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9000 Year Old Grandparent

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posted on Mar, 4 2009 @ 02:33 PM
Hopefully, this post is about continuity of family and the personal stories that sometimes arise from archaeology. One man's death millenia ago connects with a modern family man...

Around 7000BC a man was killed by a severe blow to the head. His remains were found in a cave in south west England in 1903. The area is a beautiful area known as Cheddar Gorge.

During the period he lived, the British Isles were still linked to Europe by a land bridge. This made the expansion of human and animal populations much simpler than when the Isles were isolated by rising sea levels. Stonehenge had yet to be conceived and it would be 3500 years before its wooden precursor would be built. Imagine the day to day adversity of predators, shifting weather patterns and unpredictable food resources in such a difficult environment.

Gough's Cave

In Cheddar Gorge the oldest complete skeleton in Britain was found. The skeleton was curled into a foetal position and surrounded by evidence of early habitation. Bear, antelope and many wild horse bones were scattered around in the cave. The cave appears to have been occupied for some time due to ash from hearths and indications of napping flint tools. His death was probably the result of the blow to the head and it is unlikely we’ll ever know if he was murdered or killed in conflict with other groups in the region. His bones shared some of the same cuts that are a sign of butchery on animal bones. He may well have been cannibalized after his death.

Reconstruction source

The story becomes even more interesting when mitochondrial DNA was extracted from one of his molars. Bryan Sykes is Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford and has been studying the genetics of ancient people to develop a map of population spread. He has analyzed the Otzi skeleton found in the Alps. He had a forensic model of Cheddar Man created to gain an insight to his appearance. Not a handsome fellow by any means…

Fac ial reconstruction

Early analysis revealed that...

Cheddar Man was determined to have belonged to Haplogroup U5a, a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup U, a haplogroup which is especially common in Britain, Ireland and the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France. Haplogroup U is generally found to be most common in southern and western Europe and may have originated in West Asia. U5a, the specific haplogroup of Cheddar Man, is known to be the oldest truly modern human (not Neanderthal) mtDNA haplogroup in Europe.
Haplogroup U5a

Sykes now set out to match a modern descendant of Cheddar Man

He had the novel idea of inviting people that were local to Cheddar Gorge to take part in a study. He took DNA samples and compared them to our friend Cheddar Man. Out of the many samples volunteered; one was an excellent match. Local teacher, Adrian Targett was a direct descendant of Cheddar Man.

"They wanted to take DNA samples from some of the students whose families had lived longest in the area," Targett said. "I gave a (cheek swab) sample too, just to encourage the children and to make up the numbers." In all, about 20 samples were taken, Targett recalls. His family has lived in the area at least since the mid-19th century, Targett said, but he moved to Cheddar only coincidentally after he began teaching there 20 years ago.

Adrian Targett

His great, great Grandad again for comparison. Is it me or is their a resemblance?

9000 years ago the young man lay painfully dying, he lapsed into unconsciousness and death. I wonder how he would have felt to know that his descendants would survive and still be living within a mile of his resting place

posted on Mar, 4 2009 @ 02:56 PM
Great Post...good story. Kinda weird how stuff like that happens. I wonder if they've tried to do this with more skeletal remains and the local population when DNA can be recovered!

posted on Mar, 4 2009 @ 03:01 PM
Wonderful job of research -- thanks so much! There's still quite a bit of argument about when humans first showed up on the British Isles (and who they were) -- an interesting piece of the puzzle!

posted on Mar, 4 2009 @ 05:20 PM
I agree with both above me - EXCELLENT story and information. It would love to see what my ancestor looked like 9000 years ago.

As a side note, the picture of the Cheddar Gorge is beautiful.

posted on Mar, 4 2009 @ 11:54 PM
fascinating stuff indeed

it was the subject of an episode of nova a few years back.
its wild that the teacher wound up in cheddar by chance, or did he?

i believe there were children in his class that also could trace thier ancestry back to mr cheddar.

posted on Mar, 5 2009 @ 12:02 AM
Thanks for the great post. I remember seeing this on tv in the past and was fasinated by the story. It would be great to see what my 9000 yr old ancestor looked like.

