October 28th, 2011

Genghis Khan – The Modern Day Adam?

I recently had the opportunity of viewing the movie “Mongol”, a film based on the life of the warrior king Genghis Khan. It was a good film, if you like that sort of thing, but the best part of it was that it invoked a memory of a Human Genetics study that I had forgotten about, and of which you may not have heard. If you are aware of the study, then perhaps you’ll enjoy having your memory refreshed as I have, as the study revealed quite an interesting genealogical theory. If true the theory thus accounts for the drive to succeed and reign supreme at the top of our chosen fields that exists within many of us, if not, it simply means that we’re working like crazy to meet our financial needs and obligations and put our kids through college! I’ll let you be the judge of whichever thesis best suits your own personal circumstances or personality, you’ll know better after reading about the study.

The results of the study were first revealed through an article appearing in the American Journal of Human Genetics in March of 2003. A group of 23 geneticists had been studying the DNA of 2,000 men from across Eurasia. To their amazement they found a striking pattern common to several dozen of those men, no matter where they came from. This exact genetic pattern ran through sixteen different population groups scattered across the entire area ranging from the Caspian Sea (which borders Russia to the north and Iran to the south) to the Pacific Ocean. They theorized that if the proportion of men with this pattern found in their group (eight percent) was applied across the entire population of the area, the startling conclusion would be that 16 million men would share a common ancestor!

How Can Such a Theory Be Justified?

The data accumulated as a foundation for this theory came from a study of Y-chromosomes; possessed by men but not by women. Each man has a pattern on his Y-chromosome in his own unique signature, yet these signatures contain similarities which allow geneticists to spot family relationships. These relationships are then displayed in “genetic family trees” known as star clusters (as they are drawn as clusters of stars as opposed to the traditional tree design). They first analyzed the clusters, tracing them back through time and space to pinpoint their most recent common ancestor. They worked with 34 generations, allowing 30 years per generation, and eventually placed that common ancestor around 1,000 years ago. They figured with a margin of error of 300 years either way, but most were convinced that lowering the length of each generation by five years to 25 as opposed to 30 would be a more accurate summation.

This hypothesis would place that ancestor at around 850 years ago, and because most of the slightly different local variations occurred in one area, they ere able to place this ancestor at a particular location – Mongolia. The conclusion was that one man in Mongolia during the 13th century had scattered hid genetic material across most of Europe and Asia with the result that it is shared by one out of every two hundred men today. Researchers were astounded, but needed further proof before presenting their theory to the world. That proof came when they plotted the 16 groups on a map of the empire created by Genghis Khan during his reign. The result was a perfect match.

Further Proof Provided Through Historical Analysis

It is conceivable that the common ancestor could have been someone other than Genghis Khan, at least one of his brothers or relatives. Considering some historical data however (always important when making genealogical deductions) presents further reason to believe that it was indeed the mighty Genghis. Beautiful women were part of the bounty of warfare during this period in history, and it was customary for the commander to have first choice. Genghis Khan was a stickler for doing this correctly, it not only asserted his authority, but also a method of displaying his generosity to his subordinate officials, when he handed them on as gifts to his loyal generals.

Genghis Khan had access to many hundreds of women during hid forty year reign, and it is conceivable that many of them bore him children. Let’s do a quick estimation to demonstrate further that this theory is indeed possible. Let us conservatively grant him 10 sons over that 40 year period – it could have been as much as a hundred. If we say that each son produced two sons with the consequence of doubling the number of Genghis’s male descendants every generation for 30 generations – the calculation is unbelievable. After 5 generations he would have around 1350 male descendants, after 10 however that number is close to 10,000, after 20 generations it has grown to 10 million. To find 16 million descendants of his today then is not so unrealistic.

It is fashionable these days to attribute behaviour to one’s genetic makeup. With Genghis Khan however, there is behaviour behind those genetics that amounts to character. A character composed of strategic genius, drive, leadership skills, ruthlessness, generosity, and many other attributes. If you are of a similar nature, it could be you’re related to Genghis Khan. If so though, please stick to the traditional methods of courting and dating!