Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 3 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Borders folk may descend from Africans from Hadrian\'s Wall
#1
(Article from The Telegraph):<br>
<br>
<strong>Borders folk may be descended from Africans</strong><br>
By David Derbyshire<br>
(Filed: 11/06/2004)<br>
<br>
Families who have lived in the English-Scottish Borders for generations could be descended from African soldiers who patrolled Hadrian's Wall nearly 2,000 years ago.<br>
<br>
Archaeologists say there is compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort near Carlisle in the third century AD.<br>
<br>
Richard Benjamin, an archaeologist at Liverpool University who has studied the history of black Britons, believes many would have settled and raised families.<br>
<br>
"When you talk about Romans in Britain, most people think about blue eyes and pale complexions," he said. "But the reality was very different."<br>
<br>
Writing in the journal British Archaeology, Mr Benjamin describes a fourth century inscription discovered in Beaumount, two miles from the remains of the Aballava fort at Burgh by Sands. The inscription refers to the "numerus of Aurelian Moors" - a unit of North Africans, probably named after the emperor Marcus Aurelius.<br>
<br>
The unit is also mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, a Roman list of officials and dignitaries. It describes the prefect of the "numeri Maurorum Aurelianorum, Aballaba".<br>
<br>
The unit was probably mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania, in modern-day Morocco, by the emperor Septimus Severus and arrived in Britain in the second or third centuries AD. Aballava lay at the western end of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria.<br>
<br>
Mr Benjamin suspects that the unit would have been blooded in battles in Germany and the Danube where more inscriptions refer to a unit of Moors. Their number is unknown, but the fort could have held up to 500 men.<br>
<br>
"There was freedom of movement for civilians and those in administration of the armed forces. Discharge certificates indicate that the veteran soldiers settled in Britain," he said. "Soldiers would have had plenty of money to spend in native settlements on the outskirts of the forts. They would have sought entertainment in brothels. Many would probably have wanted more permanent relationships."<br>
<br>
Mr Benjamin is calling for a major study of black Roman Britons. He believes that DNA tests of locals could reveal genetic links with modern-day north Africans, while skeletons of Romans found in the area might contain telltale clues to their childhood origins.<br>
<br>
Buildings in the village may have been built from recycled Roman materials. Some might be of African origin, he said.<br>
<br>
The unit is likely to have been composed of Berbers from North Africa, but may also have had darker-skinned soldiers from Nubia.<br>
<br>
In 1989, archaeologists discovered a 1,900-year-old wooden sculpture of a black African head in London carved in the first century.<br>
<br>
Contemporary records also point to Africans living in Britain during the Roman occupation. The emperor Septimus Severus is reported to have been approached by a black African soldier while he crossed Hadrian's Wall on his return from a battle in Scotland.<br>
<br>
In South Shields, a Roman tombstone refers to a 20-year-old "Moor by race, the freed slave of Numerians". <p></p><i></i>
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#2
Moors from Nubia???<br>
Anyway the whole article seems to force the facts into the conclussion...using those same data you could expect to find traces of almost any race anywhere in Europe. <p></p><i></i>
Reply
#3
Besides, taking into consideration that most auxiliary units lost their ethnicity pretty soon through local recruiting, the DNA pool infused into Britain won't have been too big. Especially if this unit had spent some time in other provinces first. <p>Greets<br>
<br>
Jasper</p><i></i>
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
Reply
#4
The genetic code may be interesting too- the Berbers I met in Southern Tunisia had a high proportion of fair skin and blue eyed people. The local legend was that they were decended from Gallic legions!<br>
Cheers,<br>
Paulus <p></p><i></i>
Reply
#5
I wondered who'd spot that one - Moors (implying Mauretania) from Nubia (Sudan)!<br>
Paulus, your remark about Berbers is very spot on. Apparently (who can supply me with hte correct reference), Caesar is supposed to have written that Lybia had more fair-haired people than Germany.<br>
<br>
Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#6
