The questions of who we are and where we come from have been asked for throughout our history. Once we explained our origins with mythology and folklore but now we utilize modern science to answer them. Genetics help us tell the story of our origins from the beginning, through the formation of the human gene pools and to the last 2000 years of history. The test results you have just received, along with the following information, will help you understand your personal story, from the shared history of all humans to your unique family story. Read More
#1 Southern France 14.6%
#2 Fennoscandia 14.6%
#3 Southeastern India 12.8%
/ / / #1 Southern France
Southern France was a major crossroads of Europe with multiple waves of human migration. The people of
Southern France and much of the surrounding area was inhabited by Neanderthals during the Paleolithic era, who became extinct upon the arrival of modern humans between 35,000 to 50,000 years ago.1 The area was situated at the edge of the Paleolithic ice sheets and was a refuge for people pushed back by worsening climate conditions further north, creating constant movement in and out of the region. The earliest modern humans that arrived in Southern France were Ice Age hunter-gatherers. These people are famous for producing some of the earliest cave paintings known to exist - in the limestone caves of the Pyrenees.2
Hunter-gatherer migration persisted for thousands of years and population density remained low. The development of agriculture in the Middle East and its spread into Europe - which started about 12,000 years ago3 - brought major changes to the region, as large-scale migration of people occurred along the southern corridor of the Alps. These people brought with them their languages, which are believed to be part of the Indo-European language family which exists all over Europe today.4,5 Nearly all of the currently spoken languages in Europe are thought to relate to this expansion of early farmers. In Southern Europe, this migration south of the Alps links the Latin languages of Italy, Spain, and France, while Germanic languages are found north of the Alps.6 This suggests that the early farming cultures that arrived in France came through the south and proceeded north.
A Bronze Age culture developed by 1000 BC,7,8 with settlements throughout Southern France. Over the next thousand years, Iron Age societies began to appear throughout all of France, and became unified as a culture known as the Celts.9 These Celtic societies formed strong links throughout France and into other parts of Northern Europe. These societies were eventually overwhelmed by the Romans who conquered all of present day France, turning it into the Roman province of Gaul.10 After the breakup of the Roman Empire, the southern area of France has generally remained within the borders of the Kingdom of France, with economic practices firmly rooted in the cultures of the Mediterranean.
The diversity of languages in the region may hint at populations that were ethnically and culturally distinct from one another. Catalan, Aragonese, and Gascon are Indo-European languages related to the French that are spoken in other areas of the Pyrenees today.11 Aragonese and Gascon have been in decline in recent centuries. While it may not be possible to link these populations back to the earliest societies in the area, they do provide some grounds for investigating local genetic ancestry.
Future genetic testing may be able to distinguish between early hunter-gatherer influences and later agriculturalists. There have been some studies that have found links between Southern France and its Mediterranean neighbors.12 Research has also found genetic contributions from other Semitic and North African migration events. In the future, we may be able to distinguish these genes as well. It may also be possible to determine which specific Southern France groups (Catalan, Aragonese, or Gascon) an individual may be related to and what languages their ancestors used to speak.
1. Bocquet-Appel JP, Demars PY. 2000. Neanderthal contraction and modern human colonization of Europe. Antiq 74: 544-552.
2. Chauvet JM, Brunel Deschamps E, Hillaire C. 1996. Dawn of art: the Chauvet Cave: the oldest known paintings in the world. HN Abrams: New York.
3. Zeder MA. 2008. Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105: 11597-11604.
4. Diamond J, Bellwood P. 2003. Farmers and their languages: the first expansions. Science 300: 597-603.
5. Bouckaert R, Lemey P, Dunn M, Greenhill SJ, Alekseyenko AV, Drummond AJ, Gray RD, Suchard MA, Atkinson QD. 2012. Mapping the origins and expansion of the Indo-European language family. Science 337: 957-960.
6. Renfrew C. 1990. Archaeology and language: the puzzle of Indo-European origins. Cambridge University Press Archive: Cambridge.
7. Bouby L, Leroy F, Carozza L. 1999. Food plants from late Bronze Age lagoon sites in Languedoc, southern France: reconstruction of farming economy and environment. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 8: 53-69.
8. Sandars NK. 2015. Bronze age cultures in France. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
9. Webster J. 1996. Ethnographic barbarity: colonial discourse and ‘Celtic warrior societies'. In Webster J, Cooper N. eds. Roman imperialism: post-colonial perspectives. Leicester Archaeology Monographs No. 3. School of Archaeological Studies: University of Leicester. pp. 111-123.
