Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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New Method to Test Ancient Bone for DNA

Friday, August 16, 2013

1-cuttingcostsSTAVANGER, NORWAY—A Norwegian conservator at the University of Stavanger's Archaeological Museum has developed a new method to determine whether ancient bones contain DNA. As part of her PhD work, Hege Ingjerd Hollund combined three methods of screening bonemicroscopic, ultra-violet light, and chemical analysis—to identify genetic material in 425 bones, including those of the Dodo and the ancient ancestor of cattle. "These methods are not only fast and simple to do, but they also preserve the piece cut or drilled from the bone," says Hollund. "This can therefore be reused in other analyses." Adopting her screening method means searching for ancient DNA in bones could become both considerably less time consuming and less expensive, giving archaeologists and geneticists a chance to make more discoveries in a shorter period of time.