A group of scientists extracted ancient DNA found in a 20,000-year-old piece of bone jewelry, allowing them to travel back in time to get a glimpse of its owner.
The deer tooth pendant was found in Denisova Cave in Russia, a site that has long drawn the attention of explorers looking for bone fragments and other items related to Stone Age humans.
The team, led by researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, used a new method to recover the DNA trapped in the necklace, then analyzed the genetic material for clues about its putative owner.
The DNA suggested that the wearer was a female with genetic links to ancient North Eurasian people who lived around the same time but were previously found only further east in Siberia, the authors of the study published in the journal Nature wrote on Wednesday.
According to “dpa”, the necklace dates back between 19,000 and 25,000 years.
Objects made of bone are porous, allowing DNA to penetrate them.
“Our work redefines how cultural and genetic records are linked in prehistoric archeology,” the study said, adding that “artifacts made of stone, bone and teeth are central to our understanding of human living strategies, behavior and culture.”