|European DNA ancestry projects|
Ancient Ancestry Project
Testing the DNA of German, Austrian and Swiss people
Last update August 2008
The purpose of this project is to estimate the percentage of Celtic, Nordic, Slavic, Greco-Roman, Jewish or other ancestry in each region of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Anyone can contribute by testing their Y-DNA with one of the dozens of commercial company. No medical or individual information can be obtained from this DNA test.
What is a geographic project ?
A geographic DNA projects aim at better understanding a region's genetic make-up and genetic history by looking at haplogroups distribution.
Many geographic DNA project already exist, for example in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England or Italy. Data for German-speaking countries is still too limited compared to English-speaking countries, which is why Eupedia thought of creating this project. DNA tests have become cheap enough in the last few years for almost anyone to participate in such a project.
Celtic, Germanic, Slavic or Greco-Roman ?
The North of the Alps, at the border of modern Switzerland, Austria and Germany, was the cradle of the Celtic Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. The greatest technological advances of the Bronze age and Iron age in Europe came from that region. Of all the regions of Europe, southern Germany (notably the Baden-Württemberg) is thought to have inherited the most from these Celtic people, genetically. We will start by breaking one of the most erroneous clichés, i.e. the idea that Germany is fundamentally Germanic, or that all German people are ultimately of Scandinavian descent. This is not what DNA tells us. South-western Germany at least is first and foremost region of Celtic heritage. The S28 marker, defining haplogroup R1b1c10, is thought to coincide with La Tène Celtic descent.
Northern Germans are, on the other hand, predominantly of Nordic descent (associated with haplogroup I1a and I1c). However the Slavic or Kurgan genetic influence (haplogroup R1a1) appears to have been tremendous in most of Germany and Scandinavia. The frequency of this haplogroup R1a1 is the highest around the border of Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. In Germany, the frequency is the highest in the North-East, and decreases to reach its lowest incidence in the South-West.
The Romans settled quite heavily in southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Southern Italian and Greek haplogroup J2 and E3b have been found everywhere in German-speaking countries, with the highest densities in the south. Part of the purpose of this project is to assess the regional percentages.
Modern languages do not coincide much (or at all) with genetic heritage. German-speaking countries are in fact quite genetically heterogenous, more so than Spain for example. South-West Germans share more genes in common with the people of Luxembourg, Belgium or Alsace than with those of Saxony. Likewise, an East German may be more closely related to a Swede or a Pole than to a Rhinelander.
The Jews have also left a moderate genetic print on the German-speaking population. Although the number of Jewish people has drastically diminished since WWII due to the Holocaust and mass emigration to the USA and elsewhere, there is still a small percentage of non-Jewish German people who will find out that they have Jewish ancestry.