The Real Eve: Was She Really Black?
by Dwight Winenger, B.A., M.A.
|Recent scientific evidence seems to contradict long-standing eye-witness testimony concerning the identity and characteristics of "the mother of everyone living." We attempt to weigh the evidence on both sides.|
The "Real Eve" theory was first published in a National Geographic article in 1987. There was then a long pause in the scientific follow-up for further developments. One might jump to the conclusion that the idea had lost favor among the scientific community. Recently, however, the theory was given considerable impetus by the airing of a television docudrama entitled "The Real Eve" on the Discovery Channel. The production was eloquent and attractive in many ways, but detailed documentation in support of its many assertions was rare. The average television audience would not miss such valuable evidence or, in fact, would many wish to be bothered with scientific details, but one cannot avoid feeling that, perhaps, the detailed scientific evidence was not presented because it is not documented or is not convincing.
We would attempt a quick run-down of the primary points. Rebecca Kaln was presented as the first to study the implications of mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondria in each living cell has, for some time, been called the production center for the molecules that supply energy for the cell. Dr. Kaln appears to have discovered that each mitochonrion possesses DNA separate from the regular DNA of the cell, that the mitochondrial DNA is passed only from mother to daughter, and that it mutates on a fairly regular basis, leaving markers which can be traced by examining the mitochondrial DNA of an individual's saliva.
Dr. Kaln discovered that genetic tracking of the mutational markers in the mitochondrial DNA of women in several national groups around the world led to the conclusion that the "earliest" markers have been found in Africa. The conclusion reached by several researchers appears to be that the "real" Eve, not to be confused with the Biblical Eve, existed in Africa some 150,000 years ago. No reasoning was offered for arriving at the date of 150,000 years ago other than the statement that the mitochondrial DNA seems to mutate, leaving a marker, approximately every 20,000 years. The above facts would suggest that there have been 7.5 fairly regular mutations of the mitochonrial DNA since our "genetic Eve" appeared in Africa 150,000 years ago.
The theory was then advanced that the genetic Eve was a member of a tribe of hunters until 125,000 years ago when the earth cooled down, ice caps were formed at the poles, causing desert conditions in East Africa, and sea levels earth-wide dropped 150 feet. Because of the severe change in climate and ancient mankind's dependence on climate, humans surviving on the brink of extinction with only 10,000 members in Africa, became beachcombers rather than hunters. As beachcombers, humans 80,000 years ago were able to escape Africa along the seacoast which has since been flooded, destroying much of the evidence of their existence. In the Gulf of Zulu, however, on the Red Sea, archeologists discovered in 1999 an ancient "oyster bar" with crude obsidian tools used by our ancient ancestors to open crustaceans.
At this point Professor Steven Oppenheimer, who has studied our genetic tree as it relates to climate patterns, claimed that the monsoon climate in Yemen 80,000 years ago encouraged our ancestors to cross the 10-mile wide "Gates of Grief," now a part of the Red Sea, from Africa into Yemen, which was then a lush, green territory. The unbroken mitochondrial genetic line, however, separated at Yemen, the Gulf of Aqaba, and split into several lines, spreading into Europe and other areas. Most of these splitting lines, however, appear to have gone extinct in much the same manner as an earlier line escaping from Africa across the Sahara Desert into Nazareth became extinct 110,000 years ago.
Professor Oppenheimer believes that at least 250 individuals were in the group crossing the Gates of Grief 80,000 years ago, among them was a woman termed "the daughter of Eve." She was apparently the progenetrix of one of the 5 or 6 "genetic lines" represented among this group which then split. Each line, once its members were isolated, "drifted" to a single identifiable "line" within 1,000 years of isolation and inbreeding. Professor Oppenheimer believes that each of these lines eventually produced many "sorts" of people, differentiated by specific physical characteristics such as skin color, head shape, body build, etc. by adapting to new environments. Apparently 40,000 years ago one of these genetic lines reached Europe. In the meantime, it required only 6,000 years for another branch of our beachcombing ancestors to reach Malaysia 74,000 years ago.
