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Late Minoan tombs points way to early European migration

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“Dr Ceiridwen Edwards and PhD student George Foody were permitted to take bone samples and teeth from over 110 of the more than 600 skeletons discovered in the Necropolis, a rock-hewn burial site from the Late Minoan period dating to more than 4,000 years ago. During their two-week visit, the Huddersfield researchers – part of a team that included colleagues from Oxford University and the Hellenic Archaeological Research Foundation – also took DNA swabs from more than 100 contemporary Cretans. They sought people whose grandmothers were from Crete in order to analyse links to the Minoan period.

When the ancient DNA samples are compared with those of modern Cretans, there is the potential to find solutions to many issues surrounding the ancient migration of people and culture to an island where the Bronze Age Minoans and their successors the Mycenaeans laid foundations for later European civilisation and culture.

“The Minoans are one of Europe’s earliest civilisations and research will affect the interpretation of a number of fields – archaeological, historical and social,” said George Foody.

For example, fresh light could be thrown on the migration of the Mycenaeans to Crete, and on the origins of the early script known as Linear B. Also, the DNA analysis might establish family relationships between the occupants of the tombs, and it might be possible to establish the presence of a high status dynasty.

“We are trying to establish family relationships within the necropolis itself, as well as see how the site compares to other Minoan sites, and compare it to sites in mainland Greece,” added Mr Foody.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-late-minoan-tombs-early-european.html