DNA-based method developed to identify contents of amphorae

Published on October 26th, 2011 | by Sevaan Franks


Researchers are now using a DNA-based method to determine the contents of ancient amphorae.

Shipwrecks and other sites have yielded plenty of intact amphorae. Maddeningly, nearly all are empty, devoid of obvious clues to what they once held. Researchers have scraped bits of ceramic from the vessel’s interior to look for leftover genetic material. In the new study, however, they also turned to a less destructive method straight from television’s CSI: swiping the amphorae with a swab. The idea came from the Massachusetts State Police, whom the investigators called for leads.

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Story: Traci Watson, ScienceMag | Photo: Oleksii Zaborovets/iStockphoto.com

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