3 years ago

Ancient DNA reveals the Arctic origin of Viking Age cod from Haithabu, Germany [Anthropology]

Ancient DNA reveals the Arctic origin of Viking Age cod from Haithabu, Germany [Anthropology]
James H. Barrett, Christophe Pampoulie, Halvor Knutsen, Elena A. Nikulina, Sissel Jentoft, Sanne Boessenkool, Agata T. Gondek, Kȷetill S. Jakobsen, Bastiaan Star, Nils Chr. Stenseth, Christoph Petereit, Carl Andre, Dirk Heinrich, Jan Dierking, Heidi M. Nistelberger, Anne Karin Hufthammer

Knowledge of the range and chronology of historic trade and long-distance transport of natural resources is essential for determining the impacts of past human activities on marine environments. However, the specific biological sources of imported fauna are often difficult to identify, in particular if species have a wide spatial distribution and lack clear osteological or isotopic differentiation between populations. Here, we report that ancient fish-bone remains, despite being porous, brittle, and light, provide an excellent source of endogenous DNA (15–46%) of sufficient quality for whole-genome reconstruction. By comparing ancient sequence data to that of modern specimens, we determine the biological origin of 15 Viking Age (800–1066 CE) and subsequent medieval (1066–1280 CE) Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) specimens from excavation sites in Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Archaeological context indicates that one of these sites was a fishing settlement for the procurement of local catches, whereas the other localities were centers of trade. Fish from the trade sites show a mixed ancestry and are statistically differentiated from local fish populations. Moreover, Viking Age samples from Haithabu, Germany, are traced back to the North East Arctic Atlantic cod population that has supported the Lofoten fisheries of Norway for centuries. Our results resolve a long-standing controversial hypothesis and indicate that the marine resources of the North Atlantic Ocean were used to sustain an international demand for protein as far back as the Viking Age.

You might also like
Never Miss Important Research

Researcher is an app designed by academics, for academics. Create a personalised feed in two minutes.
Choose from over 15,000 academics journals covering ten research areas then let Researcher deliver you papers tailored to your interests each day.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.