Ancestry’s Updated V2 Ethnicity Summary

Today when I signed onto, I was greated with a message that my new Ethnicity Estimate Preview was ready for viewing.  Yippee!

Ancestry v2 1

Ancestry announced some time back that they were updating this function.  Release 1 was so poor that it should never have been released.  However, V2 is somewhat improved.  In any case, it’s different. Let’s take a look.

The graphic below shows my initial, V1 results, which bore very little resemblance to my ancestry.  My V1 results are shown below, and they are still shown on my page at Ancestry.  I was pleased so see that so I have a reference for comparison.

ancestry v2 2

Some years back, I did a pedigree analysis of my genealogy in an attempt to make sense of autosomal results from other companies.

The paper, “Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis” was published in the Fall 2010 issue of JoGG, Vol. 6 issue 1.

The pedigree analysis portion of this document begins about page 8.  My ancestral breakdown is as follows:

Geography Percent
Germany 23.8041
British Isles 22.6104
Holland 14.5511
European by DNA 6.8362
France 6.6113
Switzerland .7813
Native American .2933
Turkish .0031

This leaves about 25% unknown.  However, this looks nothing like the 80% British Isles and the 12% Scandinavian in Ancestry’s V1 product.

In an article titled, “Ethnicity Results, True or Not” I compared my pedigree information with the results from all the testing vendors, including Ancestry’s V1 information.  Needless to say, they didn’t fare very well.

The next screen you see talks about what’s new, but being very anxious to see the results, I bypassed that for the moment to see my new results shown below.

ancestry v2 3

My initial reaction was that I was very excited to see both my Native and African admixture shown.  I thought maybe Ancestry had actually hit a home run.  Then I looked down and saw the rest.  Uh, no home run I’m afraid.  Shucks.  Clicking on the little plus signs provide this view.

ancestry v2 4

I noticed the little box at the bottom that says “show all regions,” so I clicked there.  The only difference between that display and the one above is that the regions with zero displayed as well.

My updated V2 results show primarily Western European and Scandinavian.  I certainly won’t argue with the western European, although the percentage seems quite high, but there is absolutely NO indication that I have any Scandinavian heritage, let alone 10%, and my British Isles is dramatically reduced.

Here are the two results side by side, in percentages, with my commentary.

Location Ancestry V1 Ancestry V2 My Pedigree Comments
British Isles 80 Great Britain 4, Ireland 2 22 Great Britain includes Scotland
Scandinavia 12 10 0
Italy/Greece 0 2 Turkish <1
North Africa 0 <1 0
Native American 0 <1 <1
East Asian 0 <1 0 Probably Native American
Western Europe 0 79 51
Uncertain 8 0 25

I am not going to take issue with any of the small percentages.  I fully understand how difficult trace ethnicity is to decipher.  My concern here is with the “big chunks,” because if the big chunks aren’t correct, there is also no confidence in the small ones.

I’m left wondering about the following:

  • I went from 80% British Isles in V1, which we knew was incorrect, to 6% in V2, which is also incorrect.  I have at least 22% British Isles.
  • I went from being 0% Western European in V1 to 79% in V2, which is also incorrect.  Now granted, I do have 25% uncertain in my own pedigree, and given that I’m a cultural mixture, some of that certainly could be western European.  But all of it?  Given where my ancestor were found in colonial America, and when, it’s much more likely that the majority of the 25% that is uncertain in my pedigree chart would be British Isles.
  • Would you look at the V1 results and the V2 results, side by side, and believe for one minute they were describing the same person?  This is not a minor revision and there is very little consistency between the two – only 16%.  That means that 84% changed between the two versions.  And in that 16% is that pesky, unexplained Scandinavian, not found, by the way, by any other testing company.  Yes, I know about the Vikings, but still, 10 or 12%?  That’s equivalent to a great-grandparent, not trace amounts from centuries ago.

