Was our Y ancestor a Baloch Lascar?

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  "A Portrait of an Indian Gentleman," by A. Smith, 1841.  No.  This portrait was not one of my ancestors.  It is believed to have been painted in England.  However, my Asian Y ancestor must have been here previous to 1700.  This relates to my Y line, inherited down my father's, father's father line and so on.  Descendants for example of Reginald J Brooker, should share this heritage.  My Y-DNA research indicates that I had an Asian ancestor, that most likely moved to Southern England sometime between 1,800 and 500 years ago.  I did find this portrait however, on Wikimedia Commons, whilst searching the subject of who my Y ancestors in Asia were, and why one may have travelled to England.

Let's start a little further back.  My Y-DNA is West Asian in origin.  I share my current terminal Y-DNA SNP (L-SK1414) with a guy that is a Balochi speaker from Makran in SW Pakistan, close to the border with Iran.  I also match fairly well (on STR tests) with a guy who's paternal line hailed from the town of Birjand, South Khorasan, Iran.

Now, although my Australian Y cousin with ancestry in South Khorasan didn't know of any family Balochi link - it's possible.  Balochi, have lived in that region of Eastern Iran.  It may, just may, be a link.  Who are and were the Baloch?

Origins of the Baloch People

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Iranian Baloch khans in Qajar era, c. 1902.  The Baloch people today are spread across Western and Central Asia, mainly found in SW Pakistan, SE Iran, and Afghanistan.  

The pink areas display the main Balochi areas today.  The red outline suggesting likely homelands for my Y-DNA.  Also marked by red spots, are the homes of the two recorded L-SK1414 in that area.  It is estimated that there are 15 million Baloch people across the World today.  The Balochi language is Iranic.  It has been ascribed by linguists as belonging to the North-West Iranic family, close to Kurdish.  Yet the Balochi today, are in the South-East of the Region.  The traditional origin story told by the Baloch people, is that they were Arabic, and originated in Syria.

However, linguists and historians today usually suggest that they were in fact, refugees from Arabic expansion, that migrated mainly east and south east, over several centuries (starting circa 7th Century AD) from an area close to the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran.  This puts Birjand incidentally, on the route of that migration.  It also leads from what I consider to be the homelands of the mother clade - Y hg L1b (L-M317), between the Caspian and Black seas.  Today, the majority of the Baloch are Sunni Muslim (some are Shia).  However, many early migrants from the North West may have ascribed to other religions including Zoroastrianism.  An attack on Persia by the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia during the 11th Century AD, may have accelerated Baloch migration to present day Balochistan. Today, the Baloch of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are divided into an estimated 130 tribes.

As for Balochistan itself, when Alexander of Macedonia, passed through it, during the 4th Century BC, it was known as the Kingdom of Gedrosia.  Balochistan has long been sandwiched and pulled between the great empires of Persia, and India.  Even today, it is divided between these two political boundaries.  A large region with a sparse population, but a firmly stamped ethnic identity.

According to Akhilesh Pillalamarri "In the 1500s, Balochistan like Afghanistan to its north, became divided into zones of control between the Safavid Persian Empire to its west and the Mughal Empire to its east. This approximately reflects the Iran-Pakistan border today."

Could this friction even have lead my Y ancestor to move?  When did European ships appear on the coastline?

That's the Baloch hypothesis.  Now for the next, the Lascar hypothesis.

The Asian Lascar

By National Maritime Museum from Greenwich, United Kingdom [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. Three lascars on the Viceroy of India.

Our Y ancestor may have moved to Southern England for all sorts of reasons:  merchant, diplomat, adventurer, slave, hostage, prisoner of war, trader, mercenary, servant, religious convert, refugee, etc.  Genetic genealogists tend all too often to cling to known historical events such as battles.  I'd be very wary of that. 

With that in mind... here is one new possibility (as opposed to a probability), that I am presently considering.  

The Lascar.

