Cultural Integration: Genetics, Archaeology and the impact of the Viking Diaspora on the Isle of Man
thesisposted on 06.06.2017, 15:27 by Hayley Dunn
Over the last two decades many in the archaeological community have developed a degree of scepticism and suspicion towards using genetics to study the past. My project aims to dispel some of these concerns, highlighting the inferences about demographic and social history which can be made from genetic data gathered from modern populations. Centred around the British-Irish Isles and in particular, the Isle of Man, this study investigates for the first time, differing demographic histories in the male and female gene-pools. The focus of this research is the 400 years of Norwegian rule in the Irish Sea region following the Viking visitations of 900CE, when the Isle of Man was an important centre in the politics of the Irish Sea kingdom. DNA samples were collected from male volunteers, followed by the extraction of high resolution mtDNA and Y chromosome data. Volunteers were enlisted on the basis of surnames taken from 16th-century documentation to ensure deep historical roots on the Island. The high quality genetic data generated for the Isle of Man not only gave greater distinguishing power for looking at closely related populations, but also allowed separate male and female population histories to be explored. Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) modelling was used to explore the demographic history of the Isle of Man and how the impact of the Norwegian diaspora differed for men and women, providing a powerful statistical and probabilistic approach to admixture analysis. Whilst drawing evidence from history, archaeology and incorporating genetic data to provide indications of where the Island draws its genetic influences from, this project provided a case study for how the fields of archaeology and genetics can be better integrated for the exploration of the past.