Monday, August 31, 2009

Are We All Related?


The folks from National Geographic are trying to determine just that. Below is the description of their five year "Genographic Project" (with a video link of their "The Human Family Tree" show below):
Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.
The Genographic Project is seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project is closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories.
The Genographic Project is a five-year research partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells. Dr. Wells and a team of renowned international scientists and IBM researchers, are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots. The three components of the project are: to gather field research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world; to invite the general public to join the project by purchasing a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit; and to use proceeds from Genographic Public Participation Kit sales to further field research and the Genographic Legacy Fund which in turn supports indigenous conservation and revitalization projects. The Project is anonymous, non-medical, non-profit and all results will be placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.
THE HUMAN FAMILY TREE
On a single day on a single street, with the DNA of just a couple of hundred random people, National Geographic Channel sets out to trace the ancestral footsteps of all humanity. Narrated by Kevin Bacon, The Human Family Tree travels to one of the most diverse corners of the world -- Queens, N.Y. -- to demonstrate how we all share common ancestors who embarked on very different journeys. Regardless of race, nationality or religion, all of us can trace our ancient origin back to the cradle of humanity, East Africa. What did our collective journey look like, and where did it take your specific ancestors? At what point in our past did we first cross paths with the supposed strangers living in our neighborhood? Now, in The Human Family Tree, the people of this quintessential American melting pot find out that their connections go much deeper than a common ZIP code.
To learn more, click here. The video trailer is below.



1 comment:

  1. Am I a member of the tribe, or just an ancient convert?
    I just received my paternal DNA results from the National Geographic Genographic project and found them extremely disturbing. My haplogroup is .R1b, M343
    This shows that my patralineal ancestors settled in Europe about 30,000 years ago. Far too early to have been "sons of Abraham" or slaves in Egypt or dispersed in the Babylonian exile, or in fact, participated in any of the significant events which, to my mind, binds Jews as a people. Yes, I know in Judaism, "Jewishness" passes through the maternal line, and I am just now having my mitochondrial DNA tested by the genographic project. But still, if my ancestors were merely "converted" through some weird happenstance of history, then I am no different ethnically from my Christian friends (or Christian wife). Merely another pagan converted in the distant past and not a true member of the tribe that spread out from ancient Israel to cover the globe. I am wondering about the experience of others who have participated in this project; their results, and how it has affected their sense of themselves as Jews? I would appreciate any and all responses on this subject. My family has been Jewish on both sides for as long as the available records and memories go. Back to Galicia on my father's side and Lithuania on my mother's. But still, I feel if I wasn't in the Promised Land when it was "promised", then I am not really the "blood of Abraham." And my half Jewish son is really not half Jewish, just an amalgam of converts whether early or late. I have always taken pride in the fact that, while Europeans were running through the forests in animal skins and bludgeoning one another to death, my ancestors were writing the Psalms and creating an ethical bleif system which would form the basis of all 3 great monotheistic traditions and set the standard for Western civilization. Of course, I can only hope that a "real" Jewish matriarch on my father's side was at one time raped by a cossack, or that some other willing or unwilling comingling took place. Respectfully, Jeffrey Antman

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