About Jean Manco

What is a building historian doing delving into the days before buildings or history? Incurable curiosity is my only excuse. Though I have been interested in the human journey all my life, there has been little time to pursue this passion into the far past. Over the last quarter-century I have been too busy researching buildings and settlements from Saxon to modern.

Artist's impression of Inuk by Nuka Godfredsen based on genetic analysis Happily a convalescence coincided with an exciting time for lovers of prehistory, which I would have been sorry to miss. The winds of change are blowing through our vistas of the past. One source is the whirlwind of activity by population geneticists. New studies appear constantly. Most enlightening are those pushing hard at the boundaries of the possible in retrieving DNA from ancient bones and teeth. Scientists now can find not only the modern relatives of someone from prehistory, but his or her eye and hair colour too. Reconstructions by artists from ancient skulls will be able to rely more on science and less on imagination. This artist's impression of a 4000-year-old man of the Saqqaq Culture is based on sequencing 80% of his genome from tufts of hair rescued from the permafrost in Greenland. The scientific team named him Inuk. They could tell that he probably had brown eyes and thick, dark hair. His skin was probably not the light colour found in modern day Europeans. He was cold-adapted and prone to baldness.1M. Rasmussen et ak., Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo, Nature, vol. 463 (11 February 2010), pp. 757-762. See also M.T.P. Gilbert et al., Paleo-Eskimo mtDNA genome reveals matrilineal discontinuity in Greenland, Science, vol. 320, no. 5884 (27 June 2008), pp. 1787-1789.

Meanwhile a paradigm change is spreading through archaeology. The idea of migration in prehistory, so long out of favour, has come bouncing back.

Since it helps me to distill what I have learned if I pull it into a narrative, a collection of articles found themselves being written on the fly. The advantage of putting material on the Web is that others can comment on it. Then it can easily be revised and updated. There has been a constant process of revision since I began. All my writing specifically for the Internet is aimed at the general reader. Yet much of this material is so new that it demands references. The end result is a strange hybrid of popular and scholarly writing. When readers pressed for a printed version. the hybrid was transferred into book form, leaving online material not required for the book, but which might still be helpful to readers wanting more.

My aim is to bring together recent findings from archaeology, population genetics and linguistics to shed light on the migrations of mankind. My initial focus was Europe, since that is my home. But strands of the European past lead back to the Near East or deeper into Asia. So my attention has wandered. How far it wanders depends on how much time I have.

Acknowledgments

These pages would have been impossible without the very active, polyglot online communities following the progress of population genetics and participating in it. My thanks go to them.

Disclosure

This website participates in the Amazon Associates Afflilates scheme. Otherwise ancestraljourneys.org has the same policy as my other website - Researching Historic Buildings in the British Isles. It accepts no advertising in any form.

Notes

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  1. M. Rasmussen et ak., Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo, Nature, vol. 463 (11 February 2010), pp. 757-762. See also M.T.P. Gilbert et al., Paleo-Eskimo mtDNA genome reveals matrilineal discontinuity in Greenland, Science, vol. 320, no. 5884 (27 June 2008), pp. 1787-1789.