Updated L43 Chart

This chart from the FTDNA L497 group shows the part of the Haplogroup G2 tree from L43 down to some of the individual clusters. You can see the Hauris at bottom left.

The resolution continues to improve. Until this chart was issued we thought the Schnatterle (Snodderly) family would likely belong to the same branch. This is a pattern we’ve seen many times. It looks like we are in a group with other families, then more advanced testing shows the families belong to different branches of the tree. In fact, even our separation from YSC0000033 and Y11076 is relatively recent.

L43 Chart January 2021
L497 to L43/L42

If you have trouble reading this chart or if you believe this chart is out of date please visit the L497 group at Family Tree DNA. Administrator Rolf Langland creates and posts the current version of this and other charts. The charts are posted in Activity Feed. You must be a member of the project to view them.

Note: I have removed older versions of this chart from this site. I find they clutter the site and cause confusion. If you have a need for an older version, for whatever reason, you should contact the project.

More About Ötzi

Ötzi the Iceman is the iconic G2a guy. He lived somewhere around 3400 to 3100 BCE in what is now Northern Italy. His mummified body was discovered in 1991, partially trapped in ice.

DNA testing eventually showed he belonged to yDNA haplogroup G-L91, a “cousin” branch to the Swiss Hauris, who are G-L42.

Information about Ötzi continues to accumulate. We know more about him than ever before.

His death is now known to be considerably more dramatic than was first thought. In fact, many reports suggest he was probably being chased at the time of his death:

Otzi was crossing the Tisenjoch pass in the Val Senales valley when he was shot in the back with an arrow by a Southern Alpine archer and became naturally preserved in the ice. The arrowhead is still embedded in his left shoulder and was not found until 2001. He would have bled out and died shortly after being shot because the arrow pierced a vital artery. There is also a wound on the back of his head, but that may have occurred when he fell after being struck by the arrow.

A cut on his right hand, indicating hand-to-hand combat, never had a chance to heal before he died. This means that conflict happened before he was shot, perhaps hours or days before, and may have led to the second clash that killed him.

The injury to his right hand would have made it difficult for Otzi to prepare his weapons for another attack. This is most likely why the bow and arrows found with him were unfinished: to replace ones that were lost or damaged in the previous fight.

If this is a topic that interests you, I recommend you read the full article at CNN, then search online for other current articles. There’s a wealth of information.

Y-DNA from an autosomal test

According to Chris Morley, it’s sometimes possible to get Y-DNA results from an autosomal test:

“Some autosomal genetic genealogy tests (such as 23andMe, AncestryDNA and MyHeritage – but not Family Finder) also contain a few hundred Y-DNA markers. The Y-DNA data from these tests is of lower quality, but may still suffice for a very, very general Y-DNA haplogroup classification.

“This is useful if you need to make a very basic Y-DNA comparison between two men: if for instance one man is R1b and the other man is I1, then you can be certain their patrilineal connection is not genealogically significant. If both men have the same high-level classification then they will need further Y-DNA testing to confirm a recent patrilineal connection.”

I’ve never tried it, but if you’re interested you can find more information at Morleyydna.com. Steven Frank has also written about it: Updated Method to get YDNA haplogroup from AncestryDNA results (Aug. 10, 2017).

Story of Haplogroup G2a

We’re constantly writing and rewriting the human DNA story. I’m a member of yDNA Haplogroup G2a-L497. When I first started my yDNA journey in 2000, the testing companies were still using STRs only. When they started using SNPs, it wasn’t clear whether I would end up in haplogroup G or haplogroup I. Frankly, I was hoping for I because it was “Scandinavian”.

In the end, it turned out I am Haplogroup G, but even then the L497 SNP was a ways off in the future. There were discoveries, and more discoveries, and more. L42 and L43 were discovered by someone scouting my results at 23andme. Someone smart enough to realize they would turn out to be the defining SNP mutation for a large subgroup of G.

Then we went through the “story years”. Every online DNA group had people advocating different theories of Haplogroup G. It originated in the area north of Caucasus. When and how did it spread into Europe? Was it a marker for Indo-Europeans? Was it spread by Roman soldiers? By Jewish merchants? By barbarian invaders (most popularly the Alans)?

I suggested it was probably linked to the Rhaetians and Etruscans. Ray Banks, our expert, said I was I an idiot, then much later backed down but never did give me credit for being the one to suggest it originally. When I complained to him, his response was that he gets so many crackpot emails he can’t be expected to realize when one of them could be right. (I love that story.)

Throughout these story years, the actual experts were saying Haplogroup G probably came to Europe with the spread of farming during the Neolithic period. The other stories were only really possible because archaeologists (as opposed to geneticists) were entrenched in an ideology that there is something racist about attributing the spread culture to migrations. That idea held sway for a generation, but they were wrong about it.

