TEHRAN (FNA)- An American researcher has used modern genetic testing to determine the age and origin of medieval manuscripts through DNA analysis.
Timothy Stinson of North Carolina State University is trying to develop techniques for extracting and analyzing the DNA in the skin parchments bearing medieval manuscripts.
The results will then be kept as a genetic database to determine when and where a manuscript was written, Science Daily reported.
"Dating and localizing manuscripts have historically presented persistent problems," said Stinson, adding, "Because they have largely been based on the handwriting and dialect of the scribes who created the manuscripts - techniques that have proven unreliable for a number of reasons."
Stinson created a baseline using the DNA of the manuscripts that can be reliably dated and localized. He then dates unknown manuscripts by finding the relationship between the animals whose skins were used in unknown manuscripts and those used in baseline manuscripts.
According to Stinson, a typical medieval parchment book includes the skins of over 100 animals and therefore can provide large amounts of genetic data.
He says his research "will also allow us to trace the trade route of parchments," shedding light on the evolution of the book industry in the Middle Ages.
Funded by the Digital Research and Curation Center at Johns Hopkins University and the Council on Library and Information Resources, Stinson's study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America in New York City on Jan. 23, 2009.