14 May 2012

During the last ice age our ancestors were thought to have huddled in two European refuges, one in what is now Basque country and the other in what is now the Ukraine, spreading out into Europe as the ice retreated. A recent study [American journal of human genetics 4 May 2012] led by Maria Pala suggests that the repopulating of Europe was boosted by an influx of people from the middle east. Indeed, they may be our predominant ancestral group.

Archeogenetics is a science that advances remarkably and challenges our previous views.

What struck me about this was a comment from Pala, as significant as the research. She said that archeogenetics had important lessons to teach us:

“It helps us to revaluate the perception of our identity. We are highly focussed on identifying ourselves as Italians, British or whatever, but by analysing DNA we discover that originally, not such a long time ago, we came from a common source.”


I have argued this point several times in the blog in answer to those who see not only constructed and changing cultural but also significant and inherent racial differences between people who call themselves different names. We have a common source.

This post may serve as a short introduction to some that I shall be putting up on identity.


The full study in the American journal of human genetics (linked above) is paid-access though there is a free abstract there. Accounts of the study are freely available here and here and here.