I recently read an article saying DNA analysis has shown some of the people buried in Viking graves in Scandinavia originated from places like Persia and it is talking about something around 1000 years ago.

How accurate could this analysis be based on our DNA and the fact that we have 99.9% DNA similarity?

  • $\begingroup$ Vikings travelled through the mediterranian and all rivers for trade, there are museums with roman jewellery and persian silk artefacts found in sweden. The analysis is FORENSICALLY precise... your mother has blue eyes, you have blue eyes. persians have type A1 protein, swedish have A2... they only have a 50 percent complete DNA to find a collection of A1,B1,C1 genes, to know that the human was almost entirely from zone 1. $\endgroup$ – com.prehensible Oct 13 '17 at 12:54

Adding to comprehensible's answer, 99.9% similar DNA still leaves 0.1% of different DNA. Within this 0.1% would be enough differences to be able to find the differences that comprehensible mentioned. This is also how the ancestry tests that are so popular these days work.

Additionally, for that type of place-of-origin analysis, my impression is they commonly look at isotopes of chemicals found in the bones, and matching it to profiles found in other regions.

For example, let's say that an area we're interested in has high levels of isotope X but low levels of isotope Y in the water and food, which we discovered from examining the archeological record. If we find someone in that area whose bones have low levels of isotope X and high levels of isotope Y, we can conclude that this person traveled here later.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that 0.1% of the human genome leaves four million differences. Four million is plenty of room for identification $\endgroup$ – iayork Nov 13 '17 at 13:01

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