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.


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.


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.


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

111 thoughts on “Jasmine’s Journey of Discovery

  1. I’m a J1c3 and the more research I do, the more amazed I become. It has been fairly easy to trace my ancestry to NW Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. I have also managed to trace my paternal side of the family to ancient Ireland, however, I am even more interested to learn how they came to be in NW Europe if the ‘J’ heralds from Turkey/the Levant/northern Africa, etc!!!

    • Hello Kathy. I noticed that we both share the same haplogroup! I am a J1c3 myself! I had the DNA test done through 23andme. I would love to know more about this group if you do not mind 🙂 Please let me know if we can discuss them further!

  2. Hi Babypopcorn and Kathy Robinson, I am also J1C3. Are either of you on. Gedmatch? I also did my dna through 23 and me.

  3. Pingback: On This Day – What Were Your Ancestors Doing? – 52 Ancestors #170 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  4. Hi Kathy. I am originally born and raised in Algerie. All my parents and grandparents were born in Algerie. My maternal haplogroup is J1C3.
    Origin is probably due to Viking occupation of Eastern North Africa or descendent of Europeans captured and brought to North Africa Barbary Coast pirates during their era.

  5. My name is Solveig, I also have J1C3 and am from the Western coast of Norway, with all my grandparents from this coast also. I took a full DNA test from National Geographic and discovered that I in addition to a bit Finnish-Siberian and Scandinavian, have a rather large Irish-British component, and an unusually large Southern European component (usually totally absent in Scandinavia, as Scandinavians in addition to Scandinavia have Eastern European and larger Finnish-Siberian parts). The Southern European part does not surprise me, because of my coastal origin and Western Norwegians often being dark and brown eyes. In Europe there has always been travellling along the coasts. I took a more specific test and the Southern European component is mainly italian-Greek with a bit Iberian peninsula. So some people travelled away from the sun to the Arctic areas probably a few hundred years ago. What these tests tell us is that people always have travelled. We have feet, not only roots! 🙂

    • I am also Norwegian and my materal haplogroup is J1c2. It was fascinating to find out that these genes was brought from the british isles ca 800 AC to Norway by vikings. My grand-grand-etc-mother lived at the british isles and was shiped to Norway. My grandmother was from Bohuslän in Sweden, a place earlier part of Norway, and it is my guess that the viking that brought her over the north sea lived in that area. It is well known that vikings took celtic women with them on their way to Iceland, and I read at 23andme.com that some J1c2 women also ended up in Norway.

      • Roberta Estes – it seems like this is valid for the hole J haplogroupe! 🙂 From 23andme.com: «By 4,000 years ago an offshoot of J had made it all the way to the western edge of Europe, becoming entrenched among the Celtic-speakers of the British Isles. But even that wasn’t the end of the journey. Beginning in the 8th century AD, Viking raiders who regularly pillaged coastal Britain and Ireland often sailed back home with Celtic women aboard. Some of those women carried this branch, so that today there are Norwegians and even Icelanders with the far-flung J haplogroup.»

        • I’m suspicious of this. We just don’t have that level of specificity yet. This branch has yet to be found in the British isles at all. If it migrated through there, there would still be people there.

          • I’ve posted about this before so these comments may sound familiar.

            The geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer has a map in his book “The Origins of the British” showing mtDNA J people migrating from Norway to Scotland in the Neolithic or New Stone Age, several thousand years BC. These were descendants of the first Neolithic farmers from the Middle East to bring knowledge of farming into Europe.

            It seems unlikely that all the mtDNA J people in Norway migrated westwards, presumably many stayed put, in which case they will be a component in the modern population of Norway. So if you are Norwegian and your mtDNA haplogroup is J, don’t take it for granted that you are descended from a British woman kidnapped by a Norwegian Viking a mere thousand years ago. It ain’t necessarily so!

