Jasmine’s Journey of Discovery

I am Jasmine’s daughter, well, I guess that would be granddaughter with many greats preceding – but she is my ancient clan mother, nonetheless.DSC_0027

Looking back now over the past 12 or 13 years since I had my mitochondrial DNA first tested and discovered I was a member of haplogroup J, I’ve realized what a journey of discovery I’ve been on.  Literally.  I was immediately interested in the ancestral journey of J, Jasmine, my ancestor, and as the tests became more refined, I learned more about Jasmine through her subgroups.

I’m now classified as J1c2f which is 4 subgroups downstream of haplogroup J, the original Jasmine, each one more refined and more geographically specific that the previous haplogroup.  Looking at the maps for J, J1, J1c, J1c2 and J1c2f side by side shows the migration path of my ancestor rather clearly.

We know that haplogroup J was born in the Middle East some 30,000-50,000 years ago.  Many subclades of J were also born there, but eventually, some began the slow migration to Europe.  They probably had no destination in mind at that time, but were simply searching for something – fresh water, unsettled land, better hunting…something.   My ancestor was among one of those groups, that long ago day.  I can’t help but wonder what she saw, or thought, or if she even realized she was embarking on any kind of a journey.  Did she have an inkling or was she simply moving next door?

Hap j map

Above, the haplogroup J map from the haplogroup J project at Family Tree DNA.

hap j1c map

The subgroup J1c map is shown above.  You can see it is somewhat smaller and the geography is not quite as widely dispersed.

my matches J1c2f

The haplogroup J project doesn’t group in more refined haplogroup subgroups than J1c, but on the map above you can see the most distant ancestor locations of my full sequence matches, all haplogroup J1c2f.  I’m surprised as how widely spread the ancestors of these participants are, given that by the time you’re 4 or 5 haplogroup generations downstream of a founding mother, J in this case, you’re often looking at distinctive regional clusters.  I find the marker in the Caucasus, north of Turkey, quite interesting.

There are only a limited number of ways to get to Europe if you are coming from the Middle East: over the Caucasus through Russia, the sea route via the Mediterranean or the combined land and sea route, through Turkey, crossing between Europe and Asia at present day Istanbul, or old Constantinople, shown on the map below.

istanbul map

Learning about my haplogroup pushed the genealogical clock back further than I had ever imagined possible – from about 200 years to tens of thousands.  That information fueled within me a vagabond I didn’t know existed, and at a depth I never imagined.

So, a few years later, I went on the “Journey of Jasmine,” at least part of it.  I retraced some of her footsteps and cruised the Mediterranean coastline where many haplogroup J descendants are found today.  I journaled about Jasmine daily and titled the trip, “The Journey of Jasmine.”  I spent a day in Istanbul, Turkey and another day in the majestic ruins of Ephesus near the coast, shown below, and I knew that either my direct descendant or her relatives had stood where I stood, thousands of years ago.

ephesus

When I crossed the Bosphorus River, or rather, sailed up and down the Bosphorus, which forms the border within the city of Istanbul between Europe and Asia, I knew that my ancestor, if she traveled from the Middle East to Europe using that route, had indeed crossed at or near that point.  Constantinople is a very old trade route, established where it was because of its location.  It moved me deeply to know I was likely standing in her footsteps, some thousands of years later.

Of course, it would have looked very different then.  I imagined it without contemporary buildings.

istanbul europe and asia

Above, both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, with Asia across the River.  Below, the top photograph shows the European side of the bridge that connects the two halves of the city, and the lower photo shows the Asian side.

istanbul europe

istanbul asia

I have not been to Jasmine’s birthplace, the Middle East, but I’d surely love to visit, nor have I been to where my oldest ancestor whose name I know, Elizabetha Mehlheimer, was found in Goppmannsbuhl, Bayern, Germany around 1800, but I’m working on that too.

I have walked in the footsteps of other ancestors that I’ve found through DNA testing and I’m planning two trips within the next two years to do just that again.

This fall I will be visiting the location in Lancashire, England, discovered through a DNA match, where my Speake family originated, and as a bonus, down the road another 25 miles, where my Bowling line, who married into the Speak line, originated as well.  I’ll be sharing that with you as I connect with the past.

I’m also visiting Kent where my Estes line originated, also proven through DNA testing, and then next year, visiting the Frisian roots of my Estes line that was only discovered through DNA testing.

Of course, if I’m visiting Frisian roots, I’ll also be visiting my Dutch roots as well, another powerful connection through DNA, assisted dramatically by a wonderful Dutch genealogist.

I’m Not the Only One

Recently, I saw a couple of other people comment about how their genetic discoveries have inspired them to connect with their distant, or maybe not so distant, past.

One person posted this video of the Tuvan throat singers who have genetic connections to Native American people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY1pcEtHI_w

Someone else who tested Native and never knew about that history before is attending a Homecoming Powwow this weekend.  Someone else attended an African Festival in Boston this week.

