DNA Reveals Far-Off Origins of Ancient 'Gladiators'
DNA testing is telling scientists more about the origins of a group of headless Romans.
People in the Roman Empire really got around.
Evidence from a Roman-era cemetery in York, England shows that the city—once a major outpost on Rome’s distant frontier—was home to both locals and to immigrants from thousands of miles away.
In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, Trinity College Dublin geneticist Dan Bradley and his colleagues analyze DNA preserved in the dense inner ear bones of seven skulls found in the cemetery. They report that six of the skeletons have DNA matching people living in modern-day Wales. But to researchers’ surprise, one of the men came from a long way away—the other end of the Roman Empire, in fact.
“The nearest genetic matches were from Palestine or Saudi Arabia,” Bradley says. “He