Ancestry (part II)

According to MyHeritage, my ancestry is 100% European: mostly Iberian, with some admixture of Sardinian, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Ashkenazi Jewish. The following information and data have been extracted and edited from the aforementioned website:


The region of Iberia has been historically shaped by multiple civilizations and distinct populations starting with the ancient Iberian tribes to modern-day Spanish, Andorran and Portuguese people. In 1492, Jews were expelled from the region, and Christopher Columbus set sail for the Americas, kicking off the age of exploration and conquest in the New World. Iberian explorers spread across the Americas, parts of Africa, and the Indian sub-continent, leaving their genetic mark on these areas. Modern surgery was pioneered in Spain during the Golden Age of Islamic Iberia, around 1000 CE.

The people, language, and culture of Sardinia are distinct from those of neighboring regions; Sardinians preserve an ancient Neolithic European genetic legacy thanks to the relative isolation of the population. Communities of people of Sardinian descent are present in other parts of Europe, including mainland Italy, Germany, and the U.K., and people of Sardinian descent can also be found in Brazil, Argentina, and North Africa. Sardinian culture is distinguished by its colorful traditional clothing, which varies from village to village throughout the island.

The western region of the British Isles is populated by peoples descended from the six Celtic nations, three of which had settled in what became Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (the other three were in Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man). Each of these three nations has spoken some variant of its original Celtic dialect continuously:

► The Irish, the first people to settle in Ireland about 9,000 years ago, share heritage, culture, and language (Gaelic). They were organized by clan, or kin groups.
► The Scottish are similarly famous for the clans, but from the time of the Middle Ages have been a composite nation of Picts, Gaels, and Britons. So that the northern population speaks a version of Gaelic, while those in the south speak what came to be called Scots.
► Their neighbors the Welsh are called such dating back to the Germanic labeling of them as “walhaz,” meaning “foreigner” or “stranger” – the language of Wales is similarly called Welsh.

The area was overrun by Anglo-Norman conquerors in the Middle Ages, and English colonization in the 16th-17th centuries changed the ethnic composition of the British Isles altogether. The ingathering of several ethnicities in such a small space has facilitated interesting genealogical discoveries, as well as mysterious connections to unravel – and for all the different heritages, nearly everyone there now speaks English.

The Ashkenazim are a European Jewish diaspora who trace their communal origins to Germany and France, and later to the eastward migration towards Poland and the Slavic countries. Because of traditional marriage practices and segregation from surrounding cultures, the Ashkenazi Jewish population is genetically very closely knit. Due to persecution, genocide, and the devastation of the Holocaust, Ashkenazi Jews have migrated across the world, with the largest populations in the U.S. and Israel, and significant populations across the Americas, the Former Soviet Union, and in South Africa and Australia. Jewish culture emphasizes learning, which might explain why — while Jews represent only 0.2% of the world population — about a quarter of all Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish.

Although I don’t disregard the data that I published here, I find this breakdown of my DNA data more accurate and convincing. While there’s no doubt that I’m mostly of Iberian descent, I like how this breakdown is more precise:

► I’m three-quarters Iberian (as opposed to the original 97% in the previous estimate). My paternal family have mostly been Castilian for generations. My maternal family comes from southwest Iberia, but I barely have information beyond my grandparents.
► I have around one-fifth of Sardinian ancestry (as opposed to the 2% Italian/Balkan/Greek in the previous estimate). This makes a lot of sense, since a variant of my surname (Marotto) is very prevalent in Sardinia. This also means there’s an Italian person in my family tree three generations behind on my father’s side.
► The news here is that I seem to have some Celtic ancestry. I’ve happened to live in Ireland and felt a strong connection there. Even so, this is distant ancestry and I haven’t been able to trace it so far. That Irish (or Scottish, or Welsh) should be somewhere between four and five generations behind.
► These results connect me with Eastern European Jews, as opposed to the previous estimate that directly linked me to the land of Israel. While great numbers inhabited Central and Eastern Europe for centuries, Jews originally hail from the Middle East. Jews were also present in big numbers in the Iberian Peninsula until 1492. Due to the forced expulsion and conversions, it’s estimated that one out of four Spaniards descend from Sephardic Jews. These results, however, hint at Ashkenazi Jews six or seven generations behind.

Although not the rule, Jews have mixed with non-Jews throughout history. Some of us are the descendants of anusim (Jews who were forced to abandon Judaism against their will). And few of us have reclaimed their once lost Jewish heritage and converted to Judaism.

Updated information here.

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