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Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the…

by Jean Manco

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This book examines the question of where the peoples of Europe came from, and how they spread across the continent. The author combines the latest genetic analysis, archaelogical information, and linguistic analysis to provide multidimensional answers to these complex questions. The author stresses -- helpfully, I think -- the switch in views on the European past over the past thirty years or so. The consensus has moved to an emphasis on migration (people and cultures moved) away from the stable population approach (culture moved, people pretty much stayed in place). Here, genetic analysis has been invaluable, showing that ancestral DNA in many locales does NOT bear a close relationship to the DNA of people who live there now.

Her time span ranges from the deepest past up to the Viking age, and presents a lot of information of which I was not aware -- a lot of which focusses on how fast populations actually have changed. The Slavs, for example, appear to have emerged well into the first millenium. Another key point she emphasizes is that cultures retreat as well as advancing, due to sickness, climate change, or war. She stresses that population dropped sharply in many areas on many occasions.

My only quarrel with the book is that I found it tedious at time. That is likely to be more my fault than the authors (haplogroup analysis is critical, but I don't know enough to find it thrilling). In addition to this book, however, I would recommend "The Horse, The Wheel and Language" by David Anthony. This book is a tad older than Manco's (2007) but for whatever reason I found it even more interesting. How fortunate history buffs like me are to live in a period when research is uncovering so much about unwritten human history! ( )
2 vote annbury | Apr 18, 2014 |
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Where did the people of Europe come from? That question has sparked curiosity from millenia. Tribes and nations developed origin myths for lack of better knowledge. Much that we would like to know is lost in the mists of prehistory. Anthropologists and archaeologists have long been labouring to shine a light into that forgotten past. They have achieved much. Most scholars now accept that our distant forefathers emerged in Africa to people the globe. Despite mighty barriers of desert, sea and mountain, anatomically modern humans had spread right across Asia and Europe before the last Ice Age forced them into habitable pockets amid the wastelands. Only after that crisis had passed did our ancestors begin to take up farming, the first step on the way to civilization.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 050005178X, Hardcover)

Incorporates the latest discoveries and theories from archaeology, genetics, history, and linguistics to paint a spirited history of European settlement

Who are the Europeans and where did they come from? In recent years scientific advances have released a mass of data, turning cherished ideas upside down. The idea of migration in prehistory, so long out of favor, is back on the agenda. New advances allow us to track human movement and the spread of crops, animals, and disease, and we can see the evidence of population crashes and rises, both continent-wide and locally. Visions of continuity have been replaced with a more dynamic view of Europe’s past, with one wave of migration followed by another, from the first human arrivals in Europe to the Vikings.

Ancient DNA links Europe to its nearest neighbors. It is not a new idea that farming was brought from the Near East, but genetics now reveal an unexpectedly complex process in which farmers arrived not in one wave, but several. Even more unexpected is the evidence that the European gene pool was stirred vigorously many times after farming had reached most of Europe. Climate change played a part in this upheaval, but so did new inventions such as the plough and wheeled vehicles. Genetic and linguistic clues also enhance our understanding of the upheavals of the Migration Period, the wanderings of steppe nomads, and the adventures of the Vikings.

124 illustrations, including 59 maps

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

Who are the Europeans? Where did they come from? In recent years scientific advances have yielded a mass of new data, turning accepted ideas upside down. In this highly readable account, Jean Manco skilfully weaves the multiple strands of the very latest genetic evidence with archaeology, history and linguistics to produce a startling new history of Europe. Her fast-paced narrative is illustrated with numerous specially commissioned maps and diagrams showing the movements of people, the spread of languages and DNA distributions, as well as photographs and drawings. Completely up to date and unprecedented in the scope, breadth and depth of its research, this paradigm-shifting book paints a spirited portrait of a restless people that challenges our established ways of looking at Europe's past and its people. It will be of great interest to the growing number of people who want to trace their ancestry through DNA and understand what the results mean.… (more)

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