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mtDNA and osteological analyses of an unknown historical cemetery from upstate New York

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Title:mtDNA and osteological analyses of an unknown historical cemetery from upstate New York
Authors:Byrnes, Jennifer
Merriwether, D. Andrew
Sirianni, Joyce E.
Lee, Esther J.
LC Subject Headings:Forensic osteology
Human population genetics
Indians of North America
Date Issued:2012
Publisher:Springer Verlag
Abstract:Thirteen burials located on Jackson Street in Youngstown, NY, USA were recovered from a construction site and excavated in 1997. Based on the artifact assemblage, it was suggested that the cemetery was used sometime between the late 1700s and 1840. No historical records existed, and initial assessment of the skeletal remains was not able to determine any cultural affiliation. We carried out osteological and genetic investigations in order to gain insight into ancestral affiliation and kinship of the unknown individuals from the burials. Due to poor preservation of the remains, dental traits and limited osteological observations were available for only a few individuals. We performed DNA extraction and sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region following standard ancient DNA procedures. Our results suggest that ten individuals have evidence of biological affiliation with Native Americans, and in particular, four individuals have maternal Native American ancestry. One male individual was determined to be of European ancestry, from both the mtDNA and osteological results. This burial may reflect admixture as a result of frequent contact between Native Americans and Europeans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and attempts by missionaries to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of a multifaceted approach through archaeological, osteological, and genetic analysis that provides valuable perspectives in understanding the individuals buried at the Jackson Street Burials.
Rights:The final publication is available at Springer via
Appears in Collections: Byrnes, Jennifer

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