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  • Grave core samples

    Hey,

    Anyone thought of getting core samples from old graves of possible relatives for DNA match studies? Probably need to be done after midnight, but it might work if the DNA isn't too degraded (like my mind).

    heh heh.

  • #2
    Heh Heh Heh!

    Even if it were legal, (I doubt it would be). Imagine trying to get the consent of all the relatives. The whole extended lot of them!

    Would probably help you find relatives you didn't know existed, of course it would be an awful way to introduce yourself by drawing their wrath!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by freshnup
      Hey,

      Anyone thought of getting core samples from old graves of possible relatives for DNA match studies? Probably need to be done after midnight, but it might work if the DNA isn't too degraded (like my mind).

      heh heh.
      Been watching too many horror movies my friend??

      Comment


      • #4
        It's not that easy anyway, of course...although I used to be an archaeologist and worked on a number of cemetery sites in the UK and you would be surprised how few people care who you dig up. The rule of thumb is something like if there has not been a new grave for 250 years, it's good to dig up (particularly if someone wants to put up an office building).

        Comment


        • #5
          This thread brings up something I have been wondering about. How difficult is it to get DNA from old corpses? With all the talk about who is a Celt and who is an Anglo-Saxon or a Viking, etc., it seems to me a little Y-DNA from some of the corpses we know for certain were really Celt or Anglo-Saxon or Viking would be helpful.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, it depends on quite a few factors...overall preservation, method of preservation (some lend themselves to testing better than others), etc. as far as just extracting DNA, but it is becoming more of a possibility in many cases than it was even a year or two ago.

            However, a lot of these are really cultural labels, not necessarily ethnic ones. It can be hard to differentiate who is a 'Viking' and who is a slave, tradesman or other non-related person who happened to be travelling with them. Genetic studies in Iceland demonstrate that today's population owes a lot more to Irish slaves (or were they necessarily slaves -- again, it's worth re-examining terminology) than Viking warriors than the sagas would have you believe.

            Many of these groups had a great deal of intermarriage over time, at least in specific areas, so defining who exactly is what can be difficult. For example, I have a Cornish friend who insists he's a Celt (and in all likelihood he's got some in him somewhere, probably quite a lot), but is he any less Norman and Saxon?

            It's fairly straightfoward to demonstrate where an individual grew up by studying their teeth (I have a friend who does this) and the minerals associated with them, but proving a real allegiance to a cultural group beyond similar grave goods is trickier than it was previously thought to be. We can make certain assumptions as a starting point, but it's not always as straightforward as it seems! Ancient people moved around a lot (yes, I did my dissertation on this sort of thing), so someone who grew up in Celtic mainland Europe may have died a very long way from there living with an entirely different cultural group -- but that's what makes it fun to study, in my opinion.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by msboyd
              Well, it depends on quite a few factors...overall preservation, method of preservation (some lend themselves to testing better than others), etc. as far as just extracting DNA, but it is becoming more of a possibility in many cases than it was even a year or two ago.

              However, a lot of these are really cultural labels, not necessarily ethnic ones. It can be hard to differentiate who is a 'Viking' and who is a slave, tradesman or other non-related person who happened to be travelling with them. Genetic studies in Iceland demonstrate that today's population owes a lot more to Irish slaves (or were they necessarily slaves -- again, it's worth re-examining terminology) than Viking warriors than the sagas would have you believe.

              Many of these groups had a great deal of intermarriage over time, at least in specific areas, so defining who exactly is what can be difficult. For example, I have a Cornish friend who insists he's a Celt (and in all likelihood he's got some in him somewhere, probably quite a lot), but is he any less Norman and Saxon?

              It's fairly straightfoward to demonstrate where an individual grew up by studying their teeth (I have a friend who does this) and the minerals associated with them, but proving a real allegiance to a cultural group beyond similar grave goods is trickier than it was previously thought to be. We can make certain assumptions as a starting point, but it's not always as straightforward as it seems! Ancient people moved around a lot (yes, I did my dissertation on this sort of thing), so someone who grew up in Celtic mainland Europe may have died a very long way from there living with an entirely different cultural group -- but that's what makes it fun to study, in my opinion.
              Just the same, if one finds a man's body in a Viking type grave, in an area of Viking-period, boat-shaped howes, along with Viking grave goods (weapons, etc.), it's a fair guess he was a Viking. If DNA could be extracted from several similar subjects, then we're in business. The same type of thing would hold true for Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Avars, Alans, Sarmatians, etc., etc.

