A contribution to a set of case studies, titled “In the Humanities Classroom,” this essay describes a course on the deep history of Italy developed for a “semester abroad” program in Perugia during the spring of 2016. It describes, in particular, two class meetings in the middle of the term that focused on the use of DNA, archaeology, and anthropology to study the lives of seven women who are the ancestors of almost every European today, as “imagined” by the geneticist Bryan Sykes in his book The Seven Daughters of Eve. These women lived between forty-five hundred and ten thousand years ago—from the period when glaciers expanded to cover much of the northern hemisphere until the “Neolithic revolution,” when, in the wake of the glaciers' retreat, people turned permanently to farming. The student-led discussions, reconstructed here, of the lives of these women show the value of addressing questions of deep history in an international setting, where the intersections and disjunctions of the global and the local are especially evident.
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Frederick S. Paxton; STUDYING DEEP HISTORY ABROAD. Common Knowledge 1 January 2017; 23 (1): 83–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3692212
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