidence that the lakes were enriched in phosphorus and possibly nitrogen was also found. This suggests that the locals polluted the lakes with organic matter, such as human and animal waste.
The research team is already working on examining DNA samples from several crannogs. And although crannogs are only found in the British Isles, they say the sedaDNA tools and methodology they used may have further applications in examining other ancient habitation sites near plans. of water.
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