DNA and Atlantis
The previous newsletter discussed Cro Magnon man and showed that Blavatsky had correctly noted that the Guanches of the Canary Islands and the Basques of the Pyrenees were Cro Magnon. Today we also know that the Berbers of Morocco are descended from Cro Magnon. Blavatsky went on to note that this also connected the Cro Magnons with Atlantis. Since Cro Magnon had only been discovered, at most, 20 years before she was writing, that showed a very fast notation of what was significant and where the truth lay.
Specifically, this newsletter will take the following statement of Blavatsky and vindicate it by recent DNA discoveries - showing, amongst other things, that the Basque of the Pyrenees in Spain and France do have some ancient connection with North America. Again the Atlantean connection will be obvious.
If, then, Basques and Cro-Magnon Cave-Men are of the same race as the Canarese Guanches, it follows that the former are also allied to the aborigines of America. This is the conclusion which the independent investigations of Retzius, Virchow, and de Quatrefages necessitate. The Atlantean affinities of these three types become patent. (SDii791)
It is mitochondrial DNA analysis that now confirms her views that she had supported back then with her Cro Magnon data.
To show what mitochondrial DNA analysis is, and its advantages over human DNA, we should first discuss human DNA (known as hDNA). DNA is of course a molecule that encodes all the information that specifies exactly what your body is on the physical level. You may know that DNA as a molecule is shaped like a long ladder where the two sides of the ladder are twisted. The steps of the ladder are made from any of four combinations of molecules. The exact sequence of the steps of the ladder (which of the four choices were selected at each step) represents the information encoded by the DNA.
Every cell in the 30 trillion cells of our body contains a copy of that DNA molecule. The "ladder" that is the DNA molecule is exceedingly long for humans, being a ladder with 3 billion steps. Since it is a ladder with 3 billion steps it is difficult to work with.
While passing by human DNA you might be interested in another observation. The DNA molecule is wound tight. Only a tiny part of the human cell is composed of the nucleus of the cell. DNA is a still smaller part of the nucleus. The cells themselves are tiny. For example, a brain cell is 1/10,000 th of an inch. So the DNA is indeed very small. After thinking of these DNA as very small it tends to surprise people that if one of these ladders were unwound and stretched out, it would extend a full six feet! The reason is that 3 billions steps makes a very long ladder. (While we are at it, it becomes staggering to think of 30 trillion 6 foot ladders in each of our bodies. And we are instructed by the Darwinists that the 30 billion 6 foot ladders came about by chance?)
Still there is the question, what is mitochondial DNA? Each mitochondrion (plural is mitochondria) is a separate bacteria. Each of our cells (except blood cells) contains hundreds to many thousands of mitochondria. The mitochondria perform a critical function for our body. They convert sugar in the form of a glucose molecule, into energy. As such, the mitochondria are the basis of life.
Since they are a separate bacteria, they have their own DNA that differs from human DNA. The mitochondrial DNA ladder has only 16,569 steps! Therefore it is much more conducive to use in research than is human DNA. It is abbreviated as mtDNA.
Since the DNA of a mitochondion is not human, where does it come from when a new human is born? The answer is that the newly born child has taken some mitochondia from the mother - not the father.
Now things get interesting. The DNA of the mitochondria mutate. They mutate at a well understood and predictable rate. By analyzing the mtDNA of living humans and comparing it to other humans, we can determine the lineage of the mothers. Then we can take ancient samples of mtDNA, say from a tooth or bone that is thousands of years old, and begin to study ancient migration patterns. In some cases this analysis of mtDNA conflicts with the standing paradigms of archeology. Very noticeably this has occurred concerning the origin of American Indians.
In some cases the statement made by Edgar Cayce while in trance have a high degree of similarity to the teachings brought by Blavatsky. For example, Cayce said that Atlantis sunk in the year 10,014 BC. Theosophy also gives a specific year that is several hundred years later. So though the two years differ, in perspective, Casey's date is highly similar to Theosophy's date for the sinking of Atlantis.
It is actually a bit complicated to derive Theosophy's exact year so I will postpone that interesting question for a subsequent newsletter. When that time comes I will also discuss in detail the recent remarkable estimate by science for that sinking. It comes so close to Theosophy's date as to seem uncanny.
Meanwhile, the followers of Edgar Cayce have observed the recent mtDNA discoveries and in a number of places noted their relevance to evaluating the statements of Edgar Cayce. Those discoveries are also similarly relevant to evaluating the statements of Blavatsky.
Cayce made a number of statements about how people from Atlantis went to surrounding locations for various purposes. His statements highly conflicted with North American archeologists.