              Then it might even be possible to link living men with their "barbarian" ancestors.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just the same, if one finds a man's body in a Viking type grave, in an area of Viking-period, boat-shaped howes, along with Viking grave goods (weapons, etc.), it's a fair guess he was a Viking.
                A big problem with this is that it assumes vikings were all of one haplotype.

                If you test some grave with lots of Viking grave artifacts and the guy turns up R1B or R1a, what does this really tell you? Probably both haplogroups and others were found in the viking population....

                Comment


                • #9
                  If you test some grave with lots of Viking grave artifacts and the guy turns up R1B or R1a, what does this really tell you?
                  Depends...I think in some cases (e.g. the enigmatic Etruscans) it would be very useful to know which haplogroups they actually were

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EBurgess
                    A big problem with this is that it assumes vikings were all of one haplotype.

                    If you test some grave with lots of Viking grave artifacts and the guy turns up R1B or R1a, what does this really tell you? Probably both haplogroups and others were found in the viking population....
                    No, it assumes nothing. It looks for empirical evidence. No intelligent person would test one Viking corpse and assume its haplotype was therefore universal among the Vikings.

                    My own opinion - and I do not even know what my own haplogroup is yet - is that the Vikings were members of the haplogroups represented today by those people who live in the lands from which the Vikings came or in which they settled in large numbers (mostly I1a, R1b, and R1a, but with isolated instances of others).

                    If, on the other hand, one tested a significant number of Viking corpses and found they were all of one or two haplogroups, then it might be possible to generalize.
                    Last edited by Stevo; 8 April 2006, 11:37 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No, it assumes nothing. It looks for empirical evidence. No intelligent person would test one Viking corpse and assume its haplotype was therefore universal among the Vikings.
                      Yes and how many Long boat burial sites with usable DNA are there anyways?

                      If, on the other hand, one tested a significant number of Viking corpses and found they were all of one or two haplogroups, then it might be possible to generalize.
                      I would be sympathetic to this point of view if we were talking about a time depth of tens of thousands of years for viking culture and if there were enough samples.

                      Sort of like mapping haplogroups for W.A.S.P.s or "Hells Angels".

                      As mentioned in an earlier post mineral studies of bones and teeth have shown that prehistoric people travelled quite a bit.

                      Most of Europe is R1b most of those are blood type A+. Associating these genetic realities to cultures that are only a couple of thousands of years old is fair ground for criticism.

                      Have a look at all the threads where people are trying to associate a haplogroup to Judaism.

                      Good Luck!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        Yes and how many Long boat burial sites with usable DNA are there anyways?
                        I do not know. Maybe none. If you read my initial post, you would see that I was asking how difficult it is to extract DNA from old corpses. It may be impossible at present to do so in sufficient numbers to develop any statistically meaningful data.

                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        I would be sympathetic to this point of view if we were talking about a time depth of tens of thousands of years for viking culture and if there were enough samples.
                        If extracting DNA from Viking era corpses were possible, it would be worth doing. It would tell us something about Viking origins and it might make it possible for living males to connect with a medieval ancestor.

                        If one or two Viking corpses come back as belonging to this or that haplogroup, it would be a mistake to generalize and say that any modern male in the same haplogroup has Viking ancestry.

                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        Sort of like mapping haplogroups for W.A.S.P.s or "Hells Angels".
                        It's nothing like that, but you were joking.

                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        As mentioned in an earlier post mineral studies of bones and teeth have shown that prehistoric people travelled quite a bit.
                        I don't see what that has to do with the Vikings or Celts or Anglo-Saxons (or any number of other peoples).

                        It would be interesting and informative to have a DNA analysis from any Viking corpse.

                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        Most of Europe is R1b most of those are blood type A+. Associating these genetic realities to cultures that are only a couple of thousands of years old is fair ground for criticism.
                        I am not really sure with whom or with what you are arguing here.

                        Nobody is talking about analyzing the Y-DNA from a single corpse and jumping to conclusions. I've already said that. It would be extremely unwise to analyze the DNA of one or even a few corpses and then to proclaim, on that flimsy basis, "All Vikings were members of haplogroup thus-and-so!"

