Thursday, December 30, 2021

Y Chromosome Haplogroup I-M26 Found Again in Prehistoric MAINLAND Italy

 From the 2021 paper, "Ancient genomes reveal structural shifts after the arrival of Steppe-related ancestry in the Italian Peninsula", a male skeleton from a Chalcolithic (Copper Age) graveyard in Emilia Romagna has been verified to bear M26 on his Y-Chromosome.  The skeleton was likely buried around 2800 B.C.

More proof that M26 was present in the Italian mainland during prehistoric times, and is NOT indicative of a historical Sardinian origin.



Friday, February 12, 2021

Ancestry.com Continues to Be Best In Class for DNA Ancestry Ethnic Composition

I've been very kind to 23andme in the past because of it's easy-to-use interface and it's candor when it comes to disclosing the weaknesses in its algorithm.  Nothing was worse than the other testing companies representing to people that their ethnic calculators were accurate, only to discover that the science was really just a guess.  Many authors have written entire chapters in books (this one quite funny!) that discuss these concepts.

But as 23andme prepares for its exciting and certainly in-demand upcoming IPO, it needs an update.  It needs to offer X chromosome searching, for one example.  

 And it's DNA ancestry has been lapped now, twice, by Ancestry.com.  Ancestry.com, who we've been harsh on before, now features INCREDIBLY accurate DNA ancestry estimates.  To tell you how far they've come, so fast, it'd be like going from horse and buggy to the space shuttle.  Their new tool is that accurate.

One user wrote me who hired a genealogist to complete a full pedigree.  That's 64 ancestors!  That user has a complete 64 ancestor pedigree now, well-documented with church and family records.  Of her 64 ancestors, 62 come from northeast Bavaria in Germany, 1 comes from Sweden, and 1 from the Czech Republic.  In other words, she's 96.8% German, from the Bavarian forest, and she's about 1.56% Swedish and Czech.

She got her ancestry results from Ancestry.com, and would you believe it said she is 96% German, from the Bavarian forest, and 2% Swedish, 2% Eastern European?  I mean, WOW.  Impressive.  Doubly impressive because, as we've posted before and many of you know, German and French ancestry is the hardest to call.

23andme still says this woman is German, Italian, British, Northwest European, etc.  In other words, it's pretty far off.  It has a ways to go.

Kudos to Ancestry for getting best-in-class and for cracking the German ancestry code.  We give major kudos to Tim Sullivan and everyone there for their hard work to become the absolute best.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Julius Caesar: Basis for the Gospels, Model for Christ?

 I've posted before about the eerie similarities between the life of Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ.  They are too numerous to mention again.  Suffice to say that there are too many coincidences in their life stories for there not to be something else afoot, things like their friendship with a Nicomedes of Bithynia / Nicodemus of Bethania; their work in the land to the north, Gallia / Galilee, etc.

The main proponent of the theory is Italian scholar Francisco Carotta, an Italian scholar.  Acceptance of his theories ranges from "as groundbreaking as the Theory of Relativity" to extreme defensiveness from Christian apologists.

I recently read his landmark book on the subject, and frankly it seems to stretch things too far.  I almost feel like he could have stopped halfway through most of his claims (which he details with precision and specificity), and just pointed out things with greater generality.  

In other words: After reading his theories, it seems abundantly clear to anyone with a brain that of the Gospel of Mark (and the other Gospels, which drew heavily from Mark), were based at least in part on the "Life of Julius Caesar," and that many of the stories contained therein result from a mis-translation of Latin into the Koine Greek spoken in the Holy Land at the time.  

We can start this with an analogy so you get what I mean.  Imagine you are reading a story told on a Martian colony in the year 2120.  It goes like this:

"Once there was a great Martianball player named Beef Bryan.  He figured numbers using flowers.  They died when their spaceship crashed."

Now the original text:

"Once there was a great basketball player named Kobe Bryant.  His accountant's name was Flores.  They died when their helicopter crashed."

In this little example, you can see how the Martians translated the story to make more sense in their world (spaceship crash versus helicopter crash, etc.) and also how they transliterated the Spanish surname "Flores" into something that didn't really make sense (the flowers part).  Similarly, they took Kobe's first name and turned it into "beef," and misspelled his last name.  Now, imagine that these Martians Internet connection doesn't connect to Earth's (isolation), and that paper is super expensive on Mars, so they pass down everything verbally, and you can really see how the story would have evolved.

Turns out the Gospels are full of things just like this.  And such errors, mis-translations, poorly understood puns, etc. are waaaaaaaay too coincidental to support any other conclusion other than the somewhat disturbing fact to some, that many stories about Jesus's life were simply borrowed from the Life of Caesar.