Amongst North American archeologists it is strongly held orthodox dicta that the Western Hemisphere before Columbus was only inhabited by individuals whose ancestors came to that land by passage across the Bering Strait no earlier than 9,500 BC. Archeologists who held otherwise were likely to have their careers destroyed due to such daring divergence. It happened that archeologists in South America found numerous sites in South America that proved otherwise but that only caused the north american archeologists to discredit the south american.
This archeological litmus test became so strict that it became known as the "Clovis curtain", named after a certain archeological site. The Clovis curtain was not to be lifted. All were to have come over the Bering Strait and from no where else and definitely not earlier than 9,500BC.
Cayce asserted otherwise that people had come to North America from Atlantis and much earlier than 9,000 BC.
From a Theosophical point of view, there is nothing impossible about Cayce's claims. Of course people could come to North America from Atlantis and much earlier than the Clovis curtain permitted. Theosophy would also allow Lemurians to reach South America.
Blavatsky also has an opinion on this Bering Strait issue. The following quote may not be well known.
Must we fall in the old rut and suppose no other means of populating the Western Hemisphere except "by way of Behring's Strait"? Must we still locate a geographical Eden in the East, and suppose a land equally adapted to man and as old geologically, must wait the aimless wanderings of the "lost tribe of Israel" to become populated? ("A land of Mystery" article by Blavatsky published in 1890)
So with this understanding of the lay of the land - albeit a bit complicated - we should hear what mtDNA has to say.
Interestingly, the original intent of mtDNA studies was to help in better understanding health issues. It came as a shock that this tool could be used to study ancient migration patterns. A prime debate at issue then became the origin of the American Indian.
DNA analysis on Native Americans began in the 1980's but with rapid technological improvements, research intensified in the early 1990s. Several teams of genetics researches at prominent American universities have been conducting numerous studies. Although results from early studies showed the expected Siberian-Asian ancestry of the majority of modern Native American tribes, things took an unexpected turn in 1997. At that point it was found that a small percentage of modern Native Americans have an unusual type of DNA then known to exist only in a few locations in Europe and the Middle East. Subsequent research indicated that the European DNA was not the result of genetic mixing after Columbus. (Mound Builders, by Gregory L . Little, John Van Auken, Lora Little, published 2001 p 60)
Then came the important discovery.
In 1997, a fifth mtDNA haplogroup was identified in Native Americans. This group, called "X," is present in three percent of living Native Americans. Haplogroup X was not then found in Asia, but was found only in Europe and the Middle East where two to four percent of the population carry it. In those areas, the X haplogroup has primarily been found in parts of Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, and Israel. (ibid p 62)
In a later book, Little et al state that the percent of individuals among the Iroquois with haplogroup X was a striking "nearly 25%".
Not long after , studies were published that had performed mtDNA analysis on the remains of individuals who had been buried in mounds in north central America. Sometime thereafter many studies reported on the testing of ancient remains recovered from burials from other parts of the United States. As with the living Native Americans haplogroup X showed up - in about 4 percent of the remains. But in the Northeast, in the traditional lands of the Iroquois, it was in nearly 25 percent of some tribes as well as in ancient remains. Then haplogroup X was found in several individuals who had died over 8000 years ago in Florida. All these remains were so old that the implications were crystal clear: haplogroup X had to have entered America thousands of years before historical times. (Ancient South America, Little et al, pub 2002, p 50)
This same book published by these authors added the significant new item:
In a 2001 study haplogroup X was identified in ancient remains (6,000-8,000 years old) found in several cemeteries in the traditional area occupied by the Basque - The Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain. (Ancient South America, by Gregory L. Little, John Van Auken, Lora Little published 2002, p 50.)
That is significant to Casey followers because of all the places that Casey indicates were locations for departing Atlanteans, the Pyrenees were the most frequently referenced in his readings. Theosophists may also observe that the Pyrenees get special mention by Blavatsky relative to Atlantis.
Once the rare and mysterious haplogroup X was shown to be in the Basque population as well as in North America - we have proven what we set out to prove. Blavatsky has been proven right again.
In summary: mitochondrial DNA discoveries show that the Basque population is related to the North American Indian population. Since these results were obtained from 6,000 to 8000 year old cemeteries in the Basque area and since they were also ancient in North America, they were not caused by activities occurring after Columbus. Instead they reveal an ancient connection. The most natural explanation is a common center in Atlantis. Unfortunately we cannot at this time determine the actual haplogroups of Atlantis - we can only determine the haplogroup of the Atlanteans by inference.
We also have an interesting detail concerning when the mtDNA entered North America.
The time estimates on haplogroup X entering America were at first shaky, because too few samples had been taken. But later, it seemed hat haplogoup X entered by 28,000 B.C. and again in 10,000 B.C. (ibid, p 50)
These appear to be waves of immigration from Atlantis. The second wave corresponds to the date of the sinking of Atlantis as given by both Casey and Theosophy. That should count as another supportive discovery.