Lascar derives from al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier.  When European ships first started to sail the trade routes to India and the Middle East, they often suffered losses of life on the way.  Subsequently, they would recruit new sailors at their ports of call.  Arab traders had scattered seamanship and sailing skills along the coast line around the Persian Gulf, and the practice of Lascars may have already been established before the first Portuguese ships picked them up.  The European practice of taking on Lascars is believed to have started as early as the 16th Century.  It continued through to the 20th Century.  Just about in time, to account for my Y-DNA in Southern England, that turns up during the early 18th Century in two surname families.  It's possible.

Apparently, the Lascars received even poorer food and water than even the late British sailors that they replaced.  Therefore, many jumped ship when they reached England.  Their intentions may not have been immigration, but they couldn't risk the return voyage.  This, it is said, was the very first root of the present day Asian settlement of Britain. It has been speculated that the portrait at the top of the post, may have been of a former Lascar, or ... servant!  Why not though, a traveller that has succeeded?

Why would a 16th or 17th Century European trading ship visit Balochistan?  Did it?  Our ancestor may have already moved either westwards or down to an Indian port.  He may have been a professional sailor!

It's one possibilty.

By National Maritime Museum from Greenwich, United Kingdom [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. Lascars at the Royal Albert Dock in LondonThree lascars on the Viceroy of India. 1936.

Y Haplotype L1b2c

By Hellerick (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.  Modified by Paul Brooker.

I've created this distribution map of known Y haplogroup L, L1b2c or L-SK1414. This is my Y-DNA haplotype.  Not a lot of dots there are there?  This is how rare that this clade is.  L1a and L1b most likely (in my opinion) originated during the last Ice Age circa 18,000 years ago, south of the Caucasus, and west of the Caspian Sea in Western Asia.  In other words, in the area of present day Armenia, Azerbaijan, and North-west Iran.  Again, I emphasise, that is just my opinion, looking at present-time evidence.

Y haplogroup L itself may have diverged between L1 and L2, not so much earlier, or so far away from this region.  Again, just my present opinion.

My sub clade of L1b, is so rare, that it is impossible to say.  As can be seen from the map.  However, this is my blog, so I'm going to push out on this one.  My very best guess would be further to the East than it's parent.  I suspect South East of the Caspian Sea, in what is now Eastern Iran.  I could well be wrong.  We have so few tests from nearby Afghanistan for example.  So far, the SNP SK1414 has only been reported twice.  1) in Makran, SW Pakistan, in a Balochi speaking man.  Balochi is an Iranian language, closely related to North-West Iranian languages.  Researchers suggest that the Balochi people of Makran, largely migrated from south west of the Caspian.

The only other guy in the world so far confirmed is little old me, an Englishman.  I trace my surname (direct paternal) line back to the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire / Berkshire 270 years ago.  If my biological line follows that.  A number of STR testers of English descent appear connected to me by STR analysis.  They all descend from Thomas Chandler, who lived around the same time as my earliest recorded ancestor - only 32 miles away at Basingstoke.

From all of the evidence, I conclude that my Y ancestral line moved, probably in one generation, from Western Asia, perhaps from he edge of Persia, to Southern England conservatively between 2,000 and 400 years ago.  Although I would speculate between 1,600 and 600 years ago - during the Medieval or close by.

Y Haplogroup L Resource page

Distribution Haplogroup L Y-DNA

By Crates (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.  Unmodified.

Introduction - Y-DNA, Haplogroups, SNPs, Haplotypes

The Y chromosome, and it's Y-DNA, are copied from father to son, down a strictly paternal lineage.  If I were to trace my entire direct ancestry back, I have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great great grandparents.  Yet out of those sixteen great great grandparents (generation 5), who were born only circa 160 years ago, only one carried the Y-DNA that was passed down to me.  My eight great great grandmothers did not not inherit a Y chromosome from their fathers.  Most likely, my other seven great great grandfathers, carried distinctive differently marked Y-DNA.  Yet all sixteen biological great great grandparents have contributed to my overall atDNA (autosomal DNA).  Only one gave me my Y-DNA.  So you can see that Y-DNA represents only one narrow lineage.

