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ANU Mongolia Institute Seminar with Tim McInerney

Seminar Series


Tim McInerney


Online Event


Tuesday, 4 May, 2021 - 13:00 to 14:00

"Genetic Legacies of the Mongols and the Steppe" presented by Mr. Tim McInerney Doctoral Student, ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research


History is recorded in the words and artefacts left behind by our predecessors. From these histories we can glimpse into the worlds of the past, how people lived, the events that transpired, what people thought. However, the history of humankind is also etched in the DNA – the basic building blocks of life. DNA is a pervasive yet mutable record that is not subject to the biases of historians; the differences in patterns of human genetic diversity through space and time can be analysed and interpreted as falsifiable evidence to corroborate the historical record.

This talk will cover the genetic evidence and legacies of the Mongol and other steppe empires, and bust widespread myths. Does genetic evidence corroborate the widespread death and destruction that accompanied the Mongol invasions as described by Persian, Arab, and Chinese chroniclers? Do 1 in 200 men in the world really descend from Chinggis Khan? Where does genetic evidence conflict with historical accounts … where does genetic evidence conflict with other genetic evidence? Are interpretations of genetics evidence of historical events subject to the same biases as the written record? All these questions will discussed in light of the pursuit of historical accuracy and the ability of the life science and social sciences to form a synthesis that may help explain major human events that have shaped the world we live in.

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