Revisiting boundaries of ancient DNA study


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Year of publication 2022
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description Genetical studies of ancient populations have a lot of limitations and challenges ranging from the degradation of DNA over time to rarely optimal conditions for the preservation of remains both before and after excavation. A lot of anthropologists and archaeologists tried to preserve as much skeletal material as possible via treatment of chemical agents, which is still used to this day in museum collections. Aside from this approach posing danger to the scientist, the chemical treatment was believed to interact with DNA and thus excluding such treated remains from the genetical and molecular analyses. Our study has shown that we are able to gain information from chemically treated samples and that it’s even possible to analyze DNA from them. This would make research on treated remains from museum archives possible as well, of which medical fields could also benefit. In our research, we have focused on the archaeological site Pohansko – Kostel dated to the early Middle ages, times of the Great Moravian Empire. This site has been excavated in the 50s and 60s and at this time it was common to treat skeletal remains with celluloid dissolved in amyl acetate for better preservation. In our study, we have managed to isolate and sequence aDNA from the dental calculus of said samples thus proving similar kinds of studies possible.
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