Y-DNA, may on the face of it, appear to offer a limited understanding of total biological ancestry.  All sixteen of my great great grandparents were direct ancestors, not just the Y great great grandfather.  However, this lineage offers us evidence that can be genetically tracked, then mapped into relationship.  It could be done to ascertain parental, or non parental events.  It can be used to check the biological validity of relationship to cousins.  As more people investigate and record their haplogroups, haplotypes, STR markers, and SNPs, so we can for example, start to use them to map biological relationship further back.  Y-DNA is particularly useful, not only because of it's markers, but also because it can be plotted to surname studies.  In Western societies, the surname often follows the Y lineage for several generations.

However, Y-DNA (nor the maternal mtDNA) evidence doesn't just stop there.  As more people investigate, submit, and record their data from around the World - and as anthropologists and archaeologists add ancient DNA data from ancient and provenanced human remains to that record, so we can build and plot a world map of the human family, how it relates, how it was distributed globally throughout prehistory.

Both Y and mt DNA carries mutation markers, that define a HaplogroupA haplogroup is a family of shared descent.  These haplogroups are ancient.  The paternal Y-DNA haplogroup that this resource page is dedicated to has been designated as L.

However, mutations do not stop with the formation of a new haplogroup.  They continue through the generations.  As lineages divide between different sons, across many generations, so these mutations in the Y-DNA for example, continue to accumulate down the diverging lineages that once shared common descent.  We are all unique.  The sub clade of L that this page focuses on is L1b.  All male carriers of L1b will carry a SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) on their Y-DNA that has been designated as M317. This SNP will be downstream of another SNP that has been designated as M22.  Finally, a Y-DNA can be said to have a terminal SNP.  A terminal, refers not to the Haplogroup (in this case L), but can be used to define right down to the last SNP on the Y-DNA, that is shared with others on a record.  If someone for example, carries Y-DNA that is proven (or predicted by comparison) to be Y Haplogroup L, and to carry M317, then their Y terminal could be designated as L-M317, or alternatively, as L1b.  This is also sometimes referred to as a haplotype.  However, a haplotype can also refer to a particular STR.

Y Haplogroup L M20

The above image illustrates a modern day distribution of Y Haplogroup L (M20) as proposed and created by Anthropogenica user Passa.

Y Haplogroup K formed from Y Haplogroup IJK in the Y-DNA of hunter-gatherer fathers and sons, that share a MRCA (most recent common ancestor) during the Upper Palaeolithic, circa 45,400 years ago.  Where did these Y ancestors live at that time?  We think that they lived in Western or Southern Asia.  Iran is a favourite proposal. Earlier Y ancestors had most likely exited Africa 20,000 years earlier, and were well established in Asia.  They had most likely met and confronted another archaic human species, The Neanderthal. This was however, a time of great expansion by humans.  The first anatomically modern humans had recently entered Europe, while other modern humans were arriving in Australia.  The Ice Age was in a flux, but glaciation was advancing.

The most recent common Y ancestor to carry Y Haplogroup LT lived circa 42,600 years ago.  Then a mutation in the Y-DNA lead to the formation of Y Haplogroup L, with a most recent common ancestor 23,200 years ago, close to the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets were reaching their maximum positions.  K, LT, and early L, most likely all originated in Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer populations living during the last Ice Age, in the area of modern day Syria, Iraq, Iran or Pakistan.  It was a time of increased stress on human populations, that were having to adapt to some severe environmental challenges, and may have at times faced isolation into a number of Ice Age Refuges.  Some of these Upper Palaeolithic, Ice Age hunter-gatherer refuges may have been close to the Black Sea, others close to the Caspian Sea, but they were most likely located somewhere between Eastern Anatolia, and Eastern Iran, south of the Caucasus.

L1 / L2 Divergence - the Odd L2's

The oldest divergence within Y Haplogroup L.  L1, as characterised by the SNP M22, diverged from L2, as characterised by the SNP L595.  L2 was only recently discovered, and forced an ISOGG revision of Y Haplogroup L and it's nomenclature that is still causing problems.  In this article, unless stated otherwise, I am using 2017 Nomenclature.  L2 or L-L595 is very rare, but has so far cropped up sporadically across Europe, including in Sardinia, England, and the Baltic area.

