Humans have always been migrants


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A short animated film commissioned by two University of Kent historians challenges the concept that migration at current levels is a new phenomenon.

With migration now a major topic of debate across Europe, Professor Ray Laurence and Dr Julie Anderson, working with the University of Reading's Dr Hella Eckardt, created a script and commissioned the film to provide the public, schools and policy makers with a better understanding of its history.

The 75 second animation draws from research on the Roman Empire and the First World War.

This includes recent developments in the chemical analysis of the teeth of skeletons from the Roman Empire period in Britain which has revealed that migrants from North Africa were living in York. The analysis also suggests up to 30% of the population in Britain came from abroad during the Roman period.

MigrantsResearch into the hidden histories of war graves in Britain has also identified migrants who had took part in WWI. The conversion of Brighton Pavilion into a hospital for Indian troops provides further evidence of the important role they played.

With the topic of migration now included within the GCSE History curriculum of exam board, Oxford Cambridge and RSA (OCR) the film is expected to provide children with a far more complex view of Britain's population in the past.

The animated film was funded by the University's Public Engagement Fund, its schools of History and European Culture and Languages, and the University of Reading's Department of Archaeology.It was made by Folkestone-based animation studio Cognitive.

The film can be viewed at

Although there is much debate today over migrants numbers, in the past historians and archaeologists have identified higher levels of migration. This animated film sets out some new findings with reference to the Roman Period (almost 2000 years ago) and to the First World War (100 years ago).