Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
Oldest Human DNA Isolated Volume 49 Number 3, May/June 1996
by Spencer P.M. Harrington

A French geneticist from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médical in Marseilles has succeeded in extracting DNA from a piece of 12,000-year-old bone found at the Taforalt site in western Morocco. The oldest DNA previously isolated by scientists came from 8,000-year-old Egyptian mummies, whose mitochondrial DNA allowed researchers to trace only maternal genetic heritage of the mother. Eliane Béraud-Colomb has studied DNA from the nuclei of bone cells, which is more valuable for paleogenetic research because it yields maternal and paternal DNA. She now plans to study nuclear DNA from older bones dating between 35,000 and 70,000 years ago.

© 1996 by the Archaeological Institute of America