10. Woolf G. 2000. Becoming Roman: the origins of provincial civilization in Gaul. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
11. Calafell F, Bertranpetit J. 1994. Mountains and genes: population history of the Pyrenees. Hum Biol 66: 823-842.
12. Gibert M, Reviron D, Mercier P, Chiaroni J, Boetsch G. 2000. HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 polymorphisms in Southern France and genetic relationships with other Mediterranean populations. Hum Immunol 61: 930-936.
/ / / #2 Fennoscandia
The area known as Fennoscandia encompasses the countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland
At the end of the last Ice Age, the glaciers retreated and hunter-gatherers arrived in northern Europe between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago.1 The presence of hunter-gatherers is known from archaeological evidence and likely came from populations similar to the early, small bands of hunter-gatherers that moved into Europe during the Paleolithic period.
Agriculture appeared in Scandinavia between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago.3-6 Archaeological evidence has shown that this farming culture originated in Central Europe and spread north into Fennoscandia.7 Similar to other regions in Europe, there has been a considerable debate as to whether this evidence for farming meant that immigrants arrived and pushed out the local ancient hunter-gatherers, or whether farming culture was adopted by the people already living in the area.
Recent genetic studies looking at samples of ancient DNA from preserved bones have found differences between prehistoric people and later farming populations,2 suggesting that immigrants may have replaced he locals. There are two major language groups in Scandinavia: the Germanic language of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and the Finno-Ugric languages of Finland. The division between the Germanic and Finno-Ugric speaking areas has been used as evidence to support the theory that the Baltic region may have been a refuge for earlier hunter-gatherers.2,8 Analysis of Y-chromosome ancestry from Finno-ugric speakers in Scandanavia and areas in north Eurasia points to a high level of diversity. The potential ancient origins of these people dates from 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, when they would have travelled on an ancient Paleolithic migration route that may have gone through Central Asia before turning west to Europe.9
The consensus among researchers today is that the genomes of the people of Fennoscandia are of a mixed ancestry, which is a combination of ancient hunter-gatherers and more recent Germanic farmers. In areas with more extreme cold climates, there remains more original hunter-gatherer influence, likely due to the marginal nature of farming under such conditions. In Finland, some genetic studies have noted potential historic population crashes as evidence for regional genetic distinctiveness, possibly occurring about 3,900 years ago.10 Surviving on farming alone was very difficult in such an extreme climate and there is evidence that farming and foraging cultures coexisted in Finland.1
Between 600 and 700 AD, social changes in Scandinavia marked the start of a migration event that saw the cultures of Scandinavia make their mark on the rest of Europe. It is thought that economic and political stress, as well as a rapid period of agricultural expansion, led people to seek resources and land further afield, catalyzing the start of the Viking Age.11 Various small kingdoms and chiefdoms invaded and colonized many countries within Europe. Vikings raided, and invaded much of Northern and Western Europe, taking over lands in England, Scotland, and France. They moved east into Russia and further to the west into Iceland, Greenland, and ultimately North America. They briefly settled in what is now Canada's province of Newfoundland.12,13 They often mixed in with the local populations, as shown by the mixed British Celtic and Norse origins of Iceland that have been identified both through historical and genetic research.14,15
Viking migration ended in the medieval era but the movement of people from Scandinavia has continued to the present day. In recent centuries there have been migrations to parts of the United States and Canada, with people often moving into the Mid-West, for example to Northern Michigan, where a distinct Finnish immigrant community is well established.16
In the future, we can envision genetic tests that will be able to distinguish between the ancient hunter-gatherer and more recent Germanic farming components. There may also be tests that can link individuals back to ancient DNA extracted from archaeological skeletal material. What may also prove fascinating for historical enthusiasts is the possibility of tests in the future that are able to distinguish specific migrations of Viking settlers to different areas of Europe.
1. Tallavaara M, Pesonen P, Oinonen M. 2010. Prehistoric population history in eastern Fennoscandia. J Archaeol Sci 37: 251-260.
2. Skoglund P, Malmström H, Raghavan M, Storå J, Hall P, Willerslev E, Gilbert MTP, Götherström A, Jakobsson M. 2012. Origins and genetic legacy of Neolithic farmers and hunter-gatherers in Europe. Science, 336: 466-469.
