Get to know Brian's maternal ancestors. Discover your own.
Brian's Ancestral Map
Brian is part of a maternal line that scientists have labeled haplogroup H. The map below shows where people of haplogroup H lived around 500 years ago, before modern transportation allowed people to easily move from continent to continent.
H originated in the Near East and then expanded after the peak of the Ice Age into Europe, where it is the most prevalent haplogroup today. It is present in about half of the Scandinavian population and is also common along the continent's Atlantic coast.
Age: more than 40,000 years
Region: Europe, Near East, Central Asia
Populations: Basques, Scandinavians
Highlight: Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the remains of St. Luke belonged to haplogroup H.
Brian's Ancestral History
Haplogroup H dominates in Europe, reaching peak concentrations along the Atlantic coast. It is also common in many parts of the Near East and Caucusus Mountains, where the haplogroup can reach levels of 50% in some populations. H originated about 40,000 years ago in the Near East, where favorable climate conditions allowed it to flourish. About 10,000 years later it spread westward all the way to the Atlantic coast and east into central Asia as far as the Altay Mountains.
About 21,000 years ago an intensification of Ice Age conditions blanketed much of Eurasia with mile-thick glaciers and squeezed people into a handful of ice-free refuges in Iberia, Italy, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Several branches of haplogroup H arose during that time, and after the glaciers began receding about 15,000 years ago most of them played a prominent role in the repopulation of the continent.
H1 and H3 expanded dramatically from the Iberian Peninsula, along the Atlantic coast and into central and northern Europe. Other branches, such as H5a and H13a1, expanded from the Near East into southern Europe. After a 1,000-year return to Ice Age conditions about 12,000 years ago, yet another migration carried haplogroup H4 from the Near East northward into Russia and eastern Europe.
Haplogroup H achieved an even wider distribution later one with the spread of agriculture and the rise of organized military campaigns. It is now found throughout Europe and at lower levels in Asia, reaching as far south as Arabia and eastward to the western fringes of Siberia.
Because it is so common in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria.
In the 23andMe blog...
Scientists recently discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineage to Haplogroup H. Check out the 23andMe blog to learn more about this discovery.
Recent research indicates Haplogroup H made its way into the deserts of northern Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar. Find out how H crossed the Pillars of Hercules at the 23andMe blog.View Sources
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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.