Archaeogenetics, a term coined by
Colin Renfrew, refers to the application of the techniques of molecular population geneticsto the study of the humanpast. This can involve:
*the analysis of
DNArecovered from archaeological remains, i.e. ancient DNA;
*the analysis of DNA from modern populations (including humans and domestic plant and animal species) in order to study human past and the genetic legacy of human interaction with the
*the application of statistical methods developed by molecular geneticists to archaeological data.
The topic has its origins in the study of human blood groups and the realisation that this classical
genetic markerprovides information about the relationships between linguistic and ethnicgroupings. Early work in this field included that of Ludwik and Hanka Hirszfeld, William Boyd and Arthur Mourant. From the 1960s onwards, Luca Cavalli-Sforza used classical genetic markers to examine the prehistoric population of Europe, culminating in the publication of "The History and Geography of Human Genes" in 1994.
Since then, the genetic history of all of our major domestic plants (e.g., wheat, rice, maize) and animals (e.g., cattle, goats, pigs, horses) has been analysed. Models for the timing and
biogeographyof their domestication and subsequent husbandry have been put forward, mainly based on mitochondrial DNAvariation, though other markers are currently being analysed to supplement the genetic narrative (e.g., the Y chromosomefor describing the history of the male lineage).
Genealogical DNA testing
Genetics and Archaeogenetics of South Asia
Genetics of the Ancient World
*Cann, R.L., Stoneking, M., and Wilson, A.C., 1987, Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution, "Nature" 325; pp 31-36
*Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Menozzi, P., and Piazza, A., 1994, "The History and Geography of Human Genes". Princeton: Princeton University Press.
*Renfrew, A.C., and Boyle, K.V., (Eds), 2000, "Archaeogenetics: DNA and the population prehistory of Europe". Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
* [http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/genetics/ Molecular Genetics Laboratory, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research]
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