3. Taavitsainen JP, Simola H, Grönlund E. 1998. Cultivation history beyond the periphery: early agriculture in the North European Boreal forest. J World Prehist 12: 199-253.
4. Vuorela I. 1998. The transition to farming in Southern Finland. In: Zvelebil M, Dennell R, Domanska L. Eds. Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest: The Emergence of the Neolithic Societies in the Baltic Region. Sheffield Academic Press: Sheffield, pp. 175-180.
5. Shennan S, Edinborough K. 2007. Prehistoric population history: from the Late Glacial to the Late Neolithic in Central and Northern Europe. J Archaeol Sci 34: 1339-1345.
6. Taavitsainen JP, Vilkuna J, Forssell H, 2007. Suojoki at Keuruu - a mid-14th century site of wilderness culture in Central Finland. Suomalaisen Tiedeakatemian toimituksia Humaniora 346. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae: Finland.
7. Zvelebil M, Dolukhanov P. 1991. The transition to farming in eastern and northern Europe. J World Prehist 5: 233-278.
8. Malmström H, Gilbert MTP, Thomas MG, Brandström M, Storå J, Molnar P, Andersen PK, Benedixen C, Holmlund G, Götherström A, Willerslev, E. 2009. Ancient DNA reveals lack of continuity between neolithic hunter-gatherers and contemporary Scandinavians. Curr Biol 19: 1758-1762.
9. Siiri R, Zhivotovsky LA, Baldovi M, Kayser M, Kutuev IA, Khusainova R, Bermisheva MA, Gubina M, Fedorova SA, Ilumäe A, Khusnutdinova EK, Voevoda MI, Osipova LP, Stoneking M, Lin AA, Ferak V, Parik J, Kivisild T, Underhill PA, Villems R. 2007. ""A counter-clockwise northern route of the Y-chromosome haplogroup N from Southeast Asia towards Europe"". Eur J Hum Genet 15: 204-211.
10. Sajantila A, Salem AH, Savolainen P, Bauer K, Gierig C, Pääbo S. 1996. Paternal and maternal DNA lineages reveal a bottleneck in the founding of the Finnish population. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93: 12035-12039.
11. Myhre B. 2000. The early Viking Age in Norway. Acta Archaeologica 71: 35-47.
12. Ingstad H, Ingstad AS. 2000. The Viking Discovery of America: The Excavation of a Norse Settlement in L'Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland. Breakwater Books: St John.
13. Brink S, Price N. 2008. The Viking World. Routledge: London.
14. Helgason A, Sigurðardóttir S, Nicholson J, Sykes B, Hill EW, Bradley DG, Bosnes V, Gulcher JR, Ward R, Stefánsson K. 2000. Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic ancestry in the male settlers of Iceland. Am J Hum Genet 67: 697-717.
15. Byock JL. 2001. Viking Age Iceland. Penguin UK: London.
Gedicks A. 1977. Ethnicity, Class Solidarity, and Labor Radicalism among Finnish Immigrants in Michigan Copper Country. Polit Soc 7: 127-156.
