Blue eyes appeared between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago due to a genetic mutation. Prior to this, brown eyes were the only color present in humans on Earth. Scientific evidence shows that all people with blue eyes share a common ancestor, who was the only person responsible for today’s 8% of blue-eyed individuals and was born in a region near the northern Black Sea after the last ice age.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen analyzed the genetic makeup of the chromosomes in the iris of the eye and studied 155 blue-eyed individuals from various countries, including Jordan, Turkey, and Denmark. The lack of genetic variation among study participants and the presence of the same genetic “mutation” in specific eye-associated chromosomes suggests that the “mutation” that causes blue eyes is a recent development. “A genetic mutation that affects the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes leads to the creation of a ‘switch’ that literally ‘turns off’ the ability to produce brown eyes,” said Professor Eiberg from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
A study found that blue-eyed individuals first appeared during the last Ice Age north of the Black Sea. Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen suggested that these individuals were Aryans of Indo-European descent who later migrated to Iran and India and introduced agriculture to Western Europe.
Blue eyes are a recessive trait that requires genetic inheritance from both parents. A closely related but different gene, dominant in blue eyes but recessive in brown eyes, is responsible for green eyes.
The OCA2 gene encodes the P protein involved in melanin formation, which affects the color of a person’s skin, eyes, and hair. OCA2 limits the activity of the gene in reducing iris melanin synthesis, which “dilutes” brown eyes to blue. Complete removal or turning off of the OCA2 gene results in albinism, leaving individuals without the pigment to give their hair, eyes, or skin color.
When we examine ancient Egypt, possibly one of the oldest civilizations, we find numerous mummies with blonde or golden hair. Similarly, the Sumerians created ancient statues of creatures with huge blue eyes. The temple atop the ziggurat was later constructed to accommodate these sculptures. It is evident that our ancestors placed significant value on the eye motifs depicted in these works of art.
Forensic archaeologist Jane Shuter examined multiple Sumerian burial sites, revealing that the Sumerians were short and sturdy with slanted eyes, straight noses, and thin lips. According to Shuter and other archaeologists, the Sumerians had dark skin, dark eyes, and black hair, and they referred to themselves as “dark-haired people.”
The Sumerians, like many other ancient cultures, considered blue eyes a sign of the gods. The large blue eyes on ancient Sumerian statues have symbolic meaning, and some eyes are highlighted while others that are only white have likely lost the color added when the sculpture was first created. These statues are all unique, indicating that they represent many individuals rather than just one important person.
Although the ancient Sumerian gods and goddesses were intricate, four of them held immense significance as the creators of everything. The Sumerian gods were depicted as humans, and Enlil, one of the most potent and significant gods, was on Earth before man’s creation.
Irene J. Winter at Columbia University in New York stated that the wide, staring eyes of Mesopotamian votive statues are often noted as a stylistic feature, with only occasional suggestions that they indicate attention to the supposed object of their gaze. However, these statues are known to be placed in shrines, either sitting in their own chapels or standing in direct contact with the resident deity.
Without access to historical writings, it is difficult to know for certain what the Sumerians intended when creating the large blue-eyed statues. However, since many creatures are depicted looking upward, it can be inferred that there is a connection between heaven and earth, as the blue eyes are associated with the gods.
An ancient civilization that dominated the northern coast of Peru 2000 years ago was ruled by a blue-eyed ruling class. Known as the Moche, they constructed massive pyramids that rose over a hundred feet tall and still stand tall against the surrounding landscape. Archaeologists discovered a blue-eyed mummy believed to belong to the pre-Inca Wari tribe in an ancient tomb at the Peruvian ruins of Huaca Pucllana. The mummy, known as “The Masked Lady,” has extraordinary blue eyes that may hold the key to the mysteries of this ancient civilization.
The tomb of Lord Sipán is believed by some researchers to be one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the region in the past 30 years since it was found undamaged and untouched by robbers. Lord Sipán was called by various names by different ancient civilizations, such as Viracocha by the Incas, Kukulkan by the Maya, and Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs. He was described as tall, fair-skinned, bearded, and had beautiful emerald green eyes, along with his men.
About 95% of Europeans in Scandinavia are estimated to have blue eyes, and these individuals also exhibit greater diversity in skin and hair color compared to other continents. Positive selection in favor of blue eyes in this region is thought to be caused by factors such as UV exposure leading to skin cancer, vitamin D deficiency, and sex selection.
Blue eyes were considered a sign of the gods by ancient cultures, and many statues of people with blue eyes have been found. The ancestor responsible for the genetic mutation that gave rise to blue eyes in early times remains a mystery and is a fascinating question.
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