Celebrating my Neolithic Ancestors

Image above, last year, holding an artifact from the Neolithic Tomb of the Sea Eagles in Orkney.

Today in this post, I am celebrating my Neolithic heritage.  Another ancestral genetics enthusiast pointed out that rather than Anglo-Saxon, for a Brit and North West European, I actually had indications of enhanced Neolithic Farmer ancestry on most ancient DNA calculators (more on that below).  I was actually quite pleased to have that pointed out, and this post explains why I love the idea of being a modern Neolithic Man.

I remember being fascinated by the past as quite a young child.  On holidays across the British isles, I craved nothing more than visits to castles.  At home in Norwich, I'd haunt the local museums.  However, a love of the Neolithic took hold during my twenties. First, a fishing and drinking tour of Ireland with my brother, took me to the Newgrange Passage Grave site in the Boyne Valley.  Awesome impact.  Then several years later, I picked up the broken butt end of a Neolithic polished flint axe head on farmland behind my cottage.

The above photo is an image of another broken Neolithic flint axe head that I recorded during a surface collection survey many years later in Thetford Forest.

This eventually pulled me into a phase of looking for more prehistoric flint, which I later formalised into the Thetford Forest Survey.  During that period, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, Norfolk Archaeology, and Suffolk Archaeology, I recorded thousands of struck flint and ceramic artifacts - many from the Neolithic.

Above image taken at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria in 2006.

Any chance that I got, I'd also visit Neolithic sites across the British Isles - and continue to do so, hence last year I had a cycling tour of many late prehistoric sites in Orkney.  Absolutely love the Neolithic.  Even though an atheist, I have to confess that some of these sites give me a special vibe.  I have half-seriously told neo-pagan friends, that If I had to choose some gods, Then maybe they would be those of the Neolithic.  Something about the remote sites.

Above image - sorry for looking so bloody miserable and awful.  Swinside Stone Circle, Cumbria.

Our New Understanding of the Neolithic of Europe

What I really want to write about here though, is how recent population genetics, over the past ten years, is transforming how we see the Western Eurasian Neolithic.  Archaeologists had long pondered, our relationship to the British Neolithic people, and going further back and in turn - their relationship to the earlier Mesolithic hunter-foragers of the British Isles.

What recent research of both ancient and modern DNA has so far revealed is that after the last Ice Age, hunter-foragers moved up to Britain from Southern Europe.  Meanwhile, new cultures and economies were developing in the Middle East of SW Asia.  Across the Fertile Crescent, that ran up the Levant, East Anatolia, eastwards, then down the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys - people started to settle, domesticate wheat, barley, goats, sheep, cattle and pigs.  They started to farm for the very first time.  This was the Neolithic Revolution.  The first fired ceramics - pottery was added to the recipe, along with polished stone tools.  Eventually these populations also absorbed the very first metallurgy, literacy, and town building - falling into the southern half of those river valleys in Mesopotamia.

Image above - Standing Stone at Stillaig, Argyll, Scotland.

From the Levant and Anatolia, both along the Mediterranean, and direct across the Balkans by land, Neolithic culture and farming technology spread westwards and northwards across Europe.  Population genetics now tells us that this WAS carried by people.  It was not just a transfer of culture and artifacts.  DNA from South-West Asia was strongly carried across Europe.  The Neolithic farmers were a people, with roots in the Near East.

What happened to the old European hunter-foragers?  It seems a mixture of displacement and admixture.  As the Neolithic Revolution rolled across Europe, it did pick up some hunter-gatherer DNA.  However, few of the male haplogroups.  By the time that the First Farmers reached the British Isles, they would have had an ancestry mixed between Near East Asian and European hunters.  Without a doubt, brides and perhaps slaves were taken along that long route from Anatolia to Britain.  This pattern perhaps continued when they reached the Irish and British Isles, and confronted some of the last hunter-gatherer populations of North West Europe.

Image above.  Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.

All of this was fine.  The British Isles were settled by Neolithic peoples around 4,100 BC.  I've seen many of their monuments, studied excavation reports of their archaeological sites, and held many of their flint artifacts.  It was a dominant culture here for two thousand years.  Religious systems may have come and go.  They erected so many monuments here that still survive.  Causewayed enclosures, long barrows, cursuses, henges, monoliths, cairns, standing stone circles, timber circles, mounds, Silsbury Hill - and of course, the internationally renown Stone Henge.  However, we now realise that they carried much DNA from South West Asia!

They must have thought that they, their beliefs, and their social systems would last until the end of time.  We currently think that their populations and farming declined towards the end of their period.  There is a little evidence that they may have been subject to plague from Asia.  This might have weakened them for the next invasion and displacement.

Image above of Skara Brae, Orkney Neolithic settlement.

Image above of Mottistone Longstone, Isle of Wight.