So V2 seems to be somewhat better, I think, but still no place close to what is known to be correct.  Based on the V2 results, which seem to have very little resemblance to the V1 results, I can’t help but wonder why Ancestry would have published such highly incorrect results for V1, and then adamantly defended those results, publishing videos, etc.  Doesn’t a corporation have some responsibility to their customers to provide correct information, and if they can’t, to be smart enough to know that and to not publish anything?  And if it’s the same technical team behind the scenes, how do we know that V2 isn’t equally as flawed, given that the results still don’t seem to jive with my known (and for the most part, DNA proven) pedigree chart?

One thing Ancestry has done that is an improvement is to provide additional information about their process for determining admixture and what has changed in the V2 version.  I went back and looked at the “What’s New” information that I skipped in my excitement to see my new results.  In that information, they provide the following bullets:

  • They increased the number of markers used for comparison from 30,000 to 300,000.
  • They increased the analysis passes from 1 to 40.  This is further explained in their white paper.
  • They broke Europe into 4 regions.
  • They broke West Africa into 6 regions.

ancestry v2 6

  • They updated the regions covered.  The V2 reference panel contains 3,000 samples that represent 26 distinct overlapping global regions (Table 3.1, below, from their white paper).  V1 covered 22 regions.


# Samples

Great Britain 111
Ireland 138
Europe East 432
Iberian Peninsula 81
European Jewish 189
Europe North 232
Europe South 171
Europe West 166
Finnish/Northern Russian 59
Africa Southeastern Bantu 18
Africa North 26
Africa Southcentral Hunter Gatherers 35
Benin/Togo 60
Cameroon/Congo 115
Ivory/Ghana 99
Mali 16
Nigeria 67
Senegal 28
Native American 131
Asia Central 26
Asia East 394
Asia South 161
Melanesia 28
Polynesia 18
Caucasus 58
Near East 141
  • Ancestry provided a white paper on their methods which explains how these ethnicity estimates are created.  This is very important and I applaud them for their transparency.  Unfortunately, you can’t see the white paper unless you are a subscriber and have taken their autosomal DNA test.  If you have, to see the white paper, click on the little question mark in the upper right hand corner of the ethnicity results page, then on the “whitepaper” icon.

ancestry v2 7

How Are Ethnicity Percentages Created?

Wanting to understand the process they are using, I moved to their educational maternal and Ethnicity Estimate white paper, which, unfortunately I can’t link to.  You must be a subscriber to see this document.

The first thing I discovered is that they utilized 3000 DNA samples as a reference data base, including the Humane Genome Diversity Project data utilized by all researchers in this field.

ancestry v2 8

From their white paper:

“In developing the AncestryDNA ethnicity estimation V2 reference panel, we begin with a candidate set of 4,245 individuals. First, we examine over 800 samples from 52 worldwide populations from a public project called the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) (Cann et al. 2002; Cavalli-Sforza 2005). Second, we examine samples from a proprietary AncestryDNA reference collection as well as AncestryDNA samples from customers consenting to participate in research. To obtain candidate reference panel candidates from these two sets, family trees are first consulted, and a sample is included in the candidate set if all lineages trace back to the same geographic region. Although this was not possible for HGDP samples, this dataset was explicitly designed to sample a large set of populations representing a global picture of human genetic variation.

In total, our reference panel candidates include over 800 HGDP samples, over 1,500 samples from the proprietary AncestryDNA reference collection, and over 1,800 AncestryDNA customers who have explicitly consented to be included in the reference panel.”

I’m assuming that the proprietary reference collection they mention is the Sorenson data they purchased in July 2012.  The Sorenson data base was compiled from individual donors who contributed the DNA samples and pedigree charts but without any supporting documentation.

So in addition to the publicly available data, Ancestry has utilized both the Sorenson and their own data bases.  That makes sense.  It may also be the root of the problem.

There’s another quote from their paper:

“Fortunately, knowing where your grandparents are born is often a sufficient proxy for much deeper ancestry. In the recent past, it was much more difficult and thus less common for people to migrate large distances. Because of this, it is frequently the case that the birthplace of your grandparents represents a much more ancient ancestral origin for your DNA.”

They do say that this does not apply to people in America, for example.

