May. 6th, 2011

berangere: (anthropo fun)
[personal profile] berangere
This post belongs to the Frequently-Or-Not-So-Frequently-Asked-Questions in Archaeology project.

prompt by [personal profile] yvi

I would like to know what modern scientific methods (especially to do with molecular Biology, but feel free to mention others) are used in archeology and for what.

  I will deal now with molecular biology, and will list the others sciences I can think of in another post (that will probably be dating-methods heavy). First, I'd like to make clear that I had to look for the exact definition of 「Molecular Biology」 in wikipedia. I felt that the limits of this science are quite blurry so I am not sure everything that will be dealt with in this article really relates to molecular biology. Let's say I tried to focus on anything related to genes, cells or proteins. Therefore, it is essentially linked to human remains, that are not found in every archaeological excavation. I suppose the techniques can be applied to animal remains either, according to the problematic of the excavation or the study.
  I suppose [personal profile] yvi  is quite familiar with molecular biology, hence the question, but I tried to include really basic explanations for the article to be understandable to people with no scientific background. Note that I am not a biologist and that my explanations may not be particularly good.

Five applications I have frequently encountered )

  Those are the only application of molecular biology I can think of. There may be others that I just forgot. I really hope I got the definition of molecular biology correct.
  Most of those techniques are quite expensive, therefore not systematically used in a domain like archaeology where the lack of funds is so common it has become a feature we are trained to deal with from the beginning of our formation.


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