Although previous studies have demonstrated successful single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping of modern samples, the potential applicability of this methodology to ancient human specimens has not been confirmed. With regard in particular to the SNPs in the ABCC11, EDAR, FGFR2, and ABO genes, all of which are commonly analyzed in biomedical research, only a relatively limited number of papers on ancient specimens are currently available. We thus studied the SNP genotypes in the ABCC11, EDAR, FGFR2, and ABO genes of mummies from the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Those SNP genotypes in brain samples (n = 5) were determined using multiplex single-base extension (SBE) primers in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses of each gene locus. SNP analysis revealed the mummies’ ABCC11 genotype was revealed to be 538AA (dry-type earwax and low risk for axillary osmidrosis). In the EDAR and FGFR2 genes, the variant alleles rs3827760-CC (EDAR) and rs4752566-TT (FGFR2), indicative of thick and straight hair, were identified. In addition, the ABO genotypes BO02 (SN1-2), O01O02 (Sapgyo), AO01 (Hadong2), BB (Yongin), and O02O02 (SN PK) were identified. Our SNP genotyping of Korean mummies provided us with specific insight into the potential of this methodology for application to the analysis of ancient human specimens. This study fills a gap in our knowledge of the use of SNP genotyping in forensic medicine by proving that it can help to reveal the physical traits of ancient individuals.
We studied the relationship of tooth agenesis with tooth size and its proportional variability (PV) based on mesiodistal crown diameters of 276 Japanese males including 49 individuals for reference. Tooth agenesis was classified into third molar agenesis, hypodontia, and multiple agenesis. In addition, third molar agenesis was classified into four types according to the number of congenitally missing third molars. PV was measured by standard deviation of log-transformed data. The size of remaining teeth was generally larger in the agenesis groups than in the reference group, and largest in individuals with hypodontia, followed by those with multiple agenesis and those with third molar agenesis. The findings suggest the existence of two types of tooth agenesis differing in nature, where remaining teeth tend to enlarge in the ‘moderate type’ and reduce in the ‘degenerative type.’ The former is dominant in (tooth agenesis of) the Japanese, whereas the latter seems to be more prevalent in European descendants, which is in accordance with recent findings in genetics. The ‘moderate type’ might be advantageous for survival in human microevolution because of its improved function and reduced risk of dentoskeletal discrepancies. The PV of tooth size was greater in the agenesis groups than in the reference group except for premolars and second molars. Among those with third molar agenesis, the greatest increase in PV was exhibited by those with all third molars missing, followed by those with two third molars missing. Among remaining teeth, canines and first molars tended to exhibit a greater increase of PV in agenesis groups, whereas their magnitude of PV did not exceed that of other teeth. These results can be explained by the genetic stability of canines and first molars and an increased variation due to common factors across remaining teeth associated with tooth agenesis.
The Japanese medieval period encompassed almost 400 years, between 1185 and 1573 AD. Previous research of human skeletal remains from medieval Kamakura City has shown that medieval people had a poor level of health and general living conditions because of malnutrition and interpersonal violence. The aims of this study are to apply bioarchaelogical analyses to a new series of human skeletal remains from the Nozoji-ato site in Kamakura City and to test the hypothesis that the bioarchaeological features that characterize medieval Japanese people are commonly seen in the new skeletal series. The Nozoji-ato site has been dated to a chronological age of between 1500 and 1700 AD based on the known sequence of coins and vessels, but most of these artefacts belonged to the medieval period. A sample size of 45 individuals was used in this study from individual graves. The results of this study indicate that the sample from Nozoji-ato is characterized by an old age-at-death distribution and high number of caries-lesion and ante-mortem tooth loss frequencies. Individuals from the Nozoji-ato site also tend to lack evidence for lethal trauma, a phenomenon that is frequently observed in other comparative medieval populations. The results presented in this study led to the conclusion that the Nozoji-ato exhibit different bioarchaeological features compared to the populations from the first half of the medieval period and that living conditions at this site were less severe than expected.
Many medieval skulls from Kamakura, Japan were found to be characterized by dolichocephaly, although these medieval people are most likely to be the ancestors of the modern Japanese. The specificity in the metric cranial traits has been repeatedly demonstrated by archaeological findings from other medieval sites in Kamakura City. It is not known whether these specific features were shared by the descendants of the medieval Kamakura people due to a complete lack of the skeletal remains belonging to the later half of the medieval period. Fortunately, we obtained access to a new series of skeletal remains of the later half of the medieval period from the Nozoji-ato site, and examined the variation in craiometric traits during the medieval period. The results revealed that the Nozoji-ato series were more brachycephalic than the populations within medieval Kamakura City and demonstrated the presence of secular changes within the Japanese medieval period. New data from the Nozoji-ato series thus showed that the medieval people within Kamakura City exhibited wider intra-regional variations in cranial measurements than previously anticipated. It is concluded that this contrasts with the commonly accepted theory that medieval populations were homogeneous in terms of dolichocephaly.
The Rakhigarhi site is the location of the ruins of an ancient megacity of the Harappan civilization and had not previously been investigated thoroughly. We tried to examine the physical and pathological traits of human skeletons (n = 37) from the cemetery at the site. In our study, a cranial index was calculated from one male skull (dolichocranic; index value = 65.78). The mean statures estimated by long bone length were 175.8 cm (male) and 166.1 cm (female). The indices of femoral diaphyseal shape were 79.8 (males) and 90.31 (females) for the platymeric index; and 113.78 (males) and 112.74 (female) for the pilasteric index. The dental health of the subjects appeared to be good as the overall prevalence of oral pathologies (caries and antemortem tooth loss) was generally low. Periosteal reactions were found in tibias and possible evidence of osteomyelitis was also observed in a femur. Some joint parts showed signs of osteoarthritis. Although various pathologies have been identified, we could not find any specific lesions suggestive of leprosy and tuberculosis in these skeletons. Although our study has added invaluable data to the existing information pool on the health and disease status of Harappan society, more accurate conjecture on the structure of Harrappan society based on bioarchaeological evidence will need additional research based on future excavations at Rakhigarhi cemetery.