the article is only half the story - the main article appears in this mmonths British Archaeology magazine <p></p><i></i>
Reply
#7
... not to mention the Germans, Spaniards, Gauls, Low Countries natives, Thracians, Sarmatians... and that's just the Roman period. More plausible is the link with the Low Countries, as the Flemings (now a Scottish family name - there is a village called Flemington just a couple of miles from me) played a fundamental role in the wool trade of medieval lowland Scotland, even fighting the English alongside the Scots in the sack of Berwick by Edward I.<br>
<br>
The British probably have one of the widest gene pools on the planet, which is just one reason why more extreme right wing views in the UK are so risible.<br>
<br>
Mike Bishop <p></p><i></i>
You know my method. It is founded upon the observance of trifles

Blogging, tweeting, and mapping Hadrian\'s Wall... because it\'s there
Reply
#8
Being a Fleming (not the family-name) the link Scotand-Flanders for me is interesting, but I think in Western Europe the gene-pool has become so mixed that no clear genetic description of a people (Scots, Flemings, Frisians, Bretons, ...) is possible anymore. In Flanders for example, after the Germanic invasions (of several tribes like the Franci, who themselves were formed as an alliance of several Germanic tribes, the Saxons, etc...) there was already a big genetic mix and from the Middle Ages onwards we have been ruled by the French, the Spaniards, the Austrians, the Dutch... (and I forget many others) all of whom leaved 'traces' I'm sure. So genetically defining a Fleming becomes a hell of a job.<br>
I'm totally agreeing with Dr. Bishop: extreme right views are therefore ridiculous, but still in Flanders an extreme right party won the elections last Sunday with this 'nation' crap.<br>
<br>
Well, perhaps I can emigrate to Scottland and live in Flemington. Then I can help another goofy 'scientist' if he wants to examen the Flemish origin of the genes of the local inhabitants.<br>
<br>
Hans <p></p><i></i>
Flandria me genuit, tenet nunc Roma
Reply
#9
Quote: "When you talk about Romans in Britain, most people think about blue eyes and pale complexions," he said. "But the reality was very different."<br>
Huh?<br>
Romans from Stockholm, I gather..<br>
As far as genetics are concerned, I suspect that, generally speaking, the original gene pool remains more or less the same. There are add ons, but they are added to a bigger gene pool and are thus diluted.<br>
I don't know much about the UK since it seems that the Great Invasions are still going on there. That is if you ask the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh..<br>
As a result I've seen genetic analysis demonstrating that the "original" celtic population was all but wiped out in certain areas, and genetic analysis demonstrating just the opposite.<br>
That made me smell something fishy like some kind of political agenda.<br>
So I am waiting for tempers to cool down...<br>
As far as France is concerned, research has shown that the gene pool was not dramatically modified during the germanic invasions. If remnants of people clearly coming from Germany, or even the steppes were found in France, the vast majority of the inhabitants remained what they were: Gauls.<br>
If I dared, I'd risk saying that it's probably the same in the UK.<br>
I've always been struck by Caesar's War of the Gauls. In there, Julius describes a situation from 2 000 years ago that looks very contemporary.<br>
If you travel in France and North West Europe, you'll notice the same differences as noted by the Romans: Gauls, Aquitanians, Belgians and Germans, with a lot of mixing in the "frontier" zones.<br>
As for Caesar's description of the Gauls, I think it is strikingly modern...<br>
Of course there are exceptions showing the external influxes. In SW France for instance you may find often tall, blonde, typically nordic looking people. It's either the Wisigoths or the British, or rather the English, who remained in SW France for a very long time and who special maintained commercial links with the area. If there is wine in Bordeaux and Cognac in Cognac, we must thank them..<br>
Same in Spain, where the mixing produced tall, dark haired green eyed people, especially in Andalucia (Vandalusia).<br>
I had a german girl friend a long time ago. She was petite, had raven colored hair, high cheek bones and a matte, golden skin.<br>
I used to call her "the Burgundian woman", because I supect that, a long time ago, some Hun may have had an influence on her genes..<br>
Well.. Now, come to think of it, it may have been a Mongol..<br>
