Friday, February 16, 2007

Book Review - "Deep Ancestry"

I finally finished the book "Deep Ancestry - Inside the Genographic Project" by Spencer Wells (published by the National Geographic Society, 2006). The dust jacket includes:

"In this book, Spencer Wells (Project Director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence) presents a detailed account of what we can learn from genetics, using specific case studies to show how DNA profiles help to answer such questions as: 'How did we end up where we are? When did we get there? Why do we display such a wide range of colors and features - and how did this distinctive diversity evolve so swiftly?'

"Wells translates complicated concepts into accessible language highlighted by a wide range of real-life examples, helpful analogies, and detailed diagrams and illustrations."

Wells does a good job of getting his arms around a complex scientific subject. There is some basic DNA science, but not too much. The description of the Genographic Project is helpful, and they are embarking on a broader range of testing in order to enhance the knowledge base.

The book goes through a number of specific cases that illustrate how the different haplogroups migrated. The maps show concentrations of many of the Haplogroups discussed. The Appendix of the book lists each Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroup and describes the migration patterns and the areas of high density of the group. In the early 21st century, there are small percentages of nearly every group on all continents.

I have not been tested yet, but I want to start a DNA study on my Seaver name. My guess is that I am in the Y Haplogroup R1 or R1B, since my patrilineal line is English. My guess is that my matrilineal line is the H mtDNA Haplogroup. But I may be wrong -- only if I get tested will I know if my visions of being present at the raising of Stonehenge and of Vikings ravaging maidens in Anglia are realistic (oops, too personal?).

1 comment:

Tim Agazio said...


Thanks for this book review. I've been looking for a book that breaks down DNA genealogy to simple terms i can understand. I had my DNA tested...My Y-Haplogroup is E3b2 North African Berber...which was a complete surprise...wasn't expecting this at all. The thing is that I don't understand the whole DNA/Genealogy link up. I think it's much more complicated then a lot of these DNA testing sites make it sound. Thanks for the book review.

Tim Agazio