Tough Relationship Between Archeology and Genomics


Antique genomes are revolutionary in human historical research, but sometimes the relationship between archaeologists and geneticists can become tense.

The Bell Beaker study, which was published in Nature in February and was quite a sound, has examined more than 230 examples, making it the largest antique genome study ever. But this research is only the last of the examples of genetic science that cause confusion in human history studies. Since 2010, with the complete sequencing of the first ancient human genome, researchers have created data for more than 1,300 individuals, and these data are used by archaeologists for many years to elucidate issues that have arisen for decades, such as the emergence of agriculture, the spread of tongues and the disappearance of pottery styles.

Some archaeologists are quite happy for the possibilities offered by this new technology. Ancient DNA studies have brought innovation and excitement and have begun investigations that seemed to take some time. For example, the genome of each individual belonging to a single grave is sequenced. But other archaeologists are more cautious.

Philip Stockhammer, who works at an interdisciplinary institute working closely with geneticists and molecular biologists, is a researcher at Ludwig Maxilmilian University in Munich, Germany. "Half of archaeologists think ancient DNA can solve everything. The other half thinks that ancient DNA is the devil's job. " He says that technology is not a magical solution, but archaeologists have come to see the technology from scratch

However, some archaeologists worry because of extensive DNA studies that say they are making unnecessary and even dangerous assumptions about the link between biology and culture. Marc Vander Linden, an archaeologist from Cambridge University, says, "They give the impression that they have brought everything to light. This is a bit annoying. "

(19459010) Britain's Population Change Completely With the Beaker Cultural Coming )

This is not the first breakthrough technology archaeologists struggle with. In 1973, Colin Renfrew, a Cambrigde archaeologist, wrote "Before Civilization" (Pre-Civilization), explaining the effects created by the radiocarbon dating method, "Prehistoric explorations are in a crisis today". Before this technique was developed by chemists and physicists in 1940, prehistoric archaeologists used the term "relative chronologies" to determine the location of the excavations and, in some cases, relied on ancient Egyptian calendars and false conclusions about the spread of ideas in the Near East. Renfrew "A great part of the prehistoric period was written in an inadequate way to the textbooks, and sometimes it was in the wrong way"

This technique allowed archaeologists to put an end to the efforts to find the age of bones and artifacts, rather than focusing on what remnants and finds mean. Kristian Kristiansen, an expert on the Bronze Age at Göteborg University in Sweden, says, "There has been too much intellectual leisure time to think about how prehistoric societies and how they have one planet." Kristiansen, one of the greatest supporters of this new technology, says that ancient DNA now provides the same opportunity

Graph of Ancient Genomes. C: Nature

Genetic science and archeology have a coexistence that can be broken at any moment when it is more than 30 years old. The first ancient human DNA article published in 1985 reported the DNA sequence from the ancient Egyptian candle (now believed to be contamination). But the improvements in the technology of scrapping for the years 2000 have encouraged these areas to be separated.

In 2010, researchers led by Eske Willerslev at the Danish Natural History Museum used a 4.000-year-old Greenland native hairbrush to create the first full DNA sequence of an ancient human genome. Seeing the future of this area, Kristiansen asked Willerslev to create a research group with a prestigious European Research Council grant to study human motions from 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, which gave direction to the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic Period.

Alliance Problems

Migration has always been a major source of stress for archaeologists. It has always been debated whether human migration is responsible for the cultural changes in the archaeological records. Bell Beaker (bell-shaped pottery culture) is an example of this phenomenon, that is, the exchange of ideas, not simply people, in cultural exchanges. The populations identified according to the archeological artifacts they are associated with are seen as part of the colonial past of science and as those who apply artificial categories.

(19459020) Genetic origins of the Mycenaean and Minosian societies were revealed by ancient DNA )

Many archaeologists have escaped their prehistoric views, as if homogeneous cultural groups seemed to be a risk game conquered the places they crossed the world map. Rather, researchers tend to focus on a small number of ancient excavation sites and the lives of the people who lived there. "Archeology has now moved away from such great stories," said Tom Booth, a bioarchologist at London's Natural History Museum and part of a team that tracks Britain's agriculture's development with ancient DNA. "A lot of people thought it was necessary to understand regional change to understand people's lives."