/ / / #3 Southeastern India
Southeast India has long been influenced by empires and kingdoms that originated in the north and west
There is evidence of early human habitation in India dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period, with an ancient human species called Homo erectus leaving behind a stone tool culture known as the Soanian.1 Modern humans arrived in the subcontinent between 40,000 to 65,000 years ago and are not thought to have interbred with this earlier human species.2 Migration into southern India may have proceeded along the coasts, and there is some genetic evidence to support this.3
Agriculture arrived in northwest India by 8,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of agricultural practices has been found in present-day Pakistan at a site called Mehrgarh.4 Agriculture may have spread down the coasts and some researchers believe that many of the areas originally inhabited by early farmers are now below sea level.5 The effects of Middle Eastern influence on India can be seen today in the split between Indo-Iranian language in the north and the Dravidian language in the south. It is thought that the Indo-Iranian languages may have arrived with the spread of agriculture from the west and the Dravidian languages, which may have been spoken throughout India at one time, had their extent limited to the south.6
Complex societies first appeared in northwest India in the form of the Indus Valley Civilization, which occurs in the archaeological records between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago.7 The Indus Valley cultures were followed by the Vedic period in the north, which lasted between 1800 and 500 BC. The switch to iron production occurred during this time. Additionally, the Sanskrit writing system was developed8 and there was a spread of cultural practices south and throughout the Indian subcontinent. In northwest India the Mauryan Empire ruled between 322 and 185 BC, and expanded its reach into southern India.9
While much of early Indian history is focused in the north, in part due to the proximity to the Middle East and the origin of agriculture, the south eventually developed large kingdoms and empires as well. In Karnataka, in the Southwest India, the Satavahana Dynasty appeared around 670 BC and lasted until 220 BC.10 This period corresponds roughly during the split between the Tamil and Western Dravidian languages6 which later divided into several independent kingdoms. The earliest Tamil scripts appeared around the start of the 1st millennia,11 which was simultaneous with the rise of the Chola Dynasty. Another major political body that rose to prominence in the region was the Pallava Dynasty of the 3rd century AD. This was an ethnic Tamil state that ruled over southeastern India,12 being replaced by the Pandyan Kingdom of the 6th to 14th centuries.13 Much of this area later came under control of the Vijaynagara Empire between 1300 and 1700 AD,14 which ruled over most of southern India. This state constituted a major regional check against the Muslim Delhi and Deccan Sultanates to the north, which had risen in the 14th century.15 In subsequent centuries, the rise of British East India Company colonial interference by European powers brought control of India within the British Empire.16
Indian genetics has fascinated many scientists in recent years because a large range of genetic variability has been documented between regions. Some researchers have suggested that there has been little population replacement despite the arrival of agriculture.17 Mitochondrial DNA studies have indicated that ancient migrations occurred along coastal routes.3 Analysis of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA lineages for different Indian social groups (castes) has been questioned,18 but there is some evidence for a higher proportion of western Eurasian Y-chromosome lineages in high caste males. While the migration of people from other regions surrounding India was facilitated by the switch to agriculture, it is likely that many of the more isolated groups identified within lower social groups share more genetic continuity with local Asian lineages than more recent European and Middle Eastern admixture. Such groups include the Pulyar, Paniya, Bonda, Asur, which are all visible minorities within Southeast India.
Future testing may be able to make more accurate distinctions between particular regions of India. They may also clarify much of the ambiguity surrounding migration routes and ancient versus more modern lineages of people from different caste backgrounds.
1. Chauhan PR. 2008. Soanian lithic occurrences and raw material exploitation in the Siwalik Frontal zone, northern India: a geoarchaeological perspective. J Hum Evol 54: 591-614.
2. Oppenheimer S. 2009. The great arc of dispersal of modern humans: Africa to Australia. Quatern Int 202: 2-13.
3. Macaulay V, Hill C, Achilli A, Rengo C, Clarke D, Meehan W, Blackburn J, Semino O, Scozzari R, Cruciani F, Taha A, Shaari NK, Raja JM, Ismail P, Zainuddin Z, Goodwin W, Bulbeck D, Bandelt H-J, Oppenheimer S, Torroni A, Richards M. 2005. Single, rapid coastal settlement of Asia revealed by analysis of complete mitochondrial genomes. Science 308: 1034-1036.
4. Lukacs JR, Pastor RF. 1988. Activity‐induced patterns of dental abrasion in prehistoric Pakistan: Evidence from Mehrgarh and Harappa. Am J Phys Anthropol 76: 377-398.
5. Gaur AS, Vora KH. 1999. Ancient shorelines of Gujarat, India, during the Indus Civilization (Late Mid-Holocene): A study based on archaeological evidences. Curr India Sci 77: 180-185.
6. Krishnamurti B. 2003. The Dravidian Languages. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
7. Kenoyer JM. 1991. The Indus valley tradition of Pakistan and western India. J World Prehist 5: 331-385.
8. Deshpande MM. 2014. Ancient Indian Phonetics. In Koerner EFK, Asher RE. eds. Concise History of the Language Sciences: From the Sumerians to the Cognitivists. Pergamon Press: Oxford. pp.72-77.
9. Sinopoli CM. 2001. On the edge of empire: Form and substance in the Satavahana dynasty. In Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History. Alcock SE, D'Altroy TN, Morrison KD, Sinopoli CM. eds, pp.155-78.
10. Alcock SE. 2001. Empires: Perspectives from archaeology and history Volume 122. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.Morrison KD. 2001. Coercion, resistance, and hierarchy: local processes and imperial strategies in the Vijayanagara empire. In Empires: Perspectives from archaeology and history. Alcock SE, D'Altroy TN, Morrison KD, Sinopoli CM. eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. pp.122-252.
