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Michigan State University Grant to House a Massive Slave Trade Database

 

Published: Jan. 9, 2018

MSU USES $1.5M MELLON FOUNDATION GRANT TO BUILD MASSIVE SLAVE TRADE DATABASE

Contact(s): Andy Henion, Dean Rehberger, Walter Hawthorne, Ethan Watrall, Rebecca Jensen

Michigan State University, supported by nearly $1.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will create a unique online data hub that will change the way scholars and the public understand African slavery.

By linking data collections from multiple universities, the website will allow people to search millions of pieces of slave data to identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Users can also run analyses of enslaved populations and create maps, charts and graphics.

The project, called “Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade,” is funded by a $1.47 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

“’Enslaved’ brings new digital tools and analytical approaches to the study of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade,” said project co-investigator Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world.”

Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will lead the project along with Hawthorne and Ethan Watrall, associate director of Matrix and assistant professor of anthropology.

This project, which will take 18 months, is the first phase of a multi-phase plan. In phase one, MSU and partners will develop a proof-of-concept to show data can be linked across eight well-established online databases, including the collection at MSU’s Matrix.

In addition to Matrix – one of the premier digital humanities centers – MSU has the top-ranked African history graduate program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“’Enslaved’ reaffirms Michigan State University’s longstanding commitment to Africa-centered research,” Watrall said, “and to creating tools and digital experiences that engage researchers, students and the public in critical questions about our collective past, culture and heritage.”

The partner projects in phase one are “African Origins and Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database” led by David Eltis, professor emeritus, Emory University, and Paul Lachance; “The Slave Societies Digital Archive” led by Jane Landers, Vanderbilt University; “Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography” and “Dictionary of African Biography and African American National Biography” led by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Steven Niven and Abby Wolf, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; “Freedom Narratives” led by Paul Lovejoy, York University; “Legacies of British Slave-Ownership” led by Keith McClelland, University College, London; and “The Liberated Africans Project” led by Henry Lovejoy, University of Colorado Boulder; and “Slave Biographies” led by Daryle Williams, University of Maryland.

The funding follows a $19,450 Mellon grant for project planning.

“We and our partners value the support of the Mellon Foundation,” Rehberger said. “In bringing together data from a number of highly successful projects, we have the opportunity from many small threads of data to weave together lives of enslaved individuals once thought lost to history.”

The Ancient Origins of New Zealanders

Biological anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith is researching the genetic make-up of Kiwis.

Biological anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith is researching the genetic make-up of Kiwis.

Aotearoa was the final destination of a very long journey that began in Africa over 65,000 years ago.  Whether you’re a red-headed country music singer in Gore or a Filipino dairy worker in Dannevirke, your ancestral homeland is Africa.

When a small band of modern humans filtered out of Africa into Europe and Asia, they encountered other human types who had arrived there hundreds of thousands of years before.  Our new breed of taller, seemingly more savvy and better equipped men and women co-existed with Neanderthals for at least 10,000 years before they died out, whether through force or happenstance.

Our common ancestor was Homo erectus.  We were not yet so different from Neanderthals that we couldn’t interbreed.  The encounters were rare and rarely productive but nevertheless, everyone today who is NOT of pure African descent carries a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA, about 2 percent – slightly more in Asian populations who seem to have had additional, later encounters. Those Neanderthal jokes about our colleagues and former boyfriends have rebounded on us.

Skeleton of the Neanderthal boy recovered from the El Sidron cave, Spain.

PALEOANTHROPOLOGY GROUP MNCN-CSIC

Skeleton of the Neanderthal boy recovered from the El Sidron cave, Spain.

This genetic legacy has given us some good and bad traits, such as stronger hair and skin, a predisposition to type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, and increased risk of nicotine addiction. Apparently, Neanderthals shared our on/off faculty for appreciating the defining note of pinot noir and violets, a compound called beta ionine.  A single nucleotide difference (a basic component of DNA) distinguishes the active and inactive version of the gene.

READ MORE:
Tracing where the first Kiwis came from
Gene analysis project goes way, way back

The first scientist to think of using differences in our DNA to trace our origins and relatedness grew up on a farm in Pukekohe.

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith hands out DNA test kits to 50 people in Nelson after introducing the audience to the Allan ...

Martin de Ruyter

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith hands out DNA test kits to 50 people in Nelson after introducing the audience to the Allan Wilson Centre project The Longest Journey from Africa to Aotearoa.

