An international research team led by Lund University in Sweden has developed an AI-based method that can accurately date human remains ten thousand years old by analyzing DNA. Scientists analyzed around 5,000 human remains with a median accuracy of 259 to 428 years.
AI has learned to date human remains
Accurate dating is crucial for mapping how people have migrated throughout world history.
We know that the standard is radiocarbon dating which was developed in the 1950s. It is a method based on the ratio between two different carbon isotopes, which has revolutionized archaeology. But the technology isn’t always accurate, making it difficult to map ancient peoples, their movements and their relationships.
In a new study published in Cell report methodsthe research team has developed a dating method that could be of great interest to archaeologists and paleogenomists.
Information about the period encoded in the genetic material
Eran Elhaik, a molecular cell biology researcher at Lund University, who previously developed a version of the Turkic origins of Central European Jews and spoke of the first test to compare the DNA of a modern human with the remains ancient peoples. Dr. Elhaik says about new method dating remains: âUnreliable dating is a major problem, leading to vague and contradictory results. Our method uses artificial intelligence to date genomes via their DNA with high precision.
Thus, the method is called Temporal Population Structure (TPS) and can be used to date genomes that are up to 10,000 years old. About 5,000 human remains analyzed by the research team as part of the study – from the late Mesolithic period (10,000 to 8,000 BC) to modern times. All the samples studied were dated with an accuracy rarely seen.
âWe show that information about when people lived is encoded in genetic material. By figuring out how to interpret it and situate it in time, we managed to date it using AI,â explains Eran Elhaik.
Scientists can trace the origins of ancient peoples
The TPS should not eliminate radiocarbon dating, the researchers say, but rather views the method as an additional tool in the paleogeographic toolbox. They say the method can be used when there is uncertainty about a radiocarbon dating result. An example is the famous human skull from ZlatÃ½ kÅ¯Å in today’s Czech Republic, which may be between 15,000 and 34,000 years old.
âRadiocarbon dating can be very unstable and depends on the quality of the material examined. Our method is DNA-based, which makes it very robust. Now we can seriously start tracing the origins of ancient peoples and mapping their migration routes,â concludes Eran Elhaik.