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Species-level identification of goose remains from archaeological sites is confounded by the lack of morphometric criteria by which to differentiate the bones. This results in the loss of both palaeoecological and archaeological information. In order to address this problem we have developed an ancient DNA-based identification system which centres on the amplification of the first domain of the mitochondrial control region. We have used this technique to identify remains from two archaeological sites in Lincolnshire, a post-Mediaeval garderobe deposit from Vicars Court, Lincoln and the Anglo-Saxon settlement at Flixborough. From Vicars Court we have identified domestic goose remains, and from Flixborough we have identified both domestic and pink-footed geese. Biometric analysis of the ancient DNA identified bones from Flixborough confirms that a large degree of size variation occurs within each species, supporting the use of ancient DNA in the identification of the remains. Histological analysis of a subsample of the bones from Flixborough confirms the previously suggested relationship between ancient DNA survival and histological preservation. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Archaeological Science

Publication Date





91 - 100