According to the findings of a newly published ancestral research study, Ibizans, the women at least, may be more French than Phoenician.
DNA evidence taken from human remains in the ancient burial site at Puig des Molins, one of the largest necropoli in the Western Mediterranean, now a World Heritage site with around 3000 tombs. This was compared to DNA of modern Ibicenco families.
Researchers have discovered a rare case of genetic population discontinuity on Ibiza. Essentially, the original genetic signature of the founding female population, handed down through centuries has been replaced. Researchers say this is very unusual, and gives cause for a total rethink on the island’s genetic history.
The study was led by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith and her team from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and Professor Pierre Zalloua of the Lebanese American University, Beirut, with the collaboration of researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (Universitat Pompeu Fabra-CSIC), Barcelona, the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and archaeologists from Lebanon and Italy.
The team analysed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is maternally inherited, from archaeological Phoenician remains and from modern inhabitants of Ibiza. They also obtained whole genome data (representing their total ancestry from both parents) from one ancient Phoenician individual.
Phoenician Roots Questioned
Arriving from Cadiz the Phoenicians first settled on Ibiza around 654 BC and remained the island’s main inhabitants for about seven hundred years.
Archaeological evidence at the Puig des Molins necropolis shows a an influx from Carthage around the 5th century, which prospered until after the 2nd Punic War. Ibiza then began to be integrated into the Roman Empire, followed by the Islamic conquest of the island around 900AD. Population migrations from the Iberian and Southern European mainland began around 1200AD.
Based on the mtDNA results, the study showed clear genetic discontinuity between the early Phoenician settlers and the modern inhabitants of the island.
“Thus, the unusual genetic signature that has previously been identified in modern Ibizans does not appear to be the result of their Phoenician ancestry, at least from a maternal perspective”, explains Matisoo-Smith.
Multiple population arrivals through invasions or other movements combined with periods of population instability after the early Phoenician settlement seems to have led to a reshuffling of the genetic makeup of this island.
“It is fascinating to see that the ancient maternal lineages were replaced over time. Today the mitochondrial DNA lineages in indigenous Ibizans appear to be most closely related to those of modern French” adds Professor Zalloua.
Though the findings came as a surprise to researchers, local opinion was one of acceptance.
Mr George Crossley of Santa Eulalia said, “I’m not the slightest bit surprised to hear that the Ibizans are French. Just look at how many times they’ve both been invaded over the years, especially by the British and Germans, Ibiza every year, France every few years. Both have jolly decent food though, I’ll give them that, the damned surrender monkeys.”
Ms Britney Anna told us, “If you’ve got a whiff of the stench down at Marina Botafoch you’d think you were in France already, don’t you know, and look at them Guettas, made themselves right at home. Mind you the food is …..
The editorial team of The Ibizan would like to apologise unreservedly for the childish and predictable ‘French-Bashing’ direction this article is taking. This cheapening of the subject is disrespectful to what is a serious scientific study. The Ibizan writer responsible has been shot.
Should you wish to read more on this very interesting research, the full report text is provided below.
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