However, how many of you have confidence in the Ancestry trees, or any trees submitted, for that matter, in public data bases.  Ancestry only allows you to attach “facts” found in their data base.  This means, for example, if you want to upload your Gedcom file that has pages and pages of documentation including wills, tax lists, and other primary sorts of documentation, you can’t.  Well, you can, but only if you copy it off into a word document and attach it separately to that person one page at a time.  In other words, Ancestry isn’t interested in any documentation or research that you’ve done elsewhere.  This also means that they have few tools themselves to determine whether your tree is accurate, especially once you get beyond the census years with family enumeration – meaning 1850 in the US.  What this means is that the only reliable references they have are their own data bases, excluding Rootsweb trees.  Ancestry owns Rootsweb too and Rootsweb has always allowed uploads of limited notes attached to people.  Some are exceedingly useful.

If Ancestry is utilizing large numbers of user submitted pedigree charts by which to calibrate or measure ethnicity, that could be a problem.

Let’s run a little experiment.  I am very familiar with the original records pertaining to Abraham Estes, born in 1647 in Nonington, Kent, England and who died in 1720 in King and Queen County, Virginia.  I have been a primary records researcher on this man for 25 years.  Not only are his records documented, but so are those of several preceding generations through church records in England.  In other words, we know what we know and what we don’t know.  We do NOT know his second wife’s surname, although there is a pervasive myth as to what it was, which is entirely unsubstantiated.

I entered his name/birth year into Ancestry’s search tool and I looked at the first 20 records show in their “Family Trees.”  I wanted to see how many displayed correct or incorrect information.  Ancestry displays these trees in order, based, apparently, on the number of source or attached records, implying records with more sources would be better to utilize.  That would generally be quite true.  Unfortunately, sources are often the IGI or Family Data Collection, which are also “unsourced,” creating a vicious cycle of undocumented rumors cited as sources.  Let’s take a look at what we have.

Record # Incorrect Info Listed Correct Info Listed Grandparents Info Present/Correct
1 First wife’s name entirely incorrect, but linked to correct original record.  Second wife’s surname entirely undocumented.  Multiple family crests listed but family was not armorial.  Children listed multiple times.  Son, Abraham’s records attached to father. Birth year and location. Death date and location. No
2 First wife entirely missing. Second wife’s surname entirely undocumented. Marriage date entirely undocumented.  Third, unknown spouse listed with the same children given to spouse 2 and 3. Birth year and location.    Death date and location. No
3 Abraham was given fictitious middle name.  Second wife’s surname entirely undocumented.  Most children missing and the two that are on the list are given fictitious middle names.  Marriage date for second wife is entirely undocumented. Birth year and location, first marriage, death date and   location. No
4 First wife’s surname missing.  Second wife’s surname entirely   undocumented.  Have land transaction attached to him 13 years after he died.  Incorrect childen. Birth date and location, first wife’s first name and date   of marriage, death date and location. No
5 Shows marriage for first and second wife on same   day/place.  First wife’s name entirely wrong.  Shows a second marriage date to second wife.  Second wife’s surname  entirely undocumented.  No burial   location known, but burial location given.  Incorrect children. Birth year and location. No

After these first 5 records, I became discouraged and did not type the balance of the 15 records.  Not one displayed only correct information, nor did any have the man’s parents and grandparents names and birth locations documented correctly.  So much for using family trees as sources.

If Ancestry is assuming that where your grandfather was born is representative of where your family was originally from, if you are from a non-immigrant location (i.e. not the US, not Canada, not Australia, etc.), that too might be a problem.  There has been a lot of movement in the British Isles, for example, since the industrial revolution, particularly in the 1800s.  Where Abraham’s grandfather was born in 1555 is probably relevant, but the grandfather of someone living today is much less predictive.

So, where does this leave us? 

Apparently Ancestry’s V1 was worse than we thought, given that my 80% majority ancestry turned into 6 and my 0% western Europe turned into 79%.  Neither of these are correct.

Ancestry’s V2 seems to be somewhat better, but raises the same types of questions about the results.

Ancestry’s white paper may indeed answer some of those questions, based on their use of contributed pedigree charts.  However, having said that, you would think that they could utilize families with a deep history of ancestry in a specific area, proven by various non-contributed (such as parish or will) records, in a non-urban environment.