The late, great New Zealand scientist, Allan Wilson, who should be a household name here, spent his adult life in America, based at the University of California, Berkeley.  He died in 1991 from leukaemia, aged 56. Wilson deduced that chimpanzees and the first human species diverged from a common ancestor only 5-7 million years ago, not  about 30m as previously thought – a bit too close for comfort for some.

It caused a bitter controversy at the time, and not just among evolution deniers. Scientists are human too, and not always objectively ‘sapiens’. Reputations become nailed to old masts.

Wilson led a group of evolutionary biologists who realised that we could reconstruct human history by studying markers in our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited lock, stock and barrel from mother, and not mixed up with father’s DNA when sperm meets egg.  Every so often, a spelling mistake, known as a mutation, is made when the DNA is being copied. Once a mutation occurs, it is then passed on to all future generations.

These mtDNA mutations rarely have any effect on the person.  Wilson and his team realised that if they looked at mtDNA from people around the world, they could compare the DNA and draw a family tree, identifying when and where these mutations occurred. The different mtDNA lineages could be used to trace the movement of populations across the globe.

They calculated that all humans alive today trace their origin back to one woman – so-called Mitochondrial Eve – who lived in Africa a mere 150,000 years ago.  This doesn’t mean that she was the only woman on Earth at the time, but that all other lines have since become dead ends, literally.

The different branches of the mitochondrial family tree are labelled by letters, with each branch defined by a particular mutation or combination of mutations.

The oldest lineages are the L branches, which are found only in African populations. About 65,000 years ago, a small group of humans carrying the L3 lineage left Africa, probably through what is now Egypt. This group soon split and the mutations occurred that define the two main non-African lineages, the M and N branches. Women carrying the N lineages gave rise to all European lineages, with the most common branches found in Western Europeans today being H, U, J, T, K, V, and X. These seven Western European maternal ancestors inspired the book The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes.  He named these clan mothers Helena, Ursula, Jasmine, Tara, Katrine, Velda and Xenia.

While Helena, Ursula, Jasmine and the girls went north, some of our ancestors headed east and moved very quickly through southern Asia, towards the Pacific. They could walk through what is now Island Southeast Asia when ice ages locked up massive volumes of water and sea levels fell.  Recent research suggests that they arrived in Australia and New Guinea, which were joined in a super-continent called Sahul, as early as 60-65,000 years ago.  Aboriginal Australians and Papuans have been geographically and genetically isolated for a very long time.

It was a one-way journey for them. These people carried mtDNA lineages belonging to the M branch, as well as some N lineages.

On those early forays into Asia, it seems we also interbred with another group of long-separate Homo erectus descendants called Denisovans, after the cave in Siberia where the relics of these people were miraculously discovered – part of the finger-bone of a small girl and a few teeth – amidst tonnes of rock and dirt.  These treasured remains were so well preserved that scientists were able to sequence the entire genome (the complete set of an organism’s DNA).  Those first modern humans who travelled through Asia clearly ran into Denisovans on the way. Their descendants today, including Aboriginal Australians and many Pacific people, carry up to 5 per cent Denisovan DNA.  Interestingly, this inheritance confers an ability to thrive at high altitudes and is present in the Sherpa people.

Allan Wilson’s work has inspired a generation of evolutionary biologists, including a group of outstanding researchers at the University Otago.  Leader of the allanwilson@otago research group is Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, a biological anthropologist who also uses DNA as her archaeological pick-axe. She is fine-tuning what we know about the populations of the Pacific, and Aotearoa in particular.  She recently randomly sampled the DNA of over 2000 New Zealanders to analyse our ancient maternal and paternal lines.

Lisa is currently writing up the results and the stories of some of her New Zealand subjects in a book she plans to publish in 2019, when we will be commemorating the first Maori and European landings here.  But she can tell you the punch line now. We are as diverse a population as you’ll find anywhere. Kiwis carry all of the major mitochondrial DNA diversity seen in the world – lineages A to Z.

The history of human evolution and migration is one of the fastest moving areas of science. New findings, such as fossils of the diminutive Homo floresiensis (the hobbit people), are coming thick and fast and adding intriguing sub-plots to the main storyline.

We have an insatiable desire to know about our past.  Genealogy is big business. But while DNA is hard evidence of our origins, relatedness, and some of the routes taken by our ancestors, it is only part of the story and actually reveals very little about who we are. New Zealanders are not defined by their DNA or bound in spirit by genetic similarity.

What we do share in common are the long journeys we and our forebears risked to come here, whether by waka, sailing ship or 777, to escape depression and social immobility in Britain, Pol Pot’s genocide, wars in Europe and the Middle East, or in search of adventure and a better life.

