If you want to discover your genetic history and where you came from... you’ve found the right place!

888-806-2588

review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

Richard III's New Winter of Discontent

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shakespeare painted the last of the York rulers of England as a murderous maniac who was rightly dispatched to hell by Henry Tudor in 1485. But the story of Richard III's skeleton supposedly dug up last year in a parking lot may top that of the Bard for pulling the wool over our eyes. Or it may be the luckiest archeological find since King Tut . . . . 

The last of the York dynasty was buried in Greyfriars, Leicester, but Britons are now talking about re-interring the bones believed to be Richard's in Westminster Cathedral with England's other beloved monarchs. In 2012, a writer from Edinburgh, Philippa Langley, was walking over a particular spot in the municipal parking lot when she got goosebumps and "absolutely knew I was walking on his grave." Langley helped fund an archeological excavation and on February 4, 2013, the University of Leicester confirmed that a skeleton found in the excavation was, "beyond reasonable doubt," that of Richard III, based on a combination of evidence from radiocarbon dating, comparison with contemporary reports of his slight frame, and a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with two matrilineal descendants of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York. 

Hunches and Hunchbacks

According to a BBC article, “Richard III: The Twisted Bones that Reveal a King,” the skeleton had a “striking curvature” that could only be that of the hunchback king. But according to a Daily Beast article, “Unraveling King Richard III’s Secrets,” Shakespeare wrote a century after the fact and had a pro-Tudor, anti-York political agenda. “Portraits made after his defeat that show Richard with a hump- or at least uneven shoulders- are suspect as Tudor propaganda.” There is no historical evidence of Richard III having a “striking curvature” of the spine. Or even “uneven shoulders.”  There is no evidence beyond Shakespeare of his deformity. In fact, there is historical evidence to the contrary. The article, “Richard’s Comeback,” quotes the historian, Thomas More, as saying Richard III was of “bodily shape comely enough, onely (sic) of low stature.” The Countess of Desmond reported that, at a royal ball, Richard was the ‘“handsomest man in the room . . . except for his brother, Edward, and was very well made." 

Despite historical evidence, most articles that discuss remaining doubts about the case like, “Doubts Remain that the Leicester body is Richard III,” miss this point and take it as a historical fact that Richard III had scoliosis as does the skeleton that has been found in the parking lot.

What of historical depictions of Richard III’s face? “No portraits made during his lifetime have survived  and some later copies show signs of having been altered to make him appear more sinister” (“ Richard III: The Twisted Bones”). Nevertheless, a 3D scan of the skull was taken, and a 3D face created and painted. Ashdown –Hill is quoted as telling the BBC in the article, “Richard III Facial Reconstruction Reveals Slain King More than 500 Years After His Death,”that it “largely matched” the “prominent features” in posthumous representations of the king. The artist, Janine Aitken said her part was “interpretive not scientific.” At least it is a pleasant face. But is it Richard III’s face?

Jumping to Forensic Conclusions

And the skeleton includes 10 battle wounds showing Richard III “met a violent death…”eight to the head and two to the body—which they believe were inflicted at or around the time of death. Since he died in a battle, did not other soldiers meet untimely wounds in such a manner?

Not a few scientists are waiting for peer-reviewed results. But there are none. Instead of waiting for a boring academic conference, the sponsors at the Richard III Society chose to release the results via a Hollywood style press conference. 

What kind of DNA analysis was used? Mitochondrial DNA. According to Bryony Jones in his CNN article, “Body Found under Parking Lot is King Richard III, Scientists Prove,” “the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct descendant of Richard III’s sister, Anne of York, and a second distant relative who wishes to remain anonymous.” Well, end of story and close that book. Right? Not so fast. Some scientists believe that the testing done was not sufficient. Why?