Ironically, Ancestry did pick up on both my Native and African minority admixture, but they are still missing the boat on the majority factors, which calls the entire concoction into question.

So the net-net of all of this….it’s still not soup yet.  I’m disappointed and beginning to wonder if it ever will be.

42 thoughts on “Ancestry’s Updated V2 Ethnicity Summary

  1. Hi Roberta,

    Ancestry’s result system might also have an orthogonality issue in their break-out of world populations. For example, both their Great Britain region and their Scandinavia region contain (at least significant portions of) Denmark. So do you attribute Anglish or Saxon DNA to Great Britain or to Scandinavia? There should also be a lot of Scandinavian DNA in areas of Scotland, particularly in the north. This is a tough conundrum for ANY result system.

    Consider also that the sort of answers one might be looking to have answered by these sorts of test results could depend very much on where you happen to live. An American with strong ties back to Jutland via eastern England might expect “Great Britain” as a result, while an Englishman with the same genetic makeup might expect “Scandinavia” (or better yet, “Jutland”). I think you discussed this sort of problem in an early blog post…

  2. Roberta – Thanks for this post. Just a couple of things. Your assertion that Ancestry does not allow “facts” to be attached to trees outside of those found on is incorrect. Files in multiple formats (.doc, .pdf, .jpg, .png, etc.) are accepted; sources can be created “by hand” just as they can in many software programs; “weblinks” can be created that take one straight to another website or internet based file with information about the ancestor, etc. Whether one chooses to learn about and/or use these features is up to them. Ancestry has done several tutorials on how to attach and link to sources and documentation not found on, and these videos are available on their YouTube channel. AFAIK, except for maybe PHP based TNG, there is no software or web-based family tree that allows one to export a GEDCOM and have all of the accompanying source information import perfectly to the new software or upload to a new website. Despite Ancestry’s many failings, they do not restrict facts and sources to only information from their website.
    Additionally, I believe that you understand the difference between a “genetic” family tree and a “genealogical” family tree (as coined by Blaine Bettinger). 10-12% Scandinavian is not necessarily representative of one particular ancestor, but could be from many ancestors, and over or under-representation of certain populations can come into play skewing the ethnicity results because our genetic tree does not equally represent every ancestor at 10-12 generations. Often, it is not reasonable to determine ethnicity based on the paper trail and then expect it to align with admixture results. With that said, I do believe there is still significant improvement to be made in distinguishing Western European and British Isles admixture. This still seems to be quite problematic for many, including me. It seems that Ancestry has traded their v1 Scandinavian/British Isles problem for a new British Isles/Western Europe problem.

    • The original Rootsweb system allowed the upload of notes along with the original file. You did not have to break them out and do a lot of extra work to attach anything. Ancestry purchased Rootsweb, so they clearly know that this can be done, and how. I stated that they did allow attachments, one page at a time, which is how you have to attach any notes in your GEDCOM file.

      And yes, I clearly understand the difference between a genetic and genealogy family tree. I’ve spent a great deal of time confirming my links to various families utilizing autosomal DNA. I do have dead ends of course, but none in several generations, and the Scandinavian remains a mystery. It could come from multiple ancestors, but more likely, especially since none of the admixture tools show this elsewhere, nor do any of the other testing companies, it’s probably incorrect. I certainly wouldn’t quibble about a small percentage, but 10-12% without any hint or history of anything Scandinavian anyplace, for many generations simply seems highly suspect. I certainly don’t expect a paper trail to perfectly align with genetic ethnicity results, but any significant difference needs some sort of explanation. Had I not done so much work verifying lineages, I’d be suspect of my genealogy work, but in this case, I have done the work. Therefore, there is every reason to suspect that the Scandinavian is in error. Furthermore, as you said, they have seemed to traded problems, but in my case, they added a problem without removing the original one:) The bigger discrepancy is in the 80% British Isles to 79% Western Europe switch.

      • I also have a large chunk (15%) of unexplained Scandinavian DNA. However, I think if we look at history it makes more sense. The Vikings traveled extensively, and also created new settlements outside of their “native” territory. Think of the Normans in France for instance, or Dublin in Ireland. I suspect the Scandinavian comes from many of our British, Irish and Western European ancestors who had Viking ancestors.

