Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA

Ancient DNA (aDNA) is the DNA of anyone who has been dead for more than 50 years. The name sounds like it should only include really old samples or pre-historic people. However, the methods used to get ancient DNA results apply to most people who have been dead for more than a few years. Some of these methods are also used for forensic DNA work. Ancient DNA comes from the bones or teeth of the person tested. It might also come from frozen remains and mummified tissues.

There are two challenges for ancient DNA. The first is contamination. This could come from anyone who has ever handled the bone or tooth used. The second is that DNA breaks down over time. Some believe that with current methods the oldest usable DNA is between half a million and one and a half million years old.

Individual Tested Ancient DNA Samples

Anzick Child (Anzick-1) The Anzick child was a Paleolithic Native American child found at a grave site in Montana. His mtDNA was D4h3a. His Y-DNA haplogroup was Q-FGC47595. Read More.

Birger Magnusson Magnusson was an early king of Sweden and the founder of Stockholm. His Y-DNA haplogroup was I-M253.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Caravaggio was an Italian painter. His work influenced Baroque painters who came after him.

Cheddar Man Cheddar Man is an ancient DNA sample dating to the Mesolithic period. His grave site was found in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. Cheddar Man’s mtDNA haplogroup was U5a.

Nicolaus Copernicus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer. His mtDNA haplogroup was H27. {Source: Bogdanowicza et al., 2009}

Gaodang – King Korguz Korguz was the king of the Ongud. His mother was a princess of Kublai Khan. His mtDNA haplogroup was D4m2. His Y-DNA haplogroup was Q-M242.

Kennewick man Kennewick man was a Paleolithic Native American. His grave site was found along the bank of a river in Washington state. His mtDNA haplogroup was X2a. His Y-DNA haplogroup was Q-M3.

King Béla III of Hungary King Béla was the King of Hungary and Croatia. He was the second son of Géza II and Euphrosyne of Kiev.

Markina Gora skeleton (Kostenki 14) This is an ancient DNA sample from a grave in European Russia. Its mtDNA haplogroup was U2.

Mummy Juanita (Lady of Ampato) The Lady of Ampato is the frozen remains of an Inca girl. She was likely killed in a ritual sacrifice. Her mtDNA haplogroup was A.

Nicholas II of Russia Nicholas was the last Romanov Emperor of Russia. He and his family were murdered. His mtDNA haplogroup was T. His Y-DNA haplogroup was R1b.

Oseberg ship remains (Osebergskipet) This is a well preserved Viking ship that was part of a burial mound. DNA from the site was tested. The results from the tested female were mtDNA haplogroup U7.

Ramesses III Ramesses was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. His Y-DNA haplogroup was E-M2.

Richard III of England Richard was king of England until his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His mtDNA haplogroup was J1c2c. His Y-DNA haplogroup was G-P287.

Shuká Káa (On Your Knees Cave) Shuká Káa is an ancient Native American DNA sample. His remains were found in a cave on an island off the coast of Alaska. His mtDNA haplogroup was D. His Y-DNA haplogroup was Q-M3. Read more.

Sweyn II of Denmark Swen was King of Denmark. He was the son of Ulf Thorgilsson and Estrid Svendsdatter. His mtDNA haplogroup was H.

Young Man of Byrsa (Ariche) Ariche was a Phoenician who lived about 2,500 years ago. His mtDNA haplogroup was U5b2c1.

Ötzi the Iceman His mtDNA haplogroup was K1*. His Y-DNA haplogroup was G-M201.

Prince Janusz III of Masovia

Mikołaj “the Red” Radziwiłł

Sources & Resources

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, August 31). Ancient DNA. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:01, September 6, 2018, from