11. Christie JW. 1998. The medieval Tamil-language inscriptions in Southeast Asia and China. J Southe Asian Stud 29: 239-268.
12. Stein B. 1977. Circulation and the historical geography of Tamil country. J Asian Stud 37: 7-26.
13. Karashima N, Subbarayalu Y. 2004. The emergence of the Periyanadu assembly in South India during the Chola and Pandyan periods. Int J Asian Stud 1: 87-103.
14. Morrison KD. 2001. Coercion, resistance, and hierarchy: local processes and imperial strategies in the Vijayanagara empire. In Empires: Perspectives from archaeology and history. Alcock SE, D'Altroy TN, Morrison KD, Sinopoli CM. eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. pp.122-252.
15. Thapar, R. (1990). A history of India. Penguin UK.
16. Keay J. 1991. The honourable company: a history of the English East India Company. Harper Collins: London.
17. Kivisild T, Rootsi S, Metspalu M, Mastana S, Kaldma K, Parik J, Metspalu E, Adojaan M, Tolk H-V, Stepanov V, Gölge M, Usanga E, Papiha SS, Cinnioğlu C, King R, Cavalli-Sforza L, Underhill PA, Villems R. 2003. The genetic heritage of the earliest settlers persists both in Indian tribal and caste populations. Am J Hum Genet 72: 313-332.
18. Bamshad M, Kivisild T, Watkins WS, Dixon ME, Ricker CE, Rao BB, Naidu JM, Ravi Prasad BV, Govinda Reddy P, Rasanayagam A, Papiha SS, Villems R, Redd AJ, Hammer MF, Nguyen SV, Carrol M, Batzer MA, Jorde LB. 2001. Genetic evidence on the origins of Indian caste populations. Genome Res 11: 994-1004.
* The GPS Origins test is an Autosomal (SNP) test that is not gender specific. Although both Migration Patterns represent your Maternal and Paternal DNA route, we cannot differentiate which route is specifically your parents’ individual route at this time.
Origin: Peaks in south France and declines in north France, England, Orkney islands, and Scandinavia
Origin: Peaks in the Iceland and Norway and declines in Finland, England, and France
Origin: Endemic to south eastern india with residues in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in Krasnoyarsk Krai and declines towards east Russia
Origin: Peaks in the Orkney islands and declines in England, France, Germany, Belarus, and Poland
Origin: Peaks in south Siberia (Russians: Tuvinian) and declines in North Mongolia
Origin: Peaks in Sardinia and declines in weaker in Italy, Greece, Albania, and The Balkans
Origin: Peaks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen and declines in Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt
Origin: This gene pool is localized to Israel with residues in Syria
Origin: Peaks in France and Spain Basque regions and declines in Spain, France, and Germany
Origin: Peaks in North India (Dharkars, Kanjars) and declines in Pakistan
Origin: Peaks in Taiwan and Malay and declines in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and South China
Origin: Peaks in Mexico and Central America with residues in Peru
Origin: Peaks in Peru, Mexico, and North America and declines in Eastern Russia
The questions of who we are and where we come from have been asked for throughout our history. Once we explained our origins with mythology and folklore but now we utilize modern science to answer them.
Genetics help us tell the story of our origins from the beginning, through the formation of the human gene pools and to the last 2000 years of history.
The test results you have just received, along with the following information, will help you understand your personal story, from the shared history of all humans to your unique family story.
Our origins lie far beyond the first appearance of humans, with an evolutionary story common to many forms of life on earth. About 360 million years ago fish-like creatures ventured out of the Devonian Sea and became the first reptiles. After hundreds of millions years of evolution the mammals emerged after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago thrust them into the evolutionary spotlight, and allowed them to expand into the world the dinosaurs left vacant.
Our human story really begins with the origin of primates, which split away from the other mammalian groups between 65 and 80 million years ago. It would be at least another 60 million years before the appearance of the species Ardipithecus, an ape that evolved from the Old World Monkeys and is regarded as the first fossil human ancestor.
