DNA Evidence on artifacts: A Review Essay

Deoxyribonucleic acid Evidence on artefacts: A Reappraisal


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Dr. Kelly Dixon was the writer and conducted a bulk of the research for the peer-reviewed article, titledSurvival of Biological Evidence on Artifacts: Applying Forensic Techniques at the Boston Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada. “Dixon specializes in archeology in the American West, with involvements in archeologies of version, colonisation, colonialism, landscapes, landscape transmutations, human-environment interactions, boomtowns, extractive industries, marginalized populations, and text-aided attacks to archaeology ( University of Montana 2014:1 ) .

The article seeks to understand the usage of certain points in relation to its users by analysing the leftover DNA, specifically concentrating these attempts at the site of the Boston Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada during the late 1800s. By analysing the little fluctuations in DNA construction in comparing to “control samples” found in the country, Dixon was able to do associations between the points and users antecedently non known.

Main Points

There are several articles discoursing artefacts from the American West ; what makes this article utile and of import is that it seeks to happen relationships between points and their users. This information is really critical when seeking to speculate how people interacted and lived from twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours, particularly during a clip when written records are hard to get.

The article begins by depicting the location and ownership of the Boston Saloon in regard to other constructions in the town of Virginia City. The arrangement from one location to another, harmonizing to records, demonstrates that the barroom was a successful venture and that many people utilized the constitution. The article so aims at carrying the reader that understanding the issues of racial segregation, arrangement in society and societal “norms” is of import and relevant. The writer hypothesizes that the Boston Saloon chiefly served males of colour or “catered to people of African ancestry” . ( Dixon 2006:21 ) . How is this hypothesis best tested? The article seeks to reply this inquiry with the usage of DNA grounds found on points unearthed at the site of the Boston Saloon.

Toward the terminal of the article, Dixon begins to concentrate her thesis off from supplying concrete trials done upon points such as a baccy pipe root, a brass trombone mouthpiece and a fragment of a carbon black palpebra to doing steadfast associations and developing positive decisions from her surveies. Through the organic structure of her thesis she was able to pull her audience from a oppugning province to holding with her findings.

The first illustration was the most interesting. Most archeologists find a baccy pipe and presume it was likely used by a wealthier, white male. Tobacco was non a necessity for endurance and holding some meant that individual had discretional income to pass. What was discovered and proved through DNA analysis was that the pipe really belonged to a female, most likely an African American. It was widely thought that adult females did non partake in smoke, trusting to non look “immoral” .

The other points such as the dental plates and mouthpiece did non incorporate DNA leftovers, largely due to UV beams degrading the Deoxyribonucleic acid construction. Deoxyribonucleic acid is susceptible “to UV radiation on debasement of human DNA as related to wavelength and exposure time” ( Howland 2002:14 ) . These samples stills proved valuable to her thesis because they provided a control sample – an point that was successfully recovered from the site without taint of modern DNA or cross linking. “Through handling of specimens and UV radiation, DNA can cross-link ; hence, losing its identifying properties” ( Fish 2002:34 ) .

Research Methods

Dixon along with others that she mentions in her recognitions utilised many beginnings during the readying of this article. Books runing from cultural alteration to criminalistics were referenced. On this note, I predict that most, if non all, the scholarly beginnings specifically covering with Old West grounds were utilized for this article. Dixon was able to successfully roll up the modern “knowledge pool” to verify that she was non doubling her attempts or grossly rebuting another scholar’s respected work. Her decisions at the terminal of the article venture into item on why she did what she did and the logic behind her determinations.

The research methods utilized for this article were physical in nature. Inspection of the site of the Boston Saloon was necessary and this paper was an result of that digging. The demand for Dixon to physically analyze each specimen was required and added more cogency to her statements.

Dixon used statistical rating, for the most portion, in quantifying the Deoxyribonucleic acid grounds found and developing associations from this information. “She does site challenges in decoding between assorted DNA constructions ; whether these happened in the late 1800’s or if during another time.” ( Johnson 2007:04 ) In add-on, she tabulates her findings and even performs gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer testing.


The peer-reviewed article, titledSurvival of Biological Evidence on Artifacts: Applying Forensic Techniques at the Boston Saloon, Virginia City, Nevadashould be considered the unequivocal reply to the inquiry “how did some people ( specifically African Americans ) spend their free clip in Virginia City? ” The strengths of this article lie in its thorough research or anterior scholarly plants and significant grounds that she discovers to further thrust place her decision.

Failings in the research are merely related to common jobs in archeology, largely mentioning to a deficiency of concrete grounds and unequivocal replies. The exact race, age and other variables from the DNA grounds could non be deciphered, betterment could be made at that place. The exact method on how she utilized GC/MS proving was non discussed, so there could be some room for treatment on that forepart.

All in all, the article is an first-class illustration of a peer-reviewed entry worthy of publication. The pool of cognition associating to DNA grounds and associations was decently summarized and logical decisions were reached, that being “these techniques facilitate findings of sex and lineage from mass-produced atrifacts that may non, on the surface, let such finding without terrible speculation” ( Dixon 2006:27 ) .

Mentions Cited

Dixon, Kelly

2006Survival of Biological Evidence on Artifacts: Applying Forensic Techniques at the Boston Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada.Historical Archaeology, Volume 40 No. 3 pp-20-30. Society of Historical Archaeology.

Johnson SS, Hebsgaard MB, Christensen TR, Mastepanov M.

2007 Ancient Bacteria Show Evidence of DNA Repair, PNAS 104 ( 36 ) : 14401–5

Howland, Mary

2002Deoxyribonucleic acid: Structure and AimAmerican Journal of Medical Sciences, 14, p. 39.

Woodward SR, Weyand NJ, Bunnell M

1994 DNA sequence from Cretaceous period bone fragments. Science 266 ( 5188 ) : 1229–32.

Fish SA, Shepherd TJ, McGenity TJ, Grant WD

2002Recovery of 16S Ribosomal RNA Gene Fragments From Ancient Halite ” . Nature 417 ( 6887 ) : 432–6.

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO USA2National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC USA3Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Ohio State University, N1043 Doan Hall, 410W 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210-1228 USA4Orthopaedic Traumatology, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD USA

University of Montana

2014 hypertext transfer protocol: //www.cas.umt.edu/casweb//faculty/facultyDetails.cfm? id=510

Accessed October 29, 2014. Jason H. Calhoun, Telephone: +614-293-2165, Fax: +614-293, Email: ude.cmuso @ nuohlac.nosaj.

Matching writer.

Received June 16, 2008 ; Accepted January 27, 2009.


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