tirsdag 27. mai 2008

Bloodline bashing

Mania.com has a good review of the latest Da Vinci Code wannabe, the movie Bloodline, written, directed and produced by Bruce Burgess.

Not the least interest has been tied to the DNA test of the alleged Mary Magdalene discovered in a tomb in the Rennes Les Chatteâu area. Discovered by amateur archaeologist Bill Wilkinson, in true Indiana Jones style, by dropping his video camera down a hole in a clumsy moment. No doubt to outwit the local nazis.

How the test went? Not that good.

The central piece of evidence revealed in Bloodline is a mummified corpse found in Wilkinson’s accidentally discovered tomb, wrapped in a white linen mantle emblazoned with the red cross of the Knights Templar. The linen looks remarkably white, well-preserved, and rot-free for having survived a millennium of dampness at the base of a subterranean cave in the French Pyrénnées.

Open boxes of gleaming polished chalices near the body were similarly unaffected by time and oxidation, not unlike the props on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland.

Hairs extracted from the head of the corpse (the extraction was not shown on camera) were sent to the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University (Canada) for analysis. According to Barnett and Burgess, the result of Mitochondrial DNA testing revealed a Middle Eastern origin for the deceased (ergo, this could conceivably be Mary Magdalene, although they seemed to have arrived at that conclusion well in advance).

Well - yes and no. The report from Lakehead was shown on camera and identifies the mtDNA sample as belonging to Haplogroup I, which migrated out of the Near East and into Europe between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago prior to the last Ice Age. It is virtually unknown outside of Europe, but is no stranger to the French Pyrénnées. One major subculture belonging to this haplogroup settled in southern France and Northern Spain 10,000 to 20,000 years ago during the period archaeologists refer to as the "âge du Renne", or Age of the Reindeer.

And, perhaps tellingly, this group is called the "Magdalenian Culture" - the name being derived not from Mary Magdalene, but from an excavation site called La Madeleine in the Dordogne region of southern France where its relics were discovered in the 19th century.

But forget all those bothersome dates and inconvenient details that tend to unnerve alternative historians and spoil a good story - "Renne", "Magdalenian" - close enough, right? Why split hairs?

Indeed, just relax and have a good time. It helps if you leave your brain at the door.

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