Human DNA was obtained from a piece of fossil resin dated 5.7 thousand years ago.

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen were able to obtain human DNA from a piece of resin aged 5.7 thousand years, found during archaeological excavations in the town of Syltholm in southern Denmark. 

Human DNA from a piece of resin aged 5.7 thousand years.
The ancient blue-eyed hunter-gatherer was identified by chewing gum from birch tar

Ancient dna news

In the past, this material was used as gum by people living in the areas of present-day Europe. The results of a study of a piece of resin carried out by Danish scientists have been published in the British scientific journal Nature Communications.

Thanks to the DNA sample, the scientists produced a portrait of a woman who lived in the Neolithic Age (10,000 to 4,500 BC). Researchers believe that she had a gum disease, so she chewed on a piece of birch resin that contains natural antiseptic betulin. At that time, this material was also used as glue.

"It's unbelievable that we were able to get full human DNA from something other than bone," said project manager Hannes Schröder in a press release from the university.

Ancient dna analysis

According to scientists, the prehistoric woman had dark skin and hair and her eyes were blue. It was more like the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the mainland Europe at that time than the people who lived in central Scandinavia at that time.

Researchers also found traces of mononucleosis, an acute infectious disease, in birch gum. Scientists hope that this will help to better understand the development of diseases in humans. "It can help to better understand the spread of disease [in the past]," said Schröder.

It also turned out that the ancient girl was not a vegetarian, and that there were still traces of ducks and nuts in the resin. 

They also discovered that she had many microorganisms in her mouth, almost exactly the same as those living in the mouth of modern people. 

Information derived from ancient DNA and archaeology

Not so long ago, scientists found traces of human DNA in such a lump, and a group of researchers led by Hannes Schroeder from the University of Copenhagen decided to check what one can find out from another lump of tar, which was found during excavations in Saltholme, in the south of Denmark. Judging by the results of radiocarbon analysis, this tar was chewed 5858 to 5661 a year ago.