DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Putting it all together

This post wraps things up with my mum’s mtDNA. I will be sharing some take-away points that I hope will inspire others to work with their own mtDNA inheritance.

However, before I jump straight in to the summary finding, I need to quickly explain two fundamental terms: 1) Haplogroups, and 2) Subclades.

Haplogroups

While I tend to avoid using Wikipedia as a professional source of information, it does provide a great overview of what haplogroups are:

Haplogroups are used to represent the major branch points on the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree [a veryspecific kind of scientific, genetic family tree].

Understanding the evolutionary path of the female lineage has helped population geneticists trace the matrilineal inheritance of modern humans back to human origins in Africa and the subsequent spread around the globe.

The letter names of the haplogroups (not just mitochondrial DNA haplogroups) run from A to Z. As haplogroups were named in the order of their discovery, they (meaning the accidental dictionary ordering of the letters) do not reflect the actual genetic relationships.

The hypothetical woman at the root of all these groups (meaning just the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all currently living humans. She is commonly called Mitochondrial Eve.

The rate at which mitochondrial DNA mutates is known as the mitochondrial molecular clock. It’s an area of ongoing research with one study reporting one mutation per 8000 years [Loogvali, Eva-Liis; Kivisild, Toomas; Margus, Tõnu; Villems, Richard (2009), O’Rourke, Dennis, ed., “Explaining the Imperfection of the Molecular Clock of Hominid Mitochondria”, PLoS ONE, 4 (12): e8260, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008260, pmc 2794369 Freely accessible, PMID 20041137]. This makes mitochondrial DNA less precise for genealogical dating than Y-chromosome DNA which accumulates one mutation for every 10 years [“Human mutation rate revealed”. Nature News. 2009.].

This mtDNA tree looks something like this partial example:

Screenshot_2018-03-09-12-46-38-1

Subclades

In genetics, subclade is a term used to describe a subgroup of a subgenus or haplogroup. It is commonly used today in describing genealogical DNA tests of human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups.

Let’s use cats as an example. While all cats belong to the Feline mammal family (think of Feline as a haplogroup)…Siamese, Burmese, Person, and the common house cat would each be a different subclade.

Now, let’s get started!

I tested all three regions of the mtDNA I inherited from my mother. It was a full mtDNA sequencing. Based on my sequencing results, I am a confirmed descendent of mtDNA Haplogroup L2, Subclade L2a1c4a on my direct maternal lineage (mother’s, mother’s, mother’s…. maternal line).

My confirmed mtDNA subclade is L2a1c4a. Population studies have not yet been published for the mtDNA Subclade L2a1c4a. Yep, that’s correct. My subclade was created within the past few years. So…there are no peer-reviewed published studies covering it.

However, population studies are available for the direct ancestors of the mtDNA Subclade L2a1c4a. Population studies to date have found that the ancestors of L2a1c4a are found in the highest concentration in Chad Arabs in Lake Chad, Africa.

The major distribution of L2a1c4a

Chad Arabs in Lake Chad, Africa 11.55% > Buduma in Lake Chad, Africa 10.35% > Shuwa Arab in Lake Chad, Africa 7.69% > Central Morocco 5.4% > Mafa in Lake Chad, Africa 5.26% > Gurages in Ethiopia 4.76% > Amharas in Ethiopia 4.16% > Kanembu in Lake Chad, Africa 4.08%.

Studies were conducted by sampling the DNA of indigenous populations and determining the percentage of each indigenous population which belong to the mtDNA Subclade L2a1c4a:

Screenshot_2018-03-09-11-50-41-1

* This table is based on a summary of current research published in peer reviewed journals and will be updated dynamically as more scientific data becomes available for mtDNA subclade L2a1c4a and its ancestors.

The image above is the core, the beating heart, of my mothers mtDNA.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

Migration Map

mtDNA Haplogroup L2 is found predominantly in Africa. The migration map of mtDNA Haplogroup L2 is as follows:

Screenshot_2018-03-09-11-52-30-1

The woman who founded mtDNA Haplogroup L2 is believed to have been born approximately 70,000 to 100,000 years ago in Central Africa. mtDNA Haplogroup L2 is one of the most ancient branches of the mtDNA phylogenetic tree. Today, descendants of mtDNA Haplogroup L2 can be found widely distributed in the African Continent, with a high frequency in Mbuti Pygmies.

The mtDNA tree expands at a rapid rate as new subclades are discovered. As the tree grows, my haplogroup/subclade will be automatically reclassified based the latest version of the tree. This tree was last updated on 18 January 2015 on Genebase, the company I tested with.

So what do we know?

