A ten thousand year old Briton, whose remains were discovered over a century ago, has yielded some of his secrets – courtesy of modern DNA analysis. According to The Daily Mail:
The first ancient Britons had black skin, dark curly hair and blue eyes, according to DNA tests.
The ‘extraordinary’ findings were made by cutting-edge genetic tests and facial reconstruction techniques carried out for the first time on the bones of ‘Cheddar Man’ who died 10,000 years ago…
He said in the documentary: ‘If a human with that colour skin wandered around now, we’d call him black, and a lot darker than we’d expect for Europe as well…
He added: ‘It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions that are really not applicable to the past at all.’
Dr Rick Schulting, an archaeology professor at Oxford University said: ‘It may be that we may have to rethink some of our notions of what it is to be British, what we expect a Briton to look like at this time.’
Perhaps, if we define “race” purely by skin-color, then one could characterize Chedder Man as “black.” But look at him:
Those are clearly Caucasian features, and we wouldn’t look twice if we encountered such a man in India or Egypt. Most Caucasians aren’t white, even today. Admittedly, he’d probably qualify for Affirmative Action – or he’d be told to lay off the tanning beds.
Dr. Booth’s claim that this is somehow a blow to the classical concept of race is absurd. The opposite is true. If Britons of the recent past were so much darker than modern Britons, then this illustrates how quickly populations adapt to their environments. If only 10,000 years is sufficient to alter our skin-color so dramatically, then surely we can expect more profound adaptations over the 40,000 years (or more) since the races have diverged.
That Cheddar Man would not be mistaken for a modern Briton is testimony to the importance of race. For Dr. Booth to claim otherwise is an insult to reason. He should give back his degree and hit the books again.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that such adaptations could take place within one or two generations. If this were the case, then I would agree that we shouldn’t worry about racial differences so much. But how many of us are willing to wait 10,000 years for “equality” to finally set in?
On another note, this discovery (should it turn out to be valid) sheds light on a mystery I’ve been struggling with for years.
It involves the spread of Indo-European languages and Afro-Asiatic languages. I’ve always wondered how it could be that languages could spread across racial boundaries, seemingly without much genetic contribution to go with them. If the original Indo-Europeans were akin to modern-day Iranians (for example), then how is it that the blond peoples of Northern Europe show little to no Iranian features? Conversely, if the original Indo-Europeans were blond, how is it that so few people in Southern Asia have those features?
If the ancient Aksumites were as dark as most modern-day Ethiopians, how could they be as Semitic as the fair-skinned peoples of the Levant?
Perhaps these languages spread prior to the development of some of the traits we now associate with various racial groups.
Edit: It turns out the dark skin of Cheddar Man is far from factual: