Development of the system for DNA analysis of archaeological bone samples

The main aim of this project is to establish scientific and educative system for DNA analysis of archaeological bones. Achieving of this aim is very challenging due to the presence of small amount of highly degraded DNA within this type of biological specimens. However, successful accomplishing of the project intentions would make the analysis of ancient genetic material easier, which is found as very interesting and important object for many studies in the field of population genetics. In particular, this would provide us with opportunity to perform a wide range of population-genetic studies within ancient populations that inhabited archaeological locations Vuńćedol and Lobor. Realization of these studies would offer a unique information that could be used to clear up results of recent genetic studies which were based on observation of the diversity of Y chromosome bi-allelic and STR markers within recent Croatian residents, known under the unscientific title “Genetic origins of Croatians”. Conversely, realization of some of the activities within this study could propose solution for analysis of more recent bone samples (i.e. forensic samples) which, for some reason, could not be successfully processed by current DNA protocols.

From archaeological point of view, successful realization of this project is even more important. Archeologically, Croatia represents probably the most complex European region. Artefacts of presence of almost every known ancient population that ever inhabited Europe could be found in this area. This complexity could be very useful because usage of “the law of high numbers” (and we are going to have lots of high numbers) could be helpful in systematic separation of different layers and recognition of each new element which notably influenced the population of particular area that has already existed. Population-genetic analysis of ancient gene-pool could provide amazing results and would offer some new facts not only about Croatian, but also European history. Even more interesting results could be provided from DNA analysis of animal archaeological bones, after establishing DNA base by this project, because different animal species were introduced in different historical periods by different civilizations. Nevertheless, it is important to know that only precise separation of multifaceted levels and its exact and scientific clarification is essential for achieving the authentic genetic origin of modern Croatian population.