Showing posts from April, 2013

Make way for the farmers --

So here we are in the Mesolithic Age, approximately 6350 years BP (before the present).  Archaeologists and anthropologists know a fair amount about this time, based on excavations of burial sites, carbon dating, DNA testing, analyzing the artifacts buried with the people, and so on.  A museum in the Netherlands has recreated a European Mesolithic hut, in which our distant ancestors might have lived: Photo:  Hans Splinter These people not only hunted but fished as well, setting up traps to capture large numbers of fish.  And they loved shellfish, if the number of shells in their trash heaps is any indication.  (Wouldn't it be fun to be an anthropologist and have your job consist of going through the trash of people who lived thousands of years ago?  It sounds pretty interesting to me -- )  When a burial place is discovered, the researchers very carefully remove the dirt and uncover the skeletons, and they find and catalog every little piece of something they find.  Here

I joined a society!

I just became a member of the Sacramento German Genealogical Society , and a week from Friday I'm going to head up there for a workshop.  They're having experts come from Salt Lake City and give workshops on such exciting topics as "Finding the Parish Locations for German Family History Research," or "Form and Content in German Church Records."  Now, this may sound kind of dry to you, but I'm really looking forward to it, especially to connecting with people who have a lot of experience and who maybe can help me get past the brick wall on the Ortmanns, for example. They put out a publication, Der Blumenbaum ( The Flowering Tree ), four times a year, and I just got my first copy.  There's an interesting article about German beliefs and practices concerning death (some houses had small windows that were only opened when someone passed away, so their soul could go out), another one on how Germans celebrate Muttertag (Mother's Day -- it involves a

The long road to Europe --

So, where we left off, the U4 clan was on the steppes of Western Siberia, alongside their cousins the Denisovans.   How did we get from there to Europe?   I’ve been doing some research, and have a bit of an idea.  The Ice Age retreats -- The thing is, our haplogroup is fairly rare in Europe; we are only 2%, while the H-group is 50%.   The H-group came up from the south during the Neolithic period, and were farmers.   We, on the other hand, were hunter-gatherers, and were in Europe before the H-group.   How do they know this?  We left Siberia in our reindeer sleighs --    Photo: SebastiĆ£o Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures Well, the remains of ancient people have been found in prehistoric grave sites in various places in Europe and Asia, and anthropologists and geneticists have tested the DNA of skeletons found in ancient burial grounds in what is now Estonia and Latvia (among other places).  Here's a map, and the one we're looking at is at Yuzhnyy O

We're in Siberia . . . brrrrr!

Hello again, everyone!  I thought I'd continue the story of our U-mother (some have named her Ulrike, meaning "mistress of all").   This is part of the map we looked at yesterday, so we can focus in better on the area we're talking about.  We saw the U group in the Middle East split up into various numbered U's, and our group, U4, headed northeast.  Along the way, it must have split up too, because by the time we got to Altai Krai, we were an even narrower group, U4b .   So here we are in the western steppes of Russia.  This trip took a long, long time (with little cave man children saying, "Are we there yet??"), so that where we started in Africa maybe 200,000 years ago, we're now up to the late Pleistocene era, something like 11,000-12,000 years ago -- fairly recent, right?  Like yesterday.    Altai Krai:  The Katun River. Photo by Jennifer Castner. At some point, our group started wandering north, as the glaciers of the Pleistocene