Insitome Podcast with Spencer Wells and Razib Khan: Insight – The Neolithic Revolution

Spencer Wells e-mailed me a few days ago to let me know that he and Razib Khan were jointly producing a podcast that is free for the listening and focused on education.  You know me, I’ll all about education, especially relative to genetics, genomics and human migration.

For those who haven’t met Spencer Wells, he is the founder of Insitome, a genomics based startup developing genetics applications for people to gain insight into themselves and their personal history. More about that in a minute. In 2005, Spencer founded and subsequently directed the Genographic Project for many years, as well as being National Geographic’s Scientist in Residence during that time.

Razib Khan, a population geneticist who is Insitome’s Director of Content joins Spencer in the Podcast. At Razib’s WordPress site, you can see all of his contributions along the right-hand sidebar.

Today, the first Insitome podcast, The Neolithic Revolution, is ready for prime-time and you get to be one of the first to enjoy. Spencer promises there will be more podcasts soon.

This first podcast about the Neolithic is focused on human prehistory and genetics, and it’s not rushed by an interviewer looking for a few quick soundbites.  Instead, it offers listeners nearly a full hour of opportunity.  Hearing Spencer speak had always been a wonderful experience and this is no exception. If you’re having a snow day where you are, like I’m having here – make yourself a nice hot cup of java, put your feet up by the fireplace, and savor the experience.

For those of you who don’t know, a podcast is like a radio program that you can listen to at your convenience.  Insitome has opted to utilize the iTunes store (the podcast is free,) so you can download to your computer or to your smart device and listen wherever you are. Spencer says they will eventually be making this podcast available at YouTube as well, but first things first.

The Neolithic

The Neolithic Revolution represented a massive change in how people lived.  It didn’t happen all at once around the world, but at different times in different locations, meaning the revolution sort of crept along.  The age of the Neolithic was marked by a change from a hunter-gatherer subsistence type of lifestyle to a farming community. Along with that came the introduction of both art and religion.

By Jean Housen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

These Neolithic artifacts found at the Ain Ghazal Neolithic archaeological site in Amman, Jordan are considered to be one of the earliest large-scale representations of the human form dating back to around 9200 years ago.  The descendants of the people who created these also eventually populated Europe, assimilating with and in some cases replacing hunter-gatherer populations.

The change in lifestyle associated with farming and domestication of livestock produced some unexpected results (you’ll have to listen to the podcast to learn what they were) and the farmers slowly migrated throughout Europe and Asia, beginning about 10,000 years ago.

Independent but similar changes were also taking place in Africa, southern and eastern Asia, and Japan.

Ultimately, all of those people begat all of us, so just think of Neolithic people as ancient ancestors – because they were.

You can enjoy an hour of hearing Spencer and Razib telling you about your ancestors and their lives. When was the last time someone offered to do that, and for free no less?

  • Have you ever wondered about hunter-gatherers and farmers?
  • Maybe you’ve wondered about the Neolithic and the Mesolithic periods? When were those ages – besides ages ago?
  • Who are those people?  Where did they come from and where are they today?
  • What did they leave behind?
  • What stories do they tell through their archaeological artifacts and the most wondrous artifact of all, their DNA?
  • Are they in you and me?
  • How do we know?
  • Why do we care?

Who better to tell their story than Spencer and Razib?!

The Podcast

Here’s the link to the podcast in the iTunes store:

After you click on this link, you’ll see the following screen.

Just click on the little blue “Podcast Website” at the bottom left, and listen up!.

If you want to download the podcast to your computer, you may need to install iTunes software, but that’s easy. ITunes will direct you as to what is needed.




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4 thoughts on “Insitome Podcast with Spencer Wells and Razib Khan: Insight – The Neolithic Revolution

  1. The Insitome offer was confusing to me. I ordered both the Metabolism and Neanderthal. After I registered the Metabolism I wondered if I could do the Neanderthal using that registration so when I inquired they had some deal where I could give as a gift the Neanderthal kit I have and then buy another test for $29.95 that could be associated with the account I’ve already established. Another $29.95 How does that help me.

    • Hi Carol, confusing is not a word we like to hear, so I am here to help [hopefully]! You only need to get your DNA sequenced once with Helix, and then you can purchase individual apps from Insitome and their other partners based on your area of interest. Our Metabolism app offers insights around eight important diet and nutrition-related genomic traits — like the ability to tolerate lactose, glucose or alcohol, as well as how you synthesize fat or metabolize caffeine. With the Neanderthal app, you will learn how the genes you inherited impact things like muscle growth, skin color, and cognitive ability. If you are still interested in the Neanderthal app, why don’t you send an email to kristie [at] and I would be happy to provide a code to get 50% off to try it.

  2. I rushed to order this for my wife and I, only to find that it is only available in the USA at present. Apparently the company hope to go international eventually, but do not give a timescale.
    (From “Disappointed”, Yorkshire, UK

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