Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past

Who We Are and How We Got Here

Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Date of Publication:
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Product details:

No. of pages:368 pages
Size:197x131x21 mm
Weight:270 g
Illustrations: 28 black and white images
Short description:

Huge advances in our ability to sequence ancient DNA have revolutionised what we know about the earliest human populations. David Reich explains the science, and tells the emerging story of our complex and often surprising ancestry - the extraordinary ancient migrations and mixtures of populations that have made us who we are.

Long description:
The past few years have seen a revolution in our ability to map whole genome DNA from ancient humans. With the ancient DNA revolution, combined with rapid genome mapping of present human populations, has come remarkable insights into our past. This important new data has clarified and added to our knowledge from archaeology and anthropology, helped resolve long-existing controversies, challenged long-held views, and thrown up some remarkable surprises.

The emerging picture is one of many waves of ancient human migrations, so that all populations existing today are mixes of ancient ones, as well as in many cases carrying a genetic component from Neanderthals, and, in some populations, Denisovans. David Reich, whose team has been at the forefront of these discoveries, explains what the genetics is telling us about ourselves and our complex and often surprising ancestry. Gone are old ideas of any kind of racial 'purity', or even deep and ancient divides between peoples. Instead, we are finding a rich variety of mixtures. Reich describes the cutting-edge findings from the past few years, and also considers the sensitivities involved in tracing ancestry, with science sometimes jostling with politics and tradition. He brings an important wider message: that we should celebrate our rich diversity, and recognize that every one of us is the result of a long history of migration and intermixing of ancient peoples, which we carry as ghosts in our DNA.

What will we discover next?

A wonderfully illuminating exposition of how advances in reading ancient DNA have upended our ideas about past population movements and human interaction.
Table of Contents:
How the Genome Explains Who We Are
Interbreeding with Neanderthals
Ancient DNA Opens the Floodgates
Humanity's Ghosts
The Making of Modern Europe
The Collision that Formed India
In Search of American Ancestors
The Genomic Origins of East Asians
Rejoining Africa to the Human Story
The Genomics of Inequality
The Genomics of Race and Identity
The Future of Ancient DNA