Mitochondrial DNA has limitations. It does reflect the deepest ancestry [see The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes], but is also prone to contamination [under such circumstances]( Pappas). Especially when we are discussing skeletons reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead interred improperly for centuries in damp soil. Timothy Bestor, Professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center, is quoted in the NY Academy of Sciences article, “Skeletal Remains of King Richard III Reportedly Discovered,” as saying that the possible quality of the [mitochondrial] DNA [under the given circumstances] was one of his key reasons for skepticism. “’After 500 years or more in a wet environment like England’s, “‘the microbes are going to degrade the DNA. It’s just food to them, ‘” says Dr. Bestor.  And Pappas quotes Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum as saying, “The DNA results presented today are too weak, as they stand, to support the claim that [the] DNA [sample] is actually from Richard III…more in depth DNA analysis summed to the archaeological and osteological [bone analysis] results would make a round story [She is requesting Autosomal DNA analysis akin to what was done with the hominin discovery of the Denisovans].”  And she wonders about contamination with the type of DNA testing that was done. Avila says that, “Before being convinced of ANY atDNA study, it should be explicit that all possible cautions were taken to avoid contamination” and … “ also warned that people could share mitochondrial DNA even if they share a family tree” ( Pappas). The article, “Doubts Remain that the Leicester Body is Richard III,” a Mark Thomas at University College London is quoted as saying that “people can have matching mitochondrial DNA by chance and not be related.”

And Bestor asserts there other reasons to be skeptical, even though “Richard Buckley, lead archeologist from the University of Leicester, asserts ‘“this is beyond reasonable doubt’” based on genetic and historical forensic evidence.” Bestor argues that beyond the high risk of sample contamination, there are three other “particularly complicating factors.”  Of course, it is often an overlooked fact that “the English aristocracy reproduced within a closed gene pool in order to preserve lineages. This inbreeding results in consanguinity” (“Skeletal Remains of King Richard III”).  Dr. Bestor is quoted as saying, “ You may have the same mitochondrial haplotype, but that does not guarantee a lineal descent from a given individual.” [ Mitochondrial DNA analysis is not the same as Y haplotype DNA analysis because it focuses on deeper ancestry whereas male haplotype DNA analysis is linked to more recent male lines ]. He also points out the possibility of adoption. [The possibility of an adoption or any type of non-paternity event increases as one delves back into the distant past of any family tree]:

Another confounding factor is that, in the 17-25 generations separating King Richard’s sister from her extant relatives, there is a fair chance that children of deceased parents’ may have been adopted by their parents’ siblings somewhere along the way. After all, medieval lives were short. Such adoptions may have been kept private and excluded from historical or genealogical records. 

              

Moreover, Bestor points out that the “genetic sequences and statistical data are yet to be released” but adds that the “historical evidence is quite compelling.” According to this article, forensic evidence of the bones (1455-1540)matches with the time that Richard III was to have died ( 1485). But didn’t many people die at this same time during the same battle with similar wounds?

Astonishing or Unbelievable? Watch the University of Leicester's Full Press Conference 

Comments

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.





Captcha Image

 

 

When Wales Was Jewish

Monday, April 02, 2012

Short answer: pre-Roman times.

As is well known, Haplogroup E1b1b1 accounts for approximately 18% to 20% of Ashkenazi and 8.6% to 30% of Sephardic Y-chromosomes. This North African type appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.[i]

In Britain, this quintessential Jewish type (together with J, another telltale sign of Middle Eastern roots) is absent or negligible in many towns and regions but reported in elevated frequencies in Wales (Llanidloes 7%, Llangefni 5%), the Midlands (Southwell, Nottinghamshire 12%, Uttoxeter 8%), Faversham in Kent (9%), Dorchester in the West Country with historic harbors (7%), Midhurst in West Sussex commanding ancient sea-ports (5%)  and the Channel Islands, always an important crossroads of influences (5%).[ii] Bryan Sykes’ survey of paternal clans in England and Wales confirms significant traces of the E haplogroup which he dubs Eshu in southern England (4.9%) and Wales (3.1%).[iii] It reaches its highest point in Britain in Abergele, Wales (nearly 40%), an anomaly that has been attributed to Roman soldiers of Balkan origin but may have alternative and more complex explanations.

