In 2010, a multidisciplinary research group at the University of Helsinki decided to re-investigate the mystery of Levänluhta. The site, thought to be e.g. a sacrificial spring, is exceptional even in global scale and has yielded altogether c. 75 kg human bone material. The research group, led by docent Anna Wessman, had an ambitious aim: to find who the deceased buried in Levänluhta were, and why they were exceptionally buried under water so far from dwelling sites. Now, after several years of scientific work, the group reports their results in the most recent issue of Nature. The results are part of a more extensive international study shedding light on the colonization and population history of Siberia with DNA data from ancient -- up to 31 000 years old -- human bones.
"In our part, we wanted especially to find out the origins of the Iron Age remains found from Levänluhta," says the group leader Anna Wessman.
Edge - DNA - Technology - Department - Forensic
This was investigated using cutting edge ancient DNA sequencing technology, which Department of Forensic Medicine is interested in due to the forensic casework performed at the department. Professor Antti Sajantila explains that the early phases of this project were demanding.
"Unability to repeat even our own results was utterly frustrating," Sajantila tells about the first experiments in the laboratory.
Methods - Co-operation - Results - Genomes - Levänluhta
The methods were developing rapidly during the international co-operation, and ultimately the first Finnish results were shown to be accurate. Yet, it was surprising that the genomes of three Levänluhta individuals clearly resembled those of the modern Sámi people.
"We understood this quite early, but it took long to confirm these...
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One of the countries we liberated was Russia, too bad it seems to have cost us our liberty.