Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Genome Of An 11th Century Man Buried In A Muslim Necropolis In Spain

The genetics of an 11th century man buried in a Muslim necropolis in Spain what you would expect: a typical Berber North African with a weak Iberian autosomal genetic pull.

But, the general background and context of this Islamic era of Spanish history are ultimately more helpful to someone unfamiliar with the period (which is mostly why I am choosing to blog this otherwise unexceptional find). 

It isn't entirely clear what languages this person who have spoken most often. The main candidates would be a now extinct North African Romance language descended from the local variant of Latin known as African Latin, Medieval Spanish or Catalan, a Berber language, or Arabic, with probabilities in roughly that order.

During the Umayyad Caliphate between 711 and 1031, the Arabs remained a minority in the Iberian Peninsula. The Berbers from North Africa formed the vast majority of the Muslim troops that entered Europe. They were converted to Islam by the Arabs in previous centuries. After the Catholic reconquest which ended in 1492, a large population of Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism remained in the Iberian Peninsula before being relocated to North Africa in 1609 for a good third of them. 
Marina Silva and her colleagues have just published a paper entitled: Biomolecular insights into North African ‑ related ancestry, mobility and diet in eleventh ‑ century Al ‑ Andalus. They sequenced the genome of an individual from the Muslim necropolis of Plaza del Almudín in Segorbe located near Valencia in eastern Spain. This individual was nicknamed the giant by archaeologists because of its estimated size between 1.84m and 1.90m.

From Bernard's Blog translated by Google

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