Perspectives on the Holocene in Britain: Human DNA

Martin Evison

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of genetically-based variation in human populations has been possible for nearly a century. Recently, DNA sequence-based methods have begun to replace protein-based methods leading to a higher resolution, but more complex results. Patterns of gene distribution may be established with statistical reliability, but understanding them in terms of history is a process of interpretation; multidisciplinary research is essential. A brief synopsis of the Holocene in Britain is presented, based on the genetic data, but with reference to archaeology, palaeoecology, ethnology and linguistics. The genetic history of Britain is a Holocene history. Patterns of gene distributions can be seen as the consequence of social processes and of selection. The major events are: the reoccupation of Britain in the Late Upper Palaeolithic/Early Mesolithic (c. 10,000~7,500 bp), social and demographic development during the Mesol ith ic (7,500~6,000 bp), and the Mesol ithic-Neolithic transition (6,0004,000 bp). Interpretations of the transition based on socia I interaction, intermarriage and minor genetic input are most consistent with the broad evidence. An extreme " indigenist" position is not supported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-623
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


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