Our ancestors, all six thousand generations since Mitochondrial Eve, were survivors and we are their testament.

Next week:  Who were the first New Zealanders?  How many were there, and where did they come from?

Information and research provided by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith FRSNZ, University of Otago

 

SCIENCE – In a Cave in Israel, Scientists Find Jawbone Fossil From Oldest Modern Human Out of Africa

By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR  JAN. 25, 2018

Access: The New York Times and The Times of Israel Jan. 25, 2018

This article changes a lot of our current genetic beliefs. It is my opinion, that the new data may verify my thoughts of what happened to the very first known haplogroup L0(haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patriline or the matriline. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations.) Dec 28, 2017

Haplogroup – ISOGG Wiki – International Society of Genetic Genealogy

https://isogg.org/wiki/Haplogroup

I have often written extensively about the Adams and Eves that existed long ago.  Often getting negative reactions, silent and challenges to my beliefs. Interest in scientific, anthropological findings clearly researched and shared with other professionals worldwide. Again, I ask that you the reader keep an open mind. Just as anything else in this world, things change as we continue to dig and discover using the best anthropological and genetic tools available. It will be years before we can say for sure, that this is the missing L0 group who are the original men and women of Africa. For sure they are apart of the L0-L6 haplogroup of men and women of Africa. These groups migrated out of Africa over a long period of time, developing mutations such as skin, eye and hair color.

*All DNA testing companies have always used a Eurasian model with there algorithms. It is like a plague to use Africans in their models, which is a bias towards one group as opposed to an another. There are models that take into account African populations with significant results. ( dnatestedafrican.org)  strongly suggest a full sequence maternal test if you can afford it or the next lowest which is 67 markers. Testing below YDNA 111 markers paternal is not worth your money but if you can at least test at 67 markers that is great. I do not challenge religious biblical ideology. That is an area that I have no expertise.

A jawbone found in a cave in Israel’s Mount Carmel region has reset the clock on human evolution.

The fossil, the earliest known record of Homo sapiens outside of Africa, was discovered in 2002 during an excavation of the prehistoric Misliya Cave. After 15 years of intensive research by an international team of multidisciplinary scientists, the unique remains of an adult upper jawbone, complete with several teeth, has been dated to 170,000-200,000 years ago.

“This has changed the whole concept of modern human evolution,” said Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. The research was published Thursday in the prestigious Science magazine.

Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Israel Hershkovitz (left) and University of Haifa’s Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron. (courtesy)

Based on fossils found in Ethiopia, for the past 50 years scientists have believed that modern humans appeared in Africa, the “cradle of humanity,” roughly 160,000-200,000 years ago. The earliest record of migration outside of Africa was dated to around 90,000-120,000 years ago, through fossils discovered at digs in Israel’s Skhul and Qafzeh caves almost 90 years ago.

With this Misliya cave jawbone, however, the history of human evolution is being rewritten.

“The entire narrative of the evolution of Homo sapiens must be pushed back by at least 100,000-200,000 years,” said Hershkovitz, the head of the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research at TAU’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.

The Misliya fossil not only resets the date for Homo sapien evolution and migration, but also spurs the mind-blowing implication that modern humanity did not evolve independently but rather alongside — and intermingled with — many other hominin groups, such as Neanderthals, he said.

The 177,000 to 194,000-year-old maxilla (upper jaw) of Misliya-1 hominin (Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University)

The dating of a modern human fossil to 200,000 years ago “implies that the biological history of our species must be pushed back to half a million years ago,” Hershkovitz told The Times of Israel on Thursday. “It implies that our species didn’t evolve in isolation… The species was involved with a very long interaction with other groups.”

“Our species,” said Hershkovitz, “is a genetic mishmash of several hominins.”

Archaeological findings from the cave support this “mishmash” theory by providing an even earlier sedimentary-layered context for modern human settlement — by about 50,000 years. Therefore, modern human settlement in Israel could arguably be dated to even 250,000 years ago.

According to University of Haifa archaeologist Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, “Miss Lia,” as she fancifully calls the fossil from the Misliya site, was discovered in a layer well after the indications of first modern human settlement there. (There is no way to ascertain the gender of the fossil.)

Speaking with The Times of Israel just hours after the press announcement of the revolutionary find, Weinstein-Evron reminisced that when she and Hershkovitz first drew up plans ahead of commencing the joint dig in 2001, their stated (modest) goal was to look for the origins of the modern Homo sapiens. With the discovery of “Miss Lia” in the Mount Carmel region, which is rife with indications of paleolithic settlement, she said, “we have found something even more surprising.”

