Category: Ancestry

A Family that Lived Together and Died Together

About 4,600 years ago, in northern Germany, a small village buried 13 of its residents.  The deceased ranged in age from less than a year to nearly 60 years old and were buried in pairs or small groups. And virtually all of them had suffered violent, probably painful deaths.  Because the majority of the ...

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African American Roots: What Genetics Can Reveal

Because their ancestors often were slaves during the 18th and 19th centuries, and therefore usually lacked birth or death certificates, it is very difficult for African American genealogists to trace their ancestors further than a few generations. Even when they can trace their ancestry to the slavery era, it ...

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Building Roots from the Ground Up: Genealogy 2.0

Like many Americans, Vincent Vizachero knew only bits and pieces about his family history.  He knew, for instance, that his paternal grandfather emigrated to America from Italy in 1914. But because his grandfather died long before he was born, Vincent did not hear a lot of family stories growing up.  So he ...

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Ripples in the Mediterranean: Tracing the Genetic Origins of the Phoenicians

About 3,500 years ago the Phoenicians expanded from their homeland in present-day Syria and Lebanon, using their superior maritime technology to establish trading posts across southern Europe and North Africa. They traded silver from Iberia, copper from Cyprus, and textiles from Morocco. They built cities ...

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Not So Close Neighbors: The Genetically Isolated People of Finland

Even though European populations have been studied for years, there are still many lingering questions as to the continent’s population history – especially with regards to isolated peoples.  Understanding the history of the Basque of northern Spain has long been a topic of interest among geneticists, as has ...

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Roots Television: The Internet TV Channel for Genealogists

People naturally yearn to know where they came from. Genealogists scratch that itch by poring over historical documents such as vital records, tax rolls, census lists and diaries to reconstruct their family history. In recent years, genealogists have also begun using genetic information as another way of ...

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Who Built the Terracotta Army? The Genetic Origins of the Qin Dynasty Mausoleum Workers

One of the most infamous emperors of Chinese antiquity was the very first:  Qin Shi Huang.  Also known as Ying Zheng, he ruled the Chinese state of Qin from 247-210 BC.  When he came to power, various Chinese kingdoms were engaged in a struggle against each other for superiority; by the time he died in 210 BC ...

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Polygamous Footprints in Our Genes

The practice of monogamy – the most popular mating practice on the planet today – is nothing new. In fact, anthropologists have found evidence of monogamous relationships in Homo erectus, a human ancestor that lived nearly 2 million years ago. But the alternative to monogamy – polygamy – though not nearly ...

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What it Means to be Human

What is it about humans that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom?  Is it our upright walking?  Our language?  Our love of Reality TV?  Even though we are said to be 99% genetically identical to our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, we clearly differ vastly from them physically ...

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More than Just a Parable: The Genetic History of the Samaritans

Upon hearing the name "Samaritans," many people are immediately reminded of the famous passage from the Gospel of Luke (10: 25-37), the so called ‘Good Samaritan’ parable. Jesus tells of a Levite (a Jew) who is beaten and left on the side of the road. None who pass by the injured man stop to help, save a ...

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