That is L2 dealt with.  However, most Y Haplogroup L falls into L1. Let us start to look at the main branches of L1.  Remember, L1 is defined by the SNP M22:

Unofficial proposed tree for L1 (L-M22) 2016.  By Gökhan Zuzigo, modified by Paul Brooker.

The Big L1 Split - L1a and L1b

As can be seen above, this split occurred around 18,400 years ago, possibly somewhere between what is now Iran and Pakistan.  The L1a branches inherit the SNP M2481, and the L1b branches inherited M317.

First of all, let's look at L1a, because although it is not my sub clade, in terms of modern day population size, it appears to greatly outnumber any other L sub clade.

Pakistan and India - Present Day Home of L1a1 and L1a2

L1a splits again into two sub clades.  The split occurred around 17,400 years ago.  L1a1 (L-M27) and L1a2 (L-M357)

L1a1 (L-M27)

Defined by SNP M27 (on older nomenclature as still used by 23andMe, this was formerly L1*) is mainly found in India, particularly South West India, and in Sri Lanka. This is perhaps the most populous modern day L sub clade, found in 15% of Indian males.  However, it is not restricted to India, and has also been found in 20% of Balochi in Pakistan, and has also been reported in Kirghiz, Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmen males across Central Asia.

L1a and L1a1 (L-M27) at Birds Eye Cave, Armenia 6161 years before present.

Ancient Y DNA from the Copper Age has emerged from this location in Armenia, and included L1a, and L1a1.  This might suggest, that although very successful today in India and Pakistan, that it has a Western Asian origin.

L1a2 (L-M357)

Has defined by SNP M357 (on older nomenclature as still used by 23andMe, this was formerly L3*).  This sub clade is mainly found in Pakistan, but also Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, The Chechen Republic, Tajikistan, India, and Afghanistan.  It has been found at 15% in Burusho populations, and at 25% in Kalash populations.  It is much more common in Pakistan than in India.

So, the L1a sub clades - spreading down into Southern Asia, and accounting for potentially millions of Y Men there.  Far more than any other branches of Y Haplogroup L.  However, Southern Asia is unlikely to be the origin of L.  That origin is more likely, as stated earlier, to be the place with the most diversity in branches.  That points more towards again towards Western Asia.  It's just that ancient carriers of L, appear to have been particularly successful in Southern Asia, and to have fathered more sons there.

L-M317 or L1b of Western Asia

We now move onto the branches of particular interest to myself, because I carry a Y Haplotype that belongs here.  L1b is defined by the SNP M317, that formed circa 18,400 years ago, most likely in the area of modern day Iran, or elsewhere in Western Asia.

Phylogenetic tree of L1b by Anthrogenica user Caspian (with permission):

Click on above hyperlink for full sized image

L1b is mainly distributed across Western Asia, from modern day Turkey, across to Pakistan.  However, as we will see, it also spreads in low densities across parts of Europe.  it is very much, the "Western L".

The Next split - L1b1 or L-M349.  The Levant, and Europe!

Around 14,000 years ago, another split occurred in the L1b (M317) branch. A new SNP, M349, defined L1b1.  Today, L1b1, or L-M349, is found in Western Asia, in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, etc.  However, it is also found scattered in low densities through parts of Europe.  It crops up in South Europe, often close the the Mediterranean Sea, including particularly in parts of Italy.  It also forms a light cluster in Central Europe.

A working map of Y haplogroup L sub clades by Edward Chernoff.  This map is incomplete, but is published here with permission of Edward Chernoff.  Copyrights applied.

Branching away from a common Y ancestor with L1b1 (M349), is another 14,000 year old line defined by SNP SK1412, L1b2.

L1b2 (L-SK1412) splits - Pontic Greeks, and the others...

13,000 years ago,, during a cold stage towards the end of the last Ice Age, the L1b2 (SK1412) Y branch divides again.  Very recent research suggests that it split into three lines: L-SK1415 (L1b2a), L-PH8 (L1b2b), and L-SK1414 (L1b2c).

L1b2a (L-SK1415), has as far as I know, only been detected in a Makrani Balochi survey in SW Pakistan.