The arrival of the Sons of the Steppes - the Beaker

I'll write more about these guys in a later post.  Around 2,100 BC, a new people and culture turned up in the British Isles.  Whereas the Neolithic peoples had largely originated in SW Asia, south of the Caucasus (with some European hunter-gatherer DNA picked up on the way), these new arrivals largely originated to the NORTH of the Caucasus, on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes.  Their Steppe ancestors perfected the domestication of the horse, bronze metallurgy, and wheeled wagons. The founder Steppe population has been identified by archaeologists as the Yamnaya.  They rolled into Eastern and Central Europe, where their arrival appears to have spawned the Corded Ware Culture.  Their descendants in turn appear to have spawned the Bell Beaker Culture in Western Europe.  In turn, the Bell Beaker appears to have developed into the Atlantic Seaboard Celtic Culture of fame and fashion.

The Eurasian Steppe male haplogroups absolutely dominate present day Europe.  However, again, they appear to have absorbed some women with Neolithic and even earlier Hunter-Gatherer populations into their genome.

The Three Way across Europe

Across modern Europe, we are a mixture of three distinct late prehistoric populations or genetic out-layers - from most recent to oldest:

  1. Yamnaya or Steppe
  2. Neolithic Farmer
  3. Western Eurasian Hunter-Gatherer

The above image is from CARTA lecture. 2016. Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute.  All Rights Reserved.

As can be seen above, some Neolithic DNA has survived in present day Europe.  It is strongest in Southern Europe.  Yamnaya ancestry is more of an influence in Northern Europe, although, old Hunter-Gatherer survives strong in the Baltic Republics.  The modern population closest to our Neolithic ancestors are the Sardinians.  So close, that when Ötzi, a frozen preserved Neolithic body was discovered in the Alps, his DNA was seen as so similar to present day Sardinians, that some incorrectly suggested that he had travelled to the Alps from Sardinia!

A Sardinian family while reading LUnione Sarda 

A Sardinian family.  With a mandolin.  Therefore perfect for here! By Roburq (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

My Neolithic Admixture

David Wesolowski's K7 Basal-rich test

Basal-rich

The Basal Eurasians are a hypothetical "ghost" population derived from DNA studies.  It is suggested that they splintered from other modern humans 45,000 years ago, presumably outside of Africa, somewhere around the Middle East.  They significantly contributed DNA to the Early Neolithic Farmers of the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia, and consequently, on to all of us modern West Eurasians.  

 David gives the English average as 26.5%.  My result is 28.8%

Global 10 Test

The recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)

FT-DNA My Ancient Origins

  • 47% Farmer (Neolithic)

My Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 27% Early Neolithic Farmer

My Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 25% Early European Farmer

My MDLP K16 Modern Admixture

  • 31% Neolithic (modeled on genomes of first neolithic farmers of Anatolia)

My MDLP Modern K11 Oracle:

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent
1 Neolithic 37.33


Image above.  Grimes Graves Late Neolithic flint mine complex, Norfolk

My Neolithic ancestry appears to be strong, for a Brit.  However - my Neolithic ancestors may not have all - or even at all, have lived in the British Isles.  My Neolithic ancestry may have been picked up along the way, across Europe, by ancestors as they travelled across Western Eurasia.

The most common misunderstanding - mtDNA

I just see so many misunderstandings on genetic genealogy and DNA test forums concerning mtDNA haplogroups, that I feel compelled to try to explain.

DNA testing businesses tend to dumb down a lot of information for their "audience".  I feel that this actually increases misunderstandings, and mtDNA haplogroups are a good example.  Rather than use the lengthy description mitochondrial DNA, or even it's shortened mtDNA, businesses describe it more frequently as Mother Line, or Maternal.  It misleads so many of their customers.  So let us put this straight:

  • A haplogroup is a  "combination of alleles at different chromosomes regions that are closely linked and that tend to be inherited together"  A series of mutations, that are inherited across generations.
  • mtDNA are a series of mutations within the DNA of mitochondria.  Mitochondria exist outside of a cell nucleus.  They have their own independent DNA, apart from the nuclear chromosomal DNA that dictates how we develop, what we are.  We all have mitchondria, in most of our cells.  They actually serve a function by processing energy.
  • As humans, we use nomenclature to group those mutations within a family tree of humanity.  My mtDNA mutations fall within Haplogroup H.
  • mtDNA cannot be passed on to future generations by males.  it is passed down to the children from the mother only.  I inherit H6a1a8 (my haplotype) from my mother, as do my brother and our sisters.  Only my sisters though will reproduce that mtDNA in their children.  My own children inherited the mtDNA of their mother, not mine.

So what does this mean in practice?

