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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Collects Mongolian DNA

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A news release announces the completion of a DNA collection project by SMGF (Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation) in Mongolia. The goal of the project is to study the descendants of ancient nomads from the Eurasian steppes. The collection was performed in conjunction with the National University of Mongolia and represents “the most comprehensive [DNA collection project] in the history of Mongolia, incorporating all of the country’s geographic regions and major ethnic populations.” In total, more than 3,000 DNA samples and pedigree charts were obtained from 24 different ethnic groups.

According to the news release, the “global fascination with Mongolian icons such as Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun” played a role in promoting the project:

“For many centuries, Mongolians have held an ongoing fascination in genealogy, spurred in part by reverence for ancestors and for oral traditions – with some family and clan names stretching back as far as the 10th Century (AD). Under Genghis Khan’s rule in the 13th Century, Mongols invaded Eurasian territory, then ruled there for more than two centuries. In the 20th century the then-USSR gained political control of Mongolia and its leaders systematically worked to eradicate Mongolian national identity – especially the Khan connection – executing or imprisoning an estimated 100,000 Mongols between 1922 and 1940. In recent years, however, there has been a renaissance of Mongolian national identity, accompanied by a widespread search for Mongolian genetic roots – which the SMGF-NUM partnership will continue to foster.”

Some other goals of the project:

  • To study the unique genetic characteristics of indigenous and mixed populations in Mongolia;
  • To document and preserve oral histories;
  • To add the new historic and genetic data to SMGF’s publicly-available Sorenson Database; and
  • To promote family history record-keeping and increase the availability of genealogical record-keeping in Mongolia

Information from the study will be published in “books, journals, and other publications” and will be available on the SMGF website, which is touted as “the world’s leading online repository of correlated genetic and family history information for people throughout the world, which currently contains in excess of five million records from more than 170 countries.”

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007