Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past

ISBN : 9780198821250

David Reich
336 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2018
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The past few years have witnessed a revolution in our ability to obtain DNA from ancient humans. This important new data has added to our knowledge from archaeology and anthropology, helped resolve long-existing controversies, challenged long-held views, and thrown up remarkable surprises.

The emerging picture is one of many waves of ancient human migrations, so that all populations living today are mixes of ancient ones, and often carry a genetic component from archaic humans. David Reich, whose team has been at the forefront of these discoveries, explains what genetics is telling us about ourselves and our complex and often surprising ancestry. Gone are old ideas of any kind of racial âpurity.' Instead, we are finding a rich variety of mixtures. Reich describes the cutting-edge findings from the past few years, and also considers the sensitivities involved in tracing ancestry, with science sometimes jostling with politics and tradition. He brings an important wider message: that we should recognize that every one of us is the result of a long history of migration and intermixing of ancient peoples, which we carry as ghosts in our DNA.

What will we discover next?


Introduction; Part I - The Deep History of Our Species; 1 How the Genome Explains Who We Are; 2 Interbreeding with Neanderthals; 3 Ancient DNA Opens the Floodgates; Part II - How We Got to Where We Are Today; 4 Humanity's Ghosts; 5 The Making of Modern Europe; 6 The Collision that Formed India; 7 In Search of American Ancestors; 8 The Genomic Origins of East Asians; 9 Rejoining Africa to the Human Story; Part III -The Disruptive Genome; 10 The Genomics of Inequality; 11 The Genomics of Race and Identity; 12 The Future of Ancient DNA

About the author: 

David Reich is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. In 2015 he was highlighted by Nature magazine as one of 10 people who matter in all of science for his role in transforming the field of ancient DNA from niche pursuit to industrial process. In 2017 he was awarded the Dan David Prize in the Archaeological and Natural Sciences for the computational discovery of intermixing between Neanderthals and modern humans.

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