Baikal Archaeology Project

About the Project

Human Genetics Module

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Project Description

Paleogenetics is one of the emerging and rapidly growing subfields of anthropology. It involves the examination of genetic material recovered from tissue samples donated by living humans or obtained from prehistoric human remains (e.g., bone or soft tissue). This research has already led to important reevaluations of several theories about the origins and migrations of modern humans, including the peopling of the Americas.

In this project, we are conducting four major types of molecular genetic analyses:

  1. Nuclear DNA is used to determine the sex of individuals for which the skeletal remains are inadequate or unreliable for visual inspection methods (e.g., subadults). This greatly improves the quality of our demographic data, which forms an important basis for assessing social organization of the pre- and post-hiatus groups.
  2. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is used to assess the biological affinity of the ancient Baikal populations with other ancient and modern populations. It is hoped that this will establish the population origins and affinities of the pre- and post-hiatus peoples, as well as clarify the relationship between ancient Siberian and early North American populations
  3. The First Hypervariable Segment (HVS-I) of the mtDNA CR is being sequenced in order to establish possible relationships between different individuals within each burial site. This is essential for determining kinship and group formation patterns, as well as patterns in grave and cemetery use.
  4. Y-chromosomal DNA analysis.
    Y-chromosomal analysis will complement mitochondrial DNA analysis, and 
    give an insight into paternal lineages of the pre- and post-hiatus 
    peoples and their relationship to modern Siberians.
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