Fossil finds from Ardipithecus in Ethiopia date it to between 4 and 6 million years ago.12 This species could walk on two legs like humans but shared other characteristics with chimpanzees. Ardipithecus further developed into a number of lineages found throughout East Africa and South Africa that are known as the Australopithecines.13
Over the next 3 million years, many Australopithecine species appeared in Africa but they evolved little; their brains remained roughly the same size as those of chimpanzees and they did not use tools. Around 3 million years ago, the subspecies Homo habilis14 began using stone tools, and by 1.5 million years ago the fire-mastering Homo erectus appeared. Fossils reveal that Homo erectus had a much bigger brain than its Australopithecine ancestors. This subspecies began spreading across much of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, while the Australopithecines began to disappear.15
Next, a new human subspecies, the Neanderthals, appeared. They evolved from a Homo erectus relative outside of Africa and had spread widely throughout Europe and the Middle East 500,000 years ago.16 Neanderthals had stocky builds and thick limbs and were specially adapted to the Ice Age conditions. There is evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead, a practice once thought exclusive to modern humans,17,18 which raises questions about the nature of the Neanderthal’s genetic contribution to modern humans.19
It is thought that the ancestor of modern humans is one of the Homo erectus relatives, which appeared in East Africa sometime between 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Many different ancient human species also evolved outside Africa, and persisted for more than a million years of geologic time. Their fossils have been unearthed in Europe, Southeast Asia, and China. Yet this diversity had all but disappeared by 100,000 years ago, and human fossils became remarkably uniform across the globe.23
The theory that has become known as the Out of Africa model began with a study in the late 1980s, investigating small changes in the DNA carried by the mitochondria - the DNA passed down by the mother.24 The study analyzed DNA changes in the mitochondrial genome, and surmised that all humans diverged from a single ancestor living 200,000 years ago in Africa. While this does not indicate that there was just one mother, or ‘African Eve’, for all humanity, the results suggested that all humans alive today descended from a single population residing in Africa more recently than any of the previously mentioned early human species.
The Out of Africa model has also been applied to research on the Y chromosome.25,26 This chromosome is found only in male lineages and passed down through the generations, unchanged for the most part. A recent study estimates that the ‘African Adam’ lived 208,000 years ago27.
Mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA have been our primary tools for deciphering the human story because each person receives only one copy from each parent. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother and Y chromosomal DNA from the father, allowing scientists to track the ancestry of both the maternal and paternal lines. Perhaps one of the most interesting stories told by the mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA is how humans colonized the world.
The earliest human migrants appear to have reached Southern China some 80,000 years ago28, and DNA studies suggest they may have interbred with Neanderthals on their way through the Middle East.29 They then spread to the rest of Asia along a route that probably tracks south of the Himalayas and into East Asia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago,30 possibly interbreeding with another subspecies known as the Denisovians.31
Archaeological and genetic evidence indicate that modern humans crossed the ocean from Southeast Asia and reached the islands near the tropical Pacific area of Oceania as far back as 50,000 years ago, probably in small water craft.32 At the same time, populations spread to Europe through Turkey and into Central Asia. Some of these Central Asian migrants subsequently moved westward from the Ural Mountains and may be represented today by the peoples of Northern Europe and of the Baltic region, such as the Sami people.
Climate and geography delayed further migrations of modern humans into other areas of the world. Much of northern Eurasia was extremely cold during the last Ice Age (11,000 to 12,000 years ago) and human populations remained small and isolated. A small group of people from Siberia, however, managed to reach North America around 18,000 years ago33 by way of a land bridge that existed when sea levels were lower. They moved south, and by 15,000 years ago, began to populate South America.
There were several more migratory waves to the Americas with the most recent being the Inuit, who colonized the Arctic of North America between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago.
Asian migration also continued eastwards to Oceania. The large islands of Oceania that are closest to Asia have been inhabited for at least 30,000 years, while the most isolated islands of Northeastern Oceania remained uninhabited until just 3,500 years ago.34,35 The people who made the first voyages into this region were Austronesians, a group that emigrated from an area around present day Taiwan and are today known as Polynesians.
But as the last Ice Age came to an end and the climate warmed, a human cultural revolution was about to start, and it began in the Middle East.
The transition from hunter-gathering to farming occurred in the Middle East between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago,36 and between 9,000 and 10,000 years ago in China37 and parts of the Americas.38,39 By 5,000 years ago agriculture had facilitated the rise of some of the first large civilizations such as Mesopotamia in West Asia,40 the Maya in Central America,41 and the earliest Chinese civilizations along the Yangtze.42
Early farming cultures then expanded into new areas. Farmers from the Middle East brought agriculture to Europe and rice farming travelled with groups across East Asia. This expansion was accompanied by a genetic reshuffling as different groups came into contact and reproduced. Such reshuffling has been a continuous process over the last 10,000 years.