L1b2b (PH8), is found in Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Chechen Republic, Iraq, etc.  It is associated particularly with the Pontic Greek ethnicity from Eastern Anatolia, and around the Black Sea.  A further division within PH8 has been detected at around 3,000 years ago.

Finally ... mine:

L1b2c (L-SK1414, FGC51074), has so far been SNP detected only in Makrani Balochi, in SW Pakistan, Lebanon (Druze), and in England. STR predictions for L-SK1414 have also been found in France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Portugal.  In addition to SK1414, I have with the assistance of Gareth Henson, a FT-DNA Big Y test, accompanied by further analysis of their raw data, by Yfull, and FullGenomes, ascertained 117 novel SNPs looking for first time matches.  As can be imagined, I'm very keen that further L Y-Men should test.

Those tentative European Y haplogroup L links

We have seen above, that again, and again, Y haplogroup L (M20), and several of it's sub clades appear to have Western Asian origins, despite success of some of those sub clades today in India and Pakistan.  Y haplogroup L has not been linked to the Yamna hypothesis, that has taken credit for the origin of many haplogroups that are successful today in Europe.  Y-DNA L was located to the southern side of the Caucasus, between present day Turkey and Pakistan.  However, two particular Y-DNA L sub clades do make mysterious appearances across Europe.

1) L-L595 (L2) has only recently been discovered, so far, exclusively across Europe, in very low numbers.

2) L-M349 (L1b1), downstream of M317, also spreads across South Europe, and clusters at the Rhine-Danube.  I have on 23andMe forums, seen a number of testers that unfortunately have not tested their Y elsewhere, claim Ashkenazi paternal ancestry, but this is far from common to all European L-M349 samples. Although rarely forming much more than 1% of all Y along the Mediterranean coast of Southern Europe, this percentage does occasionally rise higher, for example, in parts of Italy.

When did L2 or even L1b1 enter Europe?  L2 has only so far been found in Europe.  There are some suggestions that some European L could be survivors from the Eurasian Neolithic.  However, ancient DNA has not yet been found to support this hypothesis. 

Prime resources

L Yfull Tree

https://www.yfull.com/tree/L/

Wikimedia entry for Y Haplogroup L-M20

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_L-M20

FTDNA L The Y Haplogroup L Project

https://www.familytreedna.com/public/Y-Haplogroup-L/

Marco Cagetti's Y Haplogroup L

http://www.cagetti.com/Genetics/L-haplogroup.html

Anthropogenica Y Haplogroup L Forum Board

http://www.anthrogenica.com/forumdisplay.php?37-L

ISOGG 2009 Y Haplogroup L (Useful for understanding 23andMe Y haplogroup result of L2*)

http://isogg.org/tree/2009/ISOGG_HapgrpL09.html

ISOGG 2017 Y Haplogroup L

http://isogg.org/tree/ISOGG_HapgrpL.html

Other resources

Europedia Y-DNA Haplogroup L

http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml#L

23andMe users should note that the company in 2016, still used a very outdated ISOGG nomenclature system.  My 23andMe reported haplotype was L2*.  However, using ISOGG 2016, this is now L1b (L-M317).  NOT to be confused with modern day L2 (L-L595).

Facebook Y Haplogroup L Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/773887796013634/

L-M317 STR Alpine cluster article

https://figshare.com/articles/L_M317_STR_marker_likelihood_tree_focuing_Alpine_cluster/105684

Familypedia Wiki for Haplogroup L

http://familypedia.wikia.com/wiki/Haplogroup_L_(Y-DNA)


Building bridges and walls through ancestry

Copied from openstreetmap.org and modified under the Open Data Commons Open Database License.  

Bridges and Walls, Snakes and Ladders

I've noticed two perspectives within the broad scope of genealogy where it ties to population genetics.

  • Some people, those with nationalistic, right wing political views, frequently look for what divides their ancestry from others.  What defines and ties them to a historical population, or even to a land.  They may well want to prove connection to a romanticised historical group within their part of the world.
  • Others - those of a more international, liberal persuasion, instead tend to look for what unites them with other peoples alive today - what connects them within the community of humanity.

I have to confess to being more of the latter.