HAPLOGROUP X IN THE GOPI DESERT
Little et al add some more information of interest:
In July 2001, a research letter was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, relating that a few people with the "X" type had been identified in a tribe located in extreme southern Siberia. These people, called the Altasians, or Altaics as Russian geneticists refer to them, have always lived in the Gobi Desert area. ...[ the presence of X ] is of ancient origin. (Ancient South America p 50)
Little et al are particularly interested in this because they are finding X in all those places that Casey had identified as destinations for people leaving Atlantis. Theosophy notes that the Atlanteans did go to the Gobi desert though it does not specify the town of Altaics. It offers that information in a number of places with perhaps the most direct describing how advanced individuals found refuge in the area of the Gobi:
A continent [the larger continent of Atlantis] inhabited by two distinct races; distinct physically and especially morally; both deeply versed in primeval wisdom and the secrets of nature; mutually antagonistic in their struggle, during the course and progress of their double evolution. Whence even the Chinese teachings upon the subject, if it is but a fiction? Have they not recorded the existence once upon a time of a holy island beyond the sun (Tcheou), and beyond which were situated the lands of the immortal men? (See de Rougemont, ibid.) Do they not still believe that the remnants of those immortal men-who survived when the holy island had become black with sin and perished-have found refuge in the great desert of Gobi, where they still reside invisible to all, and defended from approach by hosts of Spirits? (SDii372)
One more quote on ancient civilizations around the Gobi I would select out as particularly interesting. It shows how much the occult tradition knows about the subject. Though unusually long, this quote is inherently fascinating. I also like it because at its end it mentions "tall" - thereby lending still more support to the Theosophical scenario of evolution.
Yet the traces of an immense civilization, even in Central Asia, are still to be found. This civilization is undeniably prehistoric. And how can there be civilization without a literature, in some form, without annals or chronicles? Common sense alone ought to supplement the broken links in the history of departed nations. The gigantic, unbroken wall of the mountains that hem in the whole table-land of Tibet, from the upper course of the river Khuan-Khé down to the Kara-Korum hills, witnessed a civilization during millenniums of years, and would have strange secrets to tell mankind. The Eastern and Central portions of those regions - the Nan-Schayn and the Altyne-taga [today known as Altyn-tagh] - were once upon a time covered with cities that could well vie with Babylon. A whole geological period has swept over the land, since those cities breathed their last, as the mounds of shifting sand, and the sterile and now dead soil of the immense central plains of the basin of Tarim testify. The borderlands alone are superficially known to the traveller. Within those table-lands of sand there is water, and fresh oases are found blooming there, wherein no European foot has ever yet ventured, or trodden the now treacherous soil. Among these verdant oases there are some which are entirely inaccessible even to the native profane traveller. Hurricanes may "tear up the sands and sweep whole plains away," they are powerless to destroy that which is beyond their reach. Built deep in the bowels of the earth, the subterranean stores are secure; and as their entrances are concealed in such oases, there is little fear that anyone should discover them, even should several armies invade the sandy wastes where ... But there is no need to send the reader across the desert, when the same proofs of ancient civilization are found even in comparatively populated regions of the same country. The oasis of Tchertchen, for instance, situated about 4,000 feet above the level of the river Tchertchen D'arya, is surrounded with the ruins of archaic towns and cities in every direction. There, some 3,000 human beings represent the relics of about a hundred extinct nations and races - the very names of which are now unknown to our ethnologists. An anthropologist would feel more than embarrassed to class, divide and subdivide them; the more so, as the respective descendants of all these antediluvian races and tribes know as little of their own forefathers themselves, as if they had fallen from the moon. When questioned about their origin, they reply that they know not whence their fathers had come, but had heard that their first (or earliest) men were ruled by the great genii of these deserts. This may be put down to ignorance and superstition, yet in view of the teachings of the Secret Doctrine, the answer may be based upon primeval tradition. Alone, the tribe of Khoorassan claims to have come from what is now known as Afghanistan, long before the days of Alexander, and brings legendary lore to that effect as corroboration. The Russian traveller, Colonel (now General) Prjevalsky, found quite close to the oasis of Tchertchen, the ruins of two enormous cities, the oldest of which was, according to local tradition, ruined 3,000 years ago by a hero and giant; and the other by the Mongolians in the tenth century of our era. "The emplacement of the two cities is now covered, owing to shifting sands and the desert wind, with strange and heterogeneous relics; with broken china and kitchen utensils and human bones. The natives often find copper and gold coins, melted silver, ingots, diamonds, and turquoises, and what is the most remarkable-broken glass. . . . ." "Coffins of some undecaying wood, or material, also, within which beautifully preserved embalmed bodies are found. . . . The male mummies are all extremely tall powerfully built men with long waving hair. (SDxxxii-xxxiii)
END OF THE CLOVIS CURTAIN?