Evidence of the route our supposed ancestors took along the seacoast, as has been stated, has been largely lost to the advancing glacial melt, which has raised ocean levels 150 feet; however, at Kota Tampan near Da Nang, volcanic ash from the eruption of the super volcano, Mount Toba, 70,000 years ago, covered a workshop of the original inhabitants of Malaysia, the Sanang people. Survivors of the 25-mile plume of ash and the succeeding 6 years of volcanic winter continued carrying their genetic material to Australia and Papua New Guinea. At this point, a second "daughter" of Eve is mentioned as having marked the beginning of a continuation of the original genetic line. Professor Oppenheimer, after genetic testing of the surviving Samang feels that the "organized, rational" mind will accept the combined genetic and archeological "proof" that the Samang line, not shared by any other peoples in Southeast Asia, is the consistent, original line from Africa.
Here, 50,000 years ago, the evidence indicates another genetic migration to Europe. At this point, the Fertile Crescent, which had been closed to migration by monsoon rainfall, opened up and a branch moved through the Middle East to Europe. Archeological proof consists of the burial of a 12-year old 44,000 years ago in Lebanon. One might feel that the earlier European branch dating back possibly 80,000 years may have been Neanderthal Man, who is described as a short, powerful, cold-adapted, closely-related "species" of human. Evidence seems to indicate, however, that Neanderthal had been in Europe for 250,000 years, indicating that this "branch" of the human family predates our African Eve by 100,000 years. Neanderthal appears to have co-existed with the later genetic line, commonly known as Cro-Magnon, or homo sapiens, for 10,000 years, then finally disappeared as a line 10,000 years ago. Some authorities feel that evidence may be found to indicate that Neanderthal was sufficiently of the same species to be able to inter-breed and that Neanderthal characteristics, perhaps not distinguishable by mitochondrial DNA, exist in surviving individuals. One example has been the discovery of the buried skeleton of a teen-age boy with Cro-Magnon facial characteristics and Neanderthal body-build.
Ornamentation, more advanced technology, and psychic symbolism seem to be pervading characteristics of the culture of the European genetic branch; although these characteristics have become widely characteristic in recent times. Evidence of this cultural dispersion by other than genetic tendencies is the discovery of needles, weaving, beads, cave paintings, and religion among peoples of other than European genetic line.
The genetic lines to America appear to DNA trackers to have crossed the Berringia Land Bridge 25,000 to 20,000 years ago at the beginning of the Big Ice Age. Mitochondrial "founding types" in America have been found dating to 10,000 and 16,000 years ago. Assorted artifacts at Meadowcroft in the Ohio River Valley of Pennsylvania are similar to blade cores found in North China. The American migration, however, appears to have resulted from a series of "emanations" because of the existence of many DNA genetic lines among Native Americans.
Most of the above does not differ substantially from what we find written by eye witnesses to the expansion of the human race. The primary variations are in some causal factors and in the dating. For example, how can it be determined that mitochondrial mutation markers occur fairly regularly every 20,000 years? How is it determined that Genetic Eve existed 150,000 years ago unless it is by determining the number of our mitochondrial markers and multiplying the number by 20,000 years? Reversing the procedure, we may assume that 150,000 divided by 20,000 equals 7.5 cycles of mitochondrial mutation. This bit of information, if it is reliable, can help us determine relationships among other facts.
Eye witness accounts exist concerning the Biblical Eve, who was named Eve because she was to "become the mother of everyone living." The antediluvian tablets containing this eyewitness "history" were copied to papyrus around 1513 B.C., and copies are extant today. The original tablets have not been rediscovered, but the copies available have proven reliable, and an early segment of the record purports to be written by Eve's husband, Adam. Here, we might consider our originally posed question concerning the color of our Genetic Eve's skin. Her husband's name gives us a viable clue. The word Adam means "Earthling Man" from a root meaning "red." The word is used generically, translated as "man" in the first antediluvian tablet, which appears to have been dictated to Adam by an active observer. It is labeled, "This is the history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven." The second tablet is attributed to Adam himself, "This is the book of Adam's history." Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Adam was told that his physical body had been formed out of the ground, and he knew the color of the ground from which he believed he had been formed. He may have used a word meaning "red" to describe himself in relation to his origin.
His account states that the "dust of the ground" we are speaking of was located somewhere in the territory described as related to four rivers situated in the Middle East: Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. The River Euphrates exists on maps today. Hiddekel is the name used for the Tigris in ancient manuscripts. The Tigris exists on current maps. The other two rivers cannot be specifically identified; although they appear to have been related, one to the land of Arabia and the other to Africa. These latter two rivers may have become altered in appearance by succeeding cataclysmic events. Adam was likely familiar with the color of the dust of the ground near the headwaters of the Pishon, which is no longer distinguishable as a river. Some authorities favor the Persian Gulf as the current body of water resulting from the original River Pishon. The color of the dust in that area may no longer be "red," but apparently Adam considered himself to be of a reddish color, and his wife was likely of a similar skin color.
