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Angie D Ambers, Jennifer D Churchill, Jonathan L King, Monika Stoljarova, Harrell Gill-King, Mourad Assidi, Muhammad Abu-Elmagd, Abdelbaset Buhmeida, Bruce Budowle
BACKGROUND: Although the primary objective of forensic DNA analyses of unidentified human remains is positive identification, cases involving historical or archaeological skeletal remains often lack reference samples for comparison. Massively parallel sequencing (MPS) offers an opportunity to provide biometric data in such cases, and these cases provide valuable data on the feasibility of applying MPS for characterization of modern forensic casework samples. In this study, MPS was used to characterize 140-year-old human skeletal remains discovered at a historical site in Deadwood, South Dakota, United States...
October 17, 2016: BMC Genomics
Isabella C C von Holstein, Penelope Walton Rogers, Oliver E Craig, Kirsty E H Penkman, Jason Newton, Matthew J Collins
We investigate the origin of archaeological wool textiles preserved by anoxic waterlogging from seven medieval archaeological deposits in north-western Europe (c. 700-1600 AD), using geospatial patterning in carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N) and non-exchangeable hydrogen (δ2H) composition of modern and ancient sheep proteins. δ13C, δ15N and δ2H values from archaeological wool keratin (n = 83) and bone collagen (n = 59) from four sites were interpreted with reference to the composition of modern sheep wool from the same regions...
2016: PloS One
Anne Delagnes, Patrick Schmidt, Katja Douze, Sarah Wurz, Ludovic Bellot-Gurlet, Nicholas J Conard, Klaus G Nickel, Karen L van Niekerk, Christopher S Henshilwood
Heating stone to enhance its flaking qualities is among the multiple innovative adaptations introduced by early modern human groups in southern Africa, in particular during the Middle Stone Age Still Bay and Howiesons Poort traditions. Comparatively little is known about the role and impact of this technology on early modern human behaviors and cultural expressions, due, in part, to the lack of comprehensive studies of archaeological assemblages documenting the heat treatment of stone. We address this issue through an analysis of the procedure used for heating and a technological analysis of a lithic assemblage recovered from one Howiesons Poort assemblage at Klipdrift Shelter (southern Cape, South Africa)...
2016: PloS One
Ashley N Coutu, Julia Lee-Thorp, Matthew J Collins, Paul J Lane
East African elephants have been hunted for their ivory for millennia but the nineteenth century witnessed strongly escalating demand from Europe and North America. It has been suggested that one consequence was that by the 1880s elephant herds along the coast had become scarce, and to meet demand, trade caravans trekked farther into interior regions of East Africa, extending the extraction frontier. The steady decimation of elephant populations coupled with the extension of trade networks have also been claimed to have triggered significant ecological and socio-economic changes that left lasting legacies across the region...
2016: PloS One
Tomos Proffitt, Lydia V Luncz, Tiago Falótico, Eduardo B Ottoni, Ignacio de la Torre, Michael Haslam
Our understanding of the emergence of technology shapes how we view the origins of humanity. Sharp-edged stone flakes, struck from larger cores, are the primary evidence for the earliest stone technology. Here we show that wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in Brazil deliberately break stones, unintentionally producing recurrent, conchoidally fractured, sharp-edged flakes and cores that have the characteristics and morphology of intentionally produced hominin tools. The production of archaeologically visible cores and flakes is therefore no longer unique to the human lineage, providing a comparative perspective on the emergence of lithic technology...
October 19, 2016: Nature
Marta Licata, Giuseppe Armocida, Marco Broggini, Melania Borgo
The aim of this study was to investigate the degenerative markers at the spine in adult skeletons recovered from archaeological sites. The results of this study may allow us to make inferences about the etiology of the degenerative pathology, physical activity levels and life style in the community. The relevance of this research is that it constitutes a reliable data base to compare with future investigations.