Typical Early Middle Paleolithic flint points found together with Misliya 1 (Mina Weinstein Evron, University of Haifa)

During 10 years of excavations, along with the jawbone, the team uncovered some 60,000 flint tools, which span the human history of development from chunky primitive hand axes to purposefully knapped, lightweight, technologically advanced projectiles and thin knives.

During artifact analysis, researchers were able to discern the different lingering flora and fauna on the tools.

“The new zooarchaeological data from Misliya Cave, particularly the abundance of meat-bearing limb bones displaying filleting cut marks and the acquisition of prime-age prey, demonstrate that early Middle Paleolithic people possessed developed hunting capabilities. Thus, modern large-game hunting, carcass transport, and meat-processing behaviors were already established in the Levant in the early Middle Paleolithic, more than 200,000 years ago,” according to a 2007 Journal of Human Evolution study from the dig.

“They had a delicatessen in the cave,” said Weinstein-Evron, who listed auroch and other deer steaks, hares, ostrich eggs and wild boars as among the foodstuffs found in the caves. “They supped on ham and eggs,” she joked.

Likewise, said Weinstein-Evron, the team discovered the world’s first signs of the use of organic padding for the settlers’ seats next to the communal hearth.

Misliya cave, where a jawbone complete with teeth was recently discovered dating to 177,000-194,000 years ago. (Mina Weinstein-Evron, University of Haifa)

In addition to the genetic analysis of the bone, archaeological findings confirmed that Homo sapiens “lived in parallel with other types of humans a lot longer than thought,” she said. Fossil records have indicated that Homo sapiens are a very diverse group. Now, she said, it is much more likely that the species is made up of a mix of hominin groups.

“We are researchers, not ‘finders,’” said Weinstein-Evron. “The minute we uncover one thing,it is the beginning of looking into something else.”

A breakthrough discovery 15 years in the making

Dating and typifying the fossil took 15 years and a team of inter-disciplinary international scientists who together confirmed the groundbreaking fossil’s properties and its dating to circa 170,000 to 200,000.

Back in 2002, the jawbone fossil was discovered in “petrified soil,” said Hershkovitz. It was removed as a block out of the cave and taken to the laboratory, where the year-long process of sediment removal commenced.

“It is a frustrating process that takes a lot of time. It must be done step by step in order not to damage the fossil. It took about a year just to clean and prepare it for study,” he said.

Reconstructed maxilla from micro CT images of the 177,000 to 194,000-year-old maxilla (upper jaw) of Misliya-1 hominin. (Gerhard Weber, University of Vienna, Austria)

Next, the fossil’s dating began. “This is the critical issue, we had to be absolutely sure,” he said, so it was decided to use the next several years to implement several different methods to date the bone, as well as sediment from the excavation site.

“It takes years, working almost day by day on the specimen,” he said. Some of the dating processes are time dependent, explained Hershkovitz, such as a radiation dating technique which requires a year.

The team, he said, had no idea about how old the jawbone would turn out to be. “The first thing that caught our eyes was that the layer we were excavating was from the early middle paleolithic period, which in Israel is 250,000 to 140,000. So we were quite sure the specimen was older than 120,000,” the oldest known Homo sapien fossil outside of Africa until that time.

The dating completed, he said, “we had to prove that the specimen belongs to our species, Homo sapiens.” To that end, the bone was scanned for 3D analysis.

 Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Rachel Sarig participated in the analysis. “In the Misliya specimen we used the most advanced methods, using micro CT analysis, which actually allowed us to dig into the tooth, to virtually peel the layers of the bone and other teeth, we could look into the tooth into the dentin layer and analyze the shape of the dentin of the roots of the tooth and of the enamel crown.”

Sarig said the specimen displays “modern characteristics.” “It has more modern features which are similar to modern populations than to other ancient populations such as the Neanderthals,” said Sarig.

According to Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Hila May, there are five features that indicate the maxilla jawbone is of the Homo sapien species. These include the small parabolic dental arch, the location of the incisive foramen, where the anterior part (zygomatic arch) enters to the maxilla, the ridge where the anterior part of the zygomatic arch enters to the maxilla, and the orientation of the floor of the nasal cavity, May enumerated in a video put out by Tel Aviv University.

Location of early modern human fossils in Africa and the Middle East. (Rolf Quam, Binghamton University, USA/NASA image)

       Click on the red triangle for a better view

In the video, Weinstein-Evron sits at a table in front of an array of tools which were discovered in the cave. She pointed out the rugged, large hand axes, then the lighter, more precise and sophisticated flint tools, a clear visual representation of the evolution of the human species.

