Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

Crusaders Made Love and War with Locals Says Genetic Study

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

The first genetic study of ancient human remains believed to be Crusaders confirms that warriors traveled from western Europe to the near East, where they mixed and had families with local people, and died together in battle. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators analysed ancient DNA extracted from nine skeletons dating back to the 13th century, which were discovered in a burial pit in Sidon, Lebanon.

The results, published today (18 April) in the American Journal of Human Genetics, confirm that while the Crusaders mixed with local people and recruited them to their cause, their genetic presence in the region was short-lived.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. It’s known that nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details of the ordinary soldiers who traveled to, lived and died in the near East.

The siege of Ascalon by King Baldwin III of Jerusalem

Siege of Ascalon (1153).jpg
Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Sebastien Mamerot – Bibliotheque Nat.,Coll.des Manuscripts, Paris, France

In recent years, archaeologists uncovered 25 skeletons dating back to the 13th century within a burial pit in Sidon, Lebanon. All of those found in the pit were male and had been violently killed during battle, as seen by the blunt force injuries to their skulls and other bones. Their bodies had been disposed of in the pit and burned.

Nearby, an isolated skull was found. The head may have been used as a projectile that was catapulted into the opposition’s camp to spread disease and slash morale, illustrating the brutality of the battles.

Clues found alongside the skeletons in the pit, such as European shoe buckles, a coin and carbon-14 dating analysis, led archaeologists to believe the human remains were Crusaders.

In a new study, researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute produced whole-genome sequences of the ancient skeletons’ DNA and confirm they were in fact Crusaders.

The team report that three individuals were Europeans of diverse origins, including Spain and Sardinia, four were near Easterners who had been recruited to the fight, and two individuals had mixed genetic ancestry, suggesting they were the descendants of mixed relationships between Crusaders and near Easterners.

Asia Minor and the States of the Crusaders in Syria, about 1140
Asia minor 1140.jpg
Credit: Alexander G. Findlay – Classical Atlas of Ancient Geography / Wikimedia Commons

Dr Chris Tyler-Smith, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “Historical documents tell us the names of the nobility who led the Crusades, but the identities of the soldiers remained a mystery. Genomics gives an unprecedented view of the past and shows the Crusaders originated from western Europe and recruited local people of the near East to join them in battle. The Crusaders and near Easterners lived, fought and died side by side.”

However, the researchers believe the Crusaders’ influence in the region was short-lived as European genetic traces are insignificant in people living in Lebanon today.

When the researchers sequenced the DNA of people living in Lebanon 2,000 years ago during the Roman period, long before the Crusades, they found that today’s Lebanese population is genetically similar to the Roman Lebanese, suggesting the Crusades had no lasting impact on Lebanese genetics.

Dr Marc Haber, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The Crusaders travelled to the near East and had relationships with the local people, with their sons later joining to fight their cause. However, after the fighting had finished, the mixed generation married into the local population and the genetic traces of the Crusaders were quickly lost.”

In the study, the team worked with archaeologists at the Sidon Excavation site to transfer bones of the nine skeletons from Lebanon to a laboratory in Cambridge dedicated to ancient DNA. Here, small portions of the surviving 800 year-old DNA were extracted from the temporal bone in the skulls by DNA extraction experts. An ultra-sterile working environment was set up by the scientists to prevent contamination of the samples with their own DNA, which would render them useless.

The ancient DNA samples were particularly difficult to extract and sequence as the bodies had been burned and buried in a warm and humid climate, where DNA degrades quickly. Recent advances in DNA extraction and sequencing technology made studying the ancient and damaged DNA possible.

Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, Director of the Sidon excavation site in Lebanon, said: “I was thrilled to discover the genetic identities of the people who lived in the near East during the Crusades. Only five years ago, studies like this would not have been possible. The uniting of archaeologists and geneticists creates an incredible opportunity to interpret significant events throughout history.”

Contacts and sources:
Emily Mobley

The Wellcome Sanger Institute

Citation:A transient pulse of genetic admixture from the Crusaders in the Near East identified from ancient genome sequences Marc Haber et al. (2019) . American Journal of Human Genetics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.03.015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.03.015

 



Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2019/04/crusaders-made-love-and-war-with-locals.html
Support BeforeitsNews by trying our natural health products! Join our affiliate program

APeX - Far superior to colloidal silver in destroying viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
Ultimate Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.
Supreme Fulvic - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!  See Testimonials
MitoCopper - First bioavailable copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy.
Prodovite - The Secret To Healing is in the Blood! Complete absorption in 5 minutes.

Report abuse

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

SignUp

Login

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.