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, 273 (1601), 2651-7

Evidence for an Apartheid-Like Social Structure in Early Anglo-Saxon England

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Evidence for an Apartheid-Like Social Structure in Early Anglo-Saxon England

Mark G Thomas et al. Proc Biol Sci.

Abstract

The role of migration in the Anglo-Saxon transition in England remains controversial. Archaeological and historical evidence is inconclusive, but current estimates of the contribution of migrants to the English population range from less than 10000 to as many as 200000. In contrast, recent studies based on Y-chromosome variation posit a considerably higher contribution to the modern English gene pool (50-100%). Historical evidence suggests that following the Anglo-Saxon transition, people of indigenous ethnicity were at an economic and legal disadvantage compared to those having Anglo-Saxon ethnicity. It is likely that such a disadvantage would lead to differential reproductive success. We examine the effect of differential reproductive success, coupled with limited intermarriage between distinct ethnic groups, on the spread of genetic variants. Computer simulations indicate that a social structure limiting intermarriage between indigenous Britons and an initially small Anglo-Saxon immigrant population provide a plausible explanation of the high degree of Continental male-line ancestry in England.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
The simulated proportion of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Y-chromosomes in the total population, after 15 generations, under different combinations of selective advantage and intermarriage rate (U=D; see §2), assuming the population was made up of (a) 5%, (b) 10% and (c) 20% immigrants immediately following migration. Shaded area of graph indicates parameter combinations that lead to greater than 50% ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Y-chromosomes (Weale et al. 2002; Capelli et al. 2003).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Increase in the proportion of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Y-chromosomes through time under different combinations of selective advantage and intermarriage (U=D; see §2), starting with 10% immigrants immediately following migration. Selective advantage values of (a) 1.2, (b) 1.5 and (c) 1.8 were modelled. For each value of selective advantage, values of intermarriage of 0.02, 0.04, 0.06, 0.08 and 0.10 were used, as indicated above lines.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Number of generations required to reach 50% ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Y-chromosomes (Weale et al. 2002; Capelli et al. 2003), under different combinations of selective advantage and intermarriage rate (U=D; see §2), assuming the population was made up of (a) 5%, (b) 10% and (c) 20% immigrants immediately following migration. Shaded area of graph indicates parameter combinations that lead to greater than 50% ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Y-chromosomes in less than 100 generations.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Change through time in the proportion of individuals belonging to the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ ethnic group assuming a selective advantage of (a) 1.2; (b) 1.5 and (c) 1.8 to being Anglo-Saxon.

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