Stone Age “chewing gum” yields 5,700 year-old human genome and oral microbiome

T. Z. T. Jensen, J. Niemann, K. Højholt Iversen, A.K. Fotakis, S. Gopalakrishnan, M.­H. S. Sinding, M. R. Ellegaard, M. E. Allentoft, L. T. Lanigan, A. J. Taurozzi, S. Holtsmark Nielsen, M.W. Dee, M. N. Mortensen, M. C. Christensen, S. A. Sørensen, M. J. Collins, M.T.P. Gilbert, M. Sikora, S. Rasmussen, H. Schroeder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paperResearch

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We present a complete ancient human genome and oral microbiome sequenced from a piece of resinous “chewing gum” recovered from a Stone Age site on the island of Lolland, Denmark, and directly dated to 5,858­5,661 cal. BP (GrM­13305; 5,007±11). We sequenced the genome to an average depth-­of­coverage of 2.3× and find that the individual who chewed the resin was female and genetically more closely related to western hunter­gatherers from mainland Europe, than hunter­gatherers from central Scandinavia. We use imputed genotypes to predict physical characteristics and find that she had dark skin and hair, and blue eyes. Lastly, we also recovered microbial DNA that is characteristic of an oral microbiome and faunal reads that likely associate with diet. The results highlight the potential for this type of sample material as a new source of ancient human and microbial DNA.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Ancient DNA
  • Hunter-­gatherer
  • Microbial DNA
  • Mesolithic
  • Neolithic
  • Resin


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