  3. Why are you so hung up on Scandinavian? I do not pretend to be an expert in the history of Great Britain however based upon what research I have performed, it is perfectly logical to find ancestors who were affected by the invasions that took place by the “hordes from the North”. Of course they do not indicate in you paper genealogy, but if an ancestor lived in Great Britain (British Isles), then, he (she) from the earliest invasions by the Viking’s, (you pick the date).
    Does that make sense to you?

    • I know that the ancestry of many of my British Isles ancestors are through Y line DNA testing. Indeed, I would not be surprised to find trace amounts. But there is a lot more Germanic and Celtic and Anglo-Saxon heritage than Viking. The amount simply does not make sense at that level.

      • But then think of how many thousands of ancestors you would have had at that time and small fractions of DNA can add up to a larger whole.

  4. The raids began in 763…as per Wikipedia search…Does your paper genealogy go back that far.
    Rape, pillage and conquer occurred. No records exist for victims, voluntary or forced.
    Do the search for a preliminary look if you have not and I assume someone of your stature would have thoroughly researched.
    I apologise if I have been a little coarse, but let me know what you find or what you already were aware.

    • I am aware – very aware. But I also know that they didn’t bring women, for the most part, and they intermarried – to put it nicely. Right there, the DNA got diluted by half being half non-Viking. There were lots of other men in the British Isles that didn’t die. They would have been intermarried for hundreds of years with the already resident Picts, Angles, Saxons, Celts and then the invading Normans – who were also part Viking. As I said before, I have already identified many of the y-lines in my family. If there was enough residual Viking to make up 10% of my DNA, don’t you think there would be something in some line pointing to some of it??? There isn’t. And there isn’t at any other testing company either. How did they all miss it?

      • Roberta, Thank you for the response.
        My original results as follows:
        56%Scandinavian, 35% Central European, 7% British Isles and 2% uncertain.
        My revised: Africa minus 1%,
        Europe: 97%
        Great Britain 59%
        Ireland 14%
        Scand 13%
        Trace 11%
        West Asia 2%
        And this seems to tie in with my paper having researched for 40 years the name Bittle, found on the Isle of Man in the 1500’s, and forward to the British Isles, Swizterland, Central Europe-German Provinces and the maternal Frick lines.
        I even found John Bittle/ Elizabeth Bass as a member of the Nansemond Indian tribe of NC recently.
        So, if you have time and inclination please respond and if you don’t then I will continue your path of consternation.
        I have done Ancestry dna autosomal, FTdna (R1b1a2 at 67 markers, and today submitted my kit to 23 and Me.
        I am a member of the Biddle, Bittle, Buttel project, Diana G. Matheison admin.
        No matches to date.
        All most interesting and informative but entirely a new language for an amateur.

  5. My results were for the most part really close:

    34% British on paper vs. 41% Great Britain

    42% German on paper vs. 31% Europe West

    10% Irish on paper vs. 9% Ireland

    Around 1% South Asian using Gedmatch vs. less than 1% South Asian

    It missed my Eastern European ancestry which is about 6% on paper but it showed 7% Scandinavian.

    My Native American ancestry (about 0.5% to about 1%) on Gedmatch calculators shows up as less than 1% Pacific Islander (Melanasian) which I find humorous since I don’t have any Pacific Island ancestors at least not in the past 1000 years or so.

    The test missed my trace Ashkenazi and Sub-Saharan African ancestry but seemed to combine both to give me 2% North African.

  6. I got my new version as well. It showed 1 percent Native American. I read that 1 percent can be traced back to 5 generations. Is that correct?

  7. The ethnicity estimates are cute, but dubious. The science is obviously in its infancy.

    Say, how is Ancestry’s chromosome browser coming along? That would be useful.

    • Yeah, I agree is still a bit sketchy. I took a very specific DNA test elsewhere and the numbers line up very well with each other in pretty much every category. So I an getting more comfortable with ancestry’s results.