Her parents, BTW, were both typical Germans: fair haired, blue eyed. Go figure..<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Reply
#10
I find difficult to prove that genetic pool wasn´t overall changed, because we don´t know what was like any genetic pool in the first time. For insyance, if you take France<br>
1) Select a territory, and we start having problems, where are the borders of modern France, or ancient Gallia, which as we all know was divided in 3 parts.<br>
2) How do you stablish a set of genetic characters that are patircular to that ancient population?<br>
3) How do you distinguish them from additions?<br>
External look is a very poor guide. Hair and skin colour are subject to variation along the life of people, blue eyes are recessive, so you can have some blue eyes genes and still got brown eyes. I suspect there were always some tall blonde people in Aquitania, even in Caesar´s time, according to Sidonius Apollinaris Burgundians were very tall for instance.<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Reply
#11
I got this from a site www.blackpresence.co.uk <br>
This may be the article from British Archaeology; anyway, it does look as if it gives the gist of it.<br>
<br>
"The Archaeology of Black Britain: Approaches, Methods and Possible Solutions"<br>
Case study: North African soldiers at Aballava (Burgh-by-Sands)<br>
Richard Paul Benjamin, Postgraduate Researcher University of Liverpool<br>
Alan M. Greaves, Lecturer University of Liverpool<br>
There is an on-going debate regarding the presence or otherwise of black people in Britain in antiquity. The basic problem with this kind of research has always been the reliability and availability of source materials and the analytical methods by which we study them. The most celebrated example of an early black presence in Britain, is the case of the Roman military garrison at the fort of Burgh-by-Sands, on Hadrian's wall in Cumbria. A fourth century inscription tells us that the Roman auxiliary unit Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum was stationed at Aballava, modern day Burgh-by-Sands. This unit had been mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania in North Africa, modern Morocco.<br>
<br>
It is often forgotten that Rome's African provinces were some of its most important and it has been suggested that there may have been a black Roman Emperor (Septimus Severus). There are in fact several inscriptions found in Britain that mention the Emperor Septimus Severus. It is generally accepted that Septimus Severus was born in Numidia, also in North Africa and there is the possibility that the unit Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum was brought to Britain around AD 193-211 during his reign.<br>
It was recently suggested that African DNA might be found to be present in the local populations near to Hadrian's Wall, for instance Burgh-by-Sands. However, this would not conclusively show that the black Roman soldiers on the wall intermarried with the local population because of the problem of admixture. Admixture is a process whereby the DNA of a population becomes diluted over time and it cannot be shown at what period in time that dilution took place.<br>
Sir Walter Bodmer, a leading geneticist, believes that it would be exceedingly unlikely that any connection between North African soldiers stationed on the Wall could be detected within modern day inhabitants of the area. It would be difficult to distinguish between the genetic traits of North African Roman soldiers and that of any later influxes of African DNA into the local gene pool.<br>
Although the contribution of advances in the study of DNA to other areas of archaeological research has been enormous, this has not been the case here. Archaeologists are forced, until there can be further excavations at the site to recover skeletons of the soldiers or advances in DNA technology as a result of the Human Genome Project, to continue relying on the older and more "scholarly" pursuit of epigraphy (the study of inscriptions) to answer these questions.<br>
The Roman fort at Burgh-by-Sands (ancient Aballava) lay at the western end of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria. The site was occupied from around the second to fourth centuries AD. Our evidence for this unit consists of an inscription found in 1934 at the village of Beaumont two miles east of Burgh-by-Sands on the banks of the River Eden and a passage in the Notita Dignitatum, a Roman list of officials and dignitaries.<br>
The Beaumont inscription, which is written in the stylised Latin of a standard Roman military inscription, was carved into an altar stone dedicated to the god Jupiter (king of the gods). It reads:<br>
