The recent increase in both the abundance and taxonomic range of DNA sequence data in public repositories makes it possible to determine the maternal origin of lineages of faunal archaeological material by characterizing its mitochondrial DNA. Among the most commonly represented taxa are domesticated animals, for which extensive genetic characterization has revealed high levels of genetic diversity and (in at least some cases) strong phylogeographic clustering. Such information has significant implications not only for characterizing important aspects of the occupation history of archaeological sites, but also in providing novel insights into colonisation history and the scale and scope of trade and exchange networks. This can be done through studying the origins and dispersal of proxy organisms such as commensal and domesticated animals, as well as economically important wild fauna. To illustrate this approach, we compare historical records of maritime movement of people and pigs from two sites on Lord Howe Island, Australia, to phylogeographic results of DNA extracted from pig bones. Crown Copyright (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- ancient DNA
- Lord Howe Island