Genetic research has played a key role in understanding the migrations that took place during this period. Mitochondrial DNA lineages have been used to confirm and enhance archaeological interpretations such as tracing the ancestry of Norse and Gaelic populations, and Y chromosomal studies have been used to track male lineages in studies of Oceania.
As humans traversed the globe and colonized different continents each group accumulated small differences in their DNA. Most of these differences or mutations occurred in the X chromosome and autosomal chromosomes that are inherited from both parents and allows us to follow the specific journeys made by each human group.
Some genetic roads diverged, not meeting again until modern times, while others led back to one another as genetically distinct groups. The accumulations of mutations in people from different areas of the world are what allow us today to distinguish different groups from one another.
DNA mutations may have been enhanced by the custom of marrying within an tribe, class, or social group, creating a group of people who were more similar to one another genetically than they were to their ancestors and neighboring groups - in other words, creating a new gene pool or genetic origin..
It is difficult to know exactly how many gene pools there are because every geneltic origin includes “gene puddles” where small, isolated groups of people married only within their local group, acquiring and maintaining unique mutations over time. At this time, scientists have identified about forty gene pools from all over the world. Over time, some of these gene pools spilled toward? each other, particularly those in Eurasia, whereas other pools remained more constant.
As ancient peoples traded, conquered, enslaved and fell in love, they spread their genes, along with their unique mutations, across larger areas at an increasingly rapid pace, interweaving previously distinct parts of the original gene pools. If, in the past, human groups diverged from one another and became genetically distinct, recent history has been characterized by populations coming together creating new genetic tapestries out of the original genetic origin. Today, every one of us is the product of these historical genetic exchanges: it is extremely rare to find individuals whose DNA belongs to a single gene pool.
Because the X and autosomal chromosomes contain the accumulated mutations that correspond with different gene pools, they provides a more nuanced picture of historical interactions in the past. Your genetic origin results will show you how your genome is linked to the human story of the populations who lived 60,000-15,000 years ago.
The past 2,000 years of human history have seen the rise and fall of empires that spanned entire continents, such as the Persian, Roman, Mongol, Arab Caliphate and most recently, the British Empire.
The expansion of European empires brought European DNA to many different parts of the world such as Australia, Asia and particularly the Americas, where the intermingling of Europeans and native tribes has led to many central and south Americans having mixed ancestry.
Pandemics, such as the Black Death in Europe and smallpox in the Americas caused widespread devastation. Conquests by Viking raiders reshaped entire cultures and identities. All of these events have left their mark in the DNA of present-day populations.
Countries such as the United States, which have experienced large waves of migration from different areas in the last two hundred years have facilitated the further mixing of many different gene pools.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries the slave trade brought up to 650,000 Africans to the United States. They were joined by 4.5 million Irish people who escaped famine and poverty between 1820 and 1930, Other groups to enter the United States between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries include about 5 million Germans, over 2 million European jews, 4 million Italians and up to 300,000 Chinese.
Consequently, these migrations merged gene pools that had, thus far, remained largely separate due to geographical barriers. Many Americans and British now share genetic origins with up to a dozen different gene pools, some of which have diverged more than 60,000 years ago, such as the European and Native American gene pools.
Your GPS Origins results reveal your genetic origins and the journey your DNA has made with end-points recorded each time the DNA has markedly changed through intermarriages.
For example, if you have Scottish ancestry your results could show that you are descended from the Viking ancestors who arrived in the Medieval era, but did not mix with Scots and retained their Danish origin. If you are African American, you may learn about connections to the Bantu peoples and the pre-colonial trading kingdoms in West Africa. If you are an Ashkenazic Jew, GPS Origins may trace your origin to the ancient Ashkenaz in northeastern Turkey.
Ongoing genetic research of archaeological remains could mean that, in the future, you may be able to match your background with a range of individuals - whether that is an ancient Mayan King found in a temple complex in Guatemala, a warrior from a Viking boat burial or a flint-knapping craftsman from Mesolithic Germany. The human story, as told through our genes, is only beginning.
Now, you are ready to see your results.
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