, a term coined by Colin Renfrew
, refers to the application of the techniques of molecular genetics
to the study of the human
past. This can involve:
- the analysis of DNA recovered from archaeological remains;
- the analysis of DNA from modern human populations in order to the history of that population, and;
- the application of statistical methods developed by molecular geneticists to archaeological data.
The topic has its origins in the study of human blood groups
and the realisation that this classical genetic marker provides information about linguistic
groupings. Early work in this field included that of Ludwik and Hanka Herschfeld, William Boyd and Arthur Mourant. From the 1960s
onwards, Luca Cavalli-Sforza
used classical genetic markers to examine the population prehistory of Europe, culminating in the publication of The History and Geography of Human Genes
In 1987 Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking and A. C. Wilson published support for the Out of Africa hypothesis and introduced the idea of Mitochondrial Eve, based upon analysis of mitochondrial DNA in modern populations.
- Cann, R.L., Stoneking, M., and Wilson, A.C., 1987, Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution, Nature 325; pp 31-36
- Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Menozzi, P., and Piazza, A., 1994, The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Renfrew, A.C., and Boyle, K.V., (Eds), 2000, Archaeogenetics: DNA and the population prehistory of Europe. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.