Ancient DNA gives insights into ancient kings

Written by by Staff Writer

(CNN) — More than 2,000 years ago, an Asian king was born — only to die six months later.

This event is thought to have happened between the year 1,000 and 1,200.

Now, researchers at Duke University and the Chiang Mai Institute in Thailand have used DNA sequencing to claim the man was 112 years old.

“The data collection work was extremely challenging and what we found is that the king was born a year later than previously thought,” says Professor Noah Fierer, who led the analysis of the DNA.

According to the researchers, the newborn son of the king was the ‘priestess’ of an Asian country and lived the rest of his life with the legendary guardian.

The newborn lived for 13 years before he died.

It was a unique hereditary system — the process of passing on the royal bloodline. The genealogy published earlier this year was some 240 years old, and the new findings are thought to confirm the ancestry of the European Chinese emperor along with a variety of ancients from Southeast Asia and India.

By tracking the DNA of several ancient individuals, the team was able to make a strong connection.

Century-old records

Duke University

“Ancestry should be accepted as fact based on solid evidence of past interactions,” says lead researcher Dr. Jerry Tetrault, professor of medicine and pathology.

“By analyzing the DNA and how it’s linked to other genetic materials from an ancient population, we can construct a picture of the population at the time.”

The original reference was written in a 13th century Mandarin manuscript.

By retracing the origins of the kings through the genealogy in search of complete lists of the relatives of the Thai king, researchers were able to draw up the image of the royal lineage.

Catherine Collins, a Duke doctoral student with a background in ancient DNA, says the original reference lists contain important names and the royal lineage derived from them.

“They included everything from a select handful of kings to kings with no direct descendants, but who had fallen on hard times and left children behind,” says Collins.

As DNA-sequencing techniques are available to modern-day scientists, there is no turning back, so it’s hoped that the scientific study of past ancestors will be used to build a clearer picture of our ancestral past and help people understand the roots of our characteristics.

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