On the face of it, the team knows my mtDNA began in East Africa, and then traveled through the interior of Africa tens of thousands of years ago. It appears my line of maternal female ancestors lived in the Lake Chad area. We don’t know how long they lived in this region. However, for now, the team believes they resided in this part of Africa for millennia. While there, an admixture traveled down from northern Africa to mix within this population before an unknown line of females from the same lineage brought it to the western coast of Africa.

We know that a series of truly ancient maternal great aunts and maternal female cousins took the same mtDNA out of Africa into the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and the Jewish populations of Europe and the Middle East.

The Brazilian results (you will see this in the other posts that are part of this series) indicate that another maternal female cousin, sister, or great aunt from this mtDNA family was taken from Africa and sent to that country.

At the heart of it, I have a dozen or so African cultures that form my direction mitochondrial legacy. Knowing which specific cultures are part of this story has enabled me to extensively read about them. And you know I want to visit them!

Each culture is a part of my history. They are me. And I’d like to know a heck of a lot more about them.

There is one specific application that I would like to use my test results for: identifying the unknown woman who was the wife of my 4x great grandfather, Moses Williams, Sr (1756-1884). I am descent of their daughter, Jane Williams. Moses and this unknown maternal ancestor had 20 daughters in the Old Ninety-Six region of South Carolina. That’s a whole lot of daughters to pass on this mtDNA… especially when the known children of Moses were having between 8 to 12 kids each!

Among the 2,500+ mtDNA matches I have on Genebase…someone may have the missing key to unlocking the identity of this 4x great grandmother…and the identity of her mother…and the identity of her mother.

So, as you can see, we are working with this DNA in more than one way to answer different sets of questions.

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

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DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16050 to 16383

I was originally going to share a further 8 sequence rangers for my mums mtDNA. However, upon reflection, the remaining 7 sequences closely mirror the sequence I am sharing today. So, with this in mind, I am making the last raw analysis post for her mtDNA. The next post will wrap things up. The last post in this series will share what the team has learned via this DNA test – and further work we plan to do using this test.

The next post settings will share the results of my waterfall grandmother’s mtDNA. Granny’s mtDNA is something else!

You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16050 to 16383

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-22-20-1

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the population.

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-23-42-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-24-15-1

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-24-45-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-25-14-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-25-42-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-26-05-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-26-31-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-26-57-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-27-41-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-28-12-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-28-40-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-29-02-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-29-30-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-30-00-1

Screenshot_2018-03-07-08-30-25-1

  1. So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16024 to 16383

We’re still at the midway point.

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. We have arrived at the mid-point!

You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16024 to 16383

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-00-26-1

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populatio

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-01-57-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-02-31-1

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-28-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-53-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-51-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-47-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-31-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-58-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-07-23-1

  1. So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16090 to 16400

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. We have arrived at the mid-point!

You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16090 to 16400

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populatio

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

  1. So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16024 to 16400

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA.

My 16001 to 16340 range results are identical to the results for my 16090 to 16519 range covered in the previous post; so I’m omitting that for now to get to this more interesting mtDNA analysis.

With this, we are just about at the middle of my mtDNA results!

You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16024 to 16400

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

  1. So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16090 to 16519

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16090 to 16519


Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

  1. So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16024 to 16383

We’re still at the mid-way point.

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16024 to 16383

Screenshot_2018-03-01-09-33-47-1.jpg

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-01-57-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-02-31-1

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-28-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-53-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-51-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-47-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-31-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-58-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-07-23-1

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16090 to 16519

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16090 to 16519

 

 

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

The forgotten complexity & diversity of European genetic admixtures

In genealogy it’s always a good practice to re-visit the various records collected and compiled. The same holds true for re-visiting articles and studies. Chances are, you’ll stumble across something new. Or you gain a new perspective. I’ve been re-reading DNA related articles and studies that I’ve saved over the years.

Armed with a larger family tree that stretches back eons on two of its branches, I’ve been able to see the facts presented in these studies and articles in a fresh light.

Empire expansion and empire building were bloody, disruptive and traumatic forces. There’s no two ways about it. However, it seems that once the proverbial dust settled, the peoples that we would class as ancient Europeans , at least, seemed to get on with the business of living, trading and exchanging DNA with the new cultures they came into contact with. The cultural divisions erected only a few centuries ago just don’t seem to have been present further back in history. There were no silos of classification, not as we would recognize them today. Divisions were based pretty much on the perception of a people being ‘barbarians’ or ‘civilized’. Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Pausinas, Herodotus and their contemporaries have much to say on the matter.

I’ve wondered how Han and Gelao Chinese as well as various Central Asian tribes came to make significant contributions to my autosomal, YDNA and mtDNA. The genealogy of two families in my tree partially answered it. The Scythians and the Huns. My Matthews and Roane ancestors were descendants of both of these cultures. I know this because I have a few of these ancestors’ names.

a map showing the Tribes and kingdoms of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th Century.