See our blog post "Right Church, Wrong Pew," arguing that the footprint of E in Britain is attributable to North African influence, not the descendants of Roman legionnaires from the Balkans.

In 2011, Llangefni  and Wrexham in North Wales became the focus of a call for local men to provide samples of their unusual DNA. A team of scientists lead by Andy Grierson and Robert Johnston from the University of Sheffield hoped to link the migration of men from the Mediterranean to the copper mined at Parys Mountain on Anglesey and on the Great Orme promontory nearby. A preliminary analysis of 500 participants showed 30% of the men carried E1b1b, compared to 1% of men elsewhere in the United Kingdom.[iv]

Significantly, Welsh tradition associates the Iron Age hilltop town on Conwy Mountain known as Castell Caer Seion with a settlement of ancient Jews. This site overlooks Conwy Bay on the north coast of Wales and lies on the ancient road between Prestatyn in Denbighshire and Bangor in Gwynedd opposite Angelsey.  In the Black Book of Caermarthen, the Welsh national bard Taliesin casually remarks in the persona of the battling hero,

When I return from Caer Seon,

From contending with Jews,

I will come to the city of Lleu and Gwidion.[v]

Lleu and Gwidion are the names of two other legendary figures; they are believed to be historical and to have lived in the early centuries of the Common Era or anterior to it.

It is hard to avoid the thought that the hilly area to the west of the town of Conwy, in North Wales was once inhabited by Jews.


[i] A. Nebel et al, "The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East", American Journal of Human Genetics69.5(2001) 1095–1112. [ii] C. Capelli et al, “A Y Chromosome Census of the British Isles,”  Current Biology 13 (2003) 979–984. [iii] Bryan Sykes, Saxons, Vikings and Celts (Norton:  2007) 206, 290. [iv] “’Extraordinary’ Genetic Make-up of North-east Wales Men,” BBC News North East Wales, article retrieved Jan. 2012 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-14173910. On Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog there is speculation about whether the main sub-clade involved is Balkan or North African E; posts and comments retrieved Jan. 2012 at http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/07/eastern-mediterranean-marker-in.html. [v] William F. Skene, The Four Ancient Books of Wales (Edinburgh, 1868, republished 2007 by Forgotten Books) 206.
Comments

Stephen Blevins commented on 03-Apr-2012 05:02 AM

My DNA is E1b1b1, my most distant ancestor is William Blevins (Longhunter) from the area you mentioned. My autosomal DNA places my ancestors in the orkney islands of Scotland. I'm convinced that a tribe of Jews migrated from Israel to north to Scandinavia
or Denmark and may have been apart of the invasion by Vikings to Scotland before they were found in Wales as Poweys in the Northern Mountains. Blevins comes from Blethyn meaning little wolf or (Hero) look up Ap Blethyn of Gwynedd.

Belvins Descendant commented on 12-Apr-2012 02:05 PM

I was always told the Blevins came from Wales, but in checking this story out I was unable to verify it, nor could I find any substantiation of the etymology from Bleddyn ("son of wolf"). There is not a single Blevins in the Welsh census records, although
the name is found sparsely in Cheshire, Lancashire and other northern English counties. "Formby, Wales" is actually Formby in Merseyside in Lancashaire. The -dd- element in the Welsh name Bleddyn cannot be twisted into a -v-. So go figure.

