View Full Version : 300+ y/o teeth discovered in archaeological dig: Recommendations for DNA testing

Wing Genealogist
10-27-2020, 11:35 AM
One of the Mayflower passenger societies has uncovered a couple of adult molar teeth during an archaeological dig of the homesite of a son of a Mayflower passenger a couple of years ago. This homesite was in the family from circa 1675 to the first half of the 1700's. It is believed the teeth were from this time period. They know the owners of the property during this time period as well as their families. It is believed the home itself was not used after it was sold out of the family, and the land was used for farming for a while, then reverted back to a wood grove.

The family society is interested in exploring if it may be possible to have one of the teeth tested for DNA. They have reached out to David Reich's lab at Harvard (they declined as they stated they don't deal with remains which have the possibility of being identified to an individual).

Ideally, they would like to work with a U.S. testing company, but their biggest consideration is the ability of the labs to successfully extract the tooth DNA while at the same time minimize as much as possible any contamination (as the teeth have been handled during the process).

They would like to be able to determine the sex of the individual, mtDNa and (if male) Y-DNA as well as autosomal. Given the fact this individual likely was a relatively few generations removed from their Mayflower ancestry, it is likely they would have inherited significant portions of their auDNA from them. It is hoped with this information, they would be able to identify the individual.

Given the fact only these two teeth were discovered, it appears they were extracted sometime during the lifetime of the individual, rather than finding a burial on the homestead.

Wing Genealogist
10-27-2020, 11:39 AM
It is my personal belief these two molars likely came from the same individual, but others believe they may belong to different (likely related) individuals. From what little research I have done, wisdom teeth have been a human problem for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. I believe these two teeth were extracted for this reason. As such, they may either be the wisdom teeth (third molars) or possibly even the second molars. I haven't seen anything about dental practices of the late 17th century regarding dealing with wisdom teeth, but would be interested in learning more.

11-16-2020, 06:10 AM
I wish they would have identified which Mayflower family the teeth might come from.

Wing Genealogist
11-16-2020, 11:18 AM
I wish they would have identified which Mayflower family the teeth might come from.

The Mayflower family is known, but at the present time I do not have the authority to release this information.