Ancestral Journeys

The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings

Ancestral Journeys jacket

Who are the Europeans and where did they come from? In recent years scientific advances have released a mass of data, turning cherished ideas upside down. The idea of migration in prehistory, so long out of favour, is back on the agenda. Visions of continuity have been replaced with a more dynamic view of Europe’s past, with one wave of migration followed by another, from the first human arrivals in Europe to the Vikings.

Ancient DNA links Europe to its nearest neighbours. It is not a new idea that farming was brought from the Near East, but genetics now reveals an unexpectedly complex process in which farmers arrived not in one wave, but several. Even more unexpected is the evidence that the European gene pool was stirred vigorously many times after farming had reached most of Europe. Climate change played a part in this upheaval, but so did new inventions such as the plough and wheeled vehicles. Genetic and linguistic clues also enhance our understanding of the upheavals of the Migration Period, the wanderings of steppe nomads, and the adventures of the Vikings.

Sample pages from Ancestral JourneysJean Manco weaves the multiple strands of genetic evidence with archaeology, history and linguistics to produce a startling new history of Europe. For more on the book see Thames and Hudson's description. The book can be purchased direct from them or via online booksellers if you don't find it in your local bookshop.

Supplementary material is available on this website. For those confused by my many references to haplogroups, phylogenetic trees are maintained online at Phylotree.org (mtDNA) and Phylotree.org/Y/ (Y-DNA).