  8. I just chalk it up to the lab assistant’s capabilities and interest. I’m a U5b3 everywhere except FTDNA now. (I haven’t tested with Ancestry). Suddenly FTDNA dropped the b3, so I’m a plain U5 there. But I’m still U5b3 at NG and at 23&Me. My percentages change constantly, but I’m northern European basically…..and I can tell that by looking at myself in the mirror. 🙂

  9. I have had my results for a month as part of the prerelease group. As an african american my “burning question” was to know my african roots. I got a head start doing another test at 23 and me so I knew my mother’s line of descent and I have to say that ancestry confirmed that with the new version and gave me some wonderful new discoveries. That said I have not been happy with my european results – magically in version a good chunk of my matches were from a very specific place in Germany according to their family trees. I accepted that because of slavery I don’t know where it came from even though I had reason to believe it was British/Irish. Now with version 2 I have been given those ethnic groups (no German) and the ethnic groups of my 3rd and 4th cousin matches seem to be an odd mix that doesn’t quite line up with me. Bottom line something is out of order at Ancestry and it isn’t the phone…….

  10. For those who have been tested by 23andMe, what is your opinion of the accuracy of their ethnicity results compared to Ancestry? Does anyone know if Family Tree DNA plans to update their ethnicity calculator?

    • I have to check ancestrys new results but what you said about ancestry is how I feel about Familtreedna. I have tried talking with FamilyTreeDNA but all they what to do is argue. I am native America blood, german , Scandinavian, Scottish , Irish but the Native American shown on Familtreedna shows me low and gives me more middle eastern then native and there is no middle eastern in my families family tree. My second great grand father is full blood Klingit and my great grand mother is full blood Aleut, and FamilyTreeDNA have not got one family member on there site yet. A Dodson came up and I check and the ones on Familtreedna was not in my family’s names, look like it was but they did not match, I was hopen one was found. But all this DNA stuff is new so maybe things will change. The percentages aren’t correct on my results and I have my family tree growing on both my moms side and dads side and I’m learning a lot about DNA very fast and it is different then my family tree which comes from my elders

      • Daren,

        Are your folks from the Eastern Shore? A lot of people who were initially thought of as Native may have Moroccan or North African and Middle Eastern ancestry.

        • Eyak Alaskan native , Aleut Alaskan Native, Klingit Alaskan native, Tuscarro native, Danish , Irish on my moms side and German, French, Scottish and Native American – my dad sead Blackfoot but doing a faceul recognition I come up with crow, Cheyenne , Sioux , cochita Indian but with FamilyTreeDNA and the SNP page it comes up in three different haplogroups as crow in the lead
          Thank You

          • I had a lot of Middle Eastern ancestry in my results, as well as a considerable amount of DNA from India. I wonder which Native groups are being used as samples for the DNA test.

  11. For those of you who have received your Ancestry V2 dna results, please make sure you look at ALL regions, and especially click on the zero ones. I was quite surprised to find that I had 5 more regions with tiny amounts that Ancestry was not confident enough of to call with certainty.

  12. My original Ancestry estimate was WAY off. I had 88% Central European and 11% Uncertain. The new estimate is about what I expected with a few surprises. Here are my results.
    Europe East 17%
    Europe West 16%
    Scandinavia 15%
    Great Britain 15%
    Italian/Greece 14%
    Ireland 10%
    Iberian Peninsula 8%
    European Jewish 1%
    South Asia 1%
    Caucasus 2%
    Near East 1%
    These results match up pretty well with what I was expecting. The trace amounts I chalked up to migration patterns and various invasions. The Scandinavian surprised me a small amount as I have no one overtly Scandinavian in my family tree. However, I figure that some of my ancestors from the British Isles and Germany had some Viking ancestors in there somewhere. I was surprised how HIGH the estimate was. I was more surprised by the Iberian Peninsula results. Again, I don’t know of any Spanish or Portuguese ancestors. But, people moved around. I think I would have been more surprised if I had not found anything I was not expecting, and maybe a little disappointed. This gives me some intriguing mysteries to think about.

