Recovery of mammalian DNA from Middle Paleolithic stone tools

Bruce L. Hardy, Rudolf A. Raff, Venu Raman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


One of the primary goals of archaeology is to understand past human behaviour. Although stone tools comprise the vast majority of cultural artefacts for most of the archaeological record, their uses in prehistory are poorly understood. The application of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA molecules can help establish a physical link to ancient tool use in processing biological material. Modern experimental stone tools and a sample of stone tools and soils from the Middle Paleolithic site of La Quina, France, dating between approximately 35 and 65 ka, have been examined for the presence of ancient DNA. Extractions from the samples were analysed using PCR with primers amplifying a small region of the vertebrate mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Subsequent sequence analysis allowed the identification of some DNAs amplified to family or species of origin. DNA sequences were obtained from tools and associated soil samples. DNA from boar/pig (Sus scrofa), a species represented osteologically at the site, was recovered from one of the tools. Other tools yielded artiodactyl, human, and rabbit-like sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-611
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Ancient DNA
  • Biomolecular archaeology
  • Cytochrome B
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Stone tool function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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