Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from? And who they met along the way?
The DNA origins test will determine your “Bio-geographical” ancestry. This test will analyse a very specific set of DNA markers to look for patterns that are consistent with populations from different geographical areas.
If you’re Irish, you might expect to be 100% European? Well the data gathered so far suggests that only about 4% of the Irish population have “pure” 100% European DNA. Could this part of the Irish population be remnants of our Celtic forefathers?
This European population is also represented by populations in the Middle East and South Asia.
DNA Origins Test
The DNA Origins test looks at the four founding populations. That is:
- European including Middle Easterner and South Asians
- Sub-Saharan African
- East Asian including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Pacific Islanders
- Indigenous American including North, South and Central Native Americans
When we see results that show different ethnic influences, we can investigate a little to see how those influences came about!
How did the Sub-Saharan African markers arrive in our population? Now I hear lots of you saying “Africa was the Cradle of Humanity” and “Sure we all have a bit of African DNA” but that’s not true…exactly. In context of this test, these Ancestry Information Markers or AIMs were defined by testing modern populations, populations that have undergone tens or even hundreds of thousands of years of migration and mixing.
So whilst I agree that it all started in Africa, when we see Sub-Saharan African DNA in an Irish person, we must wonder how it might have arrived, and these answers can often be found by looking back at our history.
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Genetic Diversity in Ireland
Compared to the rest of Europe, Ireland is genetically less diverse, because we are an island nation. This means that, in some cases, there is a greater prevalence of some genetic diseases in Ireland, compared to our European counterparts.
But this also means that “new” genetic influences could be attributed to major historical events.
The largest migrations of people within Europe only really started about 500 years ago. Is that when the new influences arrived in our population?
Looking back at the history of Europe, when the first settlers arrived and ice ages came and went, we see the emergence of tribes, one of which was a tribe of Celts, who would eventually cross the then-existing land bridge from Scotland to colonise the Island of Ireland approximately 2500 years ago.
People didn’t move around as much in those days and tribal people liked to keep to themselves and their own culture. We might assume that this Celtic gene pool remained static for a long period of time, and this gene pool may have consisted of those DNA markers we associate with being 100% European.
Over time, there was some movement of people from Scotland, England and Wales, and in turn from Continental Europe, but mixing with these populations would still render us essentially European.
So we could assume that our gene pool remained essentially European for about 2000 years.
So what about the Vikings? Well the Vikings also had tribal origins and were descended from those ancient Celtic tribes (albeit a different tribe to that which populated Ireland) so any mixing with Viking populations would not leave a lasting genetic imprint.
One theory, which is newly emerging, is that Vikings settled in parts of Greenland, Iceland, Canada and North America, which had their own populations of (Indigenous American) native tribes, like the Inuit and the Paleo-Eskimos. Could the Vikings have brought this DNA back with them when they eventually returned to Europe? Could that account for some of the Indigenous American markers that we find in our DNA?
East Asian (EA)
Let’s look at the East Asian influence. How did East Asian (EA) markers arrive in Europe? This seems to be easier to explain!
In the 13th century, there was a huge influx of East Asian DNA into Europe in the form of the Mongol Army. They occupied parts of Russia, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria for hundreds of years. In fact, Genghis Khan is considered to be one of the most prolific men in human history, with over 16 million men able to claim a genetic link to his line.
It is entirely possible that these East Asian markers trickled throughout Europe and can be seen today in some of the Irish population.
Sub-Saharan African (SSA)
So when or how would Sub-Saharan African (SSA) genes have arrived on our island? What other historical events may have contributed?
Well we all know about the reputation that the people of the west of Ireland have for being darker skinned, the so-called “Black Irish”. This may be due to the influence of the Spanish (people from the south of Spain have a higher percentage of SSA markers) who were active traders along the coasts of Ireland. Some five thousand Spanish soldiers made up the Spanish Armada which was wrecked across the Irish Western Seaboard in 1588.
Although the British reported that the majority of these soldiers were rounded up and executed, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that more of these soldiers survived that was originally thought and these soldiers could have contributed to the introduction of SSA markers into the Irish population.
Irish people who hail from the west of Ireland generally have some percentage of SSA markers in their profile.
Your DNA Origins report will unlock this fascinating information allowing you to enhance your family tree and give you a greater insight on your place in human history.