"To Jupiter Best and Greatest and the Majesty of our two emperors, to the genius (guardian spirit) of the numerus (unit) of Aurelian Moors, Valerianus' and Gallienus' own, Caelius Vibianus, cohort-tribune in charge of the above-mentioned numerus, [set up this altar] through the agency of Julius Rufinus, senior centurion." (See Fig.1)<br>
As the name Aurelianorum suggests the unit was named in honour of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180). Recently popularised in the film Gladiator by Richard Harris. It is unlikely that the unit was formed just to be placed in one of the Empire's farthest postings, and they had probably already seen active service before their posting to Burgh-by-Sands. More than likely the unit will have been blooded in battles in Germany (Germania) and the Danube (Dacia), where inscriptions mention a unit of Moors involved in these campaigns. The Roman Empire was constantly at war during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and therefore many units across the Empire will have been destroyed or weakened by battle.<br>
Fig.1<br>
Inscribed altar stone dedicated to Jupiter<br>
Our second piece of evidence is the Notitia Dignitatum, a list of Roman dignitaries that includes the passage, " prefect of the numerus of Aurelian Moors at Aballava." Together, these two pieces of evidence firmly place a unit of Moors on Hadrian's Wall, although the precise date of the occupation at the fort of Aballava is unknown. Their exact number is also unknown, although a small fort like Aballava could hold upwards of 500 men. We do not know where they were stationed before Aballava or where they went afterwards, but we do know that they were there.<br>
It is not at all well known that North African Roman soldiers were stationed on Hadrian's Wall. Athough it is tempting to think of the local inhabitants of Burgh-by-Sands as still having genetic traits of those black soldiers this cannot be confirmed. Sir Walter Bodmer does not categorically dismiss the possibility but he outlines the difficulties that are faced in trying to show this.<br>
For us to securely link a unit of North African soldiers with the site at Burgh-by-Sands we must still rely on more traditional methods of scholarly investigation, in this case epigraphy. The inscription and textual evidence available at present brings us to the conclusion that a unit of North Africans were stationed at Burgh-by-Sands but we cannot show that that they intermarried whilst stationed there. For us to find African artefacts and the DNA of African soldiers themselves a full-scale archaeological excavation would have to be organised at the site. Only a methodical and modern archaeological excavation at the fort has the possibility of furthering our knowledge into a fascinating episode of the early black presence in British history.<br>
Bibliography<br>
Breeze, D., & Dobson, B., 2000, Hadrian's Wall, Penguin, London.<br>
Frere, S., 1987, Tabula Imperii Romani-Britannia Septentrionalis, Oxford University Press, Oxford.<br>
Frere,S., 1995, The Roman Inscriptions of Britain II, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud.<br>
Maxfield, V., 1981, The Military Decorations of the Roman Army, B.T.Batsford Ltd, London.<br>
Snowden Jr., F., 1970, Blacks in Antiquity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.<br>
Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmoreland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society,<br>
Volumes: 1923, 1936, 1939, Titus Wilson & Son, Highgate.<br>
Van Sertima, I., 1990, African Presence in Early Europe, Transaction Books, USA.<br>
<br>
Apart from the scientific angle, this is, I think, clearly archaeology / history with a political agenda. It may be a positive agenda (“look chaps, we Brits are mongrels and always have been mongrels, including African ancestorsâ€ÂÂ
Andreas Baede
Reply
#12
Are the folks living in that border region dark haired, dark eyed and olive skinned? Or a mix? <p></p><i></i>
Reply
#13
and do they still speak latin?<br>
(Just kidding around ) <p></p><i></i>
** Vincula/Lucy **
Reply
#14
Not Latin, African! <p></p><i></i>
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#15
About Septimus Severus, there is a debate if he was of roman origin or punic origin; either way, he wasn't black. <p></p><i></i>
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Sub Saharan Africans in Roman army richsc 27 4,696 10-25-2017, 11:27 AM
Last Post: Robert Vermaat
  Hadrian's Wall in 198AD JenniFletcher 2 601 09-11-2017, 08:33 AM
Last Post: JenniFletcher
  Africans at Vindolanda? Nathan Ross 20 3,555 03-17-2017, 01:55 PM
Last Post: Nathan Ross

Forum Jump: