Category Archives: Ancient DNA

DNA evidence uncovers major upheaval in Europe near end of last Ice Age

Human skull1DNA evidence lifted from the ancient bones and teeth of people who lived in Europe from the Late Pleistocene to the early Holocene – spanning almost 30,000 years of European prehistory – evidence shows a major shift in the population around 14,500 years ago, during a period of severe climatic instability.

DNA Confirms Headless Roman-Era ‘Gladiator’ Not From Britain – And Maybe Not A Gladiator

headless gladiatorThe “headless Romans” from Eboracum (modern York in England) made a splash when forensic analysis of the graveyard was first announced in 2010. Excavated between 2004-2005, the cemetery contained around 100 individuals, almost all of whom were male. This odd graveyard held more intrigue, though: many of the skeletons were decapitated, showed evidence of puncture wounds from animals, and had lopsided musculature. All of this was suggestive of their employment as gladiators. As the Roman Empire’s northernmost provincial capital, Eboracum flourished around 200 AD. But researchers have long wondered how cosmopolitan this remote outpost was.

Iceman Melted to Reveal Stomach Bug

Oetzi1New DNA analysis has revealed that Oetzi, the 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in a melting glacier in the Italian Alps 25 years ago, harbored a pathogen in his stomach when he was murdered.
The bug, Helicobacter pylori, is common and gives people gastritis and stomach ulcers.

Ancient Irish genome reveals a massive migration from the east

DNA LabJust over 5,000 years ago, there lived an Irish farmer with black hair and dark eyes. Her DNA spoke of ancestors mostly Middle Eastern in origin, and she would have looked more like a southern European woman than a red-haired Irish lass.

Will DNA Tests Finally Settle Controversy Surrounding Russia’s Final Tsars?

Tsar Nicholas and his familyTsar Nicholas II is shown here with his family in the 1910s. All were executed shortly after the 1917 Russian Revolution. Remains of the tsar, his wife Alexandra, top right, and their children — Olga, far left, Maria, top left, Anastasia, with arm around Alexei, and Tatiana — have all been tested. Now the Russian Orthodox Church has ordered new DNA tests to confirm the identities of Maria and Alexei.

8000-year-old “Viste Boy” sent for DNA analysis

HollundA small piece of the skull of the 8000-year-old “Viste Boy” has now been sent to Sweden for DNA analysis. Scientists hope to learn more about early migration into Norway as well as clarify the skeleton’s actual sex.

No, The Siberian Ice Maiden Is Not A Man

PazyrikHorseman2 (1)A news story this morning from the Siberian Times quickly circulated on the various newsgroups I read, as a cursory look at the images suggests that one of the most famous Siberian mummies — a woman with intricate and fantastic tattoos — is actually male based on DNA. But I did some digging, since I’d assumed the Siberian Ice Maiden’s sex was cleared up long ago, and found out a bit more about the burials in question and the odd facial reconstruction that appropriates the Ice Maiden’s unique tattoos. Fear not, students and researchers of ancient gender: the Siberian Ice Maiden is not male.

Scientists hope to turn ancient grape DNA into wines drunk by King David, Jesus

GrapesIsraeli vintners have tapped into their ancient heritage to create wines 1,800 years in the making. Using money from the Jewish National Fund, oenologist Eliyashiv Drori and a group of scientists at Ariel University’s research winery have identified 120 grape varieties distinct to Israel, around 20 of which are suitable for making wine, The New York Times reports. Other researchers have used DNA and a three-dimensional scanner to identify around 70 distinct grape varieties from Biblical times; their goal is to pair the ancient seeds with live grapes and, eventually, to genetically engineer and revive the lost varieties.

DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start

Gladiator SkullThe analysis reveals what some of the very first Londoners looked like and where they came from.
These initial results come from four people: two had origins from outside Europe, another was from continental Europe and one was a native Briton.

DNA Reveals Mysterious Human Cousin With Huge Teeth

MolarThe analysis of a fossil tooth from Siberia reveals that a mysterious people known as Denisovans, discovered a mere five years ago, persisted for tens of thousands of years alongside modern humans and Neanderthals.

This Ear Was Made With Vincent Van Gogh’s DNA

Van Gogh earSmithsonian- Vincent van Gogh’s ear is nearly as famous as his jaw-dropping Starry Night. Though its final resting place may never be found—as the legend goes, he severed off part of his ear and then gave it to a prostitute—museumgoers in New York can get a look at the next best thing. ArtNet’s Sarah Cascone reports that a living replica of van Gogh’s ear, created using the artist’s DNA, is now on display at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York City.

Incan Child Sacrified to the Gods Reveals History of American Expansion

Inca mummyThe mummy of an Incan child who was sacrificed to the gods more than 500 years ago belonged to a previously unknown offshoot of an ancient Native American lineage, new research finds.

DNA of ancient babies provides clue to early American inhabitation

Ancient Babies DNASALT LAKE CITY — The ancient remains of two infants uncovered in Alaska are related to two lineages of Native Americans, according to a DNA analysis done by researchers at the University of Utah.

In Ancient DNA, Evidence of Plague Much Earlier Than Previously Known

Bronze Age SkullBacteria can change history.

In the 14th century, a microbe called Yersinia pestis caused an epidemic of plague known as the Black Death that killed off a third or more of the population of Europe. The long-term shortage of workers that followed helped bring about the end of feudalism.

Shroud Of Turin DNA Indicates Global Origins

Shroud of TurinThere’s a surprising new wrinkle in the story of the celebrated Shroud of Turin.
A group of Italian researchers have found that the 14-foot-long garment — believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, even though science has proven that’s not the case — contains DNA from plants found all over Earth.