Coventry & Warwickshire

1,700-year-old African skeleton could be an ancestor

Skull discovered in Warwickshire
Image caption It is believed that the man regularly carried heavy loads

It is hoped a 1,700-year-old African skeleton unearthed in Warwickshire could provide data about the DNA history of later populations and the ethnic origin of modern Britons.

The male skeleton, thought to be of a Roman soldier, was found earlier this year in a Roman cemetery in Stratford.

Discovered by Archaeology Warwickshire, the skeleton is thought to belong to the county's earliest known African.

Further tests aim to determine the man's place of birth.

Archaeology Warwickshire's business manager Stuart Palmer said: "This is a very exciting and unexpected outcome."

He explained that DNA analysis of the skeleton could provide "invaluable" information about the ethnic origin of modern Britons.

Dental problems

The discovery revealed that people of African descent had been living in Warwickshire for much longer than was originally believed.

The man is thought to have been a Roman soldier who retired to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Mr Palmer added: "This new research may well provide the evidence we need to determine his place of birth and whether he contributed to the nation's gene pool."

Dr Hannes Schroeder, a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, is studying the origins of African slaves and will analyse the skeleton found in Warwickshire.

He hopes to find out where the man came from and other information, such as his diet.

It is not known how the man died, but it is clear that he suffered from several problems, including arthritis and dental issues.

Archaeology Warwickshire is part of Warwickshire County Council.

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