walking in the footsteps of mother

a rather longer post for me but I think you might find some of it interesting!!!

While out walking, like many of us, I tend to ponder and reflect. Below is the path I sent into Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness (3-37). I think about all the other dendrophiles who travel or have walked on some of these same roads and paths that I love.  I know that life is a series of journeys; -that life is motion. Even at rest our lungs inhale and exhale, our hearts beat as blood travels through our bodies, subconsciously attending to our bodies’needs.

Our feet propel us down paths and over streams and mountains to find new places to discover and enjoy. I think about how many miles I have walked both literally and metaphorically which brings me to:

The Genetic Quest

Our mothers send us forth to begin our own lives and adventures, and the cycle goes on. The earth travels around the sun at 67000 miles an hour and we are on board. We are all travelers in time and space!  The human journey began long ago, and we are connected to an ancient past by another road, the very long history of our DNA.

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Into the mists of time

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the ancient forest of Nidavellir

The Seven Daughters of Eve is the name of a book by Geneticist Bryan Sykes. In his own journey through the mists of time he follows the trail of Mitochrondrial DNA back to the mother of all hunter/gatherers. He symbolically calls this first woman, Eve. Eve’s children slowly migrated out of Africa. In actuality she had far more than seven daughters but his book talks about the Asia minor to European migrations. These females are identified by haplogroups. He names each group by letter designations, K, X, J, V, U, T, H, and then romantically gives them each an identity, Katrine, Xenia, Jasmine, Velda, Ursula, Tara, and Helena. Their migrations through those ancient forests, deserts and mountains began as far back as 45000 years and they left their footprints across the centuries.

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Matthew Bennett, Bournemouth University

Ursula’s clan is the oldest  of the travelers (circa 32000 years) with 11% of Europeans possessing her DNA, especially in Scandinavia and Western Britain. Ursula’s people would have coexisted at the same time as another human genus. As the new Homo Sapiens arose Homo Neanderthalensis was  in decline after the ice age.  However, some scientists now believe that a neanderthal gene may still be present in modern populations.

Mesolithic Cheddar Man, the 9000 year old skeleton found in Somerset was a member of Ursula’s family. Because the cave where he was found showed evidence of cannibalism it is speculated he may have been killed for ritual purposes. DNA testing ( taken from a tooth) found one of his modern day descendants still living in the area.

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otzi’s feet

Otzi, the 5000 year old iceman is an ancient murder mystery. He was a member of Katrine’s clan. While wandering through the Alps on some unknown quest  he was felled by an arrow to his back and then was probably finished off with a blow to the  head. His unknown assailants left his body on the mountain where it was preserved by the cold. Haplo group K often shows up in Ashkenazim Jews and in the Middle East but some of Katrine’s clan migrated as far north as Norway at the end of the last ice age

I have the distinction of belonging to Helena’s group, She is the most common in Europe and the most successful and prolific, though I must confess I was hoping for something more exotic. Many people in Scotland, Ireland, Norway and down through western Europe owe their existence to Mother Helena and her peripatetic clan. Also many North Africans  are in a subclad of H. I am a true daughter of Helena and a traveler too, whether by foot, car bus or train, I love it all.

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traveling in Ireland with Stephen

When the refined analysis of my saliva was finally tested I was not wanted in any police data bank, instead I was given a list of possible DNA matches, one of whom turned out to be my first cousin on the Scottish (and Irish of course) branch of my mother’s family as predicted. Of course I already knew that, but the laboratory  did not.  Another surprise was discovering both a western European percentage (Saxons and Normans?) and a Scandinavian connection in the breakdown. I suppose it’s not surprising, considering that Vikings were the scourge of Scotland and Ireland’s coasts in the ninth century. Apparently they must have been the rock star bad boys of the day because it has been more recently thought that many local women probably paired up with them quite willingly. When they weren’t pillaging and raping mind you,they were farmers.  The Orkneys and the Isle of Skye are rich in Norse history and still have the remains of their settlements. There are many places with Norse names such as Skibost on Skye (where I had dinner on several occasions) and a whiskey distillery called Taliskers.

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But it was actually on Dad’s side that the biggest surprise came. Some cousins from his father’s family still live in southern Italy. The DNA showed mainly Italian Greek but Family Tree noted a fair percentage of North Africa and Asia Minor (not unusual in Southern Italians who also have a Greek connection and whose DNA is different from the Northerners). There was my own exotic!

So that is why after years of ballet and violin lessons I had been drawn to the music and dance of distant Moroccan Berber cousins. On the downside, if you are a fair skinned Celt the sultry effect can easily be sabotaged by an unbidden pink flushing of  exposed areas.(Each testing company has it’s own base groups of ethnicity for testing, so a lot  can be “guesstimates” but if you have been able to do some of your own research into family history it can be used to corroborate.  My cousin is the family historian on mom’s side.

any likeness to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental or lost in the mirage of time

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Cybele of the dune mouse’s alter ego- once upon a time she emerged from the shadows but only during the madness of the Sirocco winds. She is back to seclusion now.

a  gathering of the northern clan and the cheeky descendants of Helena

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the path in colour

subclad: sub group

Ancestry.com

Family Tree  associated with the National Geographic Genographic Project

Ice Man– Nova

Cheddar Man

Haplogroups (Oxford Ancestors- maternal line)

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