Molecular archaeobotany from its early foundations onward: New questions and perspectives for the genomic era

Author(s): Logan Kistler

Year: 2015


Following the inception of ancient DNA-based research in the mid 1980’s, researchers began applying the new toolkit of archaeogenetics to a diverse range of questions surrounding human-plant interactions. These early studies laid the groundwork for the field of molecular archaeobotany, exploring aspects of selection and domestication, movement of crop plants alongside humans, and human impacts on ancient ecosystems. Some two decades later, ancient DNA researchers began experimenting with next-generation sequencing technologies, and recent years have seen the high-profile fluorescence of genome-scale ancient DNA research with the publication of a number of complete genomes from ancient humans and archaic hominins. These technological developments have allowed researchers to mitigate—though certainly not to eliminate entirely—severe limitations of sample size, molecular marker choice, and accessible DNA fragment length that have been the perennial challenges of ancient DNA-based research. The same new methods are beginning to gain more widespread usage in anthropologically motivated plant archaeogenomics, dramatically increasing the breadth and resolution of approachable research using ancient plant DNA. Several recent studies begin to illustrate the utility of molecular archaeobotany in the age of genomics, but the full potential lies ahead.

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Cite this Record

Molecular archaeobotany from its early foundations onward: New questions and perspectives for the genomic era. Logan Kistler. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394916)