Alice Roberts: Archaeogenetics will help us solve mysteries of past

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Michelle D’urbano

TWO seemingly disparate scientific disciplines have been drawn into each other’s orbits, set on a collision course. On one side is archaeology with its grimy earthiness, heavy with history and tradition; on the other is genetics, with its clinical brightness, brave and brash in its newness. Fusion can be difficult, but it can also create astonishing energy when it happens.

At the forefront of this merging is a new sequencing project called 1000 Ancient Genomes. Led by Pontus Skoglund at the Francis Crick Institute in London, it is the most ambitious ancient genomics project to date. The DNA it looks at will be completely sequenced, leaving no stone unturned, no stretch unread.

It is two decades since the human genome was first sequenced, and the pace of change in…

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