Let's go through some of the biggest ones:

1) The most widely read book about Caesar's life, circulated among those who could read in Israel at the time, and repeated in verbal tales throughout the empire, was by an author named Asinius Pollio.  (Indeed one of the first references to Christians is graffiti from a Roman soldier joking that they worship a donkey's colt.) 
Asinius Pollo was also with Caesar during his adventures. 

Anyway, his name roughly translates into "donkey's colt."  One can imagine a native Aramaic speaker, reading a text translated from Latin into Koine Greek, coming across this proper name and saying, "hmm...donkey's colt."  Are there odd references to a "donkey's colt" in the gospels?  Yep!  Caesar entered Rome with Asinius Pollio.  Mark and Matthew say that Jesus entered Jerusalem with a donkey's colt... 

2) The bible very clearly says that Jesus sailed on a salt-water sea to a location called Dalmanutha.  They indicate that this happened when Jesus was done preaching in Galilee.  He went there and cattle was running down the hills.  He fed the thousands.

Despite exhaustive searches, and well-documented records, no place name Dalmanutha has ever been found, now, or in antiquity.  Moreover, the Galilee lakes are freshwater.

Does this story make sense if it was a poorly translated tale from the Life of Caesar?

Well, Caesar crossed a saltwater sea and landed in Dalmatia.  He went there, and his legions, who were starving, caught cattle running down the hills.  Caesar miraculously fed his starving legions.  It is very easy to see how this story was transposed.  Indeed, in the bible, Jesus heals a man named, "Legion" after crossing the sea!  (In case you're wondering, in ancient times, just like now, men didn't have the name, "Legion.")  

Dalmanutha (which doesn't exist) = Dalmatia.  The protagonist crossed the sea, fed thousands and healed the legions.  It's hard to draw any other conclusion here folks.

3. After Caesar died, a life-size, life-like effigy of this body was hung up on a cross.  Few people know this.  But it's very well-documented. (See here for images).  

Most importantly, they hung Caesar's battlefield decorations on the effigy.

Caesar had won Rome's highest military decoration.  It was like 10 Medals of Honor.  This award was given for military men who saved an entire army under siege.  It could only be awarded if the besieged men voted to do so.  It was called the "Corona Gemina."

What was the Corona Gemina?  Well, unlike other medals and decorations, the besieged army would make it at the battlesite to commemorate their lack of resources.  Victors in the ancient world often got laurel wreaths to wear on their head, but a besieged army had no laurels.  

No, instead, the Corona Gemina -- Rome's highest honor -- and the one mounted on Caesar's crucified effigy -- was a crown of thorns.

Do you have chills yet?

3. Coins of Caesar circulated in the Holy Land, and his adopted son, confusingly also called, "Caesar" [Augustus] call them the "Son of God."  

Take all those coincidences above.  Now know that there are hundreds more.  Too many to list.  Let's do one more, then recap.

4. It's well know that when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he said, "Alea Ilacta Est."  (The die is cast).  Would you believe this phrase appears mis-translated in the bible?  See, the word "dice" (alea) is very similar to the word fisherman (halea), and thus, in the bible, we have the story of the fisherman casting...

The list goes on and on.  A quick recap:

Once upon a time, a great man lived whose initials were J.C. He was born quite poor, and lived among the common people, even though he was descended from the great, foundational King Romulus/King David. His aunt/his mother was named Maria. Some claimed for him a miraculous birth/a birth by Caesarian section. When he was still young, he was almost killed by the tyrant Sulla/Herod.

His deeds gained him significant fame during the early part of his public career, when he was operating in the province just to the north, called Gallia/Galilee. Everywhere he went, he was accompanied by his 12 faithful Lictors/disciples. He spoke in proverbs often, for example, “I came, I saw, I conquered/I came, I saw, I washed.” He was close to a promiscuous woman named Cleopatra/Magdalene and a righteous, powerful man named Nicodemus of Bithynia/Nicodemus of Bethany.

Eventually, his fate forced him to make a momentous decision and cross the Rubicon/Jordan river. On the way, he was tested at and performed miraculous deeds at a city called Corfinium/Cafarnaum. Then, he was operational in the capital, Rome/Jerusalem.

There had been a very similar man who he was close with, who had a similar following and career. Eventually though, Pompey/John the Baptist was beheaded by an Egyptian, and the head presented to him.

Does this mean Carotta's theory is perfect?  No, far from it.  Does it mean that a holy man named Jesus, who changed the world for the better with his revolutionarily good ideas, did not exist?  NO! 