Another client who also tested Native visited Lake Baikal, the “home” of the Native people in Asia and sent me a photo of him standing on the shores of Lake Baikal to use in his DNA Report.  Below, Shaman Rock in Lake Baikal.

lake baikal

Someone else mentioned that they are attending a Hungarian heritage festival near where they live after discovering their Hungarian heritage.

http://www.festival.si.edu/2013/Hungarian_Heritage/

Opportunities to connect with our ancestors and their culture, our heritage, are all around us.

What About You?

So, I’d like to know – how have your DNA results inspired you?  Have they changed or influenced the journey of your life?  What kind of experiences have you had that you would never have had without DNA testing?  DNA has influenced my life dramatically and provided me with amazing opportunities and adventures – like the Lost Colony archaeology digs, for example.

As my good friend, Anne Poole, who I met through DNA testing, co-founder of the Lost Colony Research Group, pictured at left beside me below, reminds me every time we are on a hot, sweaty, poison ivy and tick-infested archaeology dig together, “it’s all about the journey.”  Indeed it is.  Tell me about yours.

anne and me on dig

39 thoughts on “Jasmine’s Journey of Discovery

  1. Just thinking yesterday about planning a trip to Kent, England to see where my Estes lived! I don’t know if I will ever make it there, so it will be nice to hear about your journey, Roberta. My paternal grandmother was Martha Ann Estes.

  2. I am an adoptee born with a visual impairment. DNA Genealogy is having a tremendous impact in my life. In 13 years I went from following intuition and becoming blind to proving my Jewish and Ethiopian ancestry. In 2000 my life drastically changed. Spiritual transitions along with a physical journey ensued. This journey has lead me to Israel where I now make my home. My first test was mtdna in 2004. In 2006 I broke seal of adoption and was reunited with my two siblings. 2008 I moved to Israel. In 2011 the inherited eye diseased progressed. I decided to take the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test in hopes of answering questions about this eye disease and from whom I inherited from. As my sight became worse I became a part of a large group of people suffering from the same disease here in Israel. Amazingly my test results returned with 25% European and 74% African. I didn’t expect this amount of European ancestry and surely didn’t expect to see Russia as the Country of my Ancestry. Ireland, Belarous , Hungary, England which fits some patterns of journeys of German Jews. The African results surprised me with mostly Nigeria Yoruba people. Dr McDonald’s Analysis put my European and African results into perspective. I saw finally documented Ethiopian and German ancestry before my eyes! Even the .5% Native American ancestry my family talks about. I haven’t connected with any cousins here in Israel yet but look forward to meeting more cousins and hearing family stories I’ve missed.

    Sincerely,

    Diane Devorah Mixon FTDNA #25348

    • Diane, may I ask if your hereditary eye disease is Leber’s hereditary optical neuropathy? (I think I’ve got that name right). This is a disease that apparently mtDNA J people are more prone to than people in other mtDNA haplogroups. You don’t say what your mtDNA haplogroup is.
      My own haplogroup is J1c2, which is quite common in the mtDNA J family. I have been intrigued to find that my closest matches on my FTDNA personal page tend to have an earliest known female direct-line ancestor who was either an Ulster Presbyterian (in Co. Down or Co. Antrim) or Norwegian. A possible explanation for this can be found in a map in Oxford University geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer’s book “The Blood of the Isles” (if I remember rightly) where he shows mtDNA J people moving from Norway across to Scotland during the Neolithic or New Stone Age. In fairly recent times (17th c. +) many Scots moved across the Irish Sea to Ulster and they were the ancestors of the modern Ulster Presbyterians. Many must have had ancestral links to those Neolithic migrants from what we now call Norway. And of course Norse women may have accompanied their menfolk to Britain during the Viking Age.

      Harry

  3. What a great story! I hadn’t realized that the letters stood for names…or did you just assign Jasmine for the J? I’m H7. (Or I think I am. I haven’t looked at the report in awhile.) I’ve often thought I’d like to journey back in time via the migratory path of my known ancestors. I hadn’t thought to take a trip based on my mtDNA and my brother’s yDNA. Love that idea. That would be a pretty big reunion if we all took that trip and met in mitachondrial Eve’s homeland. Ha! :-)

    • Most of the main mitochondrial haplogroups were assigned names back when Brian Sykes wrote his book, “Seven Daughters of Eve.” Those that weren’t were assigned names a little later in various ways. The male haplogroups don’t have names. If you bought the Personal DNA Report, it includes the info about your haplogroup name. I personally think it makes them more personal than just the letter.

      • I’ll go through my ‘papers’ again and see what I’ve overlooked or forgotten. I’m going to have to get that book, “Seven Daughters of Eve”. Sounds very interesting. (or is it horribly outdated as DNA info grows exponentially?)

  4. Roberta this is such a unique way to look at the Female haplogroup. According to 23andMe I am J2a1a, but just cannot seem to understand who this original ancestor was. I understand this result is from my Mother’s Mother’s Mother, ect. but how far back does this go? As with ydna the haplotype goes back to the first “Moore” who took this surname. How far back does the female ancestor go back?

