9 June, 2005 at 23:25 Leave a comment

IBM Genographic Project Findings

While Ajay says he was unsurprised by the DNA findings, “This knowledge did prompt me to think and reaffirm my belief that all diversity we see today – in languages, caste, rituals etc – is fairly recent on historical timescale, and that the people on this planet are a lot more closely related than the apparent differences would suggest.”


Born and raised in central India, in the state of Chattisgarh, Ajay Royyuru is a member of Haplogroup H. Ajay can trace his ancestry back four generations on his mother’s side to the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state on the Bay of Bengal. His father’s family came from the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, but because his paternal grandfather was adopted into the Royyuru family, the genealogical trail goes cold.

There are some other ancestral clues. “My last name implies that my ancestors once hailed from the town of Royyuru, also in the state of Andhra Pradesh,” says Ajay. And while there is no royalty perched in his family tree, there is a freedom fighter.

“My maternal grandfather participated in the freedom struggle in India, to win independence from British rule. He was imprisoned a few times for participating in non-violent protest.”

Haplogroup H predominates especially in southern India and Sri Lanka and is one of the older genetic groups. Males in this genetic group are found in a crescent extending as far north and west of India as eastern Germany.

Raised on a farm northeast of Cleveland, Carol Kovac knows that both her parents’ ancestors came to America from Slovenia. An independent country since 1991, Slovenia spent much of history as part of the Holy Roman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire or Yugoslavia.

“We can trace our family back only about three or four generations, all in Slovenia,” said Carol. “This genographic study will be really interesting to me because Slovenia is really kind of a ‘cross-roads’ of a lot of civilizations.”

Carol’s DNA puts her in Haplogroup H. The most common Haplogroup in all Europe, H is found in more than 40 percent of all European female DNA. Her genetic markers indicate that her ancestors probably retreated to southern France or northern Spain to survive the last ice age that ended almost 10,000 years ago.

H is the most widely found Haplogroup for females of European lineage. While H accounts for 40 to 45 percent of European females, no other group is found in more than low double digits.

Rod Adkins is not surprised to find that his ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa. “Based on my knowledge of people and cultures, I had always concluded that my roots were most likely originated in the Congo region of Africa,” he said. Like many Black Americans, his ancestors came to the Americas as slaves.

“I can trace back my father’s family for five generations on his mother’s side and four generations on his father’s side,” said Rod. “My great-great-grandparents on my grandmother’s side, Charlie & Mandy Sinquefield, were born slaves in Louisville, Ga. My great-grandparents on my grandfather’s side, Israel Gibbons and Gertrude Adkins, were also born slaves on a plantation in Louisville. The Adkins name was adopted from her owner.

“Today, my grandmother still lives in Louisville, Ga., on what was the first major land purchase by the Adkins family. Five acres were purchased from a large landholder, TB Kelly, after several years of my grandfather working for him.

“I can trace back my mother’s family for five generations. My great great-grandmother, Patty Campbell, was born as a slave on a plantation in Brunswick, Ga.”

Rod is a member of Haplogroup E3A, which means his ancestors were Black Africans. His DNA also indicates that his forebears took part in the Bantu expansion when members of that tribe moved across Africa in the last 2000 years. Haplogroup E3A dominates genetic types in both east and west, sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the most common Haplogroup among American men of African descent.

Their DNA makeup differs greatly. That indicates that the line is very old — not surprising since Africa is often cited as the cradle of all mankind. In fact, scientists say there is more genetic diversity in a single African village than in all of Western Europe.

“I was not surprised by the results, but it is extremely interesting to gain a view on where in Africa my ancestry originated,” said Rod.
Although he was born in Havana, Cuba, Irving Wladawsky-Berger is of Eastern European origin. That’s not a surprise for him.

“Both my parents came from Eastern Europe to Cuba, my father in the 1920’s, my mother in the 1930’s,” said Irving. “All the family that was left behind in Eastern Europe was killed during the Holocaust. I cannot trace my parents’ family beyond their parents and brothers and sisters.”

Irving’s parents both came from small villages, his father from a town called Drohiczyn, now in Eastern Poland, his mother from a town called Pruzhany, now in Belarus.

Irving belongs to Haplogroup J, a Semitic group that flowed out of the Middle East in two great migrations in the last 10,000 years. The first was the migration of farmers from the Fertile Crescent, now Iraq, which brought agriculture to Europe. The second, which took place about 70 AD, came just after the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem. Irving’s ancestors are believed to have been part of the second migration. About 50 percent of Eastern European Jews are members of Haplogroup J.

Although there were few surprises in the DNA results, they did have an effect on Irving.

“The findings caused me to look into my heritage more, something I had not done in a long time,” he said.

Peter Mous’ DNA identifies him as a member of Haplogroup R1B, the most common group in Europe. In some places, notably one area of Ireland, it accounts for 98 percent of the males.

And his family history mirrors the DNA findings. While he was born in Belgium, and raised there and in France, the US and the Netherlands, Peter’s father’s family is Dutch and can trace its history back to at least the 18th Century. Less is known about the history of his mother’s family, although it is believed to have come from a German town called Querbach.

Ancestral members of Haplogroup R1B were responsible for the famous Paleolithic cave paintings in Cheveaux, France. Peter’s forebears were probably the first homo sapiens in Europe, arriving around the time the Neanderthals were dying out. When the last ice age arrived, they were cut off from both northern and eastern Europe and retreated.

Shanker Annaswamy was born in Guntur in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradhesh. He was raised in Chennai (formerly called Madras) in the state of Tamil Nadu, also in southern India.

He can trace his genealogy back only to his great-grandfathers on both sides of his family.

“My father’s side of the family hailed from the southern city called Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu state) and more precisely from village called Arumugamangalam,” said Shanker. “I’ve visited this village, and there are hardly any of my relatives still living there. Most of them seem to have moved to more metropolitan areas of India. My grandfather was a lawyer in Madras.

“My mother’s side family hailed from a town called Mayavaram (Tamil Nadu state). Similarly those families later migrated to bigger metropolitan areas. My grandfather was a civil engineer.”

Shanker’s DNA matches that of Haplogroup R1A, a group that scientists believe probably formed in what is now Pakistan and northern India about 30,000 years ago. About 20 percent of the men in India are in Haplogroup R1A.

But Shanker probably has many distant relations in Europe as well. For example, R1A is the predominate type of DNA found in Poland. Geneticists believe that the group spread westward from India in an arc that went through central Asia to Russia and as far west as eastern Germany.

That connection to Poland and how people from India could have moved to Eastern Europe surprised Shanker when he saw his Genographic Project results.

“This kind of scientific work will bring the world together and narrow the differences that arise due to location and geographic boundaries,” he said.

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