Ancient DNA studies, which have shown many times that people living in a region are often different from populations in the past, are committed to focusing on prehistoric human migration in detail. David Reich, a population geneticist at the Harvard Medical School (HMS), says, "Detect changes in populations where genetic science is successful." "The archaeologists have become ready to accept the presence of the displaced individuals," says Kristiansen, the Bronze Age expert. But they were not ready for big migrations. This is something new. "

Kristiansen says that strontium isotope studies in the teeth, which vary according to regional geochemical conditions, show that some Bronze Age individuals have been accustomed to hundreds of kilometers of life during their lifetime. He and Willerslev are wondering if DNA analysis can reveal the displacement of all populations in this period.

At the same time there was a competition. In 2012, David Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, filled his car with boxes of human remains that he had collected with his teammates in the steppes near Russia's Samara city. Among these bones are Bronze Age nomadic shepherds of Yamnaya culture. He was bringing these boxes to the ancient DNA lab established by Reich in Boston. Like Kristiansen, Anthony felt comfortable in a wide range of theories about the past. The book "The Horse, the Wheel and Language" in 2007 claimed that the Eurasian steppes were a melting pot for the domestication of horses and modern developments in wheeled transportation. The melting pot, or melting pot, is a term that defines heterogeneous societies as homogeneous, that is, they form a common culture in harmony by "melting together" the different elements. It has been suggested that the spread of the Indo-European language family throughout Europe and some parts of Asia is accomplished by wheeled transportation.

An example of a Beaker cultured pottery pointing to an unprecedented cultural mix for early Europeans F: Ashmolean Museum / Univ. Oxford / Bridgeman

In the Nature articles published in 2015, the research groups reached similar results in a wide range. The arrival of the shepherd populations, which are associated with the cultural heritage of Yamnaya from today's Russia and Ukraine and their applications such as burial pits, changed the gene pool in Central and Western Europe from about 4,500 to 5,000 years ago. This was consistent with the disappearance of Neolithic pottery, burial styles and other methods of cultural expression, and the emergence of works belonging to Corded Ware, which spread to North and Central Europe. Kristiansen says, "These results have embraced the archaeological artifact."

Rope cutters

Vardıkları blood began to be repelled instantly. Reich says some of them even started before the publication of the articles. Many archaeologists were pulled out of the project when they distributed a draft of dozens of works together. The idea that people connected with the Ripple Print Ceramic Culture changed the Neolithic groups in Western Europe reminded many people of the ideas of Gustaf Kossinna in a frightening manner. Kossinna, a German archaeologist at the beginning of the 20th century, reconciled the Ip Basque Ceramic culture to the people of today's Germany and suggested the "risk throne", a prehistoric settlement archeology. This thought then fed the Nazi ideology.

(19459024) Modern People According to Ancient Genomic Analysis Revealed 350,000 Years Ago )

Reich took his co-authors behind the work and shared a piece of the article in the 141-page "supplementary materials" section, which rejected Kossinna's ideas. This section is illuminating to show how a large audience perceives genetic studies that claim large-scale ancient migrations.

Nevertheless, not everyone was satisfied. Volker Heyd, an archaeologist from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, stated in an article entitled "The Smile of Kossinna" that he participated in the idea that people were shifting westward from the steppes, but he did not agree with the belief that genetic markers combine different cultural expressions. Ip Printed Ceramics and Yamnaya tombs have many differences from their similarities. There is evidence for cultural exchange in the Russian steppes and western parts of Yamnaya pre-culture. None of these facts refute the results of the genetic literature, but the archaeologist is trying to show that his articles underline the inadequacy of answering questions. Heyd "Basically what you're doing is no wonder that it's true, but it's the complexity of the past that they can not reflect. Instead of allowing geneticists to set the agenda and give the real message, we should teach them the complexity of human actions in the past. "

Ann Horsburgh, a molecular anthropologist and prehistoric archaeologist at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, is struggling with these tensions. Archaeologists and genetics say different things about the past, but they often use similar terms, such as the name of material culture. "This is again C.P. Snow ", referring to the lessons of the British scientist Snow," Two Cultures, "which are divided between the sciences and human sciences. Horsburgh complains about "molecular chauvinism", which has prevented genetic conclusions from archeology and anthropological conclusions about the past, and prevents logical connections.

