Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Researchers to use DNA to learn origins of Roman slaves

Using only a tooth, researchers at Idaho State University can help solve ancient archeological mysteries – for example, determining what someone ate hundreds of years ago on Easter Island or tracing the genetics of 2,000-year-old Roman slaves – by utilizing new technologies and methods.

“One single tooth from a skeleton can tell you a whole lot of things,” said John Dudgeon, Idaho State University anthropology assistant professor, who, among other duties, is the director of the ISU Anthropology-Biology Ancient DNA Extraction Laboratory.

Dudgeon, whose specialty is “bioarchaeology,” and his students can extract residues from teeth and other skeletal fragments, such as old or “ancient” DNA, stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen and microfossils of plants eaten by prehistoric people and animals, by using the DNA Extraction Laboratory, scanning electron microscopy and other advanced instrumentation in the ISU Center for Archaeology, Materials and Applied Spectroscopy.

Click here to read this article from History of the Ancient World