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Brian ZalewskiGet to know Brian's paternal ancestors. Discover your own.

Brian's Ancestral Map

Brian is part of a paternal line that scientists have labeled haplogroup R1a1a. The map below shows where people of haplogroup R1a1a lived around 500 years ago, before modern transportation allowed people to easily move from continent to continent.

Map of R1a1a

R1a1a is the primary haplogroup of Eastern Europe, where it spread after the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. The haplogroup is most common in a swath from Ukraine and the Balkans north and west into Scandinavia, along the path of the men who followed the receding glaciers into Europe. It is also common near its presumed point of origin in south-central Asia.

Quick Facts

Haplogroup: R1a1a

Age: 12,000 years

Region: Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Southwestern Asia, India

Populations: Ukrainians, Indians, Poles

Highlight: R1a1a is the most common haplogroup in eastern Europe.

Brian's Ancestral History

Confined to the Black Sea region during the Ice Age, R1a1a later expanded through eastern Europe and into Scandinavia. Confined to the Black Sea region during the Ice Age, R1a1a later expanded through eastern Europe and into Scandinavia.


Haplogroup R is a widespread and diverse branch of the Y-chromosome tree that is extremely common in Europe, where it spread after the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. The haplogroup appears to have originated in southwestern Asia about 30,000 years ago. It then split into two main branches. R1 ultimately spread widely across Eurasia, from Iceland to Japan, whereas R2 mostly remained near its region of origin. Today it can be found in southwestern Asia and India.

Because of recent immigration, both branches of R are now found worldwide among men of European, Middle Eastern and South Asian descent – though our haplogroup maps indicate only their pre-colonial distributions.

Haplogroup R1

R1 is the dominant haplogroup in Europe today, accounting for well over half of all men. After being confined to the continent's southern fringes during the Ice Age, it expanded rapidly in the wake of the receding glaciers about 12,000 years ago. Various branches of R1 also trace the many migrations that have shaped Europe since then, from the arrival of farmers between about 10,000 and 7,000 years ago to the movements of ethnic groups such as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings.

Haplogroup R1a1

Haplogroup R1a1 appears to have arisen in the Near East or present-day Pakistan during the peak of the Ice Age about 18,000 years ago. Until the Ice Age began to wane about 15,000 years ago, it may have been limited to the area around the Black Sea, a region that remained relatively ice-free and hospitable while much of Eurasia was covered by glaciers and tundra.

Haplogroup R1a1a: Eastern Europe

After the Ice Age, northward migrations carried R1a1a into the gradually greening territory surrendered by the receding glaciers. The abundance of R1a1a in Ukraine, where it reaches levels of about 50%, and the haplogroup's high genetic diversity among Ukrainians, have led researchers to suggest that it expanded from the relatively ice-free region around the Black Sea about 12,000 years ago. Much of the haplogroup's distribution in eastern Europe today can be explained by events associated with the recolonization process. It is most common in a swath stretching from southern Ukraine and the Balkans, north and west into Scandinavia. The frequency of R1a1a decreases farther south in the Balkans and in Scandinavia's far north. However, the somewhat lower frequency in Scandinavia may be the result of recent immigrations by other male groups that swamped out indigenous R1a1a individuals. R1a1 is one of the two most common Y-haplogroups in Slavic-speaking populations.

Haplogroup R1a1a: Western Europe

R1a1a occurs in about one-third of Norwegian men and a quarter of men from the far northern British Isles. Various groups of migrants have carried R1a1a to the British Isles over the past 2,000 years, including the Anglo-Saxons who began arriving from central Europe in the 5th century and the Vikings who came from Scandinavia beginning about 800 AD.

Though the haplogroup is relatively rare in northwestern England, it is more common there than in most other regions of far western Europe, likely due to the colonization of coastal Britain by Scandinavian immigrants. About 15% of men in northwestern England whose surnames appear in records from before the 1500s have Y-chromosomes belonging to R1a1a.

Haplogroup R1a1a: Near East and Asia

Haplogroup R1a1a expanded less dramatically after the Ice Age in the Near East, parts of central Asia and northern India. It is found at levels of about 7% in Iraq and Syria, and at similar levels in Turkey. The higher genetic diversity of R1a1a in eastern Turkey and the decrease in frequency from east to west, indicates that R1a1a entered Turkey from the Iranian plateau, probably about 4,000 years ago.

R1a1a is quite common among some central Asian populations, reaching levels of up to 60% among the Kyrgyz and the Tajiks. It is possible that the haplogroup expanded through central Asia and into northwestern India shortly before the arrival of agriculture, which arrived in the region shortly after 10,000 years ago.

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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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