Category Archives: Ancient DNA

First DNA from ancient Phoenician shows Europe ancestry

Sabratha amphitheaterMIAMI: The first DNA analysis of 2,500-year-old remains from one of the great early civilizations of the Middle East, the Phoenicians, has shown the man had European heritage, researchers said Wednesday.
The mitochondrial DNA — or genetic information from his mother’s side — came from a man known as “Young Man of Byrsa” or “Ariche,” whose remains were uncovered in the Tunisian city of Carthage.

Archaeologists test DNA from bones of ancient marquis

DNA imageArchaeologists are using bones unearthed from the 2,000-year-old tomb of Haihunhou, the Marquis of Haihun, to conduct DNA analysis.
The burial site in Nanchang in east China’s Jiangxi Province is the best preserved tomb from the Western Han Period (206 BC-24 AD) ever found in China.

Eske Willerslev Is Rewriting History With DNA

Dr. Willerslev…”As the director of the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Dr. Willerslev uses ancient DNA to reconstruct the past 50,000 years of human history. The findings have enriched our understanding of prehistory, shedding light on human development with evidence that can’t be found in pottery shards or studies of living cultures…”

The unsolved enigma of early human migration

Antique world mapIt can be hard enough to remember who your second cousin once removed is. So it’s not surprising that tracing back the family tree to work out what the earliest humans were up to hundreds of thousands of years ago is quite a challenge.
“Everyone’s looking for the earliest evidence for modern humans everywhere,” says Professor Sue O’Connor, an archaeologist at ANU. “There is quite a lot of research effort focused on this.”

Humans are still evolving: Huge DNA study tracks how the British have changed since the Romans were in charge

DNA RomeWhile we may not be sprouting wings, gills or an extra pair of legs any time soon, a new study has shown that human evolution is continuing to grind away.
New genetic analysis has revealed the traces of human evolution in action, showing how the British population has subtly changed since Roman rule, 2,000 years ago.

Tooth Plaque May Hold Clues About Ancient Life

ancient teethA nuisance to dentists is now a boon for archaeologists. Researchers have successfully sequenced DNA from fossilized plaque on 700-year-old teeth.
Solidified plaque—called calculus, tartar, or that chalky stuff the dentist scrapes off—contains a whopping 25 times more DNA than ancient tooth or bone. And, in a paper published Wednesday in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Christina Warinner and colleagues detail how they‘ve used plaque in research, a process that could catch on as a way to gather otherwise unobtainable information about the ancient world.

Are you my mummy? DNA tests to seek modern relatives of 800 year old mummified boy

MummyThe images show scientists as they carefully peel away the cocoon – including birch bark and copper – which led to the mummification of a boy aged six or seven who lived close near to the modern town of Salekhard. The lower part of his face, including his teeth, become suddenly visible for the first time in around eight centuries.

Scientists to extract DNA from Leonardo da Vinci fingerprints to analyse genius

Vitruvian MAnAn international team including scientists and historians will analyse evidence from paintings, drawings and notebooks touched by the famous Italian polymath.

Corps determines Kennewick Man is Native American

kennewick-man-clay-modelSPOKANE, Wash. — The ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man is related to modern Native American tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, opening the process for returning to tribes for burial one of the oldest and most complete set of bones ever found in North America.
The Northwestern Division of the corps said its decision was based on a review of new information, particularly recently published DNA and skeletal analyses.

Genetic Scientists Complete First Analysis of Neanderthal Y Chromosome

Reconstruction of the NeanderthalNeanderthal Y-chromosome genes disappeared from the genome of modern humans long ago, suggests a new study published this week in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Ancient DNA from Spain’s ‘pit of bones’ could reveal the origin of Neanderthals

Neanderthals1New analysis of DNA from a collection of bones found in Spain – the oldest human DNA of its kind ever studied – could help write the history of early humankind.

Putting names to bones

tdy_King_Richard_130204_vembedlarge456The art and science of identifying famous people from the past

DNA From Earliest Muslim Graves In France Reveals North African Origins

Nimes BurialsArchaeologists have long known about Arab-Muslim expansion throughout the Mediterranean region in the Middle Ages. Reaching the Iberian Peninsula in 711 AD, Arab armies and Muslim troops spread into France, Spain, and Portugal. But while written records document this expansion, archaeological and burial evidence of early Muslims past the Pyrenees is basically non-existent. In a new study out today, a group of researchers has published the first DNA evidence of people from Muslim-style burials in Nîmes, France.

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.