Where the Past Meets the Future


ancient DNA

Experience all of history, from the mammoth-hunting Stone Age nomads to the founders of Judaism and onward through the centuries using cutting-edge technologies that open exciting vistas of the future. A new browser game? No, it’s Primeval DNA Test, coming soon with a special introductory offer covering Ancient Britons, Egyptian Mummies, Chumash Paleo-Indians and more.

The world’s first available ancient DNA test series allows you to compare your personal genome with the DNA of real people in the past. Following a busy period of development with Israeli-American paleogeneticist Eran Elhaik, it is being pre-launched together with the company’s first podcast, The Time Traveler’s Suitcase.

The introductory offer for Primeval DNA focuses on seven ancient peoples. It will be followed by a full rollout in January 2019 with over fifty ancient cultures. The seven ancient peoples from which early adopters of ancient DNA can choose for now are:  Ancient Britons, Ancient Israelites, Chumash Paleo-Indians, Egyptian Mummies, Ice Age and Stone Age Europeans and Vikings in Medieval Iceland.

Millions of people have taken personal genome tests from various DNA testing services over the past few years to find their roots, but these comparisons involved only living people. Direct comparisons with ancient peoples were not done.

The ancient DNA approach uses newly discovered ancestry informative markers harvested from immense ancient genomic databases and powerful algorithms to analyze your genetic similarity to early human fossils, skeletons and ancient remains. DNA Consultants’ Primeval DNA Test is  based on novel approaches developed by geneticist Eran Elhaik, of the University of Sheffield in England.

Founded in 2003, DNA Consultants specializes in a forensic population matching approach to ancestry analysis. This will be the company’s first genomic product. Test-takers can upload their own personal genome data for free from another company or order a lab service that will work with ancient DNA.

The first ancient genome was published in 2010 from a 4,000-year-old Greenlander’s hair. In 2013, DNA recovered from the 28,000-year-old bones of Mal’ta Boy in Siberia proved a missing link between Europeans and Native Americans. By 2018, about 6,000 DNA samples had been recovered from archeological sites. Most were unpublished.

It’s a fast-moving field, and the pace of invention is only expected to accelerate. “That is where the professional prestige and excitement for all of us lies,” says Elhaik. “Ancient DNA is overturning or challenging many of the findings and assumptions of two generations of autosomal testing.”

“We don’t have to look at modern-day people and pretend they are accurate relics of the past anymore,” he adds. “Now, we can actually analyze ancient people and ask questions about their underlying population structure and what part of them is also a part of us.”

“Ancient DNA will necessitate wide-scale revisions of everyone’s personal ancestries and gradually rewrite the history books in surprising ways,” said Donald N. Yates, Ph.D., principal investigator at DNA Consultants. “Our company and staff are honored to be able to work with such a pioneer as Dr. Elhaik.”

Dr. Yates added that new genomic information from Dr. Elhaik’s laboratory was opening “window after window” in the structure, movement and admixture of ancient cultures. “It’s a complete ‘re-set’ for population genetics.”

Although much of the stirring epic of human mixtures and migrations is still unfolding, the big teaching of ancient DNA studies is that human history and culture are very different and much more complex than the ethnic models and percentages proposed by autosomal ancestry and current geopolitical origins testing.

“We really knew little about populations prior to the new technology and before being able to cut directly across time, comparing different regions and locales in the past,” said Elhaik. “The new data are game-changing and absolutely astonishing.”

“Most of the knowledge about the human past is still, so to speak, buried under our feet,” he continued. “I grew impatient waiting on others to reveal the treasures of ancient DNA, so in addition to developing the technologies that make all this feasible, I joined Professor Israel Finkelstein’s team digging in Tel Megiddo (in northern Israel) and collected samples myself … It was thrilling!”

One of the traces you can now test for in your personal genome is Ancient Israelites. This has been a long-awaited product for individuals interested in Jewish genetic genealogy.

Only last year, DNA Consultants added modern-day data for Israeli Jews for use with the DNA Fingerprint Test. The company also has four Jewish markers, Jewish as a megapopulation and four other contemporary Jewish populations in its database (Hungarian Ashkenazim, Majorcan Jews, Spanish Sephardim and Ukraine).

But people are naturally curious to see the exact age, strength and persistence of ancestry. The Ancient Israelites Test provides an extension of modern-day forensics into a type of forensic archeology. Those who take the test can now gauge the precise degree of genetic similarity between their individual genome and the ancient DNA of real Israelites buried in multiple sites within the borders of the present-day country, dating from the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic to early Biblical Times.

Such pinpointing of matches in different sites corresponding to the historical territories of Benjamin, Manasseh and Naphtali could conceivably answer questions about what tribes of Israel are emphasized in one’s distant ancestry.

“We are thrilled at the synergy of our two methods,” said Dr. Yates. “We have been committed to improving modern population matching with our DNA Fingerprint family of products for years,” he explained. “We will now be refining and defining ancient population matching with a new Primeval DNA line exclusively sold by us.”

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