Orville Jenkins's Reviews > The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes
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it was amazing

Bryan Sykes is one of the world's leading genetic anthropologists, working with DNA identification and comparison to understand the biological history of the human race. He has been part of a growing worldwide coordinated effort in DNA gathering and comparison, and worked with various other specialists to reconstruct the migration and cultural portraits of humans.

Since 2000, our understanding has accelerated and skyrocketed into a burgeoning, exciting body of knowledge about human prehistory and the genetic character of modern populations. Sykes is a skilled storyteller and analyst, resulting in a well-crafted true tale of who we are and how we got to where we are in the world today, and how the innermost being of our every individual cell carries the story in our genes!

The ongoing DNA comparisons all over the world began to fill out a picture of the kinship of all modern humans and their migrations all over the world. In 2001, Brian Sykes reported on his DNA studies in Europe and the Polynesian Islands and related, with careful comparisons to the studies by others on Hawaii and the Americas.

In reporting his comprehensive and extensive DNA reconstruction for the people of Europe, Sykes detailed his DNA findings and presented a delightful historical and cultural history of Europe comparing the DNA reconstruction for Europe with related findings from Archaeology, paleoanthropology, and especially the lifestyle of each era. Important for this was the movement of agriculture across the world and its arrival in Europe.

As his comparisons for Europe progressed, collecting or comparing samples from all over the UK locales, Sykes actually found a modern Irish woman who had the exact same mtDNA sequence as Ötzi, the 5000-year-old Alps Ice Man. The Ice man, found in 1991, was a mummified man found in a melting Alps glacier. This ancient European had been preserved by a glacial freeze and was determined to be 5200 or 5300 years old, determined by DNA study of grains in his leather bag carrying his tools and other paraphernalia.

Similar information from pollen found in or on Ötzi providing additional insights into Ötzi's historical period. The viable DNA recovered from the Ice Man, with related findings from various disciplines of study and investigation reconstructed Ötzi's diet and likely family history. These insights into Ötzi's life and times shed additional light on Sykes' study of the origins and migrations of the streams of indigenous settlement and the much later movement of agriculture into Europe.

The exciting upshot of this particular part of Sykes' study and reconstruction was the discovery of a modern current Irish woman with the same exact mitochondrial DNA sequence as the Ice Man!

After analyzing the DNA patterns of thousands of subjects all across Europe, Sykes realized they all fell into a pattern of 7 groups, thus deriving from only 7 ancestral women for about 95% of the population of current Europe. These he dubs the Seven Daughters of Eve. After recounting the saga of the investigations, the puzzles, the disappointments and the breakthroughs that finally led to the final schema explaining the genetic relationship of thousand so Europeans, Sykes rounds out the story by providing a fictionalized account of the life of these seven women and their families.

Sykes constructs his portraits by weaving in the knowledge from multiple disciplines like archaeology, geology, animal and plant DNA comparisons, and the toolsets associated with various eras of prehistory and history, including the advent of agriculture and its move into Europe. He outlines the movement of the human race across the world millennia by millennia to people all the continents.

You will find this a fascinating novelesque saga that is our story, the human story, with particular attention to how all these factors came together in the population of the continent of Europe.

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Reading Progress

January 7, 2017 – Started Reading
December 30, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2018 – Shelved

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