September 18, 2016: Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa
Patricia E J Wiltshire
Palynology (including mycology) is widely used in palaeoecological and bioarchaeological studies. Lake and mire sediments, soils, and the deposits accumulating in archaeological features, invariably contain plant and fungal remains, particularly pollen and spores. These serve as proxy indicators of ancient environmental conditions and events. Forensic palynology has been successfully employed in criminal investigations for more than two decades. In recent years, it has included fungal palynomorphs in profiling samples from crime scenes, and from exhibits obtained from suspects and victims...
November 2016: Fungal Biology
Nadia Amanzougaghene, Kosta Y Mumcuoglu, Florence Fenollar, Shir Alfi, Gonca Yesilyurt, Didier Raoult, Oleg Mediannikov
The human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis, is subdivided into several significantly divergent mitochondrial haplogroups, each with particular geographical distributions. Historically, they are among the oldest human parasites, representing an excellent marker for tracking older events in human evolutionary history. In this study, ancient DNA analysis using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), combined with conventional PCR, was applied to the remains of twenty-four ancient head lice and their eggs from the Roman period which were recovered from Israel...
2016: PloS One
Benjamin J Schoville, Kyle S Brown, Jacob A Harris, Jayne Wilkins
The Middle Stone Age (MSA) is associated with early evidence for symbolic material culture and complex technological innovations. However, one of the most visible aspects of MSA technologies are unretouched triangular stone points that appear in the archaeological record as early as 500,000 years ago in Africa and persist throughout the MSA. How these tools were being used and discarded across a changing Pleistocene landscape can provide insight into how MSA populations prioritized technological and foraging decisions...
2016: PloS One
Carlos Raúl Belotti López de Medina, Lautaro López Geronazzo, Clarisa Otero
This paper reports the results of a zooarchaeological analysis conducted on the occupation layer of a compound structure (Residential Unit 1) of the Pucara de Tilcara archaeological site (Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina). Its occupation span extends between the 13th and 15th centuries AD, but evidence diagnostic of the Inka Period (AD 1430-1536) is predominant. Residential Unit 1 was a house-workshop that hosted specialized crafts like metallurgy and lapidary during the Inka Period. It was proposed in previous works that artisans living at Pucara de Tilcara were provisioned with agropastoral products by the Inka administration...
2016: PloS One
Dominique Castex, Sacha Kacki
The analysis of biological parameters such as age and sex is particularly relevant to the interpretation of ancient skeletal assemblages related to abrupt mortality crises, and more particularly epidemics. In such a context, the mechanisms of selection within a population or part of a population differ according to the pathogen involved. They may also vary depending on the period and location in which the population lived. Here, we illustrate the specificity of plague mortality through the study of several European burial sites contemporary with the first and second plague pandemics...
August 2016: Microbiology Spectrum
Helen D Donoghue
Tuberculosis is a significant global disease today, so understanding its origins and history is important. It is primarily a lung infection and is transmitted by infectious aerosols from person to person, so a high population density encourages its spread. The causative organism is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an obligate pathogen in the M. tuberculosis complex that also contains closely related species, such as Mycobacterium bovis, that primarily infect animals. Typical bone lesions occur in about 5% of untreated infections...
August 2016: Microbiology Spectrum
Stefan Tzortzis, Michel Signoli
There are several scenarios regarding how burial sites in archaeological contexts are discovered. We will focus on two scenarios according to the degree of historical knowledge regarding the studied sector. The excavation may be performed in a known funeral place or a highly suspected place (e.g., the interior or immediate exterior space in a religious monument or a parish cemetery). Also, the excavation of unexpected graves or graves discovered by chance may occur in places that had unknown or forgotten funeral purposes...
