Exploring new frontiers in the use of ancient DNA - Dr Conrad Brimacombe

20 November 2019, 1.00 PM - 20 November 2019, 3.00 PM

Dr Conrad Brimacombe (University of Bristol)

G.10, 43 Woodland Road

Exploring new frontiers in the use of ancient DNA: The development of a population structure-based dating system comparable to carbon dating

Recent technological innovations have meant that in recent years the number of sequenced ancient human genomes has expanded from dozens in the early part of this decade to thousands in the present day.

These large datasets have presented the opportunity to study entire ancient populations, with the bulk of recent research being focused on tracing ancient migrations and relatedness among ancient peoples. Bioinformatic approaches are now set to build new tools that will further the applications of ancient DNA.

With enough data now available to build coherent statistical models of population structure through time, it is now possible to link an individual skeletal sample to a specific time period. This lecture will introduce the recently developed method of Temporal Population Structure (TPS).

This tool, built using 961 ancient Eurasians ranging from the Upper Palaeolithic to the present day, has been shown to date a test sample of 15 individuals with an accuracy comparable to carbon-dating. The reliability of the tool means that it can be used can be used as a secondary method to assess carbon dates where mitigating factors may be present, such as suspected marine reservoir effects or contamination. Selected case studies will be discussed.

 

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