Ancient DNA Comparisons

Recently I was thinking that instead of jumping around back and forth from family to family, I may concentrate on one family line for two weeks and then work on another family line for the next two weeks, and so on and so on. It seems like I kind of started that already with my Dorwart research and then last week’s posts about genetic genealogy. I’m going to continue on today with another genetic genealogy post about comparing my DNA to ancient DNA.

Scientists have gathered ancient DNA from individual remains who lived thousands and thousands of years ago. I’ve mentioned Gedmatch before and how it focuses a lot on this deep ancestry. Since I downloaded my DNA’s raw data to Gedmatch, I can use its Archaic DNA Matches tool to compare my DNA with the ancient DNA that has been collected and sequenced on Gedmatch. I am so obsessed with this tool!

Using the tool, I put in a segment size of 1-2 cM, choosing this size increases the likelihood that a match has been passed down. The sum of the genetic length of DNA segments that a person shares with a match is reported as the total number of centimorgans (cMs) shared. There is no rule about how many segments a person should share with someone, and a person cannot come to a definitive conclusion about how s/he is related to someone based simply on the number of shared segments. What it then takes is research to confirm or verify that match. Matches also are not matches to direct ancestors. Generally, they are matches to a common ancestor, so it would be like cousins, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of generations back. Another kind of segment is known as population match and means a person’s common ancestor came from a common population with the other person, back in time, but you just cannot find the common ancestor.

This may be difficult to see but I ran the tool and there are a few matching segments in orange. They are LBK Stuttgart, BR2 Hungary, Ust’-Ishim Siberia, and NE1 Hungary. From here on, I can use another tool to compare these to my own DNA.

Using the One-to-One comparison tool, I compared my DNA kit, dropping the values until I obtained a match of some sort. Generally when looking for matches in genetic genealogy, default matching thresholds are set high. But when looking for deep ancestral connections, the thresholds should be lowered.

Again, as a cautionary note, the matches don’t prove heritage and it’s possible there may be no verifiable matches. It’s also possible the matches on small segments could be from a common population in a certain area long ago, it’s an unknown but a possibility. For example, in a common population match, a match to let’s say, the Anzick child from 12,500 years ago that has Native American heritage doesn’t prove anything, except that a person matches Anzick. Anyway, it would take more research and work to confirm connections, if there are any. Still pretty neat though!

Remembering now that I am completely of European origin, let’s begin looking at the matches.

LBK Stuttgart, 7ky

This is DNA from an individual’s remains discovered in Stuttgart, Germany. This individual has been identified as a female, probably between 22-30 years old, who probably died about 7,500 years ago, and who was a member of a Neolithic farming community. The LBK culture has been identified as one of the first farming cultures in Europe.

Since a big part of my maternal ancestors are from Germany, I was extremely curious about this sample. It turns out I do have shared matches on a number of chromosomes with this individual as you can see in the above photo, six shared segments on multiple chromosomes with a total of 19.8 cM. It’s very possible that my German ancestors lived there a much longer time than I realize.

BR2 Hungary, 3.2ky

This is an ancient sample from remains from 1110-1270 BC from the Ludas-Varju-dulo site in Hungary. I have read that the Great Hungarian Plain was a crossroads of cultural transformations that shaped European history and that this may have been from a migration into Europe from the east. Anyway, a transect of human genomes was analyzed and sampled from bones from thirteen Hungarian Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials.

There are 36 shared segments on multiple chromosomes with this sample, with a total of 139.4 cM.

Ust’-Isham Siberia, 45ky

This DNA is from a 45,000 modern human male from Siberia and probably belonged to the first wave of humans to migrate out of Africa and into Asia and Europe, before or at the time of the East-West Eurasian split. The individual carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians.

I share many segments with this individual, 20 shared segments on multiple chromosomes, with a total of 79.9 cM with the largest segment being 6.0 cM.

NE1 Hungary, 7.2ky

Like the Hungarian DNA above, this is a 5,000 transect of human genomes that was analyzed and sampled from bones from 13 Hungarian, Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials.

I share multiple segments to this DNA sample. The largest segment is 6.8 cM, there are 31 shared segments, and the total is 127.0 cM.

Other interesting potential shared matches that came up are from remains from Sweden, Luxembourg and many small segments to remains from Russia.

In the end, this information won’t really help me build my family/genetic tree but helps to see how I may possibly share DNA segments with ancient inhabitants of the continent where my ancestors lived. Some say that we all will share DNA with all of these people, but it’s a fun tool to play with anyway!

Thanks for reading!

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