We’re all looking for stories, I think. So many false starts to ours. I’ve had the impression for several years now that our Haplogroup G story is moving in a particular direction. Once upon a time we were probably one of the main haplogroups in Old Europe, probably predating the Indo-Europeans, and we probably retreated to mountainous areas (or maybe survived mainly in mountain areas) when Europe was overrun by the R1b people, who are now the majority in western Europe.

(I’ve had some push back because it seems to go against the romantic notion that our ancient ancestors preferred mountains and goat herding as a legacy of our origin in the Caucasus Mountains. My counter-argument has been that this goat herding story seems to be contrary to the idea that we came to Europe as Neolithic Farmers.)

Now I find the whole story nicely summarized by Maciamo Hay, Haplogroup G2a (Y-DNA), at Eupedia. He’s always good at getting across complex ideas and arguments in simple language.

Nowadays G2a is found mostly in mountainous regions of Europe, for example, in the Apennine mountains (15 to 25%) and Sardinia (12%) in Italy, Cantabria (10%) and Asturias (8%) in northern Spain, Austria (8%), Auvergne (8%) and Provence (7%) in south-east France, Switzerland (7.5%), the mountainous parts of Bohemia (5 to 10%), Romania (6.5%) and Greece (6.5%). The hilly terrain of southern Europe indeed makes it ideally suited for herding goats, which G2a men brought with them during the Early Neolithic period. But the most likely explanation is that mountains provided refuge for G2a tribes after the Proto-Indo-European speakers invaded Europe from the steppes of Russia and Ukraine during the Late Copper Age and the Bronze Age (see history of R1a and R1b).

If you look at the heat map I’ve attached here, you’ll see a concentration in Switzerland. That’s where our Hauris are from. Probably we’ve been there since the Bronze Age and perhaps since the Stone Age. And that’s the story of Haplogroup G2a in a nut shell.

Y11076 Ancestral Locations

I think the Hauris will end up being a subgroup of Y11076 after all, or at least a very, very close sister group. The experts think I’m nuts about this but if you look the number of private SNPs we share with Y11076 is staggering.

There have been problems with the chipset used by FTDNA. It doesn’t pick up Y11076 very well. For me it was a “no read”. I had to go to YSEQ for a one-off test. It came back negative. Not at all what any of us expected, but okay.

My suspicion is that Y11076 is itself an unstable mutation. It probably should not be defining a branch of the tree. My bet at the moment is that I have a back mutation. That is, that the Hauris really do belong under Y11076 but my branch has mutated back. Maybe we’ll be able to find one of our Hauri cousins willing to take a test at YSEQ to see how far back we go here.

You can see from this map the Hauris originated in the heartland of Y11076 but that doesn’t help as much as you’d think it might. This whole region is the heartland of L42/L43, and indeed of L497. We expect to find and actually do find a concentration of groups and subgroups here.

Even so, I think I’m right on this. This is the kind of thing that time will tell. Hard to sit on my hands, but I don’t think I’m going to get anywhere arguing. Not yet, anyway.

Update July 7, 2020: It’s now clear there is no chance I was right about this. The Hauris are on a node parallel to Y11076.

An updated G tree

Here’s a new tree from the G-L497 group at FTDNA. It shows the position of our L497 branch on the human family tree. With increased testing we’re getting closer and closer to understanding where the different branches originated.

L497 Phylogeny
L497 Phylogeny

Visit the FTDNA forum to get a better copy.

Spread of the Indo-Europeans

With the advent of DNA testing we’ve been seeing lot more discussion about the origin of the Indo-Europeans. That’s because the solution to the mystery seems to be within our grasp.

First, let’s refresh our terms. Indo-European is a language group, not an ethnic classification, although it’s sometimes used as a proxy for race. There are 445 modern languages that are all descendants of a prehistoric language we call Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The Indo-European languages including most European languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, as well as non-European languages such as Bengali, Hindustani, Persian, and Punjabi. Almost half the world’s population — about 46 percent — speak an Indo-European language.

There are two main theories about where the PIE homeland was located, and there is an extraordinarily vigorous debate between the two sides.

One side believes the PIE homeland was on the steppes of Asia, while the other believes it was in Anatolia (Turkey).

I’ve been partial to the Anatolian hypothesis, but mostly in the way I cheer for the Denver Broncos. The Hauris belong to yDNA haplogroup G2a, which means our very distant paternal ancestor came to Europe with the Anatolian farmers in the Neolithic period. It would be fun if we were part of the spread of Indo-Europeans. Even so, there’s a bit of a contradiction in my approach. I argue, much more seriously, that G2a is linked to the Etruscans. They spoke a non-Indo-European language so I should be arguing for the steppe hypothesis.

