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Saturday, March 30, 2024

DNA Analysis Aided in the Face Reconstruction of a 1,500-Year-Old Chinese Emperor!

1,500-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Face Reconstruction

DNA Analysis Aided in the Face Reconstruction of a 1,500-Year-Old Chinese Emperor!

Between AD 560 and AD 578, Emperor Wu, a strong leader of the Northern Zhou dynasty, had a profound impact on ancient China. Emperor Wu is renowned for his military skill and efforts to bring people together, and his influence has lasted for centuries. But up until today, the circumstances surrounding his premature death at the age of 36 have remained a mystery.

After a thorough investigation of Emperor Wu's bones, which were retrieved from his grave in northwest China, scholars have discovered some fascinating details about his life and demise. The scientists used state-of-the-art research on ancient genetics to identify over a million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or genetic markers found in our DNA, to determine the emperor's physical characteristics, such as the color of his skin and hair.

The remarkable 3D reconstruction of Emperor Wu's face, which provides an insight into the appearance of the Xianbei people—an old nomadic Mongolian group to which he belonged—is the outcome of this ground-breaking project. Emperor Wu's facial features were found to be typical of East or Northeast Asia, despite previous speculations that suggested "exotic" features like lengthy beards and golden hair.

Furthermore, strong proof regarding the emperor's cause of death is provided by the genetic investigation. Although other interpretations have been put forth by historical accounts, ranging from illness to malevolent intent, the research points to the possibility that Emperor Wu suffered a stroke. This conclusion is supported by the emperor's hereditary predisposition to the condition and historical sources that corroborate the theory that the emperor experienced stroke-related symptoms such as drooping eyelids, difficulty speaking, and a strange walk.

In addition to providing light on Emperor Wu's life and demise, the research provides insightful information about the migratory patterns and intermixing of prehistoric people in Eurasia. Through following the genetic heritage of the Xianbei people, scientists have discovered proof of intermarrying with ethnic Han Chinese, an East Asian population that presently makes up a staggering 17.5% of the world's population.

In the future, the team plans to use DNA analysis on people from Chang'an, a historic city, to solve even more questions about ancient China. With its location at the eastern end of the Silk Road, a fabled trading route that dates back thousands of years, Chang'an is a city full with mysteries just waiting to be discovered via genetic research.

The results of this study are available here and have been published in Current Biology.

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