It is probably significant that, otherwise, skin color seems to have been of little concern until around 2370 B.C., when color references again appear among the names of Noah's offspring. The geneticists cited above indicate their awareness, in the record of mitochondrial genetic lineage, of a "bottleneck," a point in time when the number of humans on earth was severely decimated to the extent that only a few lines, perhaps one, survived. The film, "The Real Eve," and other sources have offered the eruption of Mount Toba, estimated at 70,000 years ago, as the event which resulted in this genetic "bottleneck." However, the eyewitness account again comes to our rescue to minimize the necessity of speculation. The tablet labeled "the History of Noah" recounts events from Adam's day to what Noah's sons described in terms of a world-wide deluge. The tablet labeled "the history of Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth," indicating their co-authorship, recounts events from the construction of a vessel capable of saving eight humans and other genetic samples through a deluge which has left its mark around the earth as the weight of water caused mountains to rise from sea basins and oceans to sink to never-before depths.
The sources of the waters of the Great Flood are described in the eye-witness accounts as the waters "above the expanse" and the waters "beneath" the expanse of atmospheric gases. Later, these same two water sources are termed "the springs of the vast watery deep" and the "floodgates of the heavens." The resulting climates of the cataclysmic atmospheric change is well documented by paleontological finds of equatorial plants and animals at the poles of the earth. Some paleontologists have termed the pre-flood world as existing under "hothouse" conditions. These same students of geology and paleontology have recently become aware of several such cataclysmic occurences in the distant past, Mount Toba, the Yellowstone Supervolcano, and huge meteorites, possibly comets, for example, striking in various locations. The flood would not have been the first, or possibly the last, cataclysmic event to result in mass extinctions world wide, and we have written eye-witness accounts to verify its happening.
Paleontologists have noted that the collapse of the "hothouse" effect resulted in changes among the flora and fauna. Plants began to develop harder cell walls to resist increased ultraviolet radiation. Animals began to develop more complicated digestive systems able to derive sustenance from mutated plants. Noah was told that his former vegetarian diet would need to be augmented by meat whenever his "soul" craved it. The authorities responsible for the film "The Real Eve" also note the effects of radiation on the mutation cycles of humankind. What they fail to account for is how quickly the effects showed up on those who survived the flood from the "hothouse" pre-flood world.
Noah's three sons, after co-authoring the fourth tablet of human history, apparently parted ways. Shem's history, which reaches as far as Abraham's father, Terah, indicates that Japheth and his descendents tended to move northward from Mt. Ararat where the vessel that carried them through the flood finally beached. Shem and his descendents did not wander far from the Middle East. The descendants of Ham did not immediately spread far, but it is significant that ancient geographical references speak of Africa as the Land of Ham. Two of Ham's son's names suggest skin color: "Cush" and "Put" both suggest a dark-complexioned branch of the human family. Skin color, however, seems not to have been of particular importance to those doing the recording since specific details are lacking. Some translators have substituted the word "Ethiopia" for "Cush" in rendering the reference to the river Gihon, issuing out of Eden. Although not all Cushites are very dark-skinned, the name of Cush's son Seba is associated with East Africa. One historian associates "Mizraim" with Lower Egypt, "Pathros" for Upper Egypt, and "Cush" for Nubia-Ethiopia.
Japheth's sons are sometimes called "coast-land peoples," and Japheth's name suggests that he preferred wide open spaces. The names of his sons and grandsons are found in ancient historical texts as relating to peoples and tribes residing to the North and West of the Fertile Crescent. They appear to have spread from the Caucasus, thus the term "Caucasians," eastward into Central Asia and westward through Asia Minor to the islands and coastland of Europe, perhaps as far as Spain. There is historical evidence that Caucasians lived in Gaul and in England during Roman times. Arabian traditions claim that one of Japheth's sons was the progenitor of the Chinese peoples.
Since most systems of jurisprudence prefer eye-witness testimony to hearsay, speculation, or circumstancial evidence, we would prefer to use the apparent number of mutation cycles to the Real Eve and the approximate date derived from the combined testimony of eye witnesses as the basis for our chronology. A commonly accepted date for the "creation" of Adam is 4026 B.C. Assuming that Adam was not left without a mate for an extended period of time, we would judge that Eve came into existence some 6,029 years ago. If we divide the number of years between Eve and today by the apparent number of mitochondical markers, 7.5, we arrive at the figure 803.9, approximately 804 years per cycle.
