State Police DNA techniques unlock Mediterranean secrets - Business - The Boston Globe
By Adrianne Appel
| GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
JANUARY 16, 2012
Crime-solving method helps researchers learn about cargo carried on ancient shipwrecks
A Massachusetts archeologist has borrowed crime-solving DNA methods from the State Police to reveal what the ancient Greeks carried in the pointy-bottomed clay pots they stacked in the hulls of ships that sailed the Mediterranean Sea.
Mostly, it wasn’t wine, said Brendan P. Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Foley’s tests of nine jugs, or amphorae, that date back more than 2,200 years found traces of DNA from olive oil on six and from grapes on five, in addition to DNA from herbs, nuts, ginger, and legumes. The amphorae were reused continually by the ancient civilizations, Foley said.