“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” Many educated people often perpetuate the idea that Africa had no history in the periods when certain kingdoms had no writing. And When evidence of writing is highlighted, they shift the boundaries by creating artificial distinctions between white and black Africans by using the group “Sub-Saharan Africans.”
In this article we demonstrate why this view is nonsense; and ironically, we conclude that those antiquated ideas can now be consigned to the “dark ages” of human knowledge.
The history of anatomically modern humans (AMH) in Africa is the longest in world history.
Since the introduction of artificial intelligence to genetic studies and the first complete sequencing of entire human genome for DNA expert James Watson to six billion base pairs in 2007 at the cost of $1 million, knowledge about genetic history has gone inter-stellar; retiring many archaeological ideas and creating many new questions. A cost of $1m was a huge advancement compared to the previous lowest cost of $100 million by entrepreneur J. Craig Venter. These reductions in cost had some unintended consequences.
We now have very compelling evidence about how AMH humans left Africa and populated the rest of the world. More specifically we also have an idea about the propagation of Y-chromosome DNA (the paternal line) and mitochondrial DNA (the maternal line) leading to the modern physical variations seen around the world. Ironically, there is more genetic variation amongst the African population than around the non-African population, due to the founder effect.
To illustrate why we can now conclude that relying too much on written history is overrated, we look at genetic studies about the origins of the English.
GENETIC STUDY OF THE ENGLISH
The English often wrongly assume that they are all descended from the Anglo-Saxons, a misconception largely driven by unfounded stories about their origins. The real story of whom they are and where they came from lies in their genetic past.
The Anglo-Saxons actually started arriving in Britain around AD 450, and this is thousands of years after the first settlers. Results from the most comprehensive DNA analyses of the genetic makeup of modern-day white Brits show that only about half of them possess Anglo-Saxon DNA; of which its content varies from between 10 to 40%. The rest comprise a large number of genetically distinct populations.
The DNA signatures of people in Scotland and Northern England are more different than those in neighbouring counties of Cornwall and Devon. Also surprising, there are clear distinct differences between DNA signatures of people in the north and south of the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire.
This study was conducted by Peter Donnelly of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and his team, in Oxford, UK. It involved the study of the DNA samples of over 2,039 Caucasian people carefully selected from around the UK. Each person was selected strictly because all four of their grandparents were born within 80km of each other, thus enabling the team to infer the DNA of their grandparents and link it later to a location.
“Any one person’s genome is a random sample of DNA from all four of their grandparents, so it’s a way to look back in time” says Donnelly.
All in all, Donnelly’s team discovered that the genetic profiles of all the participants fell into 17 different clusters. The largest of the clusters which accounted for half of the participants occupied almost the whole of eastern, southern England and most of the Midlands; this was the genetic legacy of the Anglo-Saxons. But all 17 clusters were dominated by DNA of settlers that arrived before the time of the Anglo-Saxons. Comparing this with genomes from modern-day Europe, the team was able to arrive at the conclusion that the genetic makeup of all of white Britons originated from settlers that migrated to Britain from northern Germany, Belgium and the west coast of France sometime around 9.000BC.
They noted that migration from northern Germany occurred when Britain was still attached to what is presently Northern Germany because sea levels were still low as of those times, while the people that migrated from the west coast of France did so by boats.
This study is among a host of others that supports the already proven fact that humans migrated to all of the corners of the globe from a single source which has been proven many times to be Africa; adapting to the different environments they settled in, over thousands of years.
African genes that determine skin colour have been discovered to be present in Caucasian populations. You can read more about it here (African Skin Tones).
Although the Romans, Vikings, and Normans invaded and ruled Britain for many years – affecting and shaping the history of the nation – the genetic footprints of these groups are not present in modern-day Brits, except for the Anglo-Saxon; the Vikings genetic input can be found in only 25% of Orcadian DNA.
The reason for this might be because the Romans and Normans were a ruling class who did not intermarry with the natives.
IMPLICATIONS FOR RELIANCE ON WRITTEN HISTORY
Writing is an invaluable skill; it has many uses and advantages. Written history no doubt is essential to human development. Vital information necessary for the advancement of the human race is in written works. Modern Scientific advancements build their progress on written accounts of previous scientists.
Dates and time of significant events in the course of human development are contained in written texts. A glimpse of our ancestry as humans can be derived from written works. Many noble and past deeds of individuals would have been lost to time but for written accounts.
It is obvious without a doubt that written texts are very important. Without writing, major human accomplishments would have been difficult, and perhaps the human race would not have been able to attain its present level of advancement.
However, it will be unwise to depend entirely on written works about history to justly and objectively decipher its truths. Since the skill of writing is carried out by man, and man not being a perfect being can be egotistic at most times, not only is there no way to ascertain the objectivity of the writer but the texts can be biased and based on the personal perception of the author at the time. There are many historical texts which hitherto have served as the basis of assumptions but have been proven wrong today, thanks to modern technological and scientific advancements.
Written accounts without supporting evidence cannot be considered factual. Its role takes on a more supportive approach. That something is written does not necessarily make it true. Collaborative writings from other totally independent sources should also be consulted.
As humans make progress and become more advanced, new and unique ways of determining history are discovered, which maybe more factual and convincing than written texts. These later methods prove beyond doubt its cases, often disproving or contradicting written historical accounts. But of all the new ways man has discovered in the quest of retracing his history, a unique source of information has arisen from the advancements in genetics.
So much truth has been unveiled by studying the remains of ancient humans and comparing same with modern day human genetic makeup.
It would therefore be preposterous to assert that it is only through written historical works are humans able to reliably work out their history. Peter Donelly couldn’t have put it better when he said “History is written by the winners. Genetics, by contrast, is the history of the masses.”
Despite the value of genetics and its implications for what we now know, we still have to be honest about the gaps genetics can’t fill, such as the developments which occurred in politics, linguistics and philosophy. In such areas, writing and oral traditions still have much value.
Andy Coughlan. Ancient Invaders Transformed Britain, But Not Its DNA. Article Published by NewScientist, 18th March, 2015. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530134-300-ancient-invaders-transformed-britain-but-not-its-dna/
- (Andy Coughlan. Ancient Invaders Transformed Britain, But Not Its DNA. Article Published by NewScientist, 18th March, 2015.). ↑