Ancestry (part I)

According to FamilyTreeDNA, my ancestry is purely Mediterranean: mostly Iberian, with some admixture of Italian, Balkan, Greek and Middle Eastern. The following information and data have been extracted and edited from the website above:

FTDNA - Ancestry

The Iberia cluster consists of present-day Spain and Portugal. Modern humans reached this cluster roughly 35,000 years ago. Farming and animal domestication were slow to gain momentum in this region as most populations remained organized into small hunter-gatherer bands or extended family groups. It’s not until 5,000 years ago that larger communities and villages are established as lifestyles began to shift toward farming.

By 800 BCE, Phoenician settlers from the Middle East had established the city of Carthage in Tunisia and arrived along the southern coast of Spain to form colonies. The Greeks followed by 575 BCE and also established settlements along the south coast of Spain. Inland Spain consisted of agricultural and herding communities or tribes likely from Celtiberian tribes. These tribes shared common origins with Germanic tribes, from which the Celts in Germany, France, and Spain originated.

When the Phoenicians fell to the Babylonians, Carthaginians moved north to colonize Ibiza and southern areas of Spain by the 2nd century BCE. There were three distinct writing systems established in Iberia: one based off of the Phoenician alphabet, and two more based off of Greek models. These were primarily used until Roman conquest at the end of the 2nd century BCE, after which there was a continual war between the Romans and the northeastern Celtiberians and the western Lusitanians.

Islamic forces spread throughout the Mediterranean by the 7th century CE, and its influence is forever encapsulated in the Moorish architecture of southern Spain. Populations from clusters in the Americas show genetic relatedness with the Iberia cluster, as the Spaniards played a significant role in early colonization of the New World.

The Southeast Europe cluster consists of present-day populations from the areas of Italy, Greece, and the western Balkan states from Bulgaria to Croatia. Present day populations in this area show some of the highest genetic relatednesses to the second wave of migration into Europe roughly 11,000 years ago. This wave of migration consisted of Neolithic farmers from the Fertile Crescent and expanded primarily into southern Europe, incorporating small scattered European hunter-gatherer communities along their path.

The island of Sardinia was not permanently settled until this migration of Neolithic farmers populated it roughly 8,000 – 7,000 years ago. Although a critical position in early Mediterranean trade routes, the populations of Sardinia remained relatively isolated genetically.

Populations within the Italian peninsula and Greek and Balkan states, however, display more genetic diversity having experienced waves of migration and the rise and fall of numerous civilizations. The Ancient populations of the Italian peninsula generally consisted of the Greek colonies in the south, Etruscan cities in west-central Italy and north of Rome, and Italian cultures (such as the Samnites and the Umbrians, who inhabited Rome and central Italy). The western Balkans were mostly small kingdoms until the rise of Alexander the Great’s father Phillip II of Macedonia.

Migrations from Alexander the Great and the Roman expansion, as well as migrations from Slavic tribes, having been forced from the Carpathians by Germanic tribes in the 5th and 6th centuries into this region illustrate the international reach of these early civilizations.

The Southeast Europe cluster is home to civilizations that many consider having founded the principles of Western civilization, and continue to influence modern politics, art, and architecture. Greek and Roman influence spans the western and southern regions of this cluster, while the impact of the Hellenistic world of Macedonia and Alexander the Great encompass the western Balkan states.

The West Middle East cluster comprises present-day populations from regions along the eastern border of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine. Parts within the West and East Middle East clusters were areas of the first migrations out of Africa roughly 100,000 years ago.

Nestled on the western edge of the Fertile Crescent, this cluster has been home to populations that have played a vital role in the development of human civilization throughout history. With the emergence of farming and the domestication of animals roughly 12,000 years ago, populations from the West Middle East are noted for the introduction of farming into southern Europe. They’re also credited with establishing the first city-state societies, thus laying the foundation of urbanism.

Populations in this cluster have been influential throughout history, the most far-reaching and significant achievement could be said to have been made by the Phoenicians more than 3,000 years ago. The Phoenician alphabet, created before 1,000 BCE, directly influenced the writing systems of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek civilizations and is credited as establishing the foundation for all modern alphabetic writing systems.

Present day members of this cluster share genetic similarity with members of the Druze religious sect primarily found in Lebanon, and the nomadic Bedouin tribes found within the deserts of Jordan and Syria. Each of these cultures remains deeply rooted in the history of this region. The Druze are particularly noted as successfully resisting Crusader invasions along the Lebanese coast, and rebelling against the Ottoman Empire.

Although all these data are the result of a highly accurate statistical algorithm, we’re still talking about estimates. Indeed, I’ve been able to contrast my DNA data and get a slightly different interpretation, which I find more convincing and accurate. You can read more about it here.

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