  • A Maternal / Motherline / mtDNA Haplogroup does NOT represent your biological ancestry.
  • A Maternal / Motherline / mtDNA Haplogroup does NOT even represent your mother's "half" of your biological ancestry.
  • For example, your father's mother most likely carried a different mtDNA.  Your mother's father most likely had a different mtDNA haplotype.  Only one of your sixteen great great grandparents passed down their mtDNA to you.
  • Instead, it acts pretty much as a single line genetic "marker" that can be traced only along one very narrow, single line of ancestry.  Look at the image at the top of your post.  Do you see?  Just one line of descent. It follows your mother's, mother's, mother line, and so on, all of the way back to a hypothetical "Mitochondrial Eve" 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
  • It is not a tribe, ethnicity, or identity.  It is just the mtDNA genetic marker (Haplotype) that you inherited from your mother.
  • It is no good going onto mtDNA genetic genealogy forums and giving the names and origins of ANY direct ancestor, other than a woman (or her children) on that maternal line (mother's mother's, mother, and so on).
  • Forget surname studies.  In most western societies, and in many other's, the "family" name is inherited from the father - and follows a completely different course (Y-DNA).  Indeed, the surname of your true mtDNA ancestor changes most generations with marriage.  That is what makes this the most difficult line to trace with documentary methods.
  • Although difficult, it is the most true and secure.  Although secret or hidden adoptions can occur, the risk of non-parental events is much lower than for the strictly male line (Y-DNA).
  • Mitochondrial DNA mutates at a very slow rate.  This, along with the change in surnames most generations, can make it difficult to use successfully for genetic genealogy.  Many of the mutations are thousands of years old.  Alternatively, it makes it a valuable evidence for tracing ancient ancestry within a population.

That is all that I wanted to say.  it is a fascinating marker, but it is not representative of even 50% of your ancestry, it is not an identity, it is pretty irrelevant to surname (studies), it is inherited only down one narrow line - but all of the way back.

My earliest mtDNA ancestor with a surviving photograph.  My mother's mother's, mother's, mother (2xgreat grandmother), born Sarah Daynes in Norfolk, during 1845.  Her mtDNA would be H6a1a8.  Her mother was born Sarah Quantrill in Norfolk during 1827.  Her mother in turn was born Mary Page in Norfolk during 1791.  Her mother in turn was born Elizabeth Hardiment in Norfolk during 1751.  Her mother in turn (my 6xgreat grandmother) was Susannah Briting, who married John Hardyman in Norfolk during 1747.  If my documentary research along this line is correct, then Susannah inherited mtDNA haplotype H6a1a8 from her mother.

Living DNA - my early results are in!

After a four month wait, my initial results have arrived today from Living DNA.  The wait has, I feel been understandable for a launch company.  The results are still limited to standard mode only.

Living DNA Standard mode

100% European
Regional:
74% Great Britain & Ireland
10% Europe (South)
7% Europe (North and West)
10% Europe (unassigned).

Sub-regional:

39% East Anglia
8% South Central England
5% South East England
5% Lincolnshire

2.5% Cornwall
2.4% North Yorkshire
2% South England
1.9% Devon
1.6% Central England
1.5% North West England
1.3% South Yorkshire
1.2% Northumbria

3.5% unassigned Great Britain & Ireland

10% Tuscany (Europe South)
5% Scandinavia (Europe North and West)
2% Germanic (Europe North and West)
9.7% Europe unassigned.

My initial response?  Enthralled and highly impressed.  A little disappointed that the East Anglia percentage was not higher.  I suggest 77% based on my documentary record.  Living DNA gave it 39%.  I still find that a very good result.

However... let's get this into perspective to 23andMe and FT-DNA tests.  Documentary evidence suggests that I am 100% British over the past 300 years.  23andMe said 32%.  FT-DNA said 36%.  Living DNA gets it so much closer at 74%!  That is a whole lot more accurate.

What about the remaining 26% on regional level, where do Living DNA say that comes from? All European.  It suggests 9.7% unassigned European, 9.6% Tuscan (Southern European), 4.6% Scandinavian, and 2% "Germanic".  The Tuscan is interesting, but I'm not convinced yet that it is not ancient and population based.  The Scandinavian is also most likely ancient - in my opinion.

Two things please and impress me about my results on the sub regional level:

1) Based on documentary research, I estimate that 250 years ago, 77% of my ancestors were in East Anglia.  Living DNA indeed, sees it as by far my largest sub regional percentage.  At 39%, a little low, but very impressive.  They correctly identified me as East Anglian.

My next main region, in my Family Tree, I have circa 12% ancestors from "South Central England".  Living DNA saw this, and it is indeed, my second  largest percentage at sub regional level.  I get South Central England with 7.5% - incredible.  The small "South England" would also tied to this line.

Then I get 5.4% South-East England.  It could be over spill from the East Anglia ancestry, but I do have one 3xgreat grandfather Shawers In London, that I do not know the origins of.  I wonder now?

Then it's "Lincolnshire" with 4.8%.  Brilliant!  I had a 3xgreat grandfather from the southern parts of Living DNA's Lincolnshire sub region.  That fills my documentary record almost perfect.  The small "Central England" percentage would also tie to this line.

Then follows a number of low percentages from all over Southern and Eastern England.  They might tell a story, or might not.  Surprisingly Cornwall and Devon show up in low percentages, as does Yorkshire.  Did my Shawers line actually come from one of those regions?  I have seen Shawers in Devon, Cornwall, Shores in Yorkshire, and Shawers in Lancashire.

