DNA Ancestral Origins: a Deeper Dive

We often compare the results of different atDNA (autosomal DNA) tests with regards to Ancestral Origins. Usually I share breakdowns via the five companies I have tested with. I wanted for the purposes of this post to limit my comparison to one particular geographical area. This came to mind when recently reviewing an update of my Ancestral Origins for my Living DNA results. Overall I find Living DNA to be among the least accurate and the most confounding. However when I honed in on my “Germanic” Origins, I found Living DNA to be quite accurate in terms of geographic specificity and its alignment with the origins of my Germanic families, which includes German, Dutch, Swiss and Austrian. I do not mean that as a blanket endorsement of Living DNA but it may point out that different companies may more accurately or inaccurately portray one’s Ancestral Origins in very specific areas. This is both an issue of geography and of percentages attributed to various regions. So first my results from Living DNA:

LivingDNA Map of Southern Germanic

Now Please compare that with this screenshot of my Germanic families plotted on the map. Not Bad in my estimation. However I clearly do not have 27.2% Southern Germanic and 2.9% Scandinavian. I have one 100% Scandinavian grandparent!

Kelly’s ancestors locations (the dot is a specific 4,000 yr YDNA line)

I think 23andme is a close with a more realistic percentage at 14%.

23andMe Germanic

My Heritage, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry offer little specificity (for me, your results may differ).

My Heritage
FTDNA under it’s category Central Europe
Ancestry Germanic Europe Results

For Germanic Europe I have a percentage range from 9% at Family Tree DNA to 27.2% at Living DNA. In between lays 23andMe 14%, MyHeritage 14.3% and Ancestry 11%. Overall that averages 15.1% Germanic. On paper my estimate is 18%, but our DNA does not always reflect our paper tree as we retain DNA unevenly from various parts of our tree. So overall in terms of specificity of location and percentage my nod goes to 23andMe. However the geography with Living DNA was spot on. Granted your mileage may vary greatly. The point is to dig a bit deeper. My husband is lucky to get some great specificity with Ancestry in his Irish origins. Depending on how recently your ancestors came from somewhere else the more likely that you will get enhanced geographic specificity from some vendors. Namely 23andMe, Ancestry and surprisingly LivingDNA.

Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved

5 Comments on “DNA Ancestral Origins: a Deeper Dive”

  1. Kelly,

    Recently 23&me (as they often do) updated or pinpointed more dna specific information on my map which surprised me. There was a percentage of Coptic Egyptian. I said ‘huh’, that’s interesting… so I went to my brothers 23&me and he also shows the Coptic Egyptian (a smaller and specific dna group not general Egyptian).

    Has this popped up for you?

  2. Oh… One reason this interests me is the Egyptian (and Sardinian) influence on Ireland and the Hebrides before the Romans migrated from Europe.

  3. North Western Europeans cluster so close to one another, that your Scandinavian heritage could be read as South Germanic.

    Only West Austria is included in the South Germanic region. East Austria is part of Pannonia. East Austrians are far more east shifted and they cluster closer to Hungarians, and Czechs, than they do to Swiss or South Germans. Your Austrian ancestors probably came from Tirol, Voralberg, or Salzburg (areas that were not Slavic before the Bavarian tribes invaded in the tenth Century). All of East Austria was Slavic prior to the Bavarian invasions. Prior to the Tenth Century there was no division between West and South Slavic languages, as Czech tribes neighbored Slovenian tribes in Eastern Austria. This is why Czech, and Slovenian have some similar words.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I actually hadn’t considered that per se. I have quite a lot of Alsace Lorraine French/German and then Swiss/German and as you mentioned Austrian/German. But when we go back far enogh all that is nonsensical as people were always migrating, trading and intermarrying.

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