Dr Anders Götherström, Uppsala University, Sweden
Assessing the authenticity of clonal sequence reads from ancient samples: A case study from Iceland
Dr Agnar Helgason, deCODE Genetics, University of Iceland
The Viking age witnessed the expansion of Norse invaders across much of Northwestern Europe, with a particularly long-lasting cultural and genetic impact on the populations in the North Atlantic –particularly in Iceland and the Faroes, where there were no pre-existing human populations. In my talk, I will summarize the outcome of ancient DNA research that helps shed some light on the origin of the Icelandic population and the activities of the Norse invaders in the North Atlantic region
Genomic analysis of prehistoric populations in Europe: authentication and population history
Pontus Skoglund, Uppsala University, Sweden
One of the main impediments for obtaining DNA sequences from ancient human skeletons is the presence of contaminating modern human DNA molecules in many fossil samples and laboratory reagents. I will describe a novel statistical framework for isolating endogenous ancient DNA sequences from contaminating sequences using postmortem degradation patterns, and demonstrate using both published and novel large-scale sequence data that this approach is able to reduce high contamination fractions to negligible levels. This approach thus opens up the possibility of authenticating genome-wide sequence data from human remains. In an application for this, we have generated ancient genomic sequence data from several Scandinavian individuals associated with foraging and agricultural groups. We show that the Neolithic Scandinavian individuals show remarkable population structure corresponding to their cultural association, and that comparison with southern European ancient individuals as well as modern-day variation suggests a model where initial colonization by agricultural populations was followed by later admixture with hunter-gatherer populations and/or gene flow from other regions.
The Neolithic transition in the Cantabrian fringe (Peninsula Iberica)
Professor Concepción de la Rúa, University of the Basque Country, Spain
The variability of mitochondrial DNA from different prehistoric populations of the Northern Iberian Peninsula (from the Magdalenian to the Bronze Age) was analyzed. The results obtained were validated using the authentication criteria proposed by the scientific community. The analysis of the mitochondrial variability in this study together with the ancient and present-day populations studied so far, indicates the differentiation of the hunter-gatherer groups regarding both Neolithic and present populations. As for Neolithic European groups, within the heterogeneity observed two groupings can be appreciated: on one side, the Neolithic sites that present haplogroup N (proposed as a marker for the spread of the Neolithic in Central Europe) and on the other side those lacking such haplogroup (Mediterranean sites and sites from the Cantabrian fringe). DNA analysis from ancient groups indicates that the diffusion of the Neolithic had different genetic impact in different European prehistoric populations, highlighting the complex biological patterns resulting from Neolithization in contrast with the simpler and more evident cultural patterns.
Human ancient DNA from the ancient city of Sagalassos (Turkey): a diachronic view of mtDNA variation from Roman to Byzantine time.
Dr Claudio Ottoni, Center for Archaeological Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
More than two decades of archaeological research at the site of Sagalassos, in southwest Turkey, resulted in the study of an ancient urban settlement in all its features. The rise of the ancient city of Sagalassos can be likely placed at the end of 5th BC. At the crossroad between Europe and Southwest Asia, over the centuries the study region of Sagalassos experienced the domination and the influence of several empires and civilizations (Phrygians, Persians and Romans just to mention some). The city was eventually abandoned in the mid Byzantine time (13th century AD), after the Seljuk invasion.
The main goal of our study is to describe the maternal genetic variation in Sagalassos across a wide temporal frame of its human occupation and to reconstruct potential demographic dynamics in relation to historical events documented in the Anatolia region (e.g. a plague epidemic in the 6th century AD). For this purpose, we have analysed bone and teeth samples of 45 skeletons dated to the Classic-Hellenistic up to Roman Imperial times. By means of coalescence simulations and multivariate analyses, the novel mtDNA sequences will be compared with Byzantine (12th-13th century AD) sequences previously analysed in order to detect potential significant changes in the maternal genetic pools of Sagalassos dwellers across time and to envisage demographic scenarios which may have affected the region.
Co-authors: Rita Rasteiro, Dept of Genetics, School of History, University of Leicester, UK
Reyhan Yaka, METU Department of Biological Sciences, Turkey
Katrien Van de Vijver, Center for Archaeological Sciences, University of Leuven, Belgium
Rinse Willet, Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project, University of Leuven, Belgium
Jeroen Poblome, Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project, University of Leuven, Belgium
Lounés Chikhi, Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité, Biologique (UMR 5174, CNRS/UPS), University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France & Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oerias, Portugal