2) What is excluded can also demonstrate the accuracy of such a test.  No Welsh, Northumbrian, French, Normand, Irish, Scottish, or Iberian ancestry suggested.  Not that I'd have any objection against descent from any of these, or anywhere - but that this test successfully sees that I am NOT descended from these close regions, is to my mind, a great success, and a vast improvement on any past autosomal DNA tests for ancestry by other businesses.  The truth is, that the English are so like these other populations!

On mtDNA they get my haplogroup down to H6a1a.

They have not yet completed my Y-DNA analysis.  I guess L in an English tester might have thrown them a bit.

No other DNA test has ever existed quite like this.  My initial response is - an amazing test.  The future of autosomal testing for Ancestry.

What did I learn about my genetics in 2016?

  1. I learned that there was no genocide of the British by the Anglo-Saxons.  Instead, POBI (Peopling of the British Isles), and a survey based on remains in the Cambridge area, suggested that only around 25% to 45% of the Early Medieval admixture of present day ethnic English was Anglo-Saxon.  The majority was earlier British.  It appears that there was a significant immigration event of Anglo-Saxons, but they admixed with the British, they didn't displace them.
  2. I discovered many more recorded ancestors of my mother, through her great grandmother Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), in South and Mid Norfolk.
  3. I discovered more recorded ancestors of my father, through his maternal grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber) in South Norfolk, and over in Suffolk.
  4. I have been mapping my ancestral events across East Anglia, and South-East England.
  5. I rebuilt my gedcom file using the open source Gramps software application.
  6. I extended my father's family tree in the Swanton Morley and East Dereham area of Mid Norfolk
  7. I further researched the life, career, and military service of my paternal great grandfather.  His Royal Field Artillery service number was 32392.
  8. I  received my first ever DNA for ancestry test results from 23andMe.  I started to understand how autosomal DNA tests for Ancestry do not work as they are intended, on populations such as the English.  I've since greatly explored how my, and other English, are seen by current DNA for Ancestry.  I discovered how these tests mistake background population admixture, for more recent family admixture.
  9. I tested my mother at 23andMe, and phased my results to her.  I discovered that our results are more "Continental" than for most English.  However, there was more of a southward pull towards France, than to Scandinavia.
  10. I discovered that our mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is H6a1.  I am currently awaiting more in depth test results on mt-DNA from FT-DNA.
  11. I learned that my Y-DNA haplogroup was L.  A big shock, as it is considered Asian rather than European.  Further tests revealed it to be L1b2c (L-SK1414), only one of a handful yet recorded in the World, and most likely originating in the area of Iran and Iraq.  I discovered that it must have travelled from Asia to Southern England between 2,000 and 500 years ago.  My Y ancestors would have been Western Asian before then.  Possibly connected to Mesopotamia, and would have been Ibex hunters perhaps in the Zagros mountains earlier than that.
  12. I discovered the family of my ancestor David Peach, from the village of Maxey, in the East Midlands.  I discovered that he had been transported for Life to a tough penal colony in Tasmania, for stealing two cattle.
  13. I learned and explored the ancestry of my surname line back into Oxfordshire, and up the Thames Valley to the village of Long Wittenham.
  14. I visited the WDYTYA genealogy event in Birmingham.
  15. Like many other people involved in population genetics, I've learned that there really was a great expansion across Europe, from the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, during the Early Bronze Age.  I've accepted that earlier European Y haplogroups in particular have been greatly displaced by this event.  The founder group of this migration event have been identified as the Copper Age Yamna or Yamnaya Steppe Pastoralists.  My own mt DNA haplogroup H6a1, most likely, moved into Europe with this migration wave.  The Global 10 test suggests that circa 38% of my ancestors from that time period, were of the Yamna.  The Yamna themselves were admixed earlier with a group of Ice Age Siberian hunter-gatherers, known to population geneticists as the ANE (Ancient North Eurasian).  According to the K7 Basal-rich test, circa 14% of my ancestors at that time had belonged to the ANE.
  16. I've learned from the Global 10 test, that around 55% of my ancestors during the Middle Neolithic, were European Neolithic Farmers, who had descended partly from hunter-gatherer groups from different parts of Eurasia, and also from a "ghost population most likely that lived during the last Ice Age somewhere in the Middle East.  It has been called "Basal Eurasian", and the K7 Basal-rich test suggests that circa 29% of my ancestors of that time, belonged to that group.
  17. I've learned that there was a population of hunter-gatherers across the Near East and Europe, that we call the Villabruna Cluster Type.  They arrived in Europe during the later part of the Ice Age circa 15,000 years ago.  They had a lower Neanderthal percentage, and closer relationship to Near East groups than the earlier hunter-gatherers of Ice Age Europe.  The K7 Basal-rich test suggests that I could have inherited up to 57% of my DNA from that group at that time (through a variety of later admixed populations).
  18. I've explored DNA tests that suggest that I have some Southern European ancestry.  I've discovered that this is common for the English, and probably reflects very old admixture events.  The English often have a small Southern European signal, and they have slightly lower levels of ANE, and slightly higher levels of European Neolithic Farmer, than do their Irish, Scottish, or Scandinavian neighbours.  In other words, a more Southern pull.  POBI noted a pull to France, and dates it to a number of previously unknown migration events from the South during late prehistory.  Others have suggested Medieval Norman and French admixture.  Both could be correct.
  19. With the help of online genealogy, I've now greatly expanded my Family Tree.  My gedcom file presently includes records of 1665 individuals, including for 252 direct ancestors of myself!