On Paper

I started out with a pretty well researched paper genealogical record.  A family tree.  A family history.  Researched through oral history, interviews, parish records, state records, and then on to digitalised records in more recent years.  A genealogical database of 1,570 individuals for my kids, and 207 direct ancestors recorded for myself - going back to the 1680s.  My recorded ancestry was 100% English - dominated by the County of Norfolk.  The majority of present day English perhaps have some non-English ancestry, perhaps Irish or Scottish, or something a little further afield.  I didn't find any.  All English surnames, and English denominations.  Some of those surnames however, did echo rather more ancient immigration from across the North Sea.

Autosomal DNA Testing

Autosomal DNA testing for ancestry provided a bit of a surprise.  I took a 23andMe DNA test, along with my mother, who's results I phased with to provide more accuracy.  The 23andMe Ancestry Composition analysis in standard mode didn't simply see me as English, or even as British.  It did see me pretty much as 100% European.  Not a hint of Africa nor Asia within the past several hundred years.  It saw 86% of my autosomal DNA as definitively North-West European.  However, it could only see a mere 17% as distinctly belonging to British & Irish.  So, the ancestry test of my autosomal DNA certainly agreed that I was European, NW European even, but couldn't be sure on how English or even British that I was.

23andMe Ancestry Composition in the very unreliable speculative mode rated my British/Irishness at only 37%.  The highest percentage of focus - but it saw 22% of my autosomal DNA ancestry as French / German, 1% as Scandinavian, and 2% as South European.  So considering my 100% English ancestry on paper, autosomal DNA testing couldn't really be very sure about my ancestry.  Even in speculative mode, it had 34% of my DNA as "Broadly NW European", meaning that it couldn't be sure, but somewhere in that corner of that continent.

Fair enough I suppose.  I've lost a certain amount of faith in any autosome DNA tests for ancestry to be able to pinpoint the English.  You see, even ignoring recent waves of immigration of Irish, Scottish, French, Germans, West Indians, South Asians, etc, etc.  The truth is that the English were already a very admixed population even 1,500 years before present.  Already a mixture of prehistoric populations, immigrants from across the Roman Empire, then from across the North Sea, from the Low Countries, Northern Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia, etc.  23andMe claim that their product reflects your ancestry 500 years ago.  No it does not.  It uses modern reference populations.  Genes have been circulating around the World for a long time.  Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry have really improved.  They are pretty good now for recognising a Continent - sometimes even a corner of a continent, as the source of some ancestry.  But they cannot pinpoint many populations with accuracy, and they cannot pinpoint the English.

So, my paper record said English.  My 23andMe autosome DNA test said North-West European, but couldn't even pinpoint British.  It suggested admixture.  It did however - this is important - only see me as European.  Okay, in Standard Mode, it did have a tiny 0.3% that it failed to assign to Europe, nor anywhere.  It did not see Asian.

Haplogroup DNA Testing

Haplogroups follow two narrow lines of ancestry.  The Y follows the direct paternal line, the MT follows the direct maternal.  They do not represent the bulk of your ancestry.  However, they can tell a more accurate, and longer term story.  Ancestry can be lost in Autosomal DNA within a few centuries.  In addition, it gets messed up through recombination.  Not so with the two haplogroups.  So where did mine come from?

My MT-DNA

There is an awful lot that we will know in future about our haplogroups, that we don't yet know - especially in the case of mt-DNA. However, we do know that my haplogroup, H6a1, did not originate in Europe.

H is common in Europe, and it most likely originated either there, or in South West Asia, during the Upper Palaeolithic. H6 did not originate in Europe.  It may be West or Central Asian in origin.  H6a1 has not been recovered in any ancient DNA within Western Europe.  However, it has been recovered in the DNA of the Yamnaya on the Eurasian Steppes.  For this reason, it is generally thought - based on evidence so far, to have been brought into Western Europe during the Early Bronze Age, by the expansion from the Eurasian Steppes at that time.

It isn't too fanciful - based on this evidence, to imagine that my distant grandmothers belonged to tribes of Early Bronze Age pastoralists, living on the Steppes of what is now the Ukraine.