But it is abundantly clear that large swathes of the gospels are either mis-translated stories from the life of Caesar, or are borrowings, to make the new cult figure (Jesus) similar to the old.

Now let's look at the most likely mechanism: Remember, Caesar settled his veterans in Judea.  These were rural Italians, mostly illiterate.  They were allowed to marry local Jewish women.  Their descendants lived in colonies.  The soldiers worshiped Caesar as a God.  Each colony had churches set up to him, plus priests, etc.  Same for his son Augustus.

One can imagine in an illiterate society how memories fade and get transposed over the years.  Caesar died in 44 BC.  Imagine now it's 50 AD, and the colonies are populated by his veterans' great grandkids.  They speak Aramaic and some Greek now; the Latin of their great grandfathers is a distant memory.  Someone pulls out a book by Asinius Pollio, which they still revere (for some reason), and they stumble through tales re-told by the one literate guy in town.

Does he personalize these stories for the children?  Make Gallia into Galilee?  Change the Rubicon river (which they never heard of) into the Jordan river?  Simply refer to the "big city" (Rome --> Jerusalem)?  Absolutely.  All of this is likely.  

Now imagine a local kid is doing well.  He is Jesus.  He is teaching profound things that mean a lot to a poor and repressed population.  His followers desperately want him to become revered.  Do they borrow some stories from the lives of someone else who is worshiped?  Likely.

More troubling would be the theory that Jesus of Nazareth never really existed in the form we know him.  That ALL of the gospels represent the fading memories of a people who told and re-told stories of Caesar, like a game of "Telephone" spanning 120 years, using three languages.  Backers of this theory point out that there are no records of Jesus at all: that all contemporaneous references that are close to "Christus" don't really use that term, which means "Anointed" in Greek, but instead use the far more common "Chrestus," which simply means "good."  

Some go so far as to say that the Anno Domini dating was forged to hide the Caesarian beginnings of the church, noting that the church father assigned to date the life of Christ coincidentally listed him as being born exactly 100 years after Caesar, as if almost to say, "it was too far after, so it wasn't the same guy."  (Side note, we know that Christ wasn't born in the "year zero" because even the gospels make that date impossible, based on what they say about Herod).

The fascinating evidence for the "Jesus never existed/He was just a transmogrified memory of Caesar" theory is actually pretty solid.  For one thing, the Dead Sea scrolls, ancient Jewish religious manuscripts that were found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert.  There are 981 of these documents, all dating from right after the time of Christ.  Not one mentions him.  You'd think that if a messianic figure was put to death by the unpopular rulers at the time, at least a couple documents would mention him, if even to decry him as a false messiah.  Nope.  

Additional evidence for this theory is that contemporary Roman records don't mention Jesus, and therefore the first written text we have about him, the Gospels, date to about 150 A.D. -- about 120 years after Jesus died.  Were the Gospels just a twisted retelling of Caesar stories, with several mistranslations?  Did Jesus as we know him never exist?

We needn't go that far.  And therefore we can conclude that Carotta likely goes too far, ascribing just about everything in the Gospel of Mark to a story about Caesar.

Do we have a history of Christianity and Judaism borrowing from other faiths?  Absolutely.  It is possible that the date of Christmas was chosen to supplant the dominant montheistic faith of the time, that of Sol Invictus.  And much of the Old Testament, from the flood narrative, Ecclesiastes, the Garden of Eden, etc. has been shown to be a borrowing (or ancient game of "telephone") from the earlier mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh.  

We can safely conclude that the bards and storytellers who told and re-told great verbal stories of Caesar's life profoundly affected what eventually got written down into the Gospels.  Several of the stories in the Gospels, particularly those that seem strange, or odd, or out-of-place, were just mistranslations of actual tales from the life of Julius Caesar. 

Epilogue: The text of Asinius Pollio's work on Caesar has been lost to time.  If and when it is ever rediscovered, if, as some suspect, it matches the Mark gospel almost word-for-word, Christianity will have a lot of explaining to do -- a profound identity crisis.  Some speculate copies were purposefully destroyed.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Book Review -- Mezzogiorno Mistaken: The Top 10 Myths About Southern Italians

Readers of this blog know that we like science.  That we hate popular-culture fairy tales and stereotypes.  And that we love to correct awful claims made by DNA testing companies and amateurs on the Interwebs, especially as they pertain to Italians.

Along comes Dr. John De Luca with a truly incredible book.  It's called "Mezzogiorno Mistaken: The Top 10 Myths About Southern Italians."  It made me LOL a dozen times.  It's an instant classic.