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  14. Regarding your replies about Scandinavia, here’s a few words from a historian in Norway. The Vikings did at times bring women, for example after 872 several large, important families left Western Norway to settle on the British isles and later in Normandy. Scandinavians and Celts in Scotland and Ireland mixed so much over the years that contemporary sources labeled them with a new etnich term, Gaelic-Norse. Also, Bede writes that England was invaded by three peoples (pre Viking age): Angles, Saxons and Jutes. The latter has been somewhat forgotten in the “Anglo-Saxon” (for example Hengist and Horsa), but they were definitely a group of people, both women and men, and definitely from Jylland in Denmark (Jutland/”Goth land”). These Jutes (or actually Goths) could very well have been your ancestors. But all in all, I would say it’s still to early to be precise.

  15. As noted by the summary examples from Richard Bittle and Sturla Ellingvaag, there is a major flaw in equating contemporary and recent ~residence~ with past ethnicity. Major population groups were on the move in the first and second millenia, CE, not to mention Viking/Rus empire and slave-taking/selling in East-central Europe, and the recruits from all over the Empire brought to England by the Romans.

    Thank you for the emphasis on the small contemporary population samples being used, and for pointers to the fallacies inherent in using trees to estimate ethnicity. Oh, and the ~sources~ listed by in tree-search results include other trees as well as the hodgepodge junk databases you mention.

  16. Very interesting article. My mom was a WASP from way back (America in 1630) and those people keep RECORDS (including a lot of intermarriage of four main families). I knew her side of the family was English, Scottish, and French. However, there are a lot of tall blondes in the family, so I assumed a bit of Viking blood there somewhere. My dad’s side of the family were all “Germans from Russia”, from the Odessa region of Ukraine, also a lot of family records which supposedly show it starting in Austria, moving through Holland, Germany, Russia and then to the US.
    Based on this, I expected about 45% British, 45% West Europe (which would include the maternal French and Paternal German/Dutch/whatever), and then maybe 5% Scandinavian, 5% Eastern Europe (knowing some tiny Polish ancestry).
    So I was very surprised at the results:
    45% Scandinavian (huh?)
    13% Iberian Penninsula (I do have some dark-haired, dark-eyed family members, so I can explain this by perhaps the French side of the family actually had Spanish blood to begin with)
    11% Europe West (again, expected this to be much higher)
    10% Italy/Greece (could be explained by proximity to Eastern Europe, both culturally and geographically)
    9% Europe East (not a surprise, since the family lived in that area for generations)
    8% British Isles (huh? Again- expected this to be much higher)
    4% (trace) Ireland (well, I did have ancestors in Ireland, they were Scots Irish, but possible).
    So…..a bit baffling, that 45% Scandinavian. Although as a tall blue-eyed blonde I have been accused of being Scandinavian my entire life. I talked to my brother about this, and he said that a relative of ours who researched my dad’s paternal family (supposedly German/Polish/Prussian- hard to say since the borders changed every five minutes there) said they were actually Danish. At the time he thought perhaps they just SAID they were Danish to escape anti-German sentiments around WWI.
    I suppose it’s possible that the 45% could be a combination of Viking blood on both sides- not to mention the Kiev ancestors which is where the Rus people were; and the Normans of France.
    I’m hoping my brother will do the 23 and Me DNA testing if they ever restart it, since they can test his Y chromosome and maybe that will clear up, prove wrong, support, or whatever these results.

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  19. Pingback: Ethnicity Testing and Results | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  20. Well, it is 2016 and nothing has changed with AncestryDNA. My test came back 71% Great Britain. The average native person from the UK according to Ancestry’s database has 60%. What??? I am German, born and raised, and all of the about 2000 ppl in my family tree were Germans. With one exception (who might have been from the Alsace region), my entire blood relation is from around 25 km of my home town in Germany. Ancestry’s explanation? DNA goes back thousands of years. Yet my Western Europe shows as only 12%. In fact, I supposedly have 11% Greek/Italian as well. How can that be?? This test is a fraud.

      • along those lines, there is always a possibility of non-paternity somewhere in a reported family tree (for example, estimates range 2-4% in the US that the dad named on the birth certificate is not the biological father). That might explain some inconsistencies. But I suspect that there was sufficient admixture going so far back throughout the European continent that there aren’t “pure” geographic gene signatures for most regions. So you might be correct – there may be no “right” answer possible with today’s ancestry methods.

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