My Y-DNA

This one has been a cracker for me.  Anyone that has followed my blog, might be getting bored with this.  I've thoroughly tested my Y-DNA.  It's not an exaggeration to suggest that it is quite likely Ancient Persian.  Based on current evidence, I believe that my Y-DNA arrived into England within the last millennia - probably between 350 and 800 years ago.  I'm still working on it's most likely route here.  I do believe that it was most likely still located in the region of Iran circa 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.  My nearest 111 STR match is to a guy in Australia who's paternal line lived in Birjand, Eastern Iran.  We shared a common ancestor around 2,000 years ago.  My terminal SNP is shared on record with only one other man so far - in the world.  He was a Balochi speaker that lives in Makran, SW Pakistan - close to the border with Iran.  The Balochi are believed to have migrated from North Iran between the 5th and 14th centuries AD.

Nomad camp, at the Zagros Mountains, Iran.  By C Whitely on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

A bit more distant, I have a Y cousin in the USA that maybe I shared a common ancestor with 3,000 years ago.  He is of Azores Portuguese descent on his Y line, but he carries a distinct STR marker that has been associated with the Parsi, who migrated to India and Pakistan, but originated in Iran.

And going further back, the Y haplogroup L most likely originated within the area of Iran and Iraq, during the Ice Age.  It would have been carried by Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in that region.  13,000 years, I shared grandfathers with two Pontic Greek Y cousins, who's ancestors lived in Trazbon, Eastern Anatolia.  Maybe one Y ancestral son headed to the Black Sea, the other settled at the Caspian Sea?  The Ice Age was drawing to a close, but with a ferocity and climate instability that drove bands of people apart and into refuges at that time.

The Parsi connection keeps hinting.  They descend from Persians that worshiped the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism.  I've just seen a Y haplogroup study of men in Pakistan.  The background level of Y haplogroup L-M317 sat at 1.1%.  However, in the sample of Parsi men there - it spikes up to 13.3%.  That might not be the route however, of my Y line.  The SK1414 SNP turned up in that same study, but that was found on the Makrani Boluch man that was tested L-M317, not in the 12 Parsi men that also tested positive for L-M317.

Conclusion

I prefer bridges to walls, and that is what I got.  My paper ancestry said 100% English - much of it East Anglian.  I'm quite proud of that, but I'm equally proud of my more distant ancestors that emigrated here.  I've found North Sea admixture, from places such as the Netherlands and southern Scandinavia.  I've found a grandmother in a Bronze Age tribe of pastoralists in the Ukraine.  I've found ancient Persians, descending from hunters of Ibex in the Iran / Iraq region.  I've found distant cousins in the USA, Iran, Pakistan, Australia, and Turkey.

One species, one family.

The Other SK1414. My Cousin in Baluchistan

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence. No, this young man is not the SK1414 tester, but the mandolinist in me found this photo kind of cool.  A young man from Makran.  The other SK1414 tester was also a male Makrani Baloch.

I'm hot on the trail of my Y or paternal line, following my FTDNA Y111 STR, then Big Y tests.  These tests analysed the DNA on my Y chromosome.  It is passed down strictly from father to biological sons.  the mutations (SNP and STR) that can be identified in the Y-DNA, can be used to assess relationship, and in some cases, to date the time of most recent common ancestry.  So, with the assistance of Gareth Henson, administrator of the FT-DNA Y haplogroup L Project, and with help from my new distant cousins, what have I learned over the past few weeks?

The Smoking Gun of Y-DNA

Between 45,000 and 13,000 years ago, my paternal ancestors most likely were hunter-gatherers, that lived in the region of what is now Iran and Iraq, during the last Ice Age.  Some sharp changes in glaciation, and cold extremes towards the end of that period, may have generated a number of adaptations, and subsequently, split new sub clades of my Y haplogroup L.

13,000 years ago (based on the Big Y test), I share a common paternal great x grandfather with a number of distant cousins, that descend from Pontic Greek families from the Trabzon region in Turkey.

Between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago (based on the less accurate STR evidence at 111 marker), I share common paternal great x grandfather with another cousin, who's paternal line Habibi, can be traced back to the 1850's in the town of Birjand, Southern Khorasan, Eastern Iran, close to the modern Afghanistan border.  This closer cousin now lives in Australia.

