Haplogroup G

Test results so far show that the majority of Hauris and Haurys from Switzerland and southern Germany belong to Haplogroup G2a.

Haplogroup G is defined by a mutation at M201. The first man to have the M201 mutation is thought to have lived about 30 thousand years ago (~1,200 generations), probably south of the Caucasus mountains and perhaps near Lake Van, but perhaps along the eastern edge of the Middle East or as far east as the Himalayan foothills in Pakistan or India.

The founder of Haplogroup G has had relatively few descendants compared to the founders of other haplogroups.


Haplogroup G has its greatest modern concentration and diversity near the Caucasus Mountains (which it why it is thought to have originated there). Haplogroup G includes about 60 percent of Ossetians; 30 percent of Georgians, Kabardinians and Balkarians; and lesser percentages in Azerbaijan (18 percent) and Armenia (11 percent) .

Members of Haplogroup G dispersed into central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Those that went north have descendants in Russia (Adygeans), Uzbekistan (Tartars and Karakalpaks), Mongolia, and western China (Uygurs). Some went east into China, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the Polynesian Islands, but most of those moved back into the Middle East.

Haplogroup G is one of the significant indigenous populations of the ancient Middle East. G is well represented there today — Israeli Jews (9.8 percent), Turkey (9.2 percent), Egypt (9 percent), Palestine (8.9 percent), Lebanon (6 percent), Jordan (5.5 percent), Syria (4.8 percent), and Saudi Arabia (4.5 percent). It was probably one of the founding populations of the ancient Hebrews, perhaps 20 percent of the total. Today, about 10 percent of Jews, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, belong to Haplogroup G.

Those that went west and north are represented today in Europe. In Europe Haplogroup G, along with Haplogroups J and E3b, is thought to be a marker for the spread of farming from the Middle East 6 to 8 thousand years ago (~240 to ~320 generations). Farming originated in the Middle East about 10 thousand years ago (~400 generations). As populations expanded, farmers began moving out of the Middle East, through the islands and along the shores of the Mediterranean, through Turkey and into the Balkans and the Caucasus mountains. It was once thought that advancing farmers displaced or eliminated the hunter-gatherers of Europe. However the DNA studies have shown that the spread of agriculture involved the movement of some people into Europe who had not been there before.

An hypothesis that gaining popularity is that these same people might have introduced the Indo-European language into northern India, the Middle East and Europe. Indo-European is the parent language for Greek, Latin, Sanskrit and Germanic, hence of most of the other languages of the northern India, the Middle East and Europe. There have been many attempts to identify the original Indo-European homeland, but it is now thought to have been the Sredy Stog culture in what is now eastern Ukraine.

Only about 1 to 3 percent of modern Europeans are in Haplogroup G, with a gradient from southeast (most common) to northwest (least common). There are concentrations in Sardinia (14 percent), Ibiza (13 percent), Corsica (11.8 percent), Crete (10.9 percent), north central Italy (10 percent), northeastern Spain (8.3 percent), Malta (8 percent), Portugal (7.3 percent), the Austrian Tirol (7 percent), and the Czech Republic (5.1 percent). The Mediterranean concentrations might indicate settlements by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginian empire. Haplogroup G was probably spread by the Romans, both by the recruiting of soldiers and the movement of merchants. Its modern distribution in Europe appears to track closely the boundaries of the Roman empire.

One of the — probably ancient — divisions within Haplogroup G is between those who have 13 repeats at DYS388, and those who have 12 repeats. European men are more likely to have 13, while Middle Eastern men are more likely to have 12. There are exceptions, however. Some Iranian men, those just south of the Caspian Sea, are more similar to men south of the Caucasus Mountains (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) than to other Iranians. In addition, there are many indications that some Iranians have a closer relationship to Welshmen, Englishmen, Swiss and southern Germans than to Turks, Russians and Ossetians. Such results suggest ancient migration patterns.

Haplogroup G2

Haplogroup G2 is defined by a mutation at P287. It seems to have originated in Anatolia (modern Turkey), but the date is uncertain. Today, G2 is found most often in Europe and the Middle East. There is a  concentration of this haplogroup in central Italy, diffusing north into the Swiss Alps. This group is very likely descendants of the Etruscans.

G2 has three subgroups, G2a, G2b and G2c, defined by mutations at P16, M287 and M377, respectively. M287 is based on a single sample from Turkey, and no longer meets the criteria for its own haplogroup. It is expected to be eliminated. G2c is composed almost entirely of Ashkenazic Jews.

Haplogroup G2a

Haplogroup G2a is defined by a mutation at P15. It seems to have originated in the Caucasus, but the date is uncertain. G2a has a subgroup G2a1 that has additional mutations at P17 and P18.

Haplogroup G2a3

(no information available)

Haplogroup G2a3b1

Haplogroup G2a3b1 is defined by a mutation at P303. This group includes the majority of European men in Haplogroup G. The founder is thought to have lived perhaps 5 thousand years ago, probably somewhere in the Middle East, perhaps Turkey or Iran. Its major subgroups are thought to have split off perhaps 4 thousand years ago, and spread to Europe between 1,500 and 2,500 years ago.

