DNA analysis from the 12th century reveals the hidden roots of modern genetic diseases

Researchers also suggested that their study challenges the previous view that disease-related variants associated with Ashkenazi Jewish populations only became more common in the past 600 years.

As reported in The Independent, scientists from the Natural History Museum, University College London, Mainz and Cambridge Universities, and the Francis Crick Institute, conducted an analysis of the remains of six of the people discovered at Norwich.

The findings indicate that four of the probable victims were relatives, including three young sisters (aged 5-10 years, 10-15 years, and a young adult). They also may point to widespread fatalities from famine, disease, or murder.

Dr. Selina Brace, a principal researcher at the Natural History Museum and lead author of the paper, said: “I’m delighted and relieved that 12 years after we first started analyzing the remains of these individuals, technology has caught up and helped us to understand this historical cold case of who these people were and why we think they were murdered.”

Co-author Professor Mark Thomas, of University College London, said: “It was quite surprising that the initially unidentified remains filled the historical gap about when certain Jewish communities first formed, and the origins of some genetic disorders.”

It’s hard to say what exactly happened – yet

Jewish communities have suffered genocides throughout history.

According to the study, the findings are consistent with these people being victims of a historically recorded antisemitic massacre in Norwich on February 6, 1190 AD by local crusaders and their supporters.

Dr. Tom Booth, the senior research scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “Ralph de Diceto’s account of the 1190 AD attacks is evocative, but a deep well containing the bodies of Jewish men, women, and especially children forces us to confront the real horror of what happened.”

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