After exploring that Altaic detail, we can return to the issue of the Clovis curtain.
In 1997 it looked as though the Clovis curtain had been dealt a fatal blow. With haplogroup X now discovered in North America and not in Asia, the Bering Strait explanation was insufficient. However, after X was discovered amongst the Altaics, the Clovis folks at least had an arguing point. However, geneticists, as opposed to paleoanthropologists, agree that the Altaic haplogroup X is not from Asia. So the arguing point of the Clovis folks is not very sound. Thus the mtDNA is supportive of Blavatsky's position against the Bering-Strait-only position but to be fair, there is still controversy. To convince yourself based on the evidence that she was right just read about the South American archeology in "Ancient South America." Of course, once one concludes positively on the existence of Atlantis, then obviously the Clovis curtain is an erroneous position.
In contrast to Clovis, the following paragraph shows Blavatsky's presentation of the basic idea that a land mass in the middle of the Atlantic had refugees moving both East and West from one central source. The time sequence of this article of hers is interesting. She started her public Theosophical work in 1875. In 1877 she published Isis Unveiled and gave a couple pages of reference to Atlantis. This article of hers published in 1880 states a very fundamental idea in all of Atlantology. Then in 1888 her Secret Doctrine contained much reference to Atlantis. For those who don't know, Theosophy asserts there was once an Atlantis of continental size, it broke apart and sunk, and finally the remaining island sank around 10,000 BC.
Who knows, then, but that Jules Verne's fanciful idea regarding the lost continent Atlanta may be near the truth? Who can say, that where now is the Atlantic Ocean, formerly did not exist a continent, with its dense population, advanced in the arts and sciences, who, as they found their land sinking beneath the waters, retired, part east and part west, populating thus the two new hemispheres? This would explain the similarity of their archæological structures and races and their differences, modified by and adapted to the character of their respective climates and countries. Thus could the llama and the camel differ, although of the same species; thus the algoraba and espino trees; thus the Iroquois Indians of North America and the most ancient Arabs call the constellation of the "Great Bear" by the same name; thus various nations, cut off from all intercourse or knowledge of each other, divide the zodiac in twelve constellations, apply to them the same names, and the Northern Hindoos apply the name Andes to their Himalayan mountains, as did the South Americans to their principal chain. (A Land of Mystery, article by Blavatsky 1880)
GUANCHES AND mtDNA
Being emboldened by the successful finds of Little et al, I decided to "google" the phrase "mtDNA Guanches." I wondered if another loop of proof could be tied. I found that the field continues to produce results that diverge from classical paleoanthropological views. It appears that it would be necessary to research down to the level of actual molecular sequences in the mtDNA ladder to determine what has actually been found so far. Traditional anthropology continues to influence how the data is interpreted. Below is perhaps the most useful quote on the subject. Notice we are not told anything about X that may have been in the Canaries. We do not know how close U is to X. That information might be very interesting for Theosophists. (When the quote references "U6b1" that means haplogroup U with subgroups "6b1.")
The quote does support Theosophy in that the research finds the Guanches of the Canary Islands are related to the Berbers as was said in the previous newsletter and as was asserted by Blavatsky. However, effectively the Berbers do not have Guanch blood and the Guanches do not have Berber blood. Maybe that is because they separated long ago.
You may find the last sentence interesting. Orthodox science thinks the Canary Islands were inhabited most likely by the Berbers. After all - where else is there? They won't allow Atlantis as the source of the Guanches. So even though they find the results described - still the results will be construed according to the orthodox view.
The sequences retrieved show that the Guanches possessed U6b1 lineages that are in the present day Canarian population, but not in Africans. In turn, U6b, the phylogenetically closest ancestor found in Africa, is not present in the Canary Islands. Comparisons with other populations relate the Guanches with the actual inhabitants of the Archipelago and with Moroccan Berbers. This shows that, despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonisation, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA lineages constitute a considerable proportion of the Canarian gene pool. Although the Berbers are the most probable ancestors of the Guanches, it is deduced that important human movements have reshaped Northwest Africa after the migratory wave to the Canary Islands. (http://www.nature.com/aticles/5201075)
This little foray into research of mtDNA and the Guanches revealed that the field of mtDNA research is exciting, growing, not at all "mature", and filled with controversy. Clearly we should keep our eyes on the field and watch what it produces.
So while traditional science will not accept Atlantis - we have their bones, the Cro Magnon, and now it appears that we have their mitochondrial DNA in haplogroup X.