That pretty much sums up my 2016 in genetic genealogy.

The rest of my Life saw dramatic changes in 2016.  I ended a six year old relationship.  Moved to a new home.  After eighteen years working for one renewable energy plant group, I changed to a new company, and a new renewable energy plant.  I started a new relationship.  I received my mandolin, hand made for myself.  I've lost my mojo for photography.  I travelled to Orkney, cycled over it's islands.  I travelled to Sofia, Bulgaria, partied at a Bulgarian reggae event.  Some mega changes for me in 2016.  Genetics are an interest, they are far from being my Life.

mt DNA Haplogroup H6a1 Resource Page

Above image by Marta D. Costa, Joana B. Pereira, Maria Pala, Verónica Fernandes, Anna Olivieri, Alessandro Achilli, Ugo A. Perego, Sergei Rychkov, Oksana Naumova, Jiři Hatina, Scott R. Woodward, Ken Khong Eng, Vincent Macaulay, Martin Carr, Pedro Soares, Luísa Pereira & Martin B. Richards [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I'm gathering here, data on H6a1a, in preparation for my expected FT-DNA mtFull Sequence test results later this month.  23andMe has previously tested me to H6a1.  The James Lick and Wegene analysis services both predict me to be H6a1a8. What will FT-DNA say?

A collection of ancient references for mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H6 so far (2017-01-02) harvested from Ancestral Journeys

Palaeolithic Western Eurasian aDNA

No mtDNA H6 so far found.  Mainly U

Mesolithic Western Eurasian aDNA

No mtDNA H6 so far found.  Mainly U.  Other H found in Russia, Georgia, and Sweden.

Near Eastern Neolithic aDNA

No mtDNA H6 so far found.  Some H.

European Neolithic aDNA

No mtDNA H6 so far found.  Many other H.

Copper and Bronze Age aDNA

  • H6.  Israel Wadi el Makkukh. 4240-4065 BC
  • H6a1b.  Yamnaya.  Russia Kutuluk River, Samara. 3300-2700 BC
  • H6a2.  Potavka.  Russia Kutuluk River, Samara.2867-2484 BC
  • H6a1a.  Corded Ware.  Germany.  Esperstedt.  2465-2395 BC
  • H6a1b.  Okunevo.  Russia.  Verkhni Askiz.  2201-2036 BC
  • H6a1b3.  Unetice.  Germany.  Leau.  2200-1550 BC
  • H6a1a.  Srubnaya.  Russia.  Spiridonovka, Samara River.  1913-1629 BC

Iron Age aDNA

No mtDNA H6 yet found.  Many other H.

Ancient Roman aDNA

  • H6a1a.  Romano-British.  England.  York.  100-400 AD
  • H6a1b2. Romano-British.  England.  York. 100-400 AD.

Medieval and later European and Western Asian aDNA

  • H6a1b1.  Lombard.  Italy.  600-800 AD
  • H6.  Viking.  Oppland, Norway.
  • H6a1a.  Magyar.  Karos-Eperjesszög, Hungary. 800-850 AD
  • H6a1b. Magyar.  Karos-Eperjesszög, Hungary. 900-950 AD
  • H6a1a.  Medieval English.  East Smithfield, London, England.  1347–1351 AD.

Discussion

Above image by User:Dbachmann [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Although this is based on limited samples (albeit rapidly growing samples over the past year), there is of mt haplogroup H spread across Western Eurasia, certainly by the Mesolithic period.  Today, it is the most common haplogroup in Europe, found in 41% of Europeans.

H6 however, is less certain.  It has been suggested that it is more frequent in Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus.  The above ancient DNA references, collected so far, might suggest that H6a1 arrived into Europe with the Yamnaya expansion off of the Eurasian Steppes, carried by Steppe pastoralists migrating westwards, during the Copper Age / Early Bronze Age.  H6a1a itself, first appears in the Corded Ware Culture, which has recently been recognised as a fusion culture, that developed in Eastern / Central Europe, as a result of the arrival of the Steppe pastoralists.

The samples above suggest that H6a1a was present in Britain previous to the Anglo-Saxon period, and was also present in Medieval London.

H6a1a Today

Harvested from the FT-DNA MT-DNA H6 Haplogroup Project (2017-01-02).  These samples are most likely affected by a bias in sampling, to people of European heritage.

H6a1a - T11253C.  Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Central Europe, Italy, Iberia, Balkans.  A cluster in SW Britain probably caused by sampling bias.

