Anglo‐Saxon Migration and the Molecular Evidence

Robert Hedges

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Anglo‐Saxon Migration and the Molecular Evidence

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This article discusses that there are many pitfalls in evaluating the significance and reliability of molecular data that are mainly due to the uncontrolled context in which past biological events took place. Three methods addressed include: the analysis of archaeological human bone chemistry as evidence of dietary geography; the molecular analysis of archaeological human bone for genetic information as evidence of population relatedness; and the molecular statistics of living human genomes as evidence of past geographic dispersal. Ancient DNA (aDNA) studies, especially on humans, have a very chequered record, yielding results which are comparatively meagre for the effort involved, and furthermore are extremely difficult to corroborate. In contrast to aDNA studies, however, which are wholly dependent on the survival of original DNA, modern DNA studies can expect to increase in scope and power, benefiting from the extraordinary increase in molecular genetic knowledge driven by biomedical research.

Keywords: archaeological human bone chemistry; dietary geography; molecular analysis; genetic information; molecular statistics; human genomes; Anglo-Saxon migration; DNA

Article.  5123 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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