A matched pair of recent archaeological discoveries combined with DNA studies have been similarly interpreted as the result of unique cultural interactions.
Last month, geneticist Kyung-Yong Kim and his colleagues from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, announced that DNA tests performed on a skeleton discovered in a 2000-year-old tomb at Duurlig Nars in eastern Mongolia showed the elderly male was “a descendant of Europeans or western Asians. Yet he still assumed a prominent position in ancient Mongolia’s Xiongnu Empire.” (Ancient Mongolian Tomb Holds Skeleton of Western Man)
Also in January, a team from McMaster College in Canada announced that DNA tests on a skeleton discovered in a Roman-era cemetery at Vagnari in southern Italy showed that the man had East Asian ancestry – on his mother’s side.
It was claimed that this was the first time that a skeleton with an East Asian ancestry had been discovered in the Roman Empire. (Ambassador or slave? East Asian skeleton discovered in Vagnari Roman Cemetery)
But are the interpretations (in both cases!) that these are isolated oddities of transcultural slavery or diplomacy, the only possible ones?
Or has our conventional historical assumption of basic racial/ethnic homogeneity in antiquity blinded us from recognizing that such phenomena were relatively common at every level of society?