Reflections of Our Past : How Human History Is Revealed in Our Genes book cover
2nd Edition

Reflections of Our Past
How Human History Is Revealed in Our Genes

ISBN 9780813349466
Published March 27, 2018 by Routledge
320 Pages

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Book Description

The rise of the multi-billion dollar ancestry testing industry points to one immutable truth about us as human beings: we want to know where we come from and who our ancestors were. John H. Relethford and Deborah A. Bolnick explore this topic and many more in this second edition of Reflections of Our Past.

Where did modern humans come from and how important are the biological differences among us? Are we descended from Neandertals? How should we understand the connections between genetic ancestry, race, and identity? Were Native Americans the first to inhabit the Americas? Can we see evidence of the Viking invasions of Ireland a millennium ago even in the Irish of today? Through engaging examination of issues such as these, and using non-technical language, Reflections of Our Past shows how anthropologists use genetic information to suggest answers to fundamental questions about human history. By looking at genetic variation in the world today and in the past, we can reconstruct the recent and remote events and processes that have created the variation we see, providing a fascinating reflection of our genetic past.

Table of Contents


1. The History in Our Genes

2. The Naked Ape

3. Out of Africa: Our Genetic Legacy

4. The Fate of the Neandertals (and Other Archaeic Humans)

5. The First Inhabitants of the Americas

6. Genetics and the Spead of Agriculture in Europe

7. Voyagers of the Pacific

8. Three Tales from Ireland

9. Admixture and History

10. Ancestory, Identity, and Race


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John H. Relethford is Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of Anthropology, SUNY College at Oneonta. He has published extensively on human population genetics, biological variation, and the origin of modern humans. Dr. Relethford has served as President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and as Chair of Section H (Anthropology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Deborah A. Bolnick is Associate Professor of Anthropology, currently at the University of Texas at Austin but moving to the University of Connecticut in Fall 2018. She has served as President, Past-President, and Vice President of the American Association of Anthropological Genetics,and is a co-organizer of the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) program. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of anthropology and genetics.


"Reflections of Our Past is an engaging and accessible work about the genetic history of humankind expressed without the confusing jargon so often found in the literature in this field." —Gerrell Drawhorn, CSU-Sacramento

"For anyone curious about the science behind the DNA ancestry tests whose commercials inundate our TVs, this book is a must read." —Justin Garcia, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

"[A] readable, relevant, accurate book by two top-notch, trustworthy researchers on an important and often misunderstood topic." —Sheela Athreya, Texas A&M