I don't much like what genetics has to say about being a male. My growing disappointment sharpened when I read a 2003 paper in the “American Journal of Human Genetics”, which uncovered an “unusual linkage” on the MSY (the Male-Specific region of the Y chromosome) of some 400 million current male residents of Asia. They share a distinct thousand year old chemical inheritance from an ambitious, foul tempered, cut throat, sex crazed Mongol named Temujin, AKA Genghis Kahn. Among the Great Ruler's favorite past times was killing his enemies and then “to hold their wives and daughters in his arms.” Through serial rape, Temujin scattered more sperm around than Secretariat. Genghis Kahn's successful evolutionary strategy was to treat women as if they were horses.
About 5,000 years ago, when traders first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia selling equines, the Sumerians had to borrow words from the Hittites to describe the beasts - calling them “akk asca”, literally “mountain asses ”. And as anybody who keeps horses can tell you, horses ain't cheap. They eat a lot and require a lot of land to run around on. By about 2,100 B.C.E., rich and royal Sumerian speakers were breeding horses to pull their war chariots. Horses were worth their weight in bronze for men like 20- something Shulgi, who became King of Ur in 2069 B.C..
The first bronze weapons were developed by the Elam people, Shulgi's southern neighbors, who lived on the Iranian plateau. Elam was lucky because their copper ore was naturally contaminated with arsenic, and it was the contamination which turned soft copper into harder bronze. But bronze also ain't cheap. Melting copper requires almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees C), which means burning a lot of wood. And trying to make the best bronze required technicians, and experimentation. When the Sumerians replaced the arsenic with tin, they produced a harder weapon, with which Shulgi could boast he “broke the weapons of the highlands over my knees, and in the south placed a yoke on the neck of Elam.”
Like a bronze age Vladimir Putin, the narcissist Shugli (above) described himself as “a horse of the highway that swishes its tail”. “Let me boast of what I have done!” And he did. He claimed to be able to run a hundred miles, out fight, out quote, out cook and even out math everybody. “None of the nobles could write on clay as I could.” After he was dead his critics accused him of being “untruthful”. His claim to have defeated the Elam is instructive. Early in his reign, in 2065 B.C., he married his daughter to the governor of the Elam border town of Awan. Then when the locals overthrew his son-in-law in 2061 B.C., Shulgi crossed the border and sacked the town. But he did not linger, as Elam sent their own army to escort Shulgi home - thanks for the help, but really, Shulgi, don't do it again. And he did not, concentrating over the next forty years on expanding and defending his northern border.
Curiously, our Temujin-want-a-be left no record of his sexual conquests. It was almost the only thing he didn't boast about. Maybe he was gay, or just sexually repressed, but Shulgi would not be a candidate for one of the three “fathers” of 64% of all living males in Europe. According to a 2015 study in the journal “Nature Communications”, a similar MSY mutation indicates the first Euro Daddy Dearest was probably pater to the Vikings. About the same time a second Papa progenitor was spreading his sperm around the southern Atlantic coast of Europe, just before the last but not least forefather breeder appeared in north-central Europe. And all these of events correspond to the local arrival of bronze, and the use of war horses.
The latter study co-author, Dr. Chiara Batini, from the University of Leicester, explained the social-genetic implications. “We think that a social structure in which resources and power are more easily accessible to only some men may allow for a few paternal lineages to become very frequent in a short amount of time.” In other words, converging technologies created a few rich bronze age sires who controlled the sperm receptacles, i.e. women. Or, to the put this “jus primae noctis” in capitalistic terms, corporate management used unlimited secret political donations to create and protect tax loop holes for their bonuses, while preventing a raise in the Federal minimum wage for the under classes. Do you detect that my Irish is up?
In truth the rise of Genghis Kahn had nothing to do with his sexual productivity, that was just a by product of his personal indecency. But you can't argue with success. And the name “Temumin” means “iron worker”, which was the next great technological advance after the invention of bronze. It was iron weapons that were the strength of “Harold Tangled Hair”, who, not long after the founding of the Mongol Empire, swore not to cut his own ginger locks until he had conquered all of Norway - which “Harold Fair Hair” then did, followed by the large scale forced impregnation of many of the females living in in Norway.
Those Nordic tribes not wanting to carry Harold's genes around, scattered across the North Sea, looking for a safe haven, freedom, and easy loot and rape victims of their own. Their Celtic victims called them Vikings, or “Sea Rovers”, and they reached as far west as Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, and as far south as Normandy, Scotland and northern Ireland, where Niall Noigialallach (above) - in English “Neal of the Nine Hostages” - carved out his Kingdom of Tara.
For centuries scholars insisted King Neal was mythological. Then, in 2006, geneticists at Trinity College in Dublin found yet another MSY marker in 21% of males from north west Ireland - the core of Neal's “mythical” kingdom - and in 8% of Scottish males, just across the 20 mile wide North Channel of the Irish Sea, where Neal liked to do a little raping, er, raiding. Some 3 million Irish and Scottish men with two dozen family names are members of the “Ui Neil”, descendents of the clearly non-mythical “most fecund man in Irish history”, Neal of the Nine Hostages.
An Irish bishop would later describe pre-Viking Ireland as “Rich in goods, in silver, jewels, cloth and gold”, which may explain in part the island's attractiveness to the randy pagan, who could claim 12 “legitimate” children. And then there are what Irish schoolchildren are taught were the offspring of Neal's “romantic conquests”. Odd how rape becomes less vile when described by the rapists. Consider the treaty Neal reached with the Airgialla tribe, ( literally the "hostage-givers"). Rather than fight a bloody protracted conquest of the Airgialla's Sperrin Mountains, known for their dreary weather, Neal agreed to respect the borders in exchange for one hostage from each of their nine clans. And it seems likely to me that many of those hostages were women.
During one of his Scottish raids, legend says Neal captured a 16 year old Celtic boy of Roman heritage, and after transporting him back to Ireland, sold the young man into slavery. It was the kind of business the Vikings were famous for, although Neal was participating in Celtic and Viking tradition. For six years the captive labored as a stable boy, until finally escaping and stowing away on a ship back to Scotland. The young man returned to Ireland 10 years later as missionary, later Bishop Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Or so says the Catholic legend, which is at least as believable as the pagan ones. Legend also says that Neal, first High King or Ireland, died on one of his Scottish raids, murdered by his own son. Such was the barbarous tradition among the pagans (see Macbeth) , and the following Christian English Kings, (see Henry II and Richard I, Edward II, Richard III, etc, etc.)
But nowhere in any of these legends and history, does anyone get an opinion from the women. For that we are reduced to the next best thing – investigating the lives of living women. Sometime during their life time, 20% of all women will be raped, 1,300,000 American women during 2010 according to the Centers for Disease Control. According to the F.B.I., 90% of all American murderers are male. And of all those murder/rapists, how many carry the MSY markers from a Daddy Dearest? Genetics is not only who we were and are, it is who we want to be. And I don't want to be that. Do you?