PRESS RELEASE: Largest ever ancient DNA study – showing at least 90% of British ancestry was replaced by a wave of migrants from the Continent around 4,500 years ago – wins Current Archaeology’s prestigious Research Project of the Year award for 2019

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Part of the Bell Beaker DNA team collect their award for Research Project of the Year 2019.
Members of the team behind the Bell Beaker DNA project collect their award for Research Project of the Year 2019, at the Current Archaeology Awards. L-R: Professor Ian Armit, University of Leicester, Dr Selina Brace, Natural History Museum, Dr Tom Booth, Natural History Museum. [Photo credit: Adam Stanford, Aerial Cam]

The work of Iñigo Olalde and colleagues examined the Bell Beaker Complex – a hugely popular cultural phenomenon that swept through Europe and Britain during the 3rd millennium BC. This massive ancient DNA project illuminated how it developed and spread, showing that it had a particularly profound impact on the population of Bronze Age Britain, which seems to have undergone an almost complete genetic turnover in just a few centuries.

Accepting the award for Research Project of the Year 2019 were Dr Selina Brace and Dr Tom Booth from the Natural History Museum and Professor Ian Armit from the University of Leicester.

The prize forms part of the celebrated Current Archaeology Awards given each year by Current Archaeology, the UK’s leading archaeology magazine. Archaeologist and educator Julian Richards announced the winners of the 2019 awards on 8 March, during the annual Current Archaeology Live! conference, held at the University of London’s Senate House.

Accepting the award, Dr Tom Booth of the Natural History Museum in London said:
“The fact that an ancient DNA project won this award is quite reassuring, because it reflects the overlap between geneticists and archaeologists – it shows that people appreciate that this work is shedding light on the past that wouldn’t previously have been possible.”

For more photos of the awards, click here.

For a full list of the 2019 nominees, visit

Notes for Editors: Current Archaeology Awards

  • Voted for by subscribers and members of the public, the awards recognise the outstanding contributions to our understanding of the past made by people, projects, and publications featured in the pages of Current Archaeology.
  • The 2019 Current Archaeology Award for Research Project of the Year is sponsored by Export and General Insurance Services Ltd.
  • Current Archaeology was launched in 1967 and will publish its 350th issue next month.
  • The major feature ‘Prehistoric pop culture: deciphering the DNA of the Bell Beaker Complex’ appeared in Current Archaeology 338.
  • This year’s conference was attended by over 400 people.
  • Award categories include: Archaeologist of the Year, Book of the Year, Research Project of the Year and Rescue Project of the Year.
  • For more info about CA Live!, visit:

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