            I belong to the FTDNA mtDNA J project, and there are a group of us whose earliest known ancestor in the direct female line was from north-east Ulster. They all tend to have Scottish surnames and were presumably descended from Scots who moved to Ulster during the Plantation period from the early 1600s onward.

            As to the term “Celtic”, it’s probably best reserved for talking about the Celtic languages which survive in parts of the British Isles and Brittany. There does not seem to have been such a thing as a Celtic “race” – the latest DNA research shows that the Scots, Irish and Welsh are distinct populations genetically. It seems that the ancestor of the Celtic languages may have developed as a lingua franca or common language along the Atlantic seaboard, eventually replacing whatever languages were originally spoken in that area. Just as Celtic-speaking Britons would eventually start speaking the Anglo-Saxon language of a relatively small band of invaders from northern Europe.


    • I am J1c2 Harry, also from NE Ulster, Co.Antrim. Though unlike your ‘possible Plantation Scots’ female ancestors, I am descended from what could be termed Native Irish, from the Glens of Antrim. Due to family historians, some now long gone, who left family trees, whether written or oral, I have been able to go back to the mid 1700s with all my ancestors ( before I had my DNA checked) and they had all, particularly my maternal line, Irish surnames, still common in the area, which was quite isolated from the Plantation settlers in fact. Thank you for your valuable and interesting comments😊You will notice I have a Scots surname, it is my husband’s.

      • A Scottish surname, but Henry Joy McCracken, one of the founders of the Society of United Irishmen, was a native of Belfast. A lot of Mc- surnames like that are found both in south-west Scotland and in Ulster.
        One of my closest Y DNA matches on Family Tree DNA is a chap called Rock who comes from an indigenous Catholic family in Co. Armagh. The Scots and the Irish are closely related from way back.

      • Not trying to offend but I am curious at to what are you considering to be “Native Irish”? McCuaig’s Rathlin remains go back to about 2000 B.C. which upended the Celtic idea of earliest populations because genetically he was more similar to modern Irish and much much older than Iron Age celts. Yet there are older remains (Ballynahatty 3200 B.C.) which genetically are more similar to Mediterranean people. That seems to imply that nativity is relevant to a specific time period and not actual first populations. If the current hypothesis holds (which seems very likely) the east to west migration of Bell Beaker folk brought the modern Irish genetics, at least paternal Y DNA haplogroup R1B-L21+. But even then earlier Neolithic folk were already there. So who were the natives, or are you only comparing pre to post plantation periods?

  6. In the Britain neolithic samples we can see both J1C1 and J1C2 so we know there were there at least in the Neolithic.
    I2691 (J1C1 3701-3640 BCE),
    I2629 (J1c1b 3180-2780 BCE).
    I2933 (J1c2 3011-2886 BCE).

    • It was reported before that his mitochondrial DNA was haplogroup U. However, I understand there is a new paper due out shortly that sequences his entire genome, so we will hopefully have an update soon.

  7. J2a2a mtDNA here. 23 and Me says my ancestry is roughly half English/Irish and the other half French/German. I’m wondering if DNA from a nephew (brother’s son) would give me some information about the paternal side. Actually, I’ve researched MOST of the family back to the 15th and 16th c. but I’m curious about where the genes were before that.

  8. I’m j1c and I basically paid $80 to be told I’m 99.6 jewish.. is there anyway to pin point a location . I was basically told it most of Europe. I was looking for some kind of break down of countries.

  9. My name is Kees Steutel, from the Netherlands. I belong to haplogroup J1C2. My family lived for centuries on the Zeeland iles, which aeria was populated a few centuries before our era. I am curious whether my origin is from that time or was brought on later by invasions.
    I like to hear more from members of my group in the Netherlands or Belgium.

  10. I am J1b1 I love to hear about my ancestors! thank you so much for sharing all your work. I am on gedmatch if anyone wants to compare. M282675 under Lacquita Ratterree. my email is lacquitaclark@gmail.com if anyone gets a match I would love to hear from you!

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