By Jean Manco
Thames & Hudson, $34.95, 312 pages
Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings by Jean Manco is an exciting new book that deals with the most recent data and theory around the peopling of Europe. For a book that came about almost by accident, its content is pretty incredible.
It’s long been held that European populations were mostly static, but the latest genetic, archaeological, and linguistic evidence says otherwise. This paradigm-shifting work reveals the flaws in previous theories, mainly concerning migration, using ancient DNA, genetics, and language to change our understanding of the European gene pool.
“The past is a weave of continuity and change.”
What is most likeable about this book is the author’s voice. Science, especially the explanation of genetics and mtDNA versus aDNA, is particularly prone to dry writing. Not so with Jean Manco. Her enthusiasm for the topic is infectious and she has a way of drawing the reader in, or maybe back is the more correct term, sharing the zeal for discovery of the movement of people in ancient times. It just goes to show that people are people, and history can always surprise you.
Reviewed by Axie Barclay
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