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Scientists reveal parchment’s hidden stories

Posted on 8 December 2014

Documents stored in archives could unlock the history of British agriculture - via their DNA

Millions of documents stored in archives could provide scientists with the key to tracing the development of agriculture in the British Isles over the last 700 years, according to new research at the University of York and Trinity College Dublin.

But the crucial information the documents hold is not contained in their texts but the parchment on which it is written.

Researchers in Dublin and York used the latest scientific techniques to extract ancient DNA and protein from tiny samples of parchment from documents from the late 17th and late 18th centuries. The resulting information enabled them to establish the species type of animals from which the parchment was made.

See full story at the University of York and report in Science. 

Video here: