Use class time to explore one or more of these historical puzzles.
[Click on the image below to read a news article, from this week]
1) To what extent are the Jewish people a genetically distinct group whose ancestry can be traced to the land now known as Israel?
Jewish Researcher Attacks DNA Evidence Linking Jews to Israel (Genetic Literacy Project, 2013)
“When Ancient DNA Gets Politicized,” Smithsonian Magazine, July 2019
2) What can genetics tell us about Egyptian mummies?
“Egyptian Mummies Yield Genetic Secrets” (Nature, 2013)
“The Mummy Code” (The Scientist, 2013)
3) Who were early Europeans and what can we know about them from genetic evidence?
“Who Killed the Men of England” in the 4th Century AD? (Harvard Magazine, 2009)
“Modern Europe’s Genetic History Starts in the Stone Age” (National Geographic, 2013)
“Scientists Say Otzi the Iceman Has Living Relatives, 5300 Years Later” (NBC News, 2013)
“The Iceman’s Last Meal” (NOVA, 1998)
4) How can science and genetics help us understand plant domestication? (i.e. who invented corn?)
The Evolution of Corn (University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center)
“Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9000 Years” (New York Times, 2010)
“DNA Evidence from 5310-Year-Old Corn Cob Fills Gaps in History” (Science Daily, 2016)
5) More on Neanderthal Genealogy
Using WSU library resources, track down and read two articles from the scientific journal Nature. Their titles are:
“The complete genome sequence of a Neanderthal from the Altai mountains”
“An early modern human from Romania with a recent Neanderthal ancestor”
What are their findings? How might historians use their conclusions and/or their evidence? Explore how these articles were covered in news outlets at the time.
6) A Case of Science / History “Fake News”…?
“Canadian Teenager Star Pupil Finds Lost Mayan City by Studying Ancient Charts of the Night Sky from his Bedroom” The Telegraph, May 2016
“Experts Say Teen’s ‘Discovery’ of a Mayan City is a Very Western Mistake” (National Geographic, May 2016)
7) Tracking the 1918 Flu
“100-Year-Old Lungs Yield Genetic Samples of 1918 Flu Viruses” The Scientist, May 18, 2021
“The Deadliest Flu: The Complete Story of the Discovery and Reconstruction of the 1918 Pandemic Virus” CDC website
Taubenberger J., “The Origin and Virulence of the 1918 ‘Spanish’ Influenza Virus,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, March 2006.