Paul commented on 28-Apr-2012 08:46 PM

My mother is a descendant of Henry Cook I of Devon. His ascendants were among the first settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut. A great Uncle, Lemuel Cook, was the oldest surviving Revolutionary War veteran when he died at 106 years of age. We recently
had my mother's autosomal dna analyzed and found strong population matches from the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, etc.) - which was very unexpected. There was also prominent representation form Spain and Portugal - not so unexpected. In my own
18 marker test, I had one Jewish III marker, though I can't say from whom. There is no known Judaism on either side. Sounds like your article might be describing the early Cooks. Interesting...

katarina cadieux commented on 13-Dec-2013 07:36 PM

well the language of the Welsh(Cymri)alone is very Hebraic.
here are some examples: Anudon(welsh)/ Aen Adon(hebrew)(without God)
Yni all sy-dda(welsh) / Ani El Saddai(hebrew)(I am almighty God)
Llai iachu yngwyddd achau ni(welsh) / Loa yichei neged acheinu(hebrew) ("Let him not live before our brethren")
An annos(welsh)/ ain ones(hebrew)(None did compel)
the amazing to me is how similar the words look and sound, the english is the meaning for both welsh and hebrew, their meaning are the same.
the welsh are a very ancient people even their name for themselves in their language has Crimea roots which many hebrew tribes migrated to.

Dafydd Gwilym W. Gates commented on 17-Feb-2014 11:58 AM

Katarina Cadieux 13 Dec 2013 wrote some examples to show how Welsh had parralels in Hebrew. I'm a first language Welsh speaker and couldn't make sense of the Welsh examples, I'm afraid, It wasn't Welsh.
So sorry, Dafydd


Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.





Captcha Image

 

 


