Manuscript DNA: an addendum

A follow-up to this post in which I talked about a John Hopkins University project to use DNA matching from parchment to try and pin down the origins of medieval manuscripts: one commentator expressed surprise that this hadn’t already been thought of, and of course it turns out it has, by no less a figure than Professor Michael Drout of Wormtalk and Slugspeak, who has now written as much there. It seems that I had forgotten his 2007 post about a project of his with very similar bases, which I rather regret. However, as Prof. Drout’s blog only allows comments from Google accounts, I can’t apologise there. Instead I will say, that if you were interested by this possibility, you should go and have a look at Prof. Drout’s new post because it goes into some details about the difficulties his team has encountered and explores the methodology a bit more clearly than the JHU press release, which largely discussed the theory. And, as he says, if it’s to work it will only work through large samples, so plural teams trying it is not necessarily a bad thing. All the same, I like to recognise claims to prior art.


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