Sunday, November 27, 2011

Genetics: a Clue to the Past

Genetics can sometimes be used to support legends and historical theories. In a remote region of China, Caucasian genes account for two-thirds of the villagers’ DNA. Many of the villagers have fair hair, blue or green eyes, and long noses like people of European descent. Their genetic makeup points to the introduction of European blood into their lineage.

In the 1950’s, Homer Dubs, a professor of Chinese history in Oxford University first proposed the theory that a legion of Roman soldiers settled in that area after a defeat.  In 53 BC, there was a clash between a Roman army led by Marcus Crassus and a force of Parthians. Many were killed in the defeat, but legend has it that some escaped to the east and integrated with the inhabitants.

The genetics of the current population cannot be the sole evidence to prove the theory of Roman soldiers entering the gene pool after a defeat. Other evidences such as archaeological and historical documents must be taken into consideration. It is amazing  how genetics can act as living record of ancestry and possibly provide insight into the origins of a person’s genetic background.

This is a summary of an article The Telegraph titled: "Chinese Villagers 'Descended from Roman Soldiers.'"

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I think it would be fun to have a look at a some of their pedigrees.