Archaeological forensics not like CSI

The public has learned to expect DNA testing to answer all archaeological questions, but this is not always the case according to Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer for LiveScience. One good example is the mummified head, long believed to be that of King Henry IV of France, the investigation of which has led experts on a merry chase.

"The cases reveal the controversy of using DNA to identify the long-dead. And they highlight the problems inherent in studying celebrity corpses: At what point can scientists be sure enough that a contested body part deserves a royal burial?" writes Pappas who then cites the case of Richard III, whose death and burial were well-documented.

"It seems to me that osteological as well as archaeological evidence is stronger; however, 'DNA evidence' sounds fancier so it looks like they used it as the hook to capture the attention of media," Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, told LiveScience at the time. Though Avila did not doubt the identification, she warned that close scrutiny is required to be sure of any ancient DNA finding.