Historical Genetics

17 May 2021 11:30

Yet Another Inadequate Placeholder

Partly, I'm interested in the use of genetics as a tool for historical investigation, and what it can tell us about human history. (For instance, migrations, but also traces of, and information about, imperialism, slavery, diseases, conquest, religious conversion, conquest.) Partly, I'm interested in this as an application of statistical methods to inferring latent entities (here, ancestral populations and lineages). Partly, I'm interested in this for what it can tell us about historical methods --- about our ability to reliably reconstruct the past from traces left in the present. And there are some fascinating sociological issues with how ordinary people use the findings of historical genetics, especially when they're presented in personalized ways.

--- I find it interesting that Denisovans are recognized as an entirely new human species, on par with us and Neanderthals, almost entirely on the basis of genetics, and that people then go on to estimate Denisovan ancestry in other populations. I have, of course, no reason to think that they're wrong, but it shows remarkable confidence in the procedures...

See also: Archaeology; Evolutionary Biology; Human Evolution and Paleoanthropology; Heritability; Spatial Statistics