Category Archives: Ancient DNA

A History of the Iberian Peninsula, as Told by Its Skeletons

For thousands of years, the Iberian Peninsula — home now to Spain and Portugal — has served as a crossroads.
Phoenicians from the Near East built trading ports there 3,000 years ago, and Romans conquered the region around 200 B.C. Muslim armies sailed from North Africa and took control of Iberia in the 8th century A.D. Some three centuries later, they began losing territory to Christian states.

Study of old slave quarters in Maryland leads to scientific breakthrough

The study of a 200-year-old clay tobacco pipe discovered in the slave quarters of an old Maryland plantation, has led to a scientific breakthrough.
The object was found at Belvoir, an 18th-century manor house off Generals Highway in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Surprising DNA found in ancient people from southern Europe

Since the beginning of human migration, the Iberian Peninsula—home of modern-day Spain and Portugal—has been a place where the cultures of Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean have mingled.
In a new paper in the journal Science, a group of 111 population geneticists and archaeologists charted 8,000 years of genetics in the region. They paint a picture that shows plenty of genetic complexity, but that also hints at a single mysterious migration about 4,500 years ago that completely shook up ancient Iberians’ DNA.

Testing the DNA in Museum Artifacts Can Unlock New Natural History, but Is it Worth the Potential Damage?

Museums house a wealth of rare animal specimens, such as arctic clothing, medieval parchment and Viking drinking horns, but DNA testing can be destructive

Massacre of Children in Peru Might Have Been a Sacrifice to Stop Bad Weather

While the reasoning behind the gruesome mass murder of the boys and girls — who were only between the ages of 5 and 14 — cannot be definitively determined, the researchers now say the act was done out of desperation in response to a disastrous climatic event: El Niño.

The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books

Artifacts have genetic material hidden inside, which can help scientists understand the past.

DNA and the Globalization of Humanity

Two questions that have occupied the human mind since the beginning of civilization are “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Today, with just a swab of saliva, millions of people worldwide have been able to take a peek into their genetic past, thanks to DNA testing. In most cases, such testing reveals a complex global and regional circulation of bloodlines.

Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

Geneticists have begun using old bones to make sweeping claims about the distant past. But their revisions to the human story are making some scholars of prehistory uneasy.

Found in a cave in Northwest Alaska, an ancient tooth offers insights into the first inhabitants of the Americas

A paper published in 2018 analyzes the oldest ancient human remains found in the Arctic: a 9,000-year-old child’s tooth.
The tooth was discovered, and forgotten, way back in 1949 at Trail Creek Caves, right outside the community of Deering. Jeff Rasic, an archaeologist working with the National Park Service, told KNOM what makes its rediscovery so special.

Ancient DNA from Viking Graves Proves the Fierce Fighters Rode Male Horses

Vikings who settled in Iceland more than 1,000 years ago valued their horses so much that the men were buried with their trusty steeds. And DNA analysis of these treasured animals recently proved that the horses consigned to the grave with their manly owners were males, too.

Project will map genetic make-up of Armenian community

Members of the Armenian community have been asked to provide DNA samples on Sunday after a Christmas church service in Nicosia for research that aims to map the genetic background of the Cypriot population.
Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6 and the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (Cing) – which is carrying out the research – has chosen this date as the most suitable for the DNA collection since it the church was expected to see a bigger turnout than usual.
Members of the Armenian community over the age of 18 who were born in Cyprus and who would like to participate in the project, will give saliva samples after the liturgy.

Ancient DNA can help bring aboriginal Australian ancestors home

The bones of thousands upon thousands of indigenous people sit in museums across the world. Their descendants want them back, but they must often fight for years to convince scientists the remains belong to their ancestors. And in some cases, information about where the ancestors are from has been lost. Now, a new study from Australia shows ancient DNA can reliably link aboriginal ancestors to their living descendants, opening up the possibility of using genetics to proactively return ancient remains to their communities.

Narrower Skulls, Oblong Brains: How Neanderthal DNA Still Shapes Us

Two genes inherited from our evolutionary cousins may affect skull shape and brain size even today. What that means for human behavior is a mystery.

Giving life to a woman found in a 4,250-year-old grave in Caithness

The research, published in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and led by archaeologist Maya Hoole, has shed new light on previous ideas on Ava’s appearance. She was found to be from an earlier date than previously thought.

DNA Identifies Origins of World’s Oldest Natural Mummy

Scientists discovered the ancient human skeleton known as the “Spirit Cave Mummy” back in 1940, hidden in a small rocky cave in the Great Basin Desert in northwest Nevada. But it wouldn’t be until the 1990s that radiocarbon dating techniques revealed the skeleton was some 10,600 years old, making it the oldest natural mummy ever found.