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Tonia's Ancestral Map

Tonia is part of a maternal line that scientists have labeled haplogroup H1. The map below shows where people of haplogroup H1 lived around 500 years ago, before modern transportation allowed people to easily move from continent to continent.

Map of H1

Haplogroup H1 is widespread in Europe, especially the western part of the continent. It originated about 13,000 years ago, not long after the Ice Age ended.

Quick Facts

Haplogroup: H1

Age: 13,000 years

Region: Europe, Near East, Central Asia, Northwestern Africa

Populations: Spanish,Berbers,Lebanese

Highlight: H1 appears to have been common in Doggerland, an ancient land now flooded by the North Sea.

Tonia's Ancestral History

Britain was mostly forested until the arrival of agriculture. Britain was mostly forested until the arrival of agriculture.


Haplogroup H1 originated about 13,000 years ago, not long after the end of the Ice Age. At that time much of Europe was covered by glacial ice sheets that descended southward from Scandinavia and extended across the alpine regions of the Pyrenees and Italian Alps. People who had formerly inhabited continental Europe sought refuge in the warmer climates of southern France, the Iberian and Italian peninsulas.

The H1 mutation likely arose in a woman living on the Iberian peninsula. Even today, almost 25% of the Spanish population carries the H1 haplogroup. With the waning of the Ice Age, some populations grew rapidly and expanded northward from the Iberian refuge. Others turned southward, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar into northern Africa.

Following the Atlantic coast northwards, hunter-gatherers carried H1 into what would become the British Isles. As the ice sheets retreated farther they carried the haplogroup as far as Scandinavia. The H1 haplogroup remains quite high in the present-day populations of Britain and Ireland as well, ranging from levels of 15% to 40%.

About 13% of present-day Europeans trace their maternal ancestry to the H1 haplogroup. Though it is of western European origin, it also reaches significant levels outside Europe, from Morocco and Tunisia to Lebanon and east into Central Asia.


H1a originated during the Younger Dryas Cycle, a short cold snap between 12,900 and 11,500 years ago that interrupted the general warming trend at the end of the Ice Age. Forests in Scandinavia were replaced by tundra, and droughts occurred in the Near East. After this cooling cycle ended, a group carrying H1a rapidly expanded from southern Europe northward into Finland and eastern Europe. After reaching the Baltic Sea, individuals with H1a eventually moved farther east into the Finno-Ugric speaking populations who lived along the Volga River and in the Ural Mountains of Russia.


H1b is one of the most common branches of H1, averaging about 4% among Europeans today. It originated about 13,000 years ago, just as the Ice Age had was ending and temperate forests were expanding throughout central Europe. While H1b probably arose in southern France or Iberia, it is most frequent among eastern Europeans. Women carrying H1b journeyed eastward from France, passed north of the Italian Alps and entered present-day Slovakia. From there, H1b spread north throughout the region surrounding the Baltic Sea and the Volga-Ural area of Russia. Women carrying H1b also moved into southeastern Europe via Ukraine, the Balkans and the Caucasus Mountains.


H1f dates back to about 4,000 years ago, when it branched off H1 as women carrying that haplogroup migrated northward toward the Baltic Sea. H1f is virtually constrained to Baltic populations, particularly Finno-Ugric speakers such as the Finns and Karelians. About 10% of Finns carry H1f.

In the 23andMe blog...

Haplogroup H1 is the dominant haplogroup among the Tuareg of the Sahara Desert. Learn more about these desert nomads at the 23andMe blog.

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What is a Haplogroup?

Haplogroup is the term scientists use to describe individual branches, or closely related groups of branches, on the genetic family tree of all humans. All members of a haplogroup trace their ancestry back to a single individual.

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