For the first time, new DNA technology is being used to trace human history in Somaliland in eastern Africa. – Here is great material to explore, says Anders Götherström, professor of molecular archeology at Stockholm University.
In Somaliland Anders Götherström encounters heat, desert and fantastic cave paintings. But these are the graves he wants to investigate.
Anders Götherström is one of the world’s leading experts in using new DNA technology in archaeological contexts and Somaliland fascinates. Here are hundreds of unexplored places. During excavations in other countries, several historical puzzles have been solved in recent years thanks to the new technology and Götherström hopes that Somaliland can become an important puzzle piece in human history writing.
The war did not stop the looting
Africa and then, above all, Ethiopia is often regarded as the home of man. But important knowledge is lacking about the time when humans started migrating north towards Europe and Asia over 60,000 years ago. The long civil war in Somalia effectively halted archeological expeditions, but in the autonomous region of Somaliland, Professor Götherström, together with two local colleagues, has visited several sites suitable for excavations. Looters have certainly stolen gold and other valuable items, but there are genetic treasures to investigate.
Success or setback?
Two parts of bone have been taken to Sweden and will now be analyzed at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm. In a couple of months, researchers can find out how old the bones are and what genetic history they carry as origin and diseases.
-If the bone remains give the result I hope for, I am interested in starting larger excavations that can last for many years, says Anders Götherström at Stockholm University.