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I’m officially Ashkenazi Jewish. When you go generation by generation, by my Mom’s Haplogroup, H6a1a1a
An educated guess tells me Mom’s distant ancestors were converts to Judaism. The particular haplogroup variation is less than six thousand years old. Somewhere on the Eurasian Steppes. More algorithms and research will be needed to narrow it further. It could be anywhere, from the Don River on the Ukrainian Russian border to Mongolia. That’s a huge territory. Ironically, I once belonged to a sister city group with Almaty, Kazakhstan. Ironically, I just finished a book by Serhii Plokhy called The Gates of Europe about Ukraine. Gates of Europe hell, the Steppe goes from Eastern Hungary to Manchuria. The Mongols, under Genghis Khan were the first to conquer the entire thing.
I’ve used this line before. The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Pepper Martin was once asked, “Mr. Martin, why do you run so fast?” His response? “Well sir, I grew up in Oklahoma and once you start runnin’ there ain’t nuthin’ to stop you.”
Well the Eurasian Steppes are a longer version of that. They tamed and rode horses though. Still a long way to ride.
Ride they did, making trouble wherever they go. The Chinese built the Great Wall of China for a reason. To try, (notice I said try) to keep people like me out. Sometimes the deterrence didn’t work, the Chinese offensive line didn’t hold, and the Chinese quarterback was sacked.
Then Attila the Hun had great fun, attacking Europe. There is a common theme to this. Different groups, back and forth, sacking places pillaging, taking slaves. Nice work, if you can get it.
Then a youngster named Temujin rose up in Mongolia. He managed to ride all the way across Eurasia. You can now ask Life of Brian style, what did the Mongols ever do, other than burn things down. I read in NBC Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel’s book about the Middle East and how the Arab world decline began, when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258.
OK, so what did the Mongols do? Provided communication between East and West. They were tolerant of religion and spread Chinese ideas to Europe and European ideas East. If you played ball, paid your taxes and didn’t make trouble.
Is it romantic, the idea of riding across the Steppes on horseback? No, men are bearded wear the same clothes, ride forever, eat Steak Tartare, and don’t bathe much. Nothing romantic at all. I’m glad my ancestors stepped away from the Steppes.