Category Archives: Ancient DNA

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.

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.