Beyond simple kinship and identification. aDNA analyses from a 17th-19th century crypt in Germany

Alterauge, Amelie; Lösch, Sandra; Sulzer, Andrea; Gysi, Mario; Haas, Cordula (2021). Beyond simple kinship and identification. aDNA analyses from a 17th-19th century crypt in Germany. Forensic science international. Genetics, 53, p. 102498. Elsevier 10.1016/j.fsigen.2021.102498

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Ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis is a powerful tool in multidisciplinary research on human remains, potentially leading to kinship scenarios and historical identifications. In this study, we present a genetic investigation of three noble families from the 17th to 19th centuries AD entombed in burial crypts at the cloister church of Riesa (Germany). Tests were aimed at identifying anticipated and incidental genetic relationships in our sample and the implications thereof for the assumed identity of the deceased. A total of 17 individuals were investigated via morphological, radiographic and aDNA analysis, yielding complete and partial autosomal and Y-STR profiles and reliable mtDNA sequences. Biostatistics and lineage markers revealed the presence of first to third degree relationships within the cohort. The pedigrees of the families Hanisch/von Odeleben and von Welck were thereby successfully reproduced, while four previously unknown individuals could be linked to the von Felgenhauer family. However, limitations of biostatistical kinship analysis became evident when the kinship scenario went beyond simple relationships. A combined analysis with archaeological data and historical records resulted in (almost) unambiguous identification of 14 of the 17 individuals.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of Archaeological Sciences > Pre- and Early History

UniBE Contributor:

Alterauge, Amelie Sophie and Lösch, Sandra


900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
900 History > 940 History of Europe








Amelie Sophie Alterauge

Date Deposited:

27 Apr 2021 17:05

Last Modified:

02 May 2021 03:04

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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