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Where do we come from?

The peopling of Iberia over the last 8000 years.
27th August 2020
University Beacon Professor Clive Finlayson, Director of our Institute of Life and Earth Sciences, the Gibraltar National Museum and co-author of this major multidisciplinary and international study, talks to us about how this research has helped to trace the roots of present-day Iberians.
Published in the prestigious international journal Science, this study (led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Spain and also co-authored by University Research Fellow Dr Geraldine Finlayson, University Research Associate Dr Stewart Finlayson and Dr Francisco Giles-Guzmán, all of the Gibraltar National Museum), looked at the genetic roots of present–day Iberians. Analysing a genetic dataset spanning some 8000 years, the researchers extracted genome-wide data from 271 ancient Iberians, thereby providing a high-resolution time transect of the Iberian Peninsula.
The genetic contributions from Gibraltar came from one Neolithic skull, which was identified as female with ancestry from present-day Anatolia, as well as from three Bronze-Age skulls, all males and from the same cave, although not closely related.


Professor Clive Finlayson remarked “This is a really important study which has seen the first publication of ancient DNA from humans who lived in Gibraltar and which has provided the opportunity to compare ancient Iberian genomic information to historical records. The most impactful finding is the suggestion that the (Male) Y-Chromosome in Iberia was essentially completely replaced between 4,000 and 4,500 years ago by an influx from central Europe and the Russian Steppe during the Bronze Age. This throws up completely new insights which will have a significant impact on our understanding of our ancestral roots”.

Sitting from left to right: Francisco Giles-Guzmán, Geraldine Finlayson, Minister John Cortes, Clive Finlayson and Stewart Finlayson.

Article: The genomic history of the Iberian Peninsula over the past 8000 years by Olalde, S. Mallick, N. Patterson… C. Finlayson, G. Finlayson, S. Finlayson, F. Giles-Guzmán et al in Science.