For many years it was widely believed that this mutation was a marker for Sarmatian soldiers serving in the Roman legions near Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. When it became evident there was also a significant concentration of the same group on the continent, the mutation was attributed to the Alans, a barbarian tribe that entered Europe in the 5th century, first as Roman soldiers and later as allies of the Visigoths. However, within the past few years, testing in the Sarmatian and Alan homeland near the Caucasus Mountains has shown no close matches to European men in the same group.

It is now clear the evidence does not support an Alan or Sarmatian origin. Instead, this group might have been brought to Europe by merchants, perhaps the Jewish Radhanites. The theory is controversial. There is another subgroup of P303 that includes a large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews. This subgroup has its greatest European concentration on the island of Ibiza, which is known to have had a significant population of crypto-Jews. However, there no evidence that the group as a whole was ever anything more specific than Middle Eastern indigenes.

Haplogroup G2a3b1b1

Haplogroup G2a3b1b1 is defined by mutations at L42/S146 and L43/S147. These mutations were first discovered in a genetic sample from Justin (Howery) Swanström, tested at 23andme. Family Tree DNA subsequently developed a commercial test. About 30 percent of DYS-388=13 men who have tested for the L42 marker are positive. They have widely divergent marker values, indicating that this is a very old SNP (Banks, Y-DNA-Haplogroup-G-L, 5/27/09). It now appears that a quarter of G2 men from Switzerland are probably members of this group.

These mutations seem to be nearly as ancient as P303, perhaps 4,500 years old. However, L42 might be as recent as 2,500 years. Taken together, the two mutations are probably a marker for the ancient populations of Etruria and Rhaetia.

The Swiss Hauris belong to Haplogroup G23ab1b1 (G-L43/S147).


The Etruscans were a non-Indo-European people in what is now Italy. Their origin is a mystery; they were not related to any of their neighbors. Their very sophisticated urban culture pre-dated the rise of Rome. They emerged about 800 BCE in Tuscany and the Po river valley, and dominated northern Italy until they were assimilated by the Romans in the first century BCE.

The origin of the Etruscans is controversial. In the fifth century BCE the Greek historian Herodotus believed the ancestors of the Etruscans originated with a colony of Lydians from Anatolia (Turkey). (Herodotus, The Histories (c. 430 BCE), 1.94). Other ancient historians had other theories. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st century BCE), the Etruscans were indigenous to Italy.

Distribution of Haplogroup G2a (Source: Eupedia)

Herodotus’ claim of a Lydian origin has been controversial from the beginning, but is supported now by genetic studies. Several studies have used the higher incidence of Haplogroup G in Tuscany to support the theory of an Anatolian origin. Studies of mtDNA in modern Tuscans and ancient Etruscans also indicate an origin in the Near East. Archaeology and DNA studies of Tuscan cattle breeds suggests the Etruscans arrived in Italy about 1200 BCE.

In the map at right, we see the heaviest concentration of G2 in the Caucasus region. Also note the concentrations in ancient Anatolia (modern Turkey), in central Italy, and in ancient Rhaetia north of Italy. In the map below, we see the extent of Etruscan civilization.

Etruscan civilization


The Rhaetians were a tribal people, north of the Alps, who were conquered by the Romans. They lived in what is now eastern and central Switzerland (containing the Upper Rhine and Lake Constance), southern Bavaria and Upper Swabia, Vorarlberg, the greater part of Tirol, and part of Lombardy. Today, this area shows a relatively high concentration of G2 compared to the rest of Europe.

The Rhaetians believed their ancestors were Etruscans who had been driven from the plains of the Po River in Italy by invading Gauls (386 BCE). This traditional account is supported by the Rhaetian language, which was closely related to Etruscan.

By the time the Rhaetians first appear in history, they were completely amalgamated with Celtic tribes settled in the same area. In the early sixth century Rhaetia was occupied by the Ostrogoths, and in the ninth century it was integrated into the Frankish polity. Even if Haplogroup G predominated among the early Rhaetians, given this history, it is not surprising that other haplogroups now predominate in the same area.


The information above was adapted from Whit Athey’s Y Haplogroup G website (now offline) and Spencer Wells’ book, The Journey of Man – A Genetic Odyssey (Random House, 2004).

Information about the Anatolian origin of the Etruscans has been extracted from a number of scientific papers: F. Brisighelli et al., The Etruscan timeline: a recent Anatolian connection, European Journal of Human Genetics (2008); A. Achilli et al., Mitochondrial DNA Variation of Modern Tuscans Supports the Near Eastern Origin of Etruscans, American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 80, no. 4 (2007), pp. 759-768; A. Piazza et al., Origin of the Etruscans: novel clues from the Y chromosome lineages, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 15, Supplement 1 (June 2007), p.19 (Abstract of paper read at the 39th European Human Genetics Conference in June 2007); C. Vernesi et al., The Etruscans: A Population-Genetic Study, American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 74 (2004), no. 4 pp. 694-704. And see S. Guimaraes et al., Genealogical discontinuities among Etruscan, Medieval and contemporary Tuscans, Molecular Biology and Evolution, published online on July 1, 2009.

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Author: Justin Durand

Retired attorney. Genealogist. Ethnic Mormon. Moving Left. He/Him. My husband and I own Shining Lotus Bookstore in Denver.