Nevertheless, the steppe hypothesis seems to be winning.

Two long-awaited studies, one described online this week in a preprint and another scheduled for publication later this month, have now used different methods to support one leading hypothesis: that PIE was first spoken by pastoral herders who lived in the vast steppe lands north of the Black Sea beginning about 6000 years ago. One study points out that these steppe land herders have left their genetic mark on most Europeans living today.

The studies’ conclusions emerge from state-of-the-art ancient DNA and linguistic analyses, but the debate over PIE’s origins is likely to continue. A rival hypothesis—that early farmers living in Anatolia (modern Turkey) about 8000 years ago were the original PIE speakers—is not ruled out by the new analyses, most agree. Although the steppe hypothesis has now received a major boost, “I would not say the Anatolian hypothesis has been killed,” says Carles Lalueza-Fox, a geneticist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, who participated in neither of the new studies.

More Information

Revised to add links.

Re-writing the Rhaetians

Thanks to a link posted in one of the Haplogroup G groups on Facebook we have a new way of looking at the history of the Rhaetians. I say “new” with tongue in cheek.

Back in 1830 Henry Malden (1800-1876) looked at the connection between the Rhaetians and Etruscans. Malden was Professor of Greek at University College London. He concluded that the Etruscans  (probably) came out of the Rhaetian homeland onto the plains of northern Italy (History of Rome, by Henry Malden, (1830), pp. 64, 73-80).

Malden’s theory reverses the traditional account. Roman historians Pliny the Elder, Livy, Trogus and Justin combine to tell the story. There was a linguistic connection between the Etruscans and some of the mountain tribes, including the Rhaetians. The Rhaetians were Etruscan refugees from a 4th century invasion of Italy by the Gauls. But, Rhaetian culture had little resemblance to the sophisticated Etruscans. Their manners were savage, but this is because they had become roughened by living in the mountains. Niebuhr and  Mommsen, the eminent 19th scholars, accepted this view of Rhaetian origins.

Malden plausibly suggests the opposite – it was the Etruscans who were descendants of the Rhaetians, not vice versa. He provides no evidence, only conjecture and logic. He argues:

The natural movement of the population expelled by the Gauls would have been to fall back upon the main body of their nation in their oldest seats south of the Apennines (which, with the swamps between them and the Po, actually formed an available line of defense), not to insulate themselves in the northern mountains. But if Raetia was the mother-country, whence the Etruscans descended into the plains of Italy, it may be easily believed, that a part of the nation staid [sic] behind, and to them the dwellers about the Po may have returned when they sought shelter from the terrible Gauls [citation omitted].  It may be esteemed a confirmation of this hypothesis of the origin of the Etruscans, that they believed the north to be the seat of their gods [citation omitted]. (Malden, 85.)

Elsewhere in the same book, Malden draws on Niebuhr to disentangle the Tyrsenians (and the Tyrrhennians) from the Etruscans:

If then we are to believe that the name Tyrseni in Italy belonged originally and properly to the Pelasgian population, the question still remains, how the Greek writers invariably called the Etruscans Tyrseni and Etruria Tyrsenia. The true solution of the problem is, that the country retained its early appellation, and the Etruscans who conquered it succeeded to the name of its former inhabitants. (Malden, 78.)

What are we to make of Malden’s theory? He hasn’t proved his case. No one can do that using only the written sources. But, he’s made a good point. It makes more sense that the Etruscans were Rhaetians who came down from the Alps and evolved a more sophisticated culture through contact with their neighbors than that Rhaetians were Etruscans who retreated into new territory and stayed.

Modern genetics might also support Malden’s version of events. There is a growing body of evidence to support the early theory that G2 entered Europe with Neolithic farmers. We’ve seen the 2010 discovery of a  G2a3 skeleton in excavations at the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, in north central Germany, probably dated between 5,100 and 6,100 years ago. In 2011 a family of G2a persons — 20 of 22 samples — was found in a cave at Treilles in southern France. The skeletons have been dated to 5,000 years ago. Finally, we’ve also seen the dramatic 2011 announcement that DNA tests on Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy discovered in 1991, show he belonged to Haplogroup G2a4. He is thought to have lived about 5,300 years ago.

All of these skeletons date from long before the ethnogenesis of the Etruscans and Rhaetians about 2,700 years ago. And, none of these discoveries can prove that members of Haplogroup G lived in Europe continuously from their earliest appearance there. But, the data are suggestive.

Haplogroup G could have entered Europe with the spread of Neolithic farming, with one group eventually coalescing into the Rhaetians who in turn gave rise to the Etruscans. If so, we can finally give up the search to identify our Haplogroup G ancestors with some exotic ethnic group from the east. We’ve been here since the beginning.