Washington, Feb 2 (ANI): Excavations at an ancient Roman cemetery has led to the discovery of the 2000-year-old bones of a man, whose mitochondrial DNA reveals a maternal East Asian ancestry.
The site revealed many skeletons, out of which one was of East Asian descent, according to the mtDNA line of evidence.
The isotopic evidence indicates that about 20 percent of the sample analyzed to-date was not born in the area around Vagnari.
According to Tracy Prowse, the lead author on the study, "These preliminary isotopic and mtDNA data provide tantalizing evidence that some of the people who lived and died at Vagnari were foreigners, and that they may have come to Vagnari from beyond the borders of the Roman Empire."
"This research addresses broader issues relating to globalization, human mobility, identity, and diversity in Roman Italy," she said.
Based on her work in the region, she thinks the East Asian man, who lived sometime between the first to second centuries AD-the early Roman Empire-was a slave or worker on the site.
His surviving grave goods consist of a single pot. What's more, his burial was disturbed in antiquity and someone was buried on top of him.
Prowse's team cannot say how recently he, or his ancestors, left East Asia.
He could have made the journey alone, or his East Asian genes might have come from a distant maternal ancestor.
However, the oxygen isotope evidence indicates that he was definitely not born in Italy and likely came here from elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
In addition to the mystery the find uncovers, Prowse sees the broader scientific impact for archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and classicists.
The grave goods from this individual's burial gave no indication that he was foreign-born or of East Asian descent.
"This multi-faceted research demonstrates that human skeletal remains can provide another layer of evidence in conjunction with archaeological and historical information," said Prowse. (ANI)