August 2016: Microbiology Spectrum
Claudio Milanesi, Monica Scali, Rita Vignani, Franco Cambi, Lucas Dugerdil, Claudia Faleri, Mauro Cresti
In the late Roman Republic period (2nd-1st century BC), in the area of San Giovanni on Elba Island, previously subject to intense extraction of iron ore, a rustic villa was established by Marco Valerio Messalla, a supreme Roman magistrate. The foundations of the walls were discovered and excavated by an archaeological mission. Palaeobotanical analysis of a set of stratigraphic layers was performed. Palynological slides showed remains of palynomorphic and non-pollen objects, while data combined with anthracological investigations confirmed the hypothesis that in the 1st century AD the villa was destroyed by a fire that created a compact crust under which were discovered four broken Roman amphorae containing about five hundred apple seeds...
October 3, 2016: Comptes Rendus Biologies
Paige Madison
A fossilized skeleton discovered in 1856 presented naturalists with a unique challenge. The strange, human-looking bones of the first recognized Neanderthal confronted naturalists with a new type of object for which they had no readily available interpretive framework. This paper explores the techniques and approaches used to understand these bones in the years immediately following the discovery, in particular 1856-1864. Historians have previously suggested that interpretations and debates about Neanderthals hinged primarily on social, political and cultural ideologies...
September 2016: British Journal for the History of Science
Asing, Md Eaqub Ali, Sharifah Bee Abd Hamid, M A Motalib Hossain, Shuhaimi Mustafa, Md Abdul Kader, I S M Zaidul
The Malayan box turtle (Cuora amboinensis) (MBT) is a vulnerable and protected turtle species, but it is a lucrative item in the illegal wildlife trade because of its great appeal as an exotic food item and in traditional medicine. Although several polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to identify MBT by various routes have been documented, their applicability for forensic authentication remains inconclusive due to the long length of the amplicon targets, which are easily broken down by natural decomposition, environmental stresses or physiochemical treatments during food processing...
2016: PloS One
Maura Pellegrini, John Pouncett, Mandy Jay, Mike Parker Pearson, Michael P Richards
A geostatistical model to predict human skeletal oxygen isotope values (δ(18)Op) in Britain is presented here based on a new dataset of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age human teeth. The spatial statistics which underpin this model allow the identification of individuals interpreted as 'non-local' to the areas where they were buried (spatial outliers). A marked variation in δ(18)Op is observed in several areas, including the Stonehenge region, the Peak District, and the Yorkshire Wolds, suggesting a high degree of human mobility...
October 7, 2016: Scientific Reports
Katherine A Spielmann, Matthew A Peeples, Donna M Glowacki, Andrew Dugmore
Recent research in ecology suggests that generic indicators, referred to as early warning signals (EWS), may occur before significant transformations, both critical and non-critical, in complex systems. Up to this point, research on EWS has largely focused on simple models and controlled experiments in ecology and climate science. When humans are considered in these arenas they are invariably seen as external sources of disturbance or management. In this article we explore ways to include societal components of socio-ecological systems directly in EWS analysis...
2016: PloS One
Alissa Mittnik, Chuan-Chao Wang, Jiří Svoboda, Johannes Krause
In the past decades ancient DNA research has brought numerous insights to archaeological research where traditional approaches were limited. The determination of sex in human skeletal remains is often challenging for physical anthropologists when dealing with incomplete, juvenile or pathological specimens. Molecular approaches allow sexing on the basis of sex-specific markers or by calculating the ratio of DNA derived from different chromosomes. Here we propose a novel approach that relies on the ratio of X chromosome-derived shotgun sequencing data to the autosomal coverage, thus establishing the probability of an XX or XY karyotype...
2016: PloS One
Julie Arnaud, Stefano Benazzi, Matteo Romandini, Alessandra Livraghi, Daniele Panetta, Piero A Salvadori, Lisa Volpe, Marco Peresani
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study is the assessment of Nadale 1, a Neanderthal deciduous tooth recently discovered in Northeastern Italy in the De Nadale cave (Middle Palaeolithic). Together with the clear archaeological context of the site, this study brings new insight on Neanderthal behavior and dental morphological variability. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used microCT data to provide a morphological description and morphometric analysis (diameter measurements and dental tissue volumes) of the Nadale 1 human tooth...
October 5, 2016: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
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