Book: The Seven daughters of Eve (the astonishing story that reveals how each of us can trace our genetic ancestors)
Author: Bryan Sykes
Now, if there is one book that I would highly recommend for anyone to read that wants to learn just a little about genealogy, then this one would be the first I would point them to.
I don’t know very much of the science behind DNA, or the anatomy of the human being, but the story that is told in this book about how the author discovered that we all (or at least many of us, if not all of us) are somewhere linked to each other, is mind-blowingly well-written. He starts the book off to explain a little of the structure of the mitochondrial DNA specifically, how he made some DNA links in the Polynesian areas, and then how that lead him to Europe to try and test his theory there as well.
Remember the phrase ‘it’s not about the destination, but more about the journey’, that strongly holds true for how everything he encountered brought him to conclude that through the mitochondrial DNA we can trace our ancestry far back in time.
I did say he starts off to explain a little about the structure of the DNA, but he also brings in the history of people before him that thought we can determine if we’re related, when we have the same blood group. However, later this was replaced with categorizing us all into a population tree. But then, this was broken and replaced with the evolutionary tree, because the population tree made the generalization that all within the same population had somewhat similar genes (if I interpreted that correctly). But with the evolutionary tree, that assumption was challenged to state that everyone in the population is not the same but also unique.
After giving some great detail about what genealogy is, and the steps to prove it to be legit, he goes on to challenge one of the all-time accepted theories at the time, that our hunter-gatherer ancestry was wiped-out by the agricultural revolutionists. Now, to explain where and when who lived, let’s picture it as follows:
A) Old Stone Age (palaeolithic). This was the earliest times when they started using stones as tools. But this is also split further into the Lower, Middle and Upper phase, where the upper phase is closest to the mesolithic age.
B) Middle Stone Age (mesolithic). This is around the beginnings of the agriculture, where stone tools were a little more sophisticated than in the Upper Palaeolithic phase.
C) New Stone Age (neolithic). This can also be called the ‘age of farming’ because the tools were much more advanced for farming purposes. This is where the Agricultural Revolution took a strong hold of our ancestors’ lives to change the modern world of living.
From the above depiction, our hunter-gatherers lived in-between, but the old theory suggested that when they were wiped-out the modern life started more around Middle Stone Age and New Stone Age, and only the agriculturalists survived. However, with his DNA to support, he proved that our ancestors from the Old Stone Age weren’t overthrown, but adapted into this lifestyle as well.
Of course, in the science community, no new theory is accepted with its first introduction. The theory was strongly and viciously challenged, because the new theory didn’t just go against a small part of our history, it went against a theory that had been held as true for many generations. However, Bryan Sykes and his team prevailed, and confirmed their theory to be true.
So you see, the book doesn’t just add some small value, but remarkable insight to the history of humanity, which is of great significance to our lives.
Without a doubt, this book proved to be an immense entertainer, and gives the perfect story line of how we came to understand and accept DNA to be a measure of our ancestry. It definitely tops the rating of 6/5.
I hope this will become one book for your reading list. You won’t be disappointed!