Y DNA and mt DNA: Conquest

By Etsuko Ueda

One of the common themes in human culture is origin myth. We humans seem to have this need to know where we came from and where we are heading to. Our fascination with genealogy and archeology is another evidence. It was my junior high school years (1960s) when I started to actively search for the information about the oldest known human history. I remember sifting through history books in the school library looking for that type of information. I did not get very far. The usual stone age, copper/bronze age, iron age progression and the traces of invasions over invasions in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean, indicating that a group with more advanced weapons and tools conquering and spreading. The Hittite was one of the groups mentioned and given credit for the iron and chariot technologies. Where did they come from? Aryans from the North of the Mediterranean? That was all I could find.

So, when I've found out about an on going world wide DNA project, it grabbed my attention. We can trace father to son paternal lineage by Y chromosome DNA and mother to daughter maternal lineage by Mitochondrial (mt) DNA. The biggest discovery so far in my opinion is the fundamental differences between male and female in terms of the way our ancestors spread and settled.

The data from Europe, Africa, India, China, and Japan so far indicate that the Y DNAs of the population is dominated by the late comer's or the conquerors'. The Y DNAs from the older hunter-gatherer population were replaced by the farming populations, and they, in turn, have been largely replaced by the Y DNAs of the people originated from herding cultures with large cattle, metal weapons, horses and horse lead chariots and wagons. The Y DNAs from the older populations survived mainly in economically disadvantaged places such as remote mountains and islands. On the other hand, mtDNAs from the older hunter-gatherer population survived much better than its Y DNA counterpart. And the older farming population are well represented along with the mtDNAs of the newcomer's from the herding populations. In other words, mtDNA is diverse and there is no clear domination by any single group.

In human terms, this, of course, is nothing new. There are plenty of historic record as well as contemporary incidences where a large scale migration/conquest more or less wiped out the native population. What happened (or is happening) in China, Americas, Australia, and Africa is still fresh in our memory. From the areas surrounding the Black Sea to Egypt, the East Mediterranean, and the Near East, the old conflicts and repeated conquests that go back many thousands of years are still smoldering.

There were many small scale invasions also that replaced the ruling class. In Egypt, the rulers were a small minority from the north. DNA test of mummies indicated Tutankhamun (1332 BC – 1323 BC) belongs to the Indo-European language speaking people from the North. The last dynasty that ended with Cleopatra was Greek since Alexander the Great took over Egypt in 332 B.C. India has also gone through many waves of invasions and change of dynasties from Indo-Aryans to Alexander the Great to Muslims, and Mongoles before the British came from the Sea and took it over. The British themselves went through many invasions and changes of dynasties: Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. It has been the same in China. Various tribes such as the Mongols from outside of the Great Wall took turns in invading and ruling China. The last such dynasty was Qing dynasty, which was crushed under the heavy weight of the Western colonial exploitation, and eventually overthrown by revolutionaries in 1912, although the last emperor Puyi presided over the ancestral homeland of Manchuria until 1945 under Japanese protection. Eventually, the current ruling class of China (the Communists) was established in 1949.

In Japan, the change of dynasty by invasion has not occurred within the recorded history (more than 1500 years) and the current imperial family is the oldest in the world. However, the distribution of Y DNA haplogroups indicates the prehistoric pattern of invasions or infusions of newcomers' DNA. In the following figure, the haprogroup D represents the older hunter-gatherer-early farmer Johmon lineage, and the haprogroup O-M122 + O-P31 represent the Yayoi period newcomers from rice growing regions of Asia. These Y DNA lineage differences are so old that they are not visible in any socio-economic groups today, although there seems some regional differences indicating that the newcomers did not go very far to the north nor far to the south.

Dual origins of the Japanese: common ground for hunter-gatherer and farmer Y chromosomes

Whether it was full scale invasion or small one, the violent nature of conquest has never changed. From the out right take over and enslavement/colonization of the yesteryear's to today's financial exploitation cannot be sustained without a military back-up. In human terms, men get killed trying to defend their homeland, women get enslaved or have little choice but to go along with the conquerors and carry their children, consensual or not. While native men, if they did not get killed, would be economically marginalized or uprooted and taken as slaves and have less opportunities to leave offspring.

For a conquering man, the native women and their children he fathered are either his property like slaves or unacknowledged bastards, and their social status is much lower than his children born to a women from his own ethnic group. Thus the class system gets establish.

In the United States, the natives were not willing or suitable as slaves and Africans were brought in as slaves. However, many white men took native women as wives, but the mixed-blood offspring's social status was lower than that of thoroughbred whites. When you look at the relationships between black slaves and whites, this class system is far more stark. Any hint of black blood would deny a person the full privileges the whites could enjoy (50% white President is referred as black in the U.S., but he may be treated as a white in some parts of Central and South Americas). White men have routinely impregnated black slaves and the paternity was never acknowledged in many cases (see Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.). When you look at today's black Americans' genetic mixture, there is no doubt how much white blood is mixed in to them. Except for those who came from Africa recently, there is virtually no blacks without a drop of white blood mixed in today.

In other words, men thought nothing of their flesh and blood treated as slaves or bastards. Even within marriage, men were given absolute power over their wives and children. It is a historical fact that daughters were not given the same rights sons were given. In many societies, women did not have rights to own and inherit properties until recently, and it's historical roots is no doubt the male dominated nature of conquests. It is beyond my imagination how men feel about their mothers in those societies, but it looks like that to inherit the father's status, men had to ignore maternal heritage, especially if she is native, hence the practice of taking paternal family name. Interestingly, however, for a woman born into a royal family, somewhat different rule is applied and she can take the throne when a male successor is not available. Here it becomes clear that the blood line is more important than the gender to claim the legitimacy. In places where the ruling class was a small minority such as Egypt, marriage between siblings was permitted to maintain the racial purity.

When you look at the history of western democracy, common men (non ruling class man) did not have voting rights at the beginning. It was only less than 100 years that women of any class won the voting rights and the rights to own property. In many parts of the world, women are still treated as man's property. Even in the advanced democratic societies, there are many men wanting to reverse the clock to justify their ruthless control over women including women's reproductive functions. The idea of equal rights and human rights is still new whether it relates to women or people in general.

Given such human heritage, it's no wonder that the future society portrayed in Si-Fi stories are full of violent conflicts of hegemony, and the stories that put raw power struggles up front such as Sopranos and Game of Throne have been popular in America. May be we all know that beneath the thin veneer of civilized modern Western society lies the same male dominated society where the raw power rules. Or is it a male nostalgia? The question is: can we make it a distant memory, like the horse mounted armored worriers? I am pinning my hopes to the ideas promoted by women leaders such as Swanee Hunt that it's up to women to open the next chapter of human history.



Did the Indo-Europeans really invade Western Europe ?
How did R1b come to replace most of the older lineages in Western Europe ?
A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for European Paternal Lineages
Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers (mtDNA)

A Signal, from Human mtDNA, of Postglacial Recolonization in Europe
Dual origins of the Japanese: common ground for hunter-gatherer and farmer Y chromosomes
Mitochondrial Genome Variation in Eastern Asia and the Peopling of Japan
Genetic evidence supports demic diffusion of Han culture
Y-chromosome lineages in Cabo Verde Islands witness the diverse geographic origin of its first male settlers
Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe
Excavating Y-chromosome haplotype strata in Anatolia

Racial history in America
Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Women's rights and power
Half the Sky
Women War and Peace
Swanee Hunt
Pray the Devil Back to Hell (This is a must see. The Wisdom and vitality of women in war torn Africa, They have taken back their country from men behaving like boys, by sex strike?)

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