My stone age blood

The Prothrombin 20210 Allele is apparently traceable to some 20,000 years ago. This is late Pleistocene. This is late Stone Age. Hunter gatherer’s. My ancestors have been in Europe a very long time. First records of my family in Italy are from the late 1800’s, the house on Borgo Nouvo, in Monteleone. Borgo Nouvo means: that new part of town outside the walls – the fortified walls surrounding the medieval hill town. The suburbs. That part of town is at least 120 years old as my grandfather was born in 1895. The house was certainly already there and looking well weathered.

Leonardo Antonio, Maria Taggio, and Giovanni Ruggiero
Leonardo Antonio, Maria Taggio, and Giovanni Ruggiero
That’s just the street though, not necessarily when the house was built, or even when the ancestors got there. The house is high on the slope, which means it was relatively early and clearly well after the wall. Just down the road and inside the current town borders is a smallish triangle of land about the size of your front lawn which was forever the family farm.

One thing my grandfather did when he eventually settled here was try to run a small market garden shop selling fruits and vegetables. It was just south of Bathurst Street, North of Horton Street at the railroad underpass on Wellington. I think of that every time I traipse by the Salvation Army clients lingering and lounging there.

Obviously peasant farmers from a long way back. And hunters before that.

The Pleistocene genes

As to estimating the age of the mutation, we thank Zivelin et al.

“The analysis yielded an age estimate of 23,720 years. … The occurrence of the … [mutation] in whites toward the end of the last glaciation and their presently wide distribution in whites suggested selective evolutionary advantages for which some evidence was reported (diminished blood loss) or is controversial (protection against infections). …[Until] recent centuries humans did not live long enough to manifest a meaningful incidence of thrombosis.”

It might have been a useful adaptation when we were cutting up our hands making stone tools, stabbing penguins and megafauna, carving Venuses and not living very long. Sitting around in airplanes is another matter From Wikipedia on Paleolithic Europe:

“The Solutrean culture, extended from northern Spain to SE France, includes not only an advanced stone technology but also the first significant development of cave painting, the use of the needle and possibly that of the bow and arrow. The more widespread Gravettian culture is no less advanced, at least in artistic terms: sculpture (mainly Venuses) is the most outstanding form of creative expression of these peoples.”

In a general essay about the source of some languages, Alexei Panshin drops a relevant passage about the last glacial maximum.

“…the Last Glacial Maximum, some 20,000 years ago, … was an event of unparalleled disruption for the human population of Europe. … from 21,000 to 17,000 BP, glacial conditions grew so extreme that much of Europe was uninhabitable. Ice fields spread south from Scandinavia and north from the Alps, and the narrow corridor between them became a bleak polar desert… [creating] an impassable barrier between eastern and western Europe… At the absolute peak of the cold, human habitation was reduced to a few relatively temperate refuges, and even in those the harshest of steppe conditions seem to have prevailed. There was one such refuge in southern France and northwestern Spain and a second in Italy. A third was in the northern Balkans, and a fourth in the Ukraine”.

My family has likely been in Italy for the largest portion of those 20,000 years.