Washington: A team of scientists has found a new technique of analysing DNA that is found in ancient parchments that can help tracing agricultural development across the centuries.
The study conducted at Trinity College Dublin and the University of York used state-of-the-art scientific techniques to extract ancient DNA and protein from tiny samples of parchment from documents from the late 17th and late 18th centuries.
Professor of Population Genetics at Trinity College Dublin, Daniel Bradley, said that this pilot project suggested that parchments were an amazing resource for genetic studies that consider agricultural development over the centuries. There must be millions stored away in libraries, archives, solicitors' offices and even in our own attics. After all, parchment was the writing material of choice for thousands of years, going back to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Professor Matthew Collins, of the Department of Archaeology at York, said that they believed that the two specimens derive from an unimproved northern hill-sheep typical in Yorkshire in the 17th century, and from a sheep derived from the 'improved' flocks, such as those bred in the Midlands by Robert Bakewell, which were spreading through England in the 18th century.
The study is published in the international journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.