Time for a new look at almasty?

Thursday 22nd July 2021
I am only too aware that what I’m writing here could cause offence. But it is truly not meant to do anything of the sort.
I have just read the paper by Tom Gilbert et al about the DNA analysis on the skeleton of the “wild woman Zana” who lived as a captive in Abkhazia for about twenty years in the late 19th Century. They write: “Population genomic analyses demonstrated that Zana’s immediate genetic ancestry can likely be traced to present-day East-African populations”, which effectively disproves the theory that she was not human, and also disproves the late Bryan Sykes’ theory that she was of some ancient African lineage. The poor woman was almost certainly in Abkhazia as a result of the Ottoman slave trade which carried out between the 16th and 19th centuries.
This is, of course, a game changer. But there are still some interesting aspects of the story. Was Zana very simply an escaped slave? Or was she the descendant of escaped slaves living ferally in the mountains and forests? And if so could there be more like her? And could they be still there?
It is tempting to hypothesise a situation where captive Africans were brought north from the Sudan over a period of hundreds of years. The shock and the brutality of their capture and subsequent treatment would most likely leave them with a condition that currently we might today describe as quasi-autism, certainly with PTSD. They would’ve been taken away from their homes and from the social structure of their tribes and family groups and it is unlikely that their captors would have taught them anything but the most rudimentary language. Subsequent generations would be likely to exhibit simple undifferentiated amentia.
One can imagine a situation where a group of these poor people, who would have escaped at different times, may well have been from different tribes so wouldn’t understand each other’s language, as well as the aforementioned emotional and developmental trauma, losing most of the trappings of civilisation and regressing to the level of Mesolithic era hunter-gatherers. Here, I think, we have a perfect explanation for the almasty, at least the ones from the Caucasus.

I am sure that somebody will read that and take offence. But it is not meant to be offensive. If the scenario which I have outlined did take place, the people who became feral did not do so because they were Black. They did so because they had been treated in a vile and inhuman manner by an exploitative and powerful society. If the same thing were to happen to Caucasian, Oriental, Native American or members of any other race of the human species, I believe that they/we too could develop in exactly the same way.

I welcome input on this from academics, particularly ones of colour,  from anywhere in the world, especially from Africa and Turkey as this is likely to of specific interest to them.
Jonathan Downes
Cryptozoologist, naturalist, musician, singer, composer, poet, novelist and Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology since 1992. Jon was born in Portsmouth in 1959 and spent his infancy in Nigeria and his childhood in Hong Kong. His wife Corinna died of cancer in 2020, leaving him with two stepdaughters and a six year old granddaughter called Evelyn.