It has long been believed that white people and black people have always had their different colours of skin and the distinction had existed since the beginning of time. However, a study of Britain’s oldest skeleton known as Cheddar Man now indicates theta the first British people had “dark to black” skin.
Cheddar Man was unearthed over a century ago in Gough’s Cave in the town of Somerset. He is believed to have lived over 10,000 years ago.
This and his appearance made him the subject of intense speculation because most of Britain’s indigenous white population are descendants of the people who lived in that area during this period.
When we speak of whites and blacks, it is in the belief that white people have always been white. It is generally believed that as mankind evolved, Caucasian populations lived in Europe and nearby continents.
Black people were believed to have originated in Africa and multiplied here.
It is why the concept of black people goes beyond just skin colour, to the actual origin. We do not call a Nigerian a black man because he has black sin; we do because he is an African.
Now White, Once Black
The initial assumption was that Cheddar Man had pale skin and fair hair, like his descendants. The DNA tests tell a different story. Its results suggest that the 10,000-year-old fossil had blue eyes, a very dark brown to black complexion and dark curly hair.
The findings were the result of a long-term DNA project held at London’s National History Museum.
To perform the tests, the scientists obtained a few milligrams of bone powder from the ancient skull.
The greatest takeaway from the discovery is Europeans did not develop their typical light-coloured skin until much later than originally thought,
Likewise, skin colour was not exactly an indication of where a person comes from like it is today.
One of the archaeologists who worked on the project, Tom Booth, said: “It really shows up that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all.”
The study also suggested that Cheddar Man is of Middle Eastern Origin. His ancestors were supposed to have left Africa, moved to the Middle East and then crossed over into Europe towards the end of the Ice Age.
This group of people thought to be Cheddar Man’s forefathers are the ancestors of 10% of white Britons.
Race is a human construct
In simple terms, the idea of white and black is something that we only recently created for ourselves.
This might be a bit overwhelming at first, but the implications are astonishing.
First, it would mean that at a point in human history, there was no real distinction between white and black and a large part of today’s white people had ancestors that were dark-skinned.
It would be important to remember that the entire idea of race today is based on skin colour and now, the study shows us that the differences in skin colour and tone are only relatively new.
It proves that the idea of race is only a human creation, seeing as we all came from the same origin, destroying the very foundations of racism and its many ideals.
It also brings colonialism into perspective. In the 1800s, European powers set their eyes on Africa because black people were seen to be “monkeys”, dark-coloured savages who needed civilisation at the hands of the white man.
How do you reconcile this when you discover that the white man is actually a descendant of black men?
Naturally, you can expect the reactions to be varied and the ripple effects of this discovery to be far-reaching.
Most especially, it will pose big questions for white supremacists and other imperialist groups who believe that the white people are superior and that their difference from black people is an established fact.
The data is there to see and the National Museum of History has made a true-to-life version of Cheddar Man’s head and face to depict his appearance while he was alive, complete with black skin and dark, curly hair.