*It's getting late, I can tell, my spelling is awful.

[edit on 5-3-2009 by Clark W. Griswold]

posted on Mar, 5 2009 @ 12:14 AM
Excellent post and fascinating story.

The guys do resemble each other a little. Check out the noses.

And not to mention, that is one fabulous coincidence. If that happened to me, I would first have to change my pants, and then I would call the person telling me this a liar.

posted on Mar, 5 2009 @ 08:57 AM
kudos Kandinsky.

i recall reading in the news about tracing the descendants.

This is min much detail. thanks a lot for the story and pics.

posted on Mar, 7 2009 @ 03:16 PM
Very nice post, OP. This is a great example of why I love Archaeology, the linking of the past to the present day - and what a revelation for the descendent!

posted on Mar, 7 2009 @ 04:18 PM
Good Post OP,
I knew about this from a while ago, though had forgotton as I have been to the Gorge many times, and camped very close a few summers ago, just on the other side of the hill, a place called "priddy".

I must say anyone who comes to the UK within a small area of these absolutely amazing caves, and system quite outstanding and ancient Human habitations is stonehenge, Glastonbury, The Chalice well garden, Avebury etc etc, it is a tourists and researchers delight of Ancient Settlements, Geography, Myths, legends, Spirituality and just plain old normal History. The area is quite stunning to, with Devon being close and the wild hills of Wales just 45 mins to 1 hours drive away.

When I was last in the gorge, climbing some rocks towards the top, I sat for a while on one overlooking the slinking small road that runs up to the caves and was messing about with some of the Flint chipping away, and then meditated for a while on what it must of been like back in the days as you describe for the earlier Britons there. I have no doubt as the layout of the land, the caves, mineral and types of rocks present, only one way in, and fresh water, stream within this small gorge to in such an important part of Britain that it was a very hotly contested and protected area since human habitation of this part of the UK.

I imagined early man with their settlements and at least one or two sentries at the top and bottom of the gorge and all they lived with in those times to, the Bears and Wolves quite large in numbers in the area back then. It surprised me then that not much Cave and rock art has been found in the area and this has puzzled me since that time.

What beliefs and fears and faiths that man must have had on the true nature and depths of this cave System. What stories of monsters and such like in the lakes in the caves and I wondered what a brilliant experience to be a fly on the wall as such around one of their evenings in this area and to listen to their stories and banter about the place.



posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 05:28 AM
reply to post by MischeviousElf
Thanks for the reply. You're right about Cheddar Gorge. It's a beautiful place to see. I worked in the area briefly a couple of years ago. It's an interesting point that you raise about the lack of rock art or paintings. I'll be looking to find out more about that.

Out of interest and you being UK, do you remember a documentary about the discovery of covered cave entrance? They found the bones of a mother and child as well as wolves and wild horse. The most striking feature was that of a child's bare footprint in the still damp clay. It was as fresh as it was thousands of years ago. The cave was re-sealed and remains completely secret. I've been trying to find out about it but can't for the life of me remember enough details to conduct a search

Edit to add that I've found one petroglyph of a mammoth from 13 000 years ago. It remains mysterious why there are no other examples. Not even cups or spirals
Anyway the link is here...

[edit on 8-3-2009 by Kandinsky]

posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 05:38 AM
It's amazing to think that 1 guy thousands of years ago is part of the reason you are alive now, that the roman empire is part of the reason your alive, that hitler is part of the reason you are alive now, that jesus, muhammed, the crusades, the samurai, etc etc Every single little thing from the past is part of that reason, when you think about that, it really is amazing....

[edit on 8-3-2009 by _Phoenix_]

posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 05:47 AM
I really enjoyed that read man.

Thanks for posting it.

But now I'm dying to know who my ancestors were, and how they lived.

