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A new chapter in the history of migrations? The impact of the ancient DNA ‘revolution’

Maxime Brami (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
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Short abstract:

Papers are invited that will consider the impact and influence of aDNA on our understanding of the history of migrations.

Long abstract:

The impact of ancient DNA in archaeology is seismic, arguably as significant as the introduction of radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. It is already forcing us to reconsider narratives which are essential not only to archaeology but also to anthropology and geography. For the first time, we have access to reliable means of inferring migration directly from the DNA of the long-deceased organisms that we dig up. Migration and substantial ‘population replacement’ has now been implicated in a large number of prehistoric shifts in material culture, including the spread of farming technology in various places around the world, and the third millennium BC ‘massive migrations’ from the Eurasian steppes. Ancient DNA has also transformed our understanding of the relationships and interactions between modern humans and archaic hominins. Ancient DNA is not only transforming archaeology, but also the very nature of our understanding of human origins, identity and what it means to be human. In an era where millions of people across the world routinely take DNA tests to find out more about their ancestry, it is worth considering the implications of the ancient DNA ‘revolution’ for the writing and understanding of history. Have humans always been on the move? What can biological history contribute to our understanding of culture and ancient societies? This panel invites contributions by archaeologists and geneticists who identify past migrations through ancient DNA and other cutting-edge biomolecular approaches. Papers that can guide us through complex issues of heritage, genetics and ancestry, would be especially welcomed. Papers from social anthropologists and geographers that discuss what this ‘revolution’ may do to influence their subjects are also very welcome.

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