Genetic analysis of ancient humans from Libyan Sahara
Ottoni, Claudio Babalini, Carla Martinez-Labarga, Cristina Novelli, Giuseppe Lorente, José Tafuri, Maryanne Manzi, Giorgio Di Lernia, Savino Rickards, Olga #
International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology edition:2 location:Stockholm date:7-9 September 2006
About 10,000 years ago the Sahara region appeared as a verdant landscape attracting animals and vegetation from southern latitudes and human groups as well. Instability of climate conditions up to the second part of the Holocene led to an arid phase, the Mahla event, which forced human groups to adapt their food security and settlement systems. Wadi Tanezzuft Valley, in the Acacus region (south-western Fezzan, Libyan Sahara), was one of the major river systems which offered support to people over many generations during the dry period. DNA was extracted from bone and teeth samples of 27 skeleton excavated in the Wadi Tanezzuft Valley dating to Pastoral and Garamantian period. Following stringent criteria proposed for ancient DNA authentication, we have analysed polymorphic sites within the hypervariable region I and II (HVR-I and II) and other SNPs in the coding region which are diagnostic for major branches in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tree. Phylogeographic analysis indicate a genetic continuity among human groups who succeeded one another during the Pastoral period and describe a scenario of continuous movement and intermingling of people in a rapidly transforming Saharan landscape. Considering the location of this site the success rate of DNA amplification was unexpectedly high. This may be due to the microenvironment within the tombs which in some cases led to desiccation of the corpses. We aim to conduct biochemical and microscopic analysis to further assess the state of bone preservation.