Recent Posts


Tags

Walter Plecker Cohen Modal Haplotype Mark Thomas Ancient Giantns Who Ruled America megapopulations Anne Marie Fine Nadia Abu El-Haj England FDA New York Academy of Sciences Middle Eastern DNA Stephen Oppenheimer Rafael Falk First Peoples Pueblo Indians Wendell Paulson Elizabeth C. Hirschman Roberta Estes Yates surname B'nai Abraham Rutgers University prehistoric art Jewish genetics Columbia University mutation rate haplogroup L Jon Entine ethics Donald N. Yates Carl Zimmer Penny Ferguson Native American DNA Ananya Mandal Khoisan linguistics Valparaiso University genealogy giants Harold Goodwin London Abenaki Indians Pueblo Grande Museum Gunnar Thompson Melungeon Movement polydactylism Hohokam Indians Cherokee DNA microsatellites Les Miserables Theodore Steinberg news Miguel Gonzalez Gregory Mendel New York Review of Books Havasupai Indians Israel, Shlomo Sand Slovakia George Starr-Bresette Phoenicians autosomal DNA Cleopatra hoaxes Peter Parham Beringia Maronites palatal tori Constantine Rafinesque surnames M. J. Harper Smithsonian Magazine Roma People Alec Jeffreys Rush Limbaugh haplogroup U Philippa Langley Austronesian, Filipinos, Australoid Jim Bentley Genome Sciences Building Greeks clan symbols Arabia research Chromosomal Labs Bode Technology immunology Richard Buckley education phenotype Stacy Schiff Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Oxford Nanopore Bradshaw Foundation Alabama Native American DNA Test Rare Genes Michael Schwartz clinical chemistry Isabel Allende Jewish GenWeb Solutreans Colin Pitchfork The Nation magazine Sarmatians Etruscans National Geographic Daily News Denisovans Holocaust Database Bill Tiffee Phillipe Charlier Egyptians Melungeon Union Sasquatch Wales Gravettian culture Melba Ketchum Helladic art corn Anglo-Saxons climate change cannibalism Barack Obama Life Technologies Thuya Teresa Panther-Yates District of Columbia Maya human migrations forensics Comanche Indians occipital bun African DNA Khazars Eric Wayner Discover magazine Bryony Jones crypto-Jews Russell Belk Lab Corp archeology genetic memory Ashkenazi Jews haplogroup N haplogroup B North African DNA ethnicity anthropology alleles mental foramen Mary Settegast Finnish people Altai Turks epigenetics Jews genetic determinism Nephilim, Fritz Zimmerman Romania Barnard College medicine haplogroup Z Holocaust Wikipedia evolution Zizmer Colin Renfrew Sea Peoples Anacostia Indians powwows Nature Communications Chris Stringer Joseph Jacobs Marie Cheng Black Irish 23andme breast cancer King Arthur, Tintagel, The Earliest Jews and Muslims of England and Wales Belgium haplogroup H haplogroup E Stone Age FBI Nature Genetics Salt River Cancer Genome Atlas Clovis David Cornish China Europe oncology Population genetics DNA Forums Kentucky American Journal of Human Genetics Kate Wong ancient DNA When Scotland Was Jewish bar mitzvah Hertfordshire statistics Russia race Louis XVI Tintagel Pomponia Graecina Navajo John Wilwol seafaring INORA Scotland IntegenX Dienekes Anthropology Blog ISOGG far from the tree Henry VII Current Anthropology Indo-Europeans Kari Carpenter Tutankamun rapid DNA testing AP Bentley surname research Applied Epistemology DNA databases BBCNews National Health Laboratories Cismar Monya Baker Arizona State University University of Leicester health and medicine Britain personal genomics human leukocyte antigens North Carolina Chuetas Jone Entine Virginia DeMarce Richard Lewontin Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales (book) Lebanon DNA security Zuni Indians bloviators aliyah horizontal inheritance haplogroup R Charles Perou FOX News Cismaru Choctaw Indians Tucson Zionism Chauvet cave paintings El Castillo cave paintings human leukocyte testing Celts Magdalenian culture Riane Eisler Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America methylation Mary Kugler Luca Pagani Horatio Cushman Israel Albert Einstein College of Medicine haplogroup T George van der Merwede pheromones Caucasian Fritz Zimmerman Melanesians Henriette Mertz single nucleotide polymorphism Tom Martin Scroft Ari Plost DNA Fingerprint Test French DNA European DNA Akhenaten Phyllis Starnes haplogroup X Keros Italy rock art population genetics PNAS consanguinity GlobalFiler Asian DNA Y chromosome DNA Erika Chek Hayden admixture cancer Discovery Channel Tennessee Waynesboro Pennsylvania Melungeon Heritage Association Leicester BATWING Sam Kean hominids Smithsonian Institution French Canadians Janet Lewis Crain Middle Ages Ziesmer, Zizmor Gypsies Cornwall Chris Tyler-Smith Arizona Gila River Irish history Washington D.C. Grim Sleeper haplogroup J Y chromosomal haplogroups population isolates DNA magazine Arabic Marija Gimbutas Sinti art history Terry Gross Germany N. Brent Kennedy Svante Paabo Wendy Roth MHC American history Epigraphic Society Ireland Basques Harold Sterling Gladwin Majorca origins of art Melungeons Paleolithic Age Tifaneg Henry IV Acadians X chromosome Sizemore surname Moundbuilders Anasazi Phoenix Panther's Lodge Telltown andrew solomon Algonquian Indians Hohokam Bigfoot Shlomo Sand genomics labs Science magazine Monica Sanowar Plato Ron Janke Jack Goins Hopi Indians Victor Hugo Bering Land Bridge myths Science Daily, Genome Biol. Evol., Eran Elhaik, Khazarian Hypothesis, Rhineland Hypothesis Neanderthals Micmac Indians Oxford Journal of Evolution Sizemore Indians history of science Bryan Sykes NPR Bode Technology mummies Turkic DNA Stony Creek Baptist Church James Shoemaker EURO DNA Fingerprint Test Cave art Cajuns Great Goddess Daily News and Analysis Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute India Patagonia Timothy Bestor Harry Ostrer King Arthur religion Elzina Grimwood Richard III mitochondrial DNA Iran Nikola Tesla Pima Indians Nova Scotia HapMap Black Dutch family history Normans ethnic markers Michael Grant Cooper surname university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Richard Dewhurst DNA Fingerprint Test DNA testing companies Abraham Lincoln Promega Sorbs Neolithic Revolution genetics Austro-Hungary prehistory Bureau of Indian Affairs Charles Darwin Freemont Indians Scientific American Kurgan Culture familial Mediterranean fever

Archive