                        It would be informative and interesting to have DNA analysis from Viking corpses or even just one Viking corpse. The Y-DNA markers might make it possible for living men to make a connection to a paternal ancestor.

                        For me that would have incredible value.

                        Originally posted by EBurgess
                        Have a look at all the threads where people are trying to associate a haplogroup to Judaism.

                        Good Luck!
                        I don't think we are talking about the same things here.

                        It is unwise to try to associate a haplogroup to a religion like Judaism.

                        Nor have I said I think it is possible to associate a single haplogroup to the Vikings. In fact, I said just the opposite.

                        I still think it would be great to have the DNA info from Viking (and other) corpses.
                        Last edited by Stevo; 9 April 2006, 05:24 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I still think it would be great to have the DNA info from Viking (and other) corpses.
                          I agree it would be interesting, any additonal information just adds to a body of knowledge. Unfortunately at the present time the SNPs discovered do not come closer than say 5000 years.

                          I have read post after post of people testing as little as 12 markers and asking, does this mean I have Viking ancestors!

                          My comment was really exposing my cynicism about the great leaps of faith people are making about genetics and culture, and what they could infer from very little source material. Specifically the Vikings in this case.

                          Then it might even be possible to link living men with their "barbarian" ancestors.
                          Ultimately we are all related, it is just a matter of degree. What I am saying is that If several (Viking) corpses turned out to be R1a (an example). This would not distinguish them from the genetic backdrop of the rest of scandinavia or for that matter an even large chunk of northern Europe.

                          I have read the Blood of Vikings story on BBC and still don't understand the big deal.

                          "I'm delighted that we have been able to distinguish clear markers to indicate the genetic inheritance from the Norwegian Vikings."

                          Scientists at UCL took mouth swabs from 2,000 people from 25 different locations across Britain.

                          They only tested men because information they were interested in was contained on the Y chromosome - which women do not have.

                          The genetic material in the samples was compared with DNA taken from people in Scandinavia where some locals are thought to be most similar to the Vikings.
                          Thought to be most similar

                          This Data will be meaningfull when higher resolution SNPs are discovered.

                          If we flip the discussion to STRs then the problem becomes how many markers are you looking at and is the match coincidental?

                          I am very curious by what they mean by "Clear Markers".

                          What would be exciting is if the results were totally different from the surrounding population of Scandinavia. Or, if they discovered something genuinely unique about these results.

                          The resolution just isn't there yet. I wish it was. It all sounds like sensationalism and wishy washy science.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Opening Graves

                            Originally posted by freshnup
                            Hey,

                            Anyone thought of getting core samples from old graves of possible relatives for DNA match studies? Probably need to be done after midnight, but it might work if the DNA isn't too degraded (like my mind).

                            heh heh.
                            Yes,I thought of it.If you want to go to all the trouble to digg somebody up.You might need help from a television crew...Haha-like a reality TV show!When I first got the Idea to trace my ancestry,I thought I'd test ggM even if I have to have her dug up! But fortunately,I only had to test myself and she's the same as me and so on,but I did think of it.If it's legal and worth your trouble,why not-if it's that important to you.I read on www.msn.com, the science/genealogy tab that people wanted to know if Billy The Kid was really in his grave or was it someone else,because he was said to have escaped.But the towns Mayor or Sheriff ,or someone didn't agree to look,saying people been calling it his grave for so long,it's a popular tourist site ,no need to go upsettin' the balance of things and what people been believing,so they decided not to open his grave to see if he was in it,by testing his DNA.But opening Graves has been thought of before..!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EBurgess
                              Yes and how many Long boat burial sites with usable DNA are there anyways?



                              I would be sympathetic to this point of view if we were talking about a time depth of tens of thousands of years for viking culture and if there were enough samples.

                              Sort of like mapping haplogroups for W.A.S.P.s or "Hells Angels".

                              As mentioned in an earlier post mineral studies of bones and teeth have shown that prehistoric people travelled quite a bit.

                              Most of Europe is R1b most of those are blood type A+. Associating these genetic realities to cultures that are only a couple of thousands of years old is fair ground for criticism.

                              Have a look at all the threads where people are trying to associate a haplogroup to Judaism.

                              Good Luck!
                              Which is better? Some of them Hell's Angels look pretty good and some of them W.A.S.P.s don't.Or are they all they same -just one has more certificates of education and the other rides motorcycles?

                              Comment

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