“In 2010 it began to be possible to sequence whole genomes from ancient human remains, making it possible to ask and answer questions about how present-day people relate to ancient people, and how ancient people related to each other, that simply had not been possible to address before. The findings have sometimes conflicted with prevailing understandings—rejecting some mainstream theories in archaeology, supporting other theories, and in multiple cases revealing previously unanticipated processes. I will focus my presentation on a case example: the evidence that between 5000-3500 years ago, people with ancestry from the Steppe north of the Black and Caspian Sea made a profound major genetic impact on both Europe and South Asia, probably spreading the Indo-European languages that are predominant in both regions, a series of findings that have unfolded over about a dozen ancient DNA papers and that go a long way to resolving the more-than-200-year-old mystery about the origin and spread of Indo-European languages. The overall context for my presentation is that technological developments have brought science into an area that until the last few years has been the province of the humanities, opening up dialogues between disciplines that have very different intellectual traditions but are addressing abutting issues. While the very different cultures in the sciences and the humanities in some cases lead to misunderstanding, these interactions in fact represent a welcome opportunity for intellectual progress and dialogue.
Learn more about Dr. David Emil Reich and his genetics research here.
Please note the start time of 5 p.m. for the talk.