Advances in Earth Science
• Articles •
LAI Xu-long. ANCIENT BIOMOLECULES AND MOLECULAR ARCHAEOLOGY—A REVIEW[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2001, 16(2): 163-171.
As the development of modern molecular biology, organic geochemistry during past decade,it is possible to use ancient biomolecules including ancient DNA, ancient protein,biomarkers and stable isotopes to answer plenty of archaeology related key problems. This paper mainly reviews ancient biomolecules and its application to archaeology—the emerging field of molecular archaeology. It includes following three main parts:Firstly, ancient DNA preserved in ancient samples younger than 100,000 years can be recovered and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It is possible for us to use ancient DNA for genetic analysis in human origin and migration,precise identification of archaeological remains, plant and animal domestication and development of early agriculture.Secondly, one area of ancient protein research where much greater investment has been made in predictive models of diagenesis, is that of amino acid racemization. The increase in proportion of the non biological (D) isomer of amino acid relative to L isomer has been widely used in archaeology as a tool for dating. This new dating approach is of great potential in archaeology and forensic medicine.Thirdly, biomarkers such as lipids and bitumen extracted from archaeological materials can reveal secrets of past civilizations. New data also prove that Carbon(C3, C4) and Nitrogen stable isotopes document the diet in ancient human populations.Finally, the author also prospect potential fields of molecular archaeology in China.