If we further consider the earth-wide deluge in Noah's day as the "bottleneck" proposed by the evidence of suddenly disappearing lines of descent, we find not 3.5 cycles since the "bottleneck," as in the case of Mt. Toba, but rather 5.4 cycles since 2370 B.C., the date of the flood. The eye witness account details the month and the day of the month by the lunar calendar. The corresponding date on our solar calendar is the last day of October. The collective memories of several cultures still commemorate the date of the flood.
The producers of the television docudrama "The Real Eve;" as is true of many archeologists and paleontologists, did not take into consideration the effect of the removal of the water mantle since we obviously no longer live under world-wide "hothouse" conditions. Judging from the results to surviving species, the water mantle limited the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth and, since the effect of radiation affects carbon-dating, current dating systems should be altered to take into consideration periods of atmospheric change which would have altered the decay rate measured by carbon-dating. A conference of world experts at Uppsala, Sweden, in 1976, reported that the fundamental assumptions on which measurements have been based are not trustworthy with datings before about 2,000 BC. The date is no coincidence. The pre-flood "hothouse" effect was suddenly
dissipated. Noah was told that summer and winter, hot and cold, would become the normal order of climate.
The producers of the docudrama do, however, indicate that one of the changes effected by the flood could be an active determinant in genetic mutation. Ultraviolet radiation is instrumental in determining "racial" characteristics such as skin color. They maintain that ultraviolet radiation destroys folic acid, which is necessary for the formation of vitamin D, required for fetal survival. These facts are used to explain the need for increased melanin in the skins of humans exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation, as in equatorial territories. They also explain the gradual lightening of the skin of dark-skinned genetic lines as they moved north. The producers of the film, however, use the 20,000-year mutation cycle as the required time for such color mutations to take place. Their reasoning explains why light-skinned babies do not survive well in southern latitudes unless the mother quickly develops a tan. The tan, however, does not prove to be genetic until the time has elapsed for the mutation cycle, which may explain why there is no mention of genetically transferred "tanning" until after the flood. These facts also explain why dark-skinned peoples now living in northern latitudes will eventually become light-skinned as the need for melanin is supplanted by climate and environmental conditions conducive to Vitamin D formation in pregnant women. We would expect, however, that the change in skin color would be considerably speeded up over that suggested in the film if we judge by the updated 804-year cycle of mutation.
Placed in this context, we may decide that there may be some flaws in the theory since light-skinned people continue to have babies in southern latitudes and skin color continues to be largely genetic rather than environment-induced on a long-term basis. Of course, time will tell whose calculations are more correct.
Let us conclude by stating that the most highly defensible evidence from both camps suggests that the Real Eve existed first in Mesopotamia, unless the "Biblical" Eve was actually one of the lineal "daughters" of the "genetic" Eve, which is not really allowed for in the eye-witness testimony. Tracing of language lines, i.e., lines of development for various linguistic types, has long indicated that all languages, judging from related characteristics, originated in Mesopotamia. Language and writing were historically a possession of the real Eve. The lineage of languages is supported by eye-witness testimony concerning the activities of a great-grandson of Noah, a son of Cush named Nimrod. Distinct language groups apparently did not appear until Nimrod's time since eye-witness testimony affirms that "all the earth continued to be of one language and of one set of words" until the time of Nimrod, when they were scattered "from there over all the surface of the earth." The historical generation of language groups post-dates Eve by nearly 2,000 years. As noted above, however, skin-color changes seem to have begun occurring some three generations before the scattering of language groups.
Ancient records indicate that not all dark-skinned peoples moved to Africa nor that they all originated in Africa, and yet these dark-skinned peoples living in various localities, North and South, continue dark-skinned. The Real Eve theory will eventually be put to the acid test when the current proposed mutation cycle completes its course... in 10,000 years...or in 402 years...since we seem to be near the middle of a mutation cycle. We must conscientiously point out, however, that since 2370 B.C., the human race has passed through some 5.4 modified mitochondrial mutations, and dark-skinned peoples in northern climes have not genetically faded to any noticable extent, nor have light-skinned peoples in southern climes noticably developed genetic "tans." Those of us who are around in 10,000 years may make the final judgement concerning the "Real Eve" theory.