Ancestral journeys : the peopling of Europe from the first venturers to the Vikings

by Jean Manco

Book, 2013



Call number

GN803 .M36


Publisher Unknown


Who are the Europeans? Where did they come from? In recent years scientific advances have yielded a mass of new data, turning accepted ideas upside down. In this highly readable account, Jean Manco skilfully weaves the multiple strands of the very latest genetic evidence with archaeology, history and linguistics to produce a startling new history of Europe. Her fast-paced narrative is illustrated with numerous specially commissioned maps and diagrams showing the movements of people, the spread of languages and DNA distributions, as well as photographs and drawings. Completely up to date and unprecedented in the scope, breadth and depth of its research, this paradigm-shifting book paints a spirited portrait of a restless people that challenges our established ways of looking at Europe's past and its people. It will be of great interest to the growing number of people who want to trace their ancestry through DNA and understand what the results mean.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member annbury
This book examines the question of where the peoples of Europe came from, and how they spread across the continent. The author combines the latest genetic analysis, archaelogical information, and linguistic analysis to provide multidimensional answers to these complex questions. The author stresses
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-- helpfully, I think -- the switch in views on the European past over the past thirty years or so. The consensus has moved to an emphasis on migration (people and cultures moved) away from the stable population approach (culture moved, people pretty much stayed in place). Here, genetic analysis has been invaluable, showing that ancestral DNA in many locales does NOT bear a close relationship to the DNA of people who live there now.

Her time span ranges from the deepest past up to the Viking age, and presents a lot of information of which I was not aware -- a lot of which focusses on how fast populations actually have changed. The Slavs, for example, appear to have emerged well into the first millenium. Another key point she emphasizes is that cultures retreat as well as advancing, due to sickness, climate change, or war. She stresses that population dropped sharply in many areas on many occasions.

My only quarrel with the book is that I found it tedious at time. That is likely to be more my fault than the authors (haplogroup analysis is critical, but I don't know enough to find it thrilling). In addition to this book, however, I would recommend "The Horse, The Wheel and Language" by David Anthony. This book is a tad older than Manco's (2007) but for whatever reason I found it even more interesting. How fortunate history buffs like me are to live in a period when research is uncovering so much about unwritten human history!
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LibraryThing member Paul_S
I like dry books but this is just uninspired and lacks any idea or structure. It's hardly a book, more like an unstructured list of topics you'd be better off reading about somewhere else. Too many "oh, and another thing...".


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