The oldest of these died in about 2,000BC, at the start of the Bronze Age, while the latest was from the seventh century AD.
Comparing these against the DNA of 503 modern Europeans, the researchers found that the mutations linked to higher general cognitive ability (GCA), which enables people to solve problems across a range of different modes of thinking, had become more common as time went by.
The results were confirmed in a separate analysis of the genes of 66 more ancient people who had lived across 3,200 years.
Dr Woodley has previously argued that the genes driving intelligence may have become less common since the 19th century as advances in medicine and nutrition have allowed people with lower IQs to have more children who survived into adulthood.
As a result, his team suggests that the “millennia-long microevolutionary trend favouring higher GCA” may have gone into reverse over the course of the 20th century.
Well, OK, eugenics is trying to do something about this but still.