Monday, January 3, 2011

Sadness at the Crossroads of Humanity

It is with sadness that I read these papers on the Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and other Middle East regions.  You can't execute a Google search on any of these groups without seeing guns everywhere and dead children.

After writing the post on the The Origin of Y-chromosome Haplogroup J1:  Another Lake, Other Rivers, I got an email from someone in Turkey who possessed the J1* y-chromosome HG.  He was thrilled to get more information about his genetic identity.  I also took pause, realizing that his paternal ancestors must have been in that region of the world for tens of thousands of years.

Then I pondered my own paternal ancestors (mostly of the R1b variety).  While J1*'s ancestors were rooted in the mountains of Turkey, mine were constantly on the move westward.

I realized I'm value neutral as to whether someone's ancestors have remained rooted in one place or were world travellers.  I'm also value neutral as to the degree of homogeneity or heterogeneity in someone's background.  It surprises and disappoints me to see someone gleefully declaring that a genetic background is more "pure" with respect to someone else.

If anything, reading these papers, I've realized that we are all quite genetically heterogeneous.  Yes, we've been isolated by geography, religion and social norms, but overwhelmingly, we see the Mesolithic intersecting with the Neolithic, and Asia, India, Africa and Europe surprisingly interwoven.

Some of the posts I've seen recently try to carve out the minor difference between Assyrian and Kurd or Indian and Pakistani.  The methods used are often dubious.  The genetic variability within these groups is ignored.

It's sad to see genetic information used in this way.  The story of the great interconnected web of human history is lost in someone's narrow agenda.

I hope that rather than accept these agenda driven distillations, people will read reviewed papers not only about their own genetic history, but also about others, and sit with the complexity of the human journey.

Peace be with you.


  1. As a friend once said:

    "The amazing thing is that the true story is so fascinating as to be virtually unbelievable.

    Basically, the science of genetics boils down to one word:


  2. Nice blog
    Some J1's moved West too

  3. Ricardo:

    Here's the table from the Haber paper:

    Is J1b-M365 listed in this table?

    If not, could you point me to where it is referenced in this paper?

  4. No, they don't list M365

    Only the Iranians I171 and I174 haplotypes have the J1b modal: DYS19=15, 390=22, 393=13

  5. Great, thanks for the spreadsheet link.

    I had a look at your blog. Very interesting. A while back I stumbled on a connection between the Aras River and Iberia which I thought very strange.

    Where are you getting your Portugal J1b data from?

    I'd like to reference your blog, but it would be helpful if you could add some references to your "Via Alanica" post so that we can follow up.

  6. J1b in the the Westernmost part of Western Europe !
    The J1b Project

    We were the first to cross the Atlantic. You can find two haplotypes with the J1b modal in the Azores
    Search: Azores, Portugal
    I've found the same rare J1b modal in the SMGF database and in several articles with Portuguese and Brazilian haplotypes.
    In my theory J1b crossed Europe and then crossed the Atlantic to the Azores and to South America. There`s even a J1b haplotype in the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean !
    Perhaps the Portuguese Empire was a continuation of the Alanic journey ?


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