Tribes and kingdoms of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th Century. click for larger image

The Scythian culture and kingdom existed roughly between 300BCE to 600CE. The map below shows the extent of their territory. I note that around a dozen or so of my oldest known direct ancestors on the Matthews and the Roane lines were born in present day Croatia, Ukraine and Bulgaria – the western fringe of the Scythian territory.

Map of Scythian Empire in the 4th Century

Map of Scythian Empire in the 4th Century

Looking at the maps above, I can understand why there are Han, Gelao, Khazak, Dagan, Tuvan, Alatai, etc results present in my DNA.

How?

The Scythians and the Huns both came to occupy this territory. I have found a handful of union between my Scythian ancestors and Huns. The descendants of these Scythian-Hun unions married the various Roman, Scandinavian and Franco-Germanic people. When my 54th great grandfather Gratian (Gratianus Funarius) “The Elder” , a Scythian, married Constantia Constantine, a Lombard – that union produced children with an admixture encompassing Mediterranean, Balkan, near Eastern and Asiatic DNA. Two generations down the line, their descendants had married into the various Frano-Germanic tribes…and the Vandals, a North African people, and Scandinavians. And their descendants intermarried.

It is from this rich and ancient line that every single European royal family is descended. And they aren’t alone. This exchange of DNA happened throughout Europe. I look at it like this: a Vandal princess wasn’t sent to marry an Ostrogtoth king on her own. She went with a retinue of courtiers, servants and soldiers. Marriages like this were social as well as political. Trade routes would be established which meant Ostrogoth and Vandal merchants would go back and forth supplying all manner of goods and servants. Mutual protection treaties were agreed, which meant Vandal and Ostrogoth soldiers would go back and forth as needed if one or the other of the two kingdoms were engaged in war. In other words, swathes of people moved from one place to another.

Picture this, if you will. You’re going about your lord and/or lady’s business. Scrubbing kitchen floors, preparing food for some feat that you’ll never see, polishing the silver, sweeping the floors – and of the myriad of tasks servants had to do to keep their rulers and their court happy, sated and comfortable. You like the look of that foreign stranger brought into your midst by some royal marriage or another. You can’t speak the same language, not yet at any rate. However, through various charades-worthy gesticulations, you manage to convey the essentials: “I like the look of you. Do you fancy meeting up after that lot upstairs has passed out? We can knick some wine, maybe some bread and cheese if we’re lucky…and have a laugh?” Transfer the setting to the local marketplace, a shop, the local temple – pretty much anywhere people came into contact with one other in ancient times. You get the idea.

Boiled down, significant numbers of people moved back and forth, marrying and exchanging admixtures along the way. These admixtures are part and parcel of the overall modern European genetic makeup – and the makeup of European-descended people scattered around the globe.

This brings me quite nicely to four articles that are definitely worth a read. They specifically cover the British Isles and Ireland. They touch on various aspects of this post quite nicely. I cite them specifically due to the remoteness of these islands in the Roman era and the two to three centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe. Despite their remoteness, these islands have a simply staggering genetic admixture legacy.

  1. 10 Surprising Ancestral Origins Revealed by DNA Testing
    http://www.abroadintheyard.com/surprising-ancestral-origins-revealed-by-dna-testingOr:  never judge a book by its cover.
  2. The Guardian’s Scottish people’s DNA study could ‘rewrite nation’s history’ http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/aug/15/scotland-dna-study-projectDespite a long-held belief that its ethnic make-up was largely Scots, Celtic, Viking and Irish…Scotland was in fact “one of the most diverse nations on earth”. There’s a pretty interesting reason why.
  3. Prospect Magazine’s Myths of British ancestry
    http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/mythsofbritishancestrySo it turns out that the ancient ancestors of the (non-Cornish) British and the Irish looks like it was the Basques, not Celts. And that the Celts probably weren’t wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons. And that neither the Celts nor the Anglo-Saxons had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands.
  4. Blood of the Irish: What DNA Tells Us About the Ancestry of People in Ireland. http://hubpages.com/hub/Irish-Blood-Genetic-IdentityIreland’s pre-historic peopling, it turns out, is far more interesting and complicated than previously thought.

New YouTube Playlist: DNA Adventures – the story of us

I’ve been carefully curating videos on YouTube that covers the story of humankind’s most epic journey – how we came to populate the plant. I’ve created a new YouTube playlist that covers this journey…as well as videos covering basic human genetics and human evolution.

I’ve embedded the playlist below. You can surf through the videos by selecting the Playlist icon in the upper left side of the video player. The icon disappears as soon as each video begins to play. As soon as your mouse hovers over the video, the icon will re-appear.

Just in case the video player below doesn’t work on your device, here’s the YouTube playlist link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA34zwPH0c-JUBbNMSiqapkNuu9jCplb