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Ancient Expansion Led by Women

An analysis of ancient DNA has found that the people who moved to Orkney in the Bronze Age were mostly women, BBC News reports. This, it notes, contrasts with other expansions into other parts of Europe that were led largely by men.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield and elsewhere analyzed genomic data from 22 Bronze Age and three Iron Age burials from Orkney, an archipelago off of Scotland, that they compared to Neolithic samples. As they reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found evidence of Early Bronze Age immigration into Orkney, but found continuity within male lineages and not female ones, suggesting women led the resettlement.

"It's absolutely fascinating to discover that the dominant Orcadian Neolithic male genetic lineage persisted at least 1,000 years into the Bronze Age despite replacement of 95 percent of the rest of the genome by immigrating women," co-author Jim Wilson from the University of Edinburgh says in a statement.

The BBC adds that the researchers suspect the unusual migration pattern might have been due to the stability and self-sufficiency of Orkney farms.

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