Genetic origins


Partner and I are doing one of those DNA analysis things.  Some of them give you health information, and possible relationships with other test subjects; this one is a bargain-basement test (basically the same test the FBI uses to identify murder suspects) which checks and identifies thirteen genes.  It will then compare our genome (or, rather, those thirteen bits of it) to an international database, and tell us our (possible) countries of genetic origin.



Nothing for sure, of course; it’s too generic for that.  But the results will be interesting.  Origins are mysterious; maybe even a rough idea would be nice.



The modern USA was founded by lots of Europeans who basically swamped the original population, wiped them out with war and disease, and replaced them.  Australia followed the same pattern.



But in much of the rest of the world, this was not the case.



Africa was conquered by Europeans, but never swamped.  India, ditto.   Siberia, ditto.  South America – well, parts of it, anyway. 



And then there’s Europe.



Back in 1903, a man’s skeleton was found in Cheddar Gorge in southwest England.  It was dated to approximately 7000 BCE.  Cheddar Man’s mitochondrial DNA was sequenced in the 1990s, and then – just for laughs – it was compared to the mitochondrial DNA of people living in the neighborhood.



There were found to be two exact matches, and one almost-exact match.



Nine thousand years later, Cheddar Man still had some relatives in the neighborhood.



The Maghreb (which includes all of North Africa west of Egypt) is considered to be part of the “Arab world.” Oh, really?  It was, and is, the Berber world.  It absorbed its invaders: the Arabs, the Romans, the Visigoths, the French, the Italians, the Spanish. 



And best of all:



Apollonia, about to leave for her most recent European trip, was excitedly talking about visiting her family up on the Alpine heights of northern Italy, and the history of her family’s village, and its pre-Roman roots.  Excitedly she Googled a reconstructed picture of Oetzi the Iceman, the 5300-year-old mummy found near the Austrian-Italian border, not far from her family’s hometown.  “Look at him!” she crowed.  “It’s my uncle Ettore!  It’s my nonno!”



And, strangely enough (though I didn’t say this to Apollonia), Oetzi looks a little bit like my grandma.



Origins are mysterious



But let’s wait for the DNA results before we say more.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

3 Responses to Genetic origins

  1. Reblogged this on Freedomillenium's Blog and commented:
    It is everywane who know : who we are,wat is aor mission,wat is aor future?

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