Marlize Lombard (University of Johannesburg) excavating at Sibudu Cave (under the direction of Prof Lyn Wadley, University of the Witwatersrand), about 40 km southeast of Ballito Bay where the boy was found. Picture: Lyn Wadley, University of the Witwatersrand.

Johannesburg - Results from a new study of ancient DNA presented show that the 2 000-year-old remains of a boy found at Ballito Bay in KwaZulu-Natal during the 1960s, has helped to rewrite human history.

Marlize Lombard, Professor of Stone Age archaeology at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), initiated collaboration with geneticists from Uppsala University in Sweden and the University of the Witwatersrand, who put together a team of experts at the Uppsala laboratory.

"They reconstructed the full genome of the Ballito Bay child, together with the genomes of six other individuals from KwaZulu-Natal who lived between 2300 and 300 years ago," said UJ on Monday.

"Three Stone Age individuals who lived between 2 300 and 1 800 years ago were found to be genetically related to the descendants of Khoe-San groups living in southern Africa today. 

"The remains of the other four individuals who lived 500-300 years ago during the Iron Age, were genetically related to present-day South Africans of West African descent."