(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have re-analyzed medieval bones found in British Norwich. For a long time they were kept in the museum, but the analysis of historical data made me return to the study.
The remains of 17 people were discovered back in 2004 during the construction of a shopping center. Among the victims were at least 11 children.
Three of the victims were sisters: one aged 5 to 10, the second aged 10 to 15, and the third a young adult. The bones were kept at the Norfolk Museum and Archaeological Service.
Genetics reveals the truth
Initial radiocarbon dating indicated that the bones belonged to the 11th or 12th century. Initially, scientists believed that the remains belonged to the victims of an epidemic outbreak of disease or mass starvation, and therefore the bodies were quickly “disposed of” without a full burial.
However, new historical evidence has led to increasing suspicion that the dead were in fact Jews killed for religious reasons.
Recent genetic analysis of the remains indicates that all of the dead were Ashkenazi Jews , descendants of one of the two numerous Jewish sub-ethnic groups that founded communities in northern Europe, mainly in what is now Germany and France, during the early Middle Ages.
The scientists explain that there is no single “genetic test” to determine whether a person is Jewish or not. However, analysis of the genomes of six people (in other cases, unfortunately, it is no longer possible to carry out) shows a common genetic origin and the same set of genetic disorders.
The fact is that modern Ashkenazim have a higher than usual frequency of certain genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease and some hereditary cancers.
A study of people from a well in Norwich showed the same frequency of such disorders. Their presence points to the so-called “genetic bottleneck” of possible variants and clearly indicates that the remains belong to the Ashkenazi.
Who and why killed them
Another analysis suggests when and why they were killed.
Mark Thomas, professor of human evolutionary genetics at University College London, says that according to historical research, people from the well were killed during an anti-Semitic massacre carried out in the city by the crusaders in 1190. This incident was described by the chronicler of that time, a churchman named Ralph de Dicheto.
Antisemitic massacres were quite common in England and other parts of Europe during the medieval period.
Many of those who hastened to Jerusalem decided to first rebel against the Jews before they invaded the Saracens. Accordingly, on February 6, all Jews found in their houses in Norwich were killed. Some took refuge in the castle, Dicheto wrote in his Imagines Historiarum, published around 1200.
Medieval Norwich has been home to a prosperous Jewish community since 1137. William the Conqueror invited them to settle in England, ostensibly so that he could receive their taxes in coins rather than agricultural goods, the source writes.
During the First Crusade, Christian troops conquered Jerusalem in 1099 after defeating the city’s Muslim rulers. Several more crusades were launched from Europe to the Holy Land in the following years, the last of which ended in the 1290s.
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