THE ICEMAN COMETH–DNA Testing and Fabric
Recently, DNA testing has been used to sequence the genome of Oetzi the Iceman’s clothing. We are now able to trace exactly where the fibres of his garments, both animal and plants originated over 5000 years ago.
Human DNA was a useful tool in the identification of Richard III’s remains. What about other items from his time? Of course, no fabric remains from his burial, but perhaps testing could clear up another mystery–the fate of the parliamentary robe he presented to Durham. It is supposed to have been ‘lost’ but there IS a blue, late medieval robe amidst the cathedral’s treasures. It doesn’t have the ‘lions’ on it that Richard’s was said to have, but that might be expected as the panels of donated robes were often used to fashion other garments, or draperies. What remains today could be a reconstituted, heavily changed item. Durham cathedral, however, says they think the robe is Italian…well, a modern test such as that performed on Oetzi’s garments could put the mystery to rest forever.
*An interesting connection between Richard and Oetzi the Iceman: they both share the same y-DNA, G2. This haplogroup was common in the earlier neolithic in Europe but lost ground in the chalcolithic/bronze age, when R1b became dominant. G2 reaches its highest frequencies in Sardinia and parts of France but can be found at very low levels throughout much of Europe. So, deep in time, Richard and Oetzi will share a common male ancestor.