  • H6a1a* - G16526A.  Czech Rep.  Poland.
  • H6a1a* - T3548C.  Sweden, and Sicily.
  • H6a1a2a - C41T, G16482A.  Lithuania
  • H6a1a2a* - A297G, A14970G.  England
  • H6a1a3 - T5785C.  England (Norfolk), Germany, Poland, and Ukraine.
  • H6a1a3* - T7094C.  Finland.
  • H6a1a3a - A827G.  Scotland
  • H6a1a4 - T10237C.  Norway, Poland, England, and Ukraine.
  • H6a1a5 - C10936T.  Very Eastern Europe - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldovia, and Romania.
  • H6a1a5* - T5302C.  Russia.
  • H6a1a6 - A288G.  Poland.
  • H6a1a8a - T6185C, G16145A.  Wales.

Haplogroup.org.

The Haplogroup.org website proposes the following dates:

H6a1

Age: 8,669.7 ± 1,905.2; CI=95% (Behar et al., 2012b)

Origin: Undetermined
Mutations: A4727G

H6a1a

Age: 7,139.5 ± 1,993.2; CI=95% (Behar et al., 2012b)
Origin: Undetermined
Mutations: T11253C

H6a1a8

Age: 2,023.7 ± 1,898.9; CI=95% (Behar et al., 2012b)
Origin: Undetermined
Mutations: T16298C

Facebook Group



2017-01-04 UPDATE


I received my FT-DNA mtDNA Full Sequence test results.

Confirmed H6a1a8.


Matches mainly North America and Australasia without many Old World provenances.  However, I'm getting the distinct impression that it's been in the British Isles for some time.  I'm starting to research, but I'm seeing England, Ireland, Wales, maybe Finland.

Using the above Behar et al dating of H6a1a8, I age this haplotype to between 1970 BC and 1825 AD.  It's not old, although most likely late prehistoric.  It must have formed after Corded Ware, Unetice, etc.  Might date towards the end of the Bell Beaker Culture at a stretch, but most likely later - Iron Age perhaps?

My main interest is origins, with genealogy only as a bonus. I'm interested in knowing where H6a1a8 originates! H6a1 has been found in Yamna context. H6a1 and H6a1a have been found in Corded Ware context. No earlier H6a1 found in European atDNA. So it appears likely, that H6a1/a was an mt DNA type that followed the many Y-DNA types of the Copper Age Steppe migration across Europe - despite the usual dominance of Steppe Y haplogroups in Western Europe that indicate a male sex bias. 

Behar et al., 2012b, dates H6a1 to 8,669.7 ± 1,905.2; CI=95%, H6a1a to 7,139.5 ± 1,993.2; CI=95%, and H6a1a8 to 2,023.7 ± 1,898.9; CI=95% So I see H6a1a8 as pretty young, most likely Bronze Age or Iron Age. I'm curious as to when it distributed through Europe, and when it likely entered the British Isles. My mt-line has been in Norfolk, England for at least 290 years, when my earliest mt ancestor, Susannah Briting was born. She married my ancestor at Bunwell, Norfolk in 1747. I'd say that the probability is that it had been here in East Anglia long before that paper trail. So when did it likely move here?

23andMe had previously tested me to H6a1. Both the James Lick mthap analyser, and WeGene, looking at the 23andMe raw data, took that to H6a1a8. They were correct:

The FT-DNA mtFull Sequence confirmed my mt haplogroup to be H6a1a8.

My HRV1 mutations are: A16129G, T16187C, C16189T, T16223C, G16230A, T16278C, T16298C, C16311T, T16362C, A16482G, C16519T
My HRV2 mutations are: G73A, C146T, C152T, C195T, T239C, A247G, 522.1A, 522.2C, 309.1C, 309.2C, 315.1C
Extra mutations are: 309.1C309.2C315.1C522.1A522.2CC16519T

HRV1 matches are:

England 3
Hungary 1
Ireland 4
UK 1
USA 1

HRV1 + 2 matches are:

England 2
Hungary 1
Ireland 3

I have a "HRV1, HRV2, and Coding Region" exact match: Ireland 2

On Matches I get four GD0, but all appear USA/Aus, etc. I have emailed them. Three replied. No paper or geographical correlations. They can't follow their mt lines previous to emigration. They could come from anywhere in Europe, although English surnames keep dominating on their maternal sides.

On Matches map, a little more hope:



I've joined the H6 project, but being a development of the pretty massive mt hg H Project, it is drowned in submissions, with a long waiting queue of "ungrouped". The only other H6a1a8 on the results is USA. There is a H6a1a8a ungrouped as private located as "Finland", and another H6a1a8a located to Wales.

Other Links


H6a1a/H6a1b linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease

I am a Western Eurasian

The Caucasus.  By NASA/MODIS - Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=1939) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I grew up in the age where archaeology was the main driver behind our understanding of the distant past.  It still plays an important role in helping us to understand our human past before writing, and to sometimes correct our understanding of our past ever since the advent of writing.

