I began my undergrad career as an archaeology major. When I discovered that I enjoyed working with paper records, I switched to family history. Although the similarities are not immediately apparent, archaeology and family history are fairly similar fields. The main goal of both is to better understand the lives of people in the past.
Last week, archaeologists in the UK made an exciting discovery. They believe that they have found the bones of the English King Richard III. What is exciting about this find (to me!) is that archaeologists are using some very genealogical sounding resources to decide the identity of the bones. Church records from the Franciscan Friary where Richard III was supposedly buried have been consulted for details about his burial. Military records that detail his service and battle wounds have also been used to compare to the injuries found on the skeleton in question. DNA is also going to be extracted from the bones and compared to living descendants of Richard III, who are known thanks to diligent royal recorders and the help of modern genealogical researchers.
While our families can’t all be as well documented as the royals, DNA research is becoming a more and more useful tool in genealogical research. Imagine a thing inside all of us that has the ability to connect us to individuals in the 15th century and beyond! You can read more about the lost king here, and more specifics about the use of DNA in the case here.