Biomolecular insights into North African-related ancestry, mobility and diet in eleventh-century Al-Andalus

Marina Silva, Gonzalo Oteo-García, Rui Martiniano, João Guimarães, Matthew von Tersch, Ali Madour, Tarek Shoeib, Alessandro Fichera, Pierre Justeau, M. George B. Foody, Krista McGrath, Amparo Barrachina, Vicente Palomar, Katharina Dulias, Bobby Yau, Francesca Gandini, Douglas J. Clarke, Alexandra Rosa, António Brehm, Antònia FlaquerTeresa Rito, Anna Olivieri, Alessandro Achilli, Antonio Torroni, Alberto Gómez-Carballa, Antonio Salas, Jaroslaw Bryk, Peter W. Ditchfield, Michelle Alexander, Maria Pala, Pedro A. Soares, Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Martin B. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Historical records document medieval immigration from North Africa to Iberia to create Islamic al-Andalus. Here, we present a low-coverage genome of an eleventh century CE man buried in an Islamic necropolis in Segorbe, near Valencia, Spain. Uniparental lineages indicate North African ancestry, but at the autosomal level he displays a mosaic of North African and European-like ancestries, distinct from any present-day population. Altogether, the genome-wide evidence, stable isotope results and the age of the burial indicate that his ancestry was ultimately a result of admixture between recently arrived Amazigh people (Berbers) and the population inhabiting the Peninsula prior to the Islamic conquest. We detect differences between our sample and a previously published group of contemporary individuals from Valencia, exemplifying how detailed, small-scale aDNA studies can illuminate fine-grained regional and temporal differences. His genome demonstrates how ancient DNA studies can capture portraits of past genetic variation that have been erased by later demographic shifts—in this case, most likely the seventeenth century CE expulsion of formerly Islamic communities as tolerance dissipated following the Reconquista by the Catholic kingdoms of the north.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18121
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2021


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