A Thunder Bay DNA expert was in New York City on Monday to discuss findings that could help researchers prove that Jesus did marry Mary Magdalene and that they had children.
Lakehead University‘s Paleo DNA Laboratory operations supervisor Renee Fratpietro joined English filmmaker Bruce Burgess in the Big Apple to discuss his film “Bloodline”, which follows a three-year investigation led by Burgess and his American producing partner, Rene Barnett, in their search for answers into the bloodline conspiracy made popular by the “Da Vinci Code”.
Fratpietro sat on a panel of experts at a news conference promoting the film and discussed the role Lakehead‘s Paleo DNA Laboratory had in the movie-making process.
Her husband, Steve Fratpietro, technical manager at the Paleo DNA lab, spoke about the connection in an interview Monday.
He said the lab was approached to test a 13-centimetre long hair that was very old and was extracted from a tomb.
“That is essentially all they told us. We didn‘t know anything about it,” he said about the hair that he and his wife tested for three weeks about a year ago.
They were able to find some genetic information.
“We were able to trace back the genetic origins on the maternal side of this particular person to the northern middle east, and that is essentially what the analysis entails,” said Steve Fratpietro.
He said he couldn‘t be sure why the LU lab was approached, but noted there are very few labs that do the kind of work that is done in Thunder Bay. He added that the lab has a good reputation for its specialized work in getting DNA from ancient samples.
“Bloodline‘‘ opens in New York on Friday.
The film revolves around the discovery of a tomb in the mountains of the Languedoc region of southwest France. Video footage of the site, which has yet to be excavated, shows it holds a mummified corpse under a shroud bearing the red cross of the Knights Templar.
Burgess has explained that rumours dating back to the late 13th century Crusades indicate the Templars had excavated the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and had hidden something priceless on their return to France. He has said that what was hidden has been rumoured to be documents and even the embalmed remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Meanwhile, the latest round of classes for the Paleo DNA lab‘s ancient DNA training program opened Monday. This is the 10th year the program has been available.
Carney Matheson, associate professor of anthropology at Lakehead and forensic examiner at the Paleo DNA lab, is the main lecturer for the three-week certificate program that attracts students from around the world.
He said 20 students have enrolled, and they hail from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada, including Thunder Bay.
Students spend the three weeks testing their own saliva, hair and blood samples. They are trained in extracting the DNA, amplifying DNA and how to troubleshoot the analysis.
“By the end of the first week they usually have a headache. They are tired and frustrated and asking themselves ‘what have I got myself into?‘. (The program) is extremely intensive,” said Matheson.
But he added, “It gets better over time and students are excited once the third week comes along where they have a chance to choose a topic and do self-directed research.”
Matheson said his students range from professors and people with their PhDs to undergraduate students who are still trying to find the right path to follow.
His students have gone on to work in many different professions including at the Molecular Medicine Research Centre, the Centre of Forensic Sciences and Genesis Genomics Inc.