May 10, 2008

DNA from Neolithic and Bronze Age Greek sites

Unfortunately no actual DNA results are in the article, and a whole lot of bad news.

Journal of Archaeological Science doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.04.019

Ancient DNA in human bones from neolithic and bronze age sites in greece and crete

Elizabeth R. Chilversa, Abigail S. Bouwmana, Keri A. Browna, Robert G. Arnottb, A. John N.W. Pragc and Terence A. Brown


Attempts were made to detect ancient DNA (aDNA) in samples of 88 human skeletons from eight Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Greece and Crete. Ancient DNA was absent in specimens from Nea Nikomedia, Lerna, Karaviádena (Zakro), Antron Grave Circle A and Mycenae Grave Circle A. For each of three skeletons from Antron Grave Circle B that were sampled, polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) gave products for nuclear but not mitochondrial DNA, but amplicon yield was low and inconsistent with replicate PCRs failing to give reproducible results. With specimens from Mycenae Grave Circle B, evidence for mitochondrial aDNA was obtained for four of the 22 skeletons that were studied, and at Kouphovouno evidence for mitochondrial and/or nuclear aDNA was obtained with eight of the 20 skeletons that were examined. We conclude that, although aDNA might be present in some Eastern Mediterranean skeletons from later centuries of the Bronze Age, it is not commonly found in material from this period and is likely to be absent from older material.



Antigonos said...

It's strange that from everywhere around the world sampling of aDNA can be accomplished but not from my country!
I just hope that this is just bad luck and doesn't have anything to do with the standards and conditions of fossils' maintenance.
When fossils are not kept in appropriate places and conditions they deteriorate and make DNA sampling impossible.
Although archaeological artifacts are kept under extreme care, anthropological fossils are treated like garbage in Greece (even the very well known Petralona Homo Erectus fossil had experienced some problems).
If you ask the authorities of the Ministry of Culture where can you find the various fossils, THEY DON'T KNOW SHIT!!!
There is n't even a proper bibliography about the anthropological finds!!!
Tell me please friends, which serious Ministry of any European country would have left the skeletons from Maroulas of Kythnos, the ONLY Helladic site which gives human remains in a timescale between Mesolithic and Neolithic years, unexamined anthropologically, genetically and culturally?
The excavation is very poor and superficial and none seems to care to carry it on.
The specific site has elements from the epi-Gravettian culture of Lepenski Vir and some elements from the Levant (especially from Ain Mallaha and El Wad).
The burial customs resemble the Levant but other cultural elements resemble sites from the continental Greece (Apidima, Theopetra).
If a serious anthropological research can be done there we will be able to find out if the skeletons belonged to Mediterranids or Cro-magnons (like in Theopetra, Apidima, Lepenski Vir) and thus we will find out how Neolithicization started!
Was it demic?
Was it cultural?
If it was demic how did it happen, when, and what happened to the indigenous Mesolithic "Greeks"!!!
Because so far Mediterraneans have n't been found prior to the Neolithic in Greece but only Cro-magnons.
Thus these Meds must have come from somewhere and somehow. If it is proved that they came at the end of the Mesolithic Era and brought with them revolutionary agricultural methods of living that will solve the entire Neolithicization problem not only of Greece but perhaps of a big part of Europe as well.

Dean said...

What about Classical/Hellenistic/Roman-era Greek skeletons? Aren't there a lot of these available?

Dienekes said...

What about Classical/Hellenistic/Roman-era Greek skeletons? Aren't there a lot of these available?

Yes, and there is hope for the older material as well. DNA could be preserved in other parts of the skeleton than those studied here Plus there are new methods becoming available for warm climates that I will blog about sometime.

alxt said...

Check out the following genetic study, carried out by 6 universities worldwide.

It shows that the neolithic dna of cretans came from Anatolia and Middle East.

This study was conducted in 2008 and proves the origins of Cretans.;jsessionid=9170DF996C90CE73D03627BF10519B14.d03t03

The truth shall shine.