I'd love to meet them, maybe one day we all will meet our ancestors.


posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 05:49 AM
reply to post by _Phoenix_
I've often had similar thoughts and shared them on another ATS thread. Have you read about the descendants of Genghis Khan? His 'loins' are responsible for an estimated 16 million people alive today Times article. I'd like to know what nickname his mates gave him
'Busy boll*cks?'

posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 10:44 AM

Originally posted by Kandinsky
reply to post by MischeviousElf
Thanks for the reply. You're right about Cheddar Gorge. It's a beautiful place to see. I worked in the area briefly a couple of years ago. It's an interesting point that you raise about the lack of rock art or paintings. I'll be looking to find out more about that.

Out of interest and you being UK, do you remember a documentary about the discovery of covered cave entrance?

I have not seen that, cant seem to find it, but thanks sounds fascinating and will dig more.

It remains mysterious why there are no other examples. Not even cups or spirals
Anyway the link is here...

Thanks for that, yep so besides that and some previous Art in cheddar it seems absent of much from more modern human times, quite strange.

On the mention of the Sealed cave above, I am not sure if they have been explored yet, maybe you would Know, But there are some Lakes and water systems within cheddar, leading to further caves, that I believe have not been explored fully yet by Divers, Maybe much more lies hidden away in this system.

Kind Regards,


posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 10:53 AM
Great read there buddy

I love this kinda thing.

posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 11:04 AM
Fun story-- but I don't see any good scientific work here. They swabbed 20 people and found the descendent 9000 years later based on mitochondriol DNA.

Its a real stretch to say that a match in mtDNA actually means he is a descendent-- especially because a man CANNOT pass his mtDNA to his offspring, only the mother can pass it-- hence this entire case is nothing but wishful speculation. Not science by any stretch of the imagination.

Even if Cheddar was a woman, we only have evidence that mtDNA is accurate within a generation or two-- nothing suggests it would be accurate for thousands of years--

posted on Mar, 8 2009 @ 11:09 AM

Originally posted by Chadwickus
Great read there buddy

I love this kinda thing.

Thanks. I'm loving your shiny new avatar too. Best X-Man there is.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:21 PM
New results have made the recent news about the Cheddar Gorge cave and improved dates of human occupation in the British Isles.

ScienceDaily (July 27, 2009)

The Cheddar Gorge in Somerset was one of the first sites to be inhabited by humans when they returned to Britain near the end of the last Ice Age. According to new radio carbon dating by Oxford University researchers, outlined in the latest issue of Quaternary Science Review, humans were living in Gough's Cave 14,700 years ago. A number of stone artefacts as well as human and animal bones from excavations, spread over more than 100 years, shed further light on the nature as well as the timing of people to the cave.
Science Daily

As usual, it appears that some of our ancestors are suspected of activity that is shown by man-made cuts on human bones. This is a sign that's been found across continents and at least two species...Sapiens and Neanderthals. Cut-marks can be attributed to one of at least possibilities...ritual de-fleshing or butchering meat. Another sign is the bones are sometimes cracked open to reach the marrow. Although the idea of eating a human is revolting to modern ideas...these guys lived under harsher conditions. Each example is probably a crime scene-murder? If food was scarce, I wouldn't like to be on the menu...

Some of the Cheddar bones have the indications of cannibalism...

[atsimg][/atsimg] Source

' We were puzzled that the human bones we excavated in Gough's Cave about 20 years ago, including those that may have been cannibalised, seemed to be up to a thousand years different in age. The new dating methods show instead that the butchery and consumption of both horses and humans occurred in a very short space of time, about 14,700 years ago. So as Europe rapidly defrosted, family groups probably followed herds of horses into Britain across grasslands where the North Sea is today.'
S. Daily

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:29 PM
reply to post by Kandinsky

I saw a show on this once and found it fascinating!

I think there would be more than two "greats" before grandad though, lol.
I wonder just how many!

Excellent post. S&F!

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