    • Haplogroups, both male and female, track backwards to mitochondrial Eve and Y-line Adam – the first males and female to live and have descendants today. Maybe I’ll do another blog on that.

  5. A great post. Until a few years ago I had a comforting world view passed on to me by my family. Events lead me to discover I was not whom I thought I was. That lead to a long period of internal reconciliation and a peak behind the door of genetics. So now I am J1 on my paternal side. I too wonder how they got to my recent origins. Another gift of the Roman empire ?

  6. I’m a J1c3c- not a lot of those testing. National Geographic Genome 2 says more research is needed on J1c3. My earliest female ancestor that I have confidence in is Rebecca Stewart born 1725 in Charles County Md. Her mother may have been Mary Robey. I find it fascinating that J originated in the Middle East some 30,000-50,000 years ago.

    • I am a J1c3c, too! There doesn’t seem to be any of us. I did the Geno 2.0 and they don’t have a heat map for me, so it’s frustrating to find out where my mother’s ancestry comes from exactly. We have a Welsh last name, Williams, but we are from England originally (which used to be full of Welsh people until the Anglo-Saxons came). Anyway, just though you should know there are other J1c3c’s out here! We are in Arizona now.

  7. I like this Roberta, and how do I sp much wish that they had more research information on my branch. I am H10e2 the granddaughter and many great grandaughters of Haplogroup H (Helena).

  8. It’s so much fun, isn’t it? I thought I was 100% Ashkenazi Jewish but my mtDNA came back Sephardic (U6a7a1b); my oldest maternal ancestor is from Slovakia.

  9. I am not who I thought I was before I started the journey. I grew up thinking I was “English” but now know that both my direct maternal and direct paternal lines (and over half my ancestors) were German. I am Velda’s daughter.

  10. If World History in my Sr. Year of HS had been this interesting, I believe I would have really had better than a darn B-…… Thanks for the story, it’s really amazing….

  11. My family just spent several days in Scotland seeing ancestral stomping grounds (and some cousins!), but that was researched the old-fashioned way. We haven’t gone far enough working with the DNA to figure out anything new and startling, although matches from Finland and Russia are rather intriguing, and those from the American South are puzzling.

  12. This post really brings it all together: science, culture, archaeology, and a profound personal respect for human history. The dig picture at the end really brought it home for me, because the main thing that inspired me to do DNA testing was my interest in archaeology. Even if the connections between our genes and specific prehistorical cultures are tenuous, having some kind of personal connection to something you’re interested in — even if there’s always going to be an element of mystery to it — is a unique experience (I just tested as j1c1b2).

  13. Great blog post. It’s so fascinating to see where everyone is from I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I’m from group J, as well. J1c3c, to be exact. I’d like to do the same type of journey but there isn’t much known about J1c3c.

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  16. Awesome story Roberta. I am a J1C2. What is the 2? I am new at this and trying to learn too fast I guess. :) When I saw that I was 95% Western European/Orcadia, and 5% Middle Eastern, I read everything I could about the Orkney Islands. I don’t understand most of it yet, but I am loving the research!

    • The designation J1c2 is like reading down a tree. J is the main haplogroup, or the trunk, 1 means you are on the first main branch, c means you are on the third twig on branch 1 and 2 means the second leaf on the third twig of branch one on tree J.

      • To determine the difference between any 2 subgroups, like J2c2 and J1c, you would look a the map for that subgroup, J1c, and the next one down the tree, J1c2 and look at where they both occurred. J1c2 is likely to occur in a subset of the J1c terrain. Not always, but generally.

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  19. Neat, I just found your note when I looked up what J1c meant.
    I am commenting, because in 2011 I went to Istanbul, and was where you were. My daughter was in the Peace Corps in Ukraine so we took a trip to Istanbul, and went on a tour boat and then a bus ride around that bridge.
    Then after my daughter finished the Peace Corps, she took a trip on the siberian railway and stayed a few days at lake Baikal.
    I got my 88 year old mom to recently give me a sample of saliva to test her DNA on ancestry.com. I am excited to see what shows up when it is done. Her parents were Croatian. I am half from English decent too, on my Dad’s side.

  20. I’m also a daughter of Jasime — J on both sides — J1b1a maternally, and J2b2 paternally (my brother was tested to get the Y Chromosome information. What’s funny is that my Dad was 100% Italian aside from a drop of Ashkenazi, and my Mom’s people were from Ireland, though they were likely English). Anyway, thought you might want to know that there are a few famous J’s, including (possibly) St. John the Baptist and King Richard III of the House of York.

    St. John the Baptist (ignore the Christ-bashing stuff): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-QjoorU03g

    King Richard III: http://cruwys.blogspot.com/2013/02/richard-iii-king-is-found.html

    Fascinating, isn’t it? Finding out about my haplogroups has been an interesting adventure!

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