Human male karyotpe high resolution - Y chromosome

My Big Y test produced no less than 90 previously unrecorded or known SNP (pronounced "snip") mutations.  That might be because my Y-DNA is rare, or / and, that it is mainly found in parts of the World where very few people test at this level.  The last SNP on the roll that had been seen before, has been called SK1414.  Because now two of us have tested for this SNP, it is my terminal SNP, so at the moment (although it still has to be submitted to the YFull Tree), I can declare my Y haplogroup sub clade designation to be L-SK1414.  Only one of two so far recorded in the World.

So, who is this Y cousin that shares my SK1414 mutation?

My Baluchistan Cousin

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence.  Another photo from Makran, Balochistan.

The other SK1414 turned up during an early survey, back in the early 2000s by the Human Genome Diversity Project.  It turned up in a sample of the Baluchi in Makran, South-west Pakistan.  Could this cousin be closer than the Habibi tester?  Could my Habibi cousin, from an eastern Iranian family also carry SK1414?

The Baluch, are an Iranic people, that speak Baluchi, an Iranian language that belongs, as do most European languages, to the Indo-European linguistic family.  According to the Iran Chamber Society website, they moved to Makran during the 12th Century AD.  Traditionally the Baluch claim that they originated in Syria, but a linguistic study has instead suggested that they actully originated from the south east of the Caspian region, and that they moved westwards between the 6th and 12th centuries AD in a series of waves.  No other Y sub clade L1b (L-M317) have been found in Southern Asia outside of two samples of this survey, so perhaps the tester did have ancestry from Western Asia.

Iran regions map fr

It would seem likely that I do have a number of Y cousins, most likely in the region of Eastern Iran and South-Western Pakistan.  That doesn't necessarily follow though, that our most recent common Y ancestors lived there.  As I said above, the Baluch of Makrani, Pakistan are said to have migrated from further north-west, from the Caspian Sea region.

There is a tentative suggestion of a link to the Parsi. A Portuguese STR tester with a genetic distance (based on 67 markers) of 22, has (thanks again Gareth) "a distinctive value of 10 at DYS393. In the Qamar paper this value is found in the Parsi population".  So there is just the possibility also, of the Parsi ethnicity carrying L1b from Western Asia into Southern Asia.  Perhaps this marker was picked up by a Portuguese seafarer link to Southern Asia.  It could even be the link to my English line, via the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.  A lot of speculation.  I don't think that M317 has been found yet in India.

Into England

I have found STR links with four people that carry the surname Chandler.  They live in England, Australia, and the USA.  These cousins appear to descend from a Thomas Chandler, that lived in Basingstoke during the 1740s.  That is 32 miles away from my own contemporary surname ancestor, John Brooker, who lived at the same time at the village of Long Wittenham in the Thames Valley.

Unfortunately three of the Chandlers have only 12 markers tested, and the fourth at 37 markers.  Therefore time of most recent ancestor is not accurate, but it looks as the Chandler and Brooker Y hg L testers of Southern England, most likely shared a common paternal great x grandfather sometime between 800 and 350 years ago.

That only these two lines have turned up, and that they are geographically and genetically so close, might suggest that our Y-DNA lineage arrived in Southern England around the late medieval, perhaps from between the 13th and 17th centuries AD.  It could just be through a Portuguese navigator link, or it could be through thousands of other routes.  More L-M20 testers could turn up in England in the future, that could push the arrival to an earlier date.

Today

I could have any number of cousins from south England.  The Brookers and Chandlers may well have other paternal line descendants living in the Thames Valley, Hampshire, London, or elsewhere.  I'd love to prove a Brooker from the Berkshire / Oxfordshire area, as sharing ancestry.  I believe for example, that the journalist Charlie Brooker descends from one of the Thames Valley families, although not necessarily from mine.  Do they carry the Y hg L?

My great great grandfather Henry Brooker, did not appear to have any more sons, other than my great grandfather John Henry Brooker - who in turn, only had one son, my grandfather Reginald John Brooker.

I have one Y haplogroup first cousin.  He has I believe, a son, and a grandson.