During the past 24 months however, there has been a silent revolution.  It has been read by what is inside of us, the story of human DNA, and a foray into exploring and mapping ancient human DNA.  It is rewriting the prehistory of Western Eurasia.

First of all, we have to stop retaining ideas that somehow, Western Europeans are an isolate population.  We are the result of admixture after admixture, across Eurasia.  The DNA of humans from Ireland to Iran is strikingly similar.  We are a combination of different admixtures from different populations that lived 1) North of the Caucasus, 2) South of the Caucasus, and 3) Europe.  The Caucasus, as in the photo above, has been the great division between peoples, that allowed local Western Asian populations to divide, that then to admixed in both Western Asia, and in Europe.

This revelation is not yet widely known.  Even many professional archaeologists remain unaware, or skeptical about this new tool.  New migrations and admixture events are being discovered, into Europe, and across Eurasia that contradict previous consensus.

The Founder Populations

Europe

The latest evidence suggests that the earlier humans and their cultures of Ice Age Europe, did not survive all of the fluctuations in climate.  A new genome arrived and established 14,000 to 7,000 years ago, as represented by the Villabruna Cluster of human remains.  These last hunter-gatherers appear to have less Neanderthal DNA, and a closer relationship to Near East populations than did earlier Europeans.  They may have migrated into Europe when much of the Aegean Sea dried towards the end of the Ice Age.  These late hunter-gatherers may have contributed DNA to modern Western Eurasians both inside Europe, and in West Asia. When Early Neolithic Farmers arrived in NW Europe, it was probably the descendants of the Villabruna Type that they encountered.  They may have admixed with them.  A genetic legacy from these populations appears to be blue eyes.

South of the Caucasus

The Fertile Crescent spawned the Neolithic Revolution of Agriculture.  A distinctive genetic "ghost" population that has been named the Basal Eurasians significantly contributed to their DNA, along with other hunter-gatherer populations within the area.  Their descendants, the Early Neolithic Farmers, took agriculture, wheat, barley, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs - along with pottery production, and polished flint axe heads across the Levant, to North Africa, Anatolia, and then on to Europe.  Along the way, they may have admixed with the hunter-gatherer populations that they displaced.  Today, their surviving DNA signal in Europe, is strongest in Sardinia, followed by the remainder of Southern Europe.

North of the Caucasus

Arable agriculture made only a temporary appearance on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, but was soon replaced by pastoralism and a very different way of life.  The horse was well adapted to life on the Steppes, and humans there domesticated it.  Mounted on horses, they could control larger flocks and herds of livestock.  They also introduced wheeled carts, enabling them to easily mobilise to the best pastures depending on season and climate change.  They also encountered and mastered the new copper then bronze working technologies.  Steppe pastoralists could range long distances across the Steppe Corridor across Eurasia. They were also adapting by natural selection to a dairy based diet, with a rising percentage of lactose tolerance into adulthood.  A significant contribution to their DNA came from a group of Siberian hunter-gatherers known to population geneticists as the Ancient North Eurasian.  The copper age archaeological culture associated with this genetic group is the Yamna or Yamnaya.

Yamna Culture Tomb.  By XVodolazx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What happened in Europe?

Villabruna types entered Europe around 15,000 years ago, perhaps from the Near East.  They may have replaced earlier groups of European hunter-gatherers.

Early Neolithic Farmers from south of the Caucasus, then spread into Europe around 7,000 years ago, both across the Balkans into Central Europe, and also along the Mediterranean coast, bringing agriculture and pottery.  They may have at times admixed with hunter-gatherers within Europe.  However, their much better abilities at food production created a wave of displacement that must have been hard to resist.  They could rear so many more children.  By 5,000 years ago, their descendants dominated Europe.

Eurasian Steppe Pastoralists from north of the Caucasus, then spread into Eastern Europe around 4,100 years ago.  Why wasn't there a resistance from the Early Neolithic Farmers living there?  Latest research suggests that the Steppe Pastoralists had contracted a plague strain known as Yersinia pestis from Central Asia.  The current favoured hypothesis is that they may have accidentally spread this disease to less resistant Neolithic Farmer populations in Europe.  Some plots in Neolithic activity do indeed suggest a crisis at this time.  Therefore, the Steppe Warriors could easily dominate the depleted and weakened social structures of the Neolithic Europeans.  They brought with them, an Indo-European language, that appears to be the ancestor of most present day European languages.

In Europe, the fusion had a clear sex bias, with many Neolithic mitochondrial DNA haplogroups surviving, while Steppe Y haplogroups such as R1A still dominate today.  The fusion also seemed to give rise to a new archaeological culture known as the Corded Ware.

We know that the Yamnaya expansion didn't stop at all in Eastern Europe, it continued into Western Europe.  A fusion culture may be the Bell Beaker of the Early Bronze Age.  Again, a sex bias, with some mtDNA haplogroups surviving, but a strong dominance of Steppe Y haplogroups including the many clades of R1b.  Indeed, some of this domination is strongest on the Western edge of Eurasia, in places such as Iberia, Ireland, and Scotland, where later admixture events failed to reach - but the Steppe Pastoralists had dominated, particularly in male haplogroups.

