DIRT & BONES: A Most Precarious Art

Welcome to the launch of my monthly blog post about the research behind my books. Allow me to begin with an apologetic….

The twenty-first century is a precarious time to write novels set in any prehistoric era. The development of archaeogenetics and genetic anthropology has sent many cherished theories to the boneyard. (Pardon the pun, but I absolutely love puns!) Nonetheless, I’m delighted to have this relatively new science available to shed light on our ancient past.

As part of my research for this novel and its sequel, I had my DNA tested, and I also talked my 89-year-old father into having his done.

My DNA test revealed some expected results: Scots/British, Irish, Eastern European, a touch of Native American and European Jewish, but also some unexpected results: Melanesian and Scandinavian. My father’s test showed some DNA from the Caucasus, and that certainly fit in with one of the groups I’m writing about — Proto-Indo-European speakers who, within the timeline of my novel, had just begun their first few forays into Europe from the area of the Caucasus and Black Sea. They brought with them not only their Proto-Indo-European language (the parent language of most European languages) but also their DNA — one of the most common Y-DNA subclades (passed down from father to son) of modern Europeans, R1b.

The photo below is of my family — Mom and Dad and us five kids. I’m at the far left. You can see, like many families today, we are a very genetically diverse group!!

So tell me about your heritage. Have you had your DNA tested? If not, is that on your bucket list? Or is it something you’d prefer not to do?

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10 Responses to DIRT & BONES: A Most Precarious Art

  1. Karyn Kiefer says:

    I am German on my mom’s side and German, English and Irish on my dad’s side.

  2. Lucy Baird-Clark says:

    Hi, I had my dna tested and learned that I am just over 50% British, a little over 30% western Europe, then bits of northern Africa, northwestern Russia and Finland, eastern Europe, Italian, Ireland, Greek, and less than 1% Native American. I thought it was interesting that Ireland would be separate from Britain, but I believe they have different migration patterns. With all the genealogy I’ve done, still trying to figure out where the N.W. Russia and Finland come in at.

  3. Deb Baxter says:

    It’s definitely on my bucket list…as an adoptee, I was told that my background is Irish/Scots and French (with the French being gypsy). Funnily enough I was raised by a Dutchman and a German… Terry is Dutch and Scots/Irish but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is Jewish in there somewhere. Which DNA organization did you go through?

  4. suehar says:

    Such interesting possibilities, Deb!! Also, you know they open up a list of relatives to you who also have had the DNA tests done. The names are listed, sometimes with photos, and you can choose to connect with them or not. Some people list family trees so you can find names of ancestors. I’ve connected with a couple of cousins on my Mom’s side, just emailing a few times. I did the Ancestry.com, but I hear the 23 and Me is also good.

  5. suehar says:

    You have an incredible mix, Lucy! Wow! My dad-in-law also came out with the Finnish/Russian, which is the Suomi connection (reindeer people)! We can’t figure out where that came from either, but I plan to keep looking!!! And yes, they are saying the British is Anglo Saxon and Irish is Celt. A surprise to me, too!

  6. suehar says:

    I thought I was mostly German on my Mom’s side, Karyn. Turns out to be mostly Eastern European. You just never know!!

  7. Susan Beich says:

    I am curious what lab was used for the DNA research? I would like to give it a try.

  8. suehar says:

    I used Ancestry.com, Susan, although I’ve heard that 23 & Me is also very good!!

  9. Cathie Greenough says:

    I would love to have my DNA tested. All of my grandparents came from Italy before my parents were born. I am so glad that David took the opportunity to go to Italy after college where he spent a few days with my mother’s cousin. He was taken to the valley where the old family farm is and the little apartment over the stalls where my mother’s parents lived before coming to America. I treasure the pictures he took while there.

  10. suehar says:

    Oh Cathie, what a treasure, those photos! You might find a very interesting mix in your DNA. The Ancestry.com test combines Italian and Greek as one DNA source. I’m not sure about 23 & Me. My Dad, who showed 2% European Jewish (we knew Mom’s family had EJ DNA, but not Dad’s) and also a trace of Italian/Greek DNA. I’ve read that during the diaspora many Jewish men fled from the Levant into Italy and then centuries later up into Eastern Europe. So some Italians show that mix. Also Northern Italians often show a proto-Indo-European mix, which on Ancestry DNA may come through as Caucasus.

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