An archaeological studies institute with Jilin University is conducting researches on human physique and ancient DNA over a woman corpse unearthed from Beijing's Laoshan Tomb dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). This is the first time that China uses the most advanced molecular biology means for DNA studies on royal members of Han Dynasty.
By now researchers have completed the body and image restoration and measurement work, and are now trying to abstract DNA from the bones unearthed, then enlarge and sequence it. Mr Pan Qifeng, noted anthropologist and senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, acted as technological advisor of the project.
The abstraction work is not going smooth since the DNA in bones of Laoshan Tomb has seriously degraded and the first two efforts failed to find DNA scraps containing more than 100 BP, said Zhu Hong, who is in charge of the project. On December 10 a scrap was finally abstracted from the brain tissues which can be put into testing if proved not polluted. If the DNA proved not belonging to the corpse itself, new samples would be abstracted from the teeth, place of the highest DNA density. It needs at least two months to complete a series of tests and draw the final conclusions.
The woman corpse was unearthed in Beijing in August 2000, and transported to Changchun on October 23 this year. The Jilin University, according to related agreements, is responsible for ancient bone and image restoration, as well as studies on ancient human physique and DNA, so as to provide genetics and anthropological evidences to the history and blood relationship of the royal family of Han Dynasty.
The University has successfully abstracted and studied human bones unearthed in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and Northeast China, and basically set up an ancient DNA bank of frontier areas.
(People's Daily December 30, 2002)