Chapters are devoted to:

-Debunking the idea that Italy isn't a unified nation with common history

-Debunking bogus claims about "exotic" blood in Southern Italians 

-Debunking the notion of Northern superiority

-Debunking the "Guido" myth and the "mafia" myth

It does it all with humor and mirth, backed up by science, in a way that is not intrusive.  This is our new favorite book.  One of the most readable we have enjoyed in a while, and a must-have for any Italian you know.

This blog has no financial interest in the book, and we weren't paid anything for this review.  It's simply a REALLY good book on the myths that Southern Italians face.  You can buy it here.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

R1b, the Lineage of Kings?

Thought of the day: So many men (who coincidentally bear R1b) love to think that R1b is the lineage of kings and conquerors.  In reality, the data shows it is the lineage of immigrants and commoners. 😂

Saturday, May 4, 2019

For DNA Ethnic Estimates and Heritage Calculators, Ancestry.com Just Stole the Thunder!

Long-time readers of this blog know that we have reminded our readers that ethnic calculators or heritage estimates based on DNA tests are not accurate.  We've posted about the concept here, here, here, and here

MyHeritage's algorithms remain an utter joke.  Horrid, just garbage results.

We've been particularly critical of Ancestry.com for being just awful for anyone from the center of the European continent (Italy, Germany, France, etc.) and been very critical of 23andme too, even though at least 23andme disclosed that it couldn't spot German or French heritage >80% of the time! 

Well, Ancestry just changed the dynamic.  As we've posted before, we consult for a number of different people with well-documented German heritage, dating to the 1600s in small, obscure, out of the way towns.  They have photos, all German cousins, etc.  One of them was previously told by Ancestry that he was 50% Swedish, 25% Italian, and 15% British, and 10% We Don't Know.  This person, again, is 100% German.  This was a bad result before, to say the least.

Well, Ancestry just notified this client that his estimates have changed.  This person that they previously told was Swedish and Italian was just changed to: 96% German ("Germanic Europe" which is Germany, Alsace-Lorraine in France, Austria, Switzerland, and far western Poland). This is impressive.  Another one of our clients experienced a similar change.

Ancestry.com has stolen the thunder from all the other DNA testing companies.  It has found the holy grail of European DNA testing: be able to identify central Europeans.  

There are two take aways:

1.  Many companies still have it wrong, and the fact that one individual saw such an enormous change in the estimates -- well, as we've said, you should take any result with a grain of salt until the science is 100% ready for prime time.

2.  But, as of now, if you're north-central European and want an accurate result, Ancestry.com has rocketed to the top of our list.

Now if only they could improve French and Italians...


Friday, December 14, 2018

Northern Italian Researcher Puts Out Another Study Trying to Hair Split Italy

Europeans are not that diverse genetically.  There is less genetic diversity from Sweden to Spain than there is within any given African village.  This is the result of genetic bottlenecking in Europe.  Europeans are very similar when it comes right down to it.

That similarity is even higher within any given country in Europe.  This is one of the reasons why so many DNA tests can't tell the difference between say, a Frenchman and a German.  We're all pretty similar.  And even more so, within any given country.

Is there anyone besides me then, who is sick of Northern Italian researchers putting out YET ANOTHER study that attempts to draw fine line distinctions between the populations of Italy?  I mean, yet another study that splits hairs amongst the Italians?

The latest comes from Alessandro Raveane, whose family originated in the far north of the Veneto.  He attends the University of Pavia.  His Twitter profile emphasizes (in case you don't know) that it's Pavia, Lombardy -- not Pavia, Italy.  Other tweets by Raveane praise the recently deceased genius, Luca Cavalli Sforza, who had a bit of a complex about Italians.

Near Northern Italians: we get it.  We understand that the mafia stereotypes that the world has foisted on Southern Italians embarrass you.  We understand that you are proud of your industrialized North and think the rural south can do better, in terms of education and development.  We agree, and are equally embarrassed about the stereotypes.

But for the love of God and all things holy, can you please stop the duplicative, derivative, (almost) racist, wedge-splitting, divisive, self-effacing, destructive papers where you attempt to draw fine-line but ultimately arbitrary distinctions between Italian populations?

I love the rather subjectively colored pie charts on page 29 of the BioRXIV pre-print.

But the most laughable of all is this quote:

"Populations in natural crossroads like the Italian peninsula are expected to recapitulate the overall continental diversity, but to date have been systematically understudied."

LOLOLOLOL.  NO.  I know of at least 30 other studies just like this, and that's not even from a systematic search.  Coincidentally every one comes from a Northern Italian author, with an agenda, studying at a Northern Italian university.  Raveane et al had something they wanted to find, and they found it.  What's next, a trip to Costa Smeralda to tell us how unique Sardinians are?  LOL; never seen that before.