5 historical figures’ remains identified with DNA

Published on June 17th, 2009 | by Admin


Mental_Floss has compiled a list of 5 fascinating stories of historical figures whose remains have been identified through DNA analysis.

For a time, most people forgot about the body [of St. Luke the Evangelist] in Padua. In 1998, Guido Barbujani of the University of Ferrara broke the seals of the coffin to study of the corpse. The head was returned from Prague and it fit perfectly on the topmost vertebra. Without direct descendants, scientists couldn’t identify Luke, but they could use radiocarbon dating to determine how old the bones were. They were pleased to find the bones belonged a man who died in his 80s around 150 C.E. Using DNA extracted from a tooth in the coffin and comparing it to samples from modern day Kurds and Greeks, Barbujani learned that the body was three times more likely to be Syrian than Greek. He said if Luke’s body is a fake relic, it is one of the most accurate fakes on record.

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