How does this relate to this East Anglian?

According to the latest K7 Basal-rich test by David Wesolowski of the Eurogenes Blog, my ancestral breakdown of my autosomal DNA, around 14,000 years ago would be:

  • 57% Villabruna-type (Europe and the Near East)
  • 29% Basal-rich (Middle East)
  • 14% Ancient North Eurasian (Siberia)

My Y haplogroup (L-SK1414) ancestor would have most likely been an ibex hunter in the area of present-day Iran and Iraq, possibly in the valleys of Mesopotamia, and or the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

My mtDNA ancestor would have been Eurasian - by 4,400 years ago, a woman of the Yamnaya, on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, in a pastoralist tribe.

So, you get where this is taking me.  Step back into prehistory, and what DNA is revealing to me is that my ancestors were NOT all in Britain, or even all in Europe.  They were scattered across Siberia, the Steppes, the Caucasus, the Zagros, the Middle East, the Levant, and go further back, to Africa.

Alternatively, the equally recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)
  • 38% Yamna_Samara (Eurasian Steppe Pastoralist)
  • 7% Loschbour:Loschbour (Late Eurasian hunter-gatherer)

These two tests may not actually conflict, as they are essentially tests referring to the Eurasian populations of two different time periods, with different admixtures.  The K7 Basal-rich test refers to my proposed ancestral populations towards the end of the last Ice Age.  The Global 10 test refers to more recent admixture leading up to the Bronze Age. 

I am a Western Eurasian.

Was our Y ancestor a Druze?

From an image published by Ashley Van Haeften and copied here under Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Within hours of publishing my most recent hypothesis: Was our ancestor a Baloch Lascar, I receive news of an incredible rare event.  Someone else on the FTDNA Big Y tested to Y Haplogroup L L-SK1414 (L1b2c).  The sample belonged to a Druze genetics project, and was taken from a man from the Druze town of Zaroun (Matn District) in Lebanon.  The project administrator told me "his ancestors -at least for the past 1000 years- should have been either residents in Mount Lebanon or migrated as many other Druze families from the Idlib region in NW Syria (Jabal el Summaq Mountain)".

The Druze

The Druze are a Levant community, dispersed primarily through Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.  They consider themselves an Arabic culture, but they follow their own faith system, which according to Wikipedia: "The Druze faith is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn-'Ali, al-Hakim, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Akhenaten.".


What makes the Druze particularly interesting to population geneticists, is that they stopped accepting converts one thousand years ago.  They marry within their community only.  Therefore they potentially represent a snapshot of the medieval Levant population, without more recent admixture.  A recent genetic study of the Druze confirms this history:

"The researchers also found that there is no evidence of new genes entering the Druze gene pool over the last 1,000 years. In other words, no additional groups from the outside joined this community. In addition, the researchers found evidence of genetic differences between Druze populations from different regions: Lebanon, the Golan Hights, the Upper Galilee and the Carmel Mountain. This strengthens the evidence that marriages take place only within each clan.

When they went further back in time, the researchers discovered another interesting finding. It came to light that, 500 years prior to the beginning of the Druze religion, around the 6th century AD and at the time of the birth of Islam, a genetic group began to take shape that formed the basis of the Druze community’s ancestors.

According to this study, the Druze genome is largely similar to the genome of other Arab populations in the Middle East. They also found a few genetic elements in the Druze genome that originated from Europe, Central and South Asia (the Iran region) and Africa.".

Source.

Studies have found that although a variety of both Y and mt haplogroups can be found in the Druze community, they appear to have been isolated for that time period.  So a haplotype found within the Druze, would have been in the region of North-West Syria and Lebanon, during the 11th Century AD.

Druze Clerics During the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate era (late 19th Century AD). See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

How does this change my perspective on my Y origins into Europe?

L-SK1414 now looks more dispersed across Western Asia, from the Levant, to Pakistan.  That might mean that my medieval Y migrant from Asia to England didn't take a Lascar route from the Persian Gulf / Arabian Sea after all.  It could be that they traveled from the Levant along the Mediterranean, or even across Europe?  They may not have a Balochi connection - they could have been of many Asian ethnicities.  It's a good example of how easy it is to develop a hypothesis based on too little evidence.

As for the origins of L-SK1414, I'm now looking a little more south, and a little more central.  Favourite suggestion now is Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, and the Zagros Mountains, in Iraq and Iran.  L-SK1414 could have dispersed westwards to the Levant, and eastwards to Makran, SW Pakistan.

Here is the distribution of recorded Y haplotype L-SK1414 so far in Western Asia:

Note the centralised nature of the Iran / Iraq "Cradle of Civilisation" to L-SK1414.  Could our Y ancestors have passed through Ancient Mesopotamia?  Now there's an interesting thought!