“We found evidence for everything in the cave… And from Mount Carmel, apparently these modern humans with their industry, colonized slowly and slowly, all of the old world,” said Weinstein-Evron.

As to who these early modern humans were and what they were capable of, Hershkovitz said, is impossible to know based purely on this upper jawbone.

“But judging from the sophistication of their tools, which were formed using a very unique technique, that attests to their intellectual capabilities. I personally believe they were as smart as we are today, but that’s just a guess,” said Hershkovitz.

 

CELL, ORGANELLES AND DNA RESOURCES

CELL, ORGANELLES, & DNA RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS, GENETIC GENEALOGIST AND YOU

Resource: Unlockinglifecode.org access 1/2018

1 | Cell
2 | Nucleus
3 | Golgi Body
4 | Mitochondrion
5 | Lysosome
6 | Centriole
7 | Ribosome
8 | Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum
9 | Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum
10 | Cytoplasm
11 | Nucleopore
12 | Chromosome
13 | Gene
14 | DNA
15 | Base Pair
Read this! |

What I Learn About My Ancient Ancestry (Geno 2 Project)

Here is what I learned about my ancient ancestry:

I AM

Neanderthal Man

0.7%

NEANDERTHAL

Modern Man

As humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals were still living in Eurasia. It seems our ancestors hit it off, leaving a small trace of these ancient relatives in my DNA.

I AM

  • 79% Western Africa

  • 5% Northwestern Europe

  • 4% Eastern Africa

  • 4% West Mediterranean

  • 3% Northeastern Europe

  • 3% Eastern Europe

MY MAP

MY MATERNAL LINEAGE BEGAN ABOUT 150,000 YEARS AGO.

My maternal ancestors spread from east-central Africa to northwestern Africa at a time when the climate and landscape were more hospitable. They settled from the central-West African coast to North Africa. In the north, my cousins are now part of populations such as the Berber peoples. The Berbers are traditionally livestock herders. Toward west-central Africa, I have cousins among traditional farming groups.

My maternal branch is L2a1a2

Maternal Map

MY PATERNAL LINEAGE BEGAN AT LEAST 180,000 YEARS AGO.

My paternal ancestors spread from Central Africa to West Africa. My cousins include the Bantu-speaking people. The Bantu had an advanced farming culture, and were the first people in sub-Saharan Africa to work iron. Later expansions to the east and south introduced agriculture across Africa and spread the Bantu languages throughout the continent.

My paternal branch is E-U186

Paternal Map

That’s my story. What’s your story?

YFull Tree DNA SNP Search for your Haplogroup

YFull Tree – Y-SNP Search for Your Haplogroup

The various DNA testing companies often use different versions of the Y-chromosome tree. Even though you have tested onto the same branch at multiple companies, that branch may be named differently at each. This can make it hard to Google for resources about your haplogroup.

YFull maintains one of the three versions of the paternal, Y-chromosome, tree of human kind. The names used for haplogroups, tree branches, on their tree are usually in common use in the genetic genealogy community. Therefore, when looking for resources for your haplogroup, it is useful to be able to change to the haplogroup used by Yfull. This tutorial shows how to find your current haplogroup on the YFull tree.

Vocabulary

Binary Polymorphism – A genetic change with two possible states. That is positive or negative — derived or ancestral. Most binary polymorphisms on the 2017 tree are Y-SNPs. For simplicity, I usually refer to all types of binary polymorphisms as variants.
Haplogroup – A branch on the Y-chromosome Tree defined by one or more binary polymorphism.
Y-chromosome – The human male sex chromosome. It is passed from a father to his sons each generation with only small random changes.
Y-DNA – The DNA contained on the Y-chromosome.
Y-SNP – This is a genetic change of exactly one base pair to another value, A changes to C. This is a type of binary polymorphism.
YFull
– A 3rd party site for Y-DNA results.

How To

Before you start, you should have your haplogroup from one of the Y-DNA testing companies.

Step 1

Go to the YFull tree page, https://yfull.com/tree/.

Step 2

On the top right of the page, click on the Search button.

Step 3

Put the Y-SNP from your haplogroup in the SNP name field. Then click the Search button. In the example, I am searching for the I-P109 haplogroup. The name of the Y-SNP is the information to the right of the dash, so in this case it is P109.

Step 4

In the search results, look for the name of the haplogroup in green on the right. That is the name for your haplogroup on the YFull tree. In the example, the YFull tree haplogroup is I-P109.

Step 5

Click on the haplogroup name to open the YFull tree to it.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.
Y-DNA – Applied Genealogy & Paternal Origins
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