Horshburg sees that his prehistory of Africa, which has begun to shake up ancient genomes, says that archeologists who are stunned by their different interpretations of their work must show their strength over archeological remains to seek a more equal partnership with geneticists. "Working together, you e-mailed me and said, 'You've found very cool bones. I will not earn you a Nature article. ' It can not be such a business union, "

( Thousands of years of human history in Africa enlightened with ancient DNA )

Although the Bell Beaker study found a major change in Britain's genetic makeup, he refused to believe that the cultural phenomenon was linked to a single population. Individuals buried with Bell Beaker goods in Iberia were closely linked to older local populations, and individuals who were associated with Beaker culture from northern Europe (those associated with the steppe groups in Yamnaya) had little to no common horses. So it's not people who change places.

Reich describes his role as someone who helps bring ancient DNA technology to archaeologists. "Archaeologists have assumed this technology, and they will not fall into the situation of the Luddites and will do their own."

A Stronger Partnership

In a sleepy valley in the Thuringian province of East Germany, Jena has become an unexpected center of urban, archeological and genetic coexistence. The Max Planck Society established the Institute of Human Historical Sciences in 2014 and brought the star of the ancient DNA research, Johannes Krause, as a director. Krause was the apprentice of the geneticist Svante Pääbo in the Max Planck Evolutionary Biology Institute in Leipzig. While Krause was there, he worked on the Neanderthal genome and helped in the discovery of a new archaic human being known as the Denisovian.

While Pääbo focused on the application of genetic science to answer biological questions about ancient people and relatives, Krause saw a wider application for this technology. Before heading to the institute in Jena, the research group identified the bacteria in the teeth of the people who died of the Black Veba in the 14th century, and this was the first evidence for the potential cause of an epidemic. He hoped that Jena would enlighten not only the prehistoric periods, but also the more recent times, where the genesis is the archeological methods of the original instrument to reconstruct only the Neolithic and Bronze Age history. Getting along with the historians is now in its development phase, but archeology and genetics are integrated at this institute. Even the name of Krause's department is archeogenetic. "We have to be between disciplines," says genetics, investigating questions and time periods that archaeologists, linguists and historians have specialized for decades.

Krause and his group are intensively involved in the mapping process of your ancient genome (he worked in many projects with Reich). However, a study published last year that focuses on the transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age in Germany gained the appreciation of archaeologists who doubted the work of large-scale ancient DNA.

In his study of Stockhammer, the research group analyzed 84 Neolithic and Bronze Age skeletons from Lech River Valley south of Bavaria from about 2500 to 1700 BC. The diversity in the mitochondrial genomes (transferred to the mothers) that emerged during this period indicates the influx of women to this region. Strontium isotope levels in childhood teeth indicate that many women do not belong to this area. Two of the relatives in one of the cases were found buried with different material cultures. In other words, some cultural shifts in archaeological records may not be due to mass migrations, but because of systematic female displacement

Stockhammer says archeologists in the near future will be able to organize individuals' genomes in their excavated areas, and create regional family trees as they determine which origins they have. This will allow researchers to ask questions about how biologic kinship is related to heritage cultural heritage and status. Stockhammer "These are big questions of history. At the moment they can only be answered as long as the business association is established. "

A study to be published in biopics for biology (BioRxiv) and soon to be published illuminates the European immigration periods in which the nomadic "barbarian" tribes filled the void after the demise of the Roman Empire. In this article, a group of researchers of geneticists, archaeologists and historians formed the genealogy of 63 individuals from two medieval graves in Hungary and northern Italy, associated with the community known as the Lombards. Evidence was obtained that high-status strangers were buried in the cemetery: many carried the genetic traits of central and northern Europe, which were different from those of the local people who were prone to be buried, and some barbarian groups offered inexplicable support for the aliens

Patrick Geary, a medieval historian from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, and a man in the Lombard study, did not comment on the fact that the article had not been judged better. But he says genetic researches of historical periods, such as this migration period, also contain hidden traps. Historians say that they include more than their own data, such as palaeoclimatic records, and that they will do the same for ancient DNA. But historians also share the same fears of archaeologists and biology and cultures being brought together. That is to say, the names of the Franks and the Goths or the Vikings, which can be embodied in genetic profiles and break down information about how antique people see themselves and create problems. "These days, historians only want to know the identities," says Geary. "Genetic science can not answer these questions."

Reich acknowledges that his field has not been able to cope with the details and precision of the past and the level that archaeologists and historians want. However, he hopes that these people will ultimately be influenced by understanding their field. "We are barbarians, who are late to work on human history," he says. "But it is quite dangerous to ignore the barbarians."

Nature 555, 573-576 (2018)


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