Monday, March 28, 2011

Viking Origins and Y-DNA

On Viking Origins
and Y-DNA

The previous blog article posed a possible migration path for the Vikings, specifically using the Normans as an example. The study used Y-DNA STR modals by country, and dating the phylogram timeline by scaling to the time of the Norman Conquest (1066 AD).

A current (tentative) timeline looks something on the order of:

(...from more recent locations to more ancient.)

Spain...................... 324 AD
Poland.................... 156 AD
Wales....................... 92 AD
Russia...................... 41 AD
Belgium.................... 16 AD
Portugal................... 10 AD
Netherlands.............. 10 AD
Croatia.................. 214 BC
Romania................ 287 BC
Turkey................... 537 BC
Sicily..................... 654 BC
Ukraine................. 793 BC
Slovenia............... 1022 BC
Czech Republic..... 1231 BC

Which is to say, the Y-DNA genetic distance from the time of the Norman Conquest suggests a timeline for migration per country. At least, given the modals per country for what should be the Normans.

The DNA evidence to support the above is by no means complete, nor conclusive. The modals appear to support migration of the Normans from the Mediterranean Sea, but the specific area for origin (of Croatia) is still speculative. The timeline for origins from Croatia is only minimally supported by very few Y-DNA STR samples in Slovenia and the Czech Republic. However, it is interesting to examine the history of the Croatian people during this time period.

The Beginning

Proof for the point of departure for the Viking (I1-M253) migration from Croatia is extremely tenuous at best. The timeline shows an apparent settlement in Croatia by 214 BC, and arrival in Netherlands in 10 AD with arrival in Portugal in 10 AD. This is fairly speculative, based upon very scant DNA evidence for these areas.

In order to determine if this timeline is plausible, more data is needed for I1 in the areas of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. However, it is interesting to examine any historical (or archeological) evidence for this DNA timeline.

For this article, some brief clips from Wikipedia has been used provide some insight for further study. Wikipedia is not the best source for research, but it does give a quick overview of the history of Croatia.


Liburnians were an ancient people inhabiting the district called Liburnia, in what is now Croatia. Liburnians were allied to the Illyrians, who were from the area just south of Liburnia (the former Yugoslavia and current Albania).

Greek history records that Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse (now Sicily) implemented some aggressive tactics towards the Liburnians in the 4th century BC. These actions eventually resulted in the Romans becoming permanent enemies with the Liburnians. Dionysius eventually caused the Liburnians to adopt piracy tactics, and to seek alliances with the Illyrians and Macedonians. After Alexander the Great dies in 323 BC, the Romans wage wars on the Illyrians and Macedonians, which begins the decline of the Liburnian strength. In the end, Roman efforts against the Liburnians would be successful, ending in about 20 AD. It is not clear if the Liburnians participated in the uprisings in the following centuries (Pannonian revolt).

The combination of the Illyrian Wars and the Pannonian revolt appears to have been concluded when Illyricum was dissolved some time around the year 200 AD.

Which implies at least two motives for possible Liburnian migration that are immediately obvious:

a) The peoples of the area could have migrated in order to escape Roman (or in more ancient times Greek) dominance. This theory would be supported by Roman aggression and the Pannonian revolt.

b) As the people of Liburnia became part of the Roman Empire, and any migration could have been due to trade or commerce. If this is the case (and if the Liburnians were I1), then ample I1 DNA evidence in the area of origin would be evident (from peaceful activities). If DNA evidence in the area (dating to a migration) is not ample, then trading would apply only if it was more successful for the people to leave.

The obvious shared traits among the Vikings and Liburnians would include their seamanship and the practice of piracy. However, piracy can be practiced by any seafaring peoples. Although the Vikings used raiding practices (much later), this is not conclusive evidence that they would be the same people. It would appear that if archeological evidence is to support this timeline, it would be in the comparison of ship building architecture. Wood can be carbon dated. Weapons, jewelry, and fibulae (brooches) might provide some comparison. Finally, linguistics might provide some clues (as in stone carvings).

On the blind side, no Native American I1 DNA was studied. The I1 haplotype is thought to have originated in the area of the Black sea with the 170 SNP, so Native American I1 haplotype group is not expected to have originated earlier than in Europe.

Liburnia in the Age of Roman Conquest
from Wikipedia


Ancient Croatia
The archeology of the Liburnian culture (ancient Croatia) has been divided into three main time periods:

1) 11th and 10th century BC. Between two waves of Balkan-Pannonian migrations. The Balkans are generally thought of as stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea. Pannonia was located over the territory of the present-day western half of Hungary with parts in Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pannonia was a first century province of the Roman Empire.

2) 9th to the 5th century BC. Liburnian domination in the Adriatic Sea; its first phase (9th century BC), did not generally continue development of the Late Bronze Age. It was beginning of the Liburnian Iron Age marked by their expansion and colonization of Picenum (east coast of Italy), Daunia (southern Italy), and Apulia (southeast Italy) at the Italic shores, which resulted in rich and high level of their cultural development in the 8th and 7th century BC, based on sea trade. Rich material exchange with the other Adriatic coasts was continued in the 6th century BC and connection to Picenum was still strong, but also links to Iapodes (to the north) and Dalmatae (in what is now Croatia, usually classified as Illyrian) has been attested. However, in the 5th century BC, the Greeks undertook leadership of trade in the Adriatic Sea and considerable changes occurred, like widening of the import of Greek products.

3) 5th to the 1st century BC. Decline of their power, typically coinciding with Roman dominance.

In more recent history, the western Empire organized the provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which after its downfall passed to the Huns, the Ostrogoths and then to the Byzantine Empire. At the end of the 8th century Charlemagne conquered Pannonia and Dacia, then Istria, Liburnia and Dalmatia, but the main littoral Liburnian and Dalmatian cites, however, remained under Byzantine control. The Croats settled there in the early 7th century.

Ancient Liburnia

The first account of the Liburni comes from Periplus or Coastal passage, an ancient Greek text.

The beginning of the fall of Liburnian domination in the Adriatic Sea and their final retreat to their ethnic region (Liburnia) has been attributed to military and political activities of Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse (406 – 367 BC). (Syracuse was what is now Sicily.) He finished Carthaginian authority, diminished concurrence in Sicily, and turned against the Etruscans. By 385 BC, he focused on the Adriatic Sea, which the Liburnians still dominated.

Over the next 300 years, the Liburnians would see their allies fall to the Roman Empire.

By 33 BC, Liburnia becomes the Roman province of Illyricum. One of the last accounts of the era comes from 35 BC where Octavian destroyed Illyrian pirate communities in the islands and wiped out the Liburnian naval forces.

In AD 6, the Pannonians, with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, revolted, and were overcome by Tiberius and Germanicus, after a hard-fought campaign which lasted for three years. After the rebellion was crushed in AD 9, the province of Illyricum was dissolved, and its lands were divided between the new provinces of Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south. The date of the division is unknown, most certainly after AD 20 but before AD 50. The proximity of dangerous barbarian tribes (Quadi, Marcomanni) necessitated the presence of a large number of troops (seven legions in later times), and numerous fortresses were built on the bank of the Danube.

The principal forms of settlements in Liburnia were forts for defense, usually built on elevations and fortified with dry walls. In the Liburnian territory, about 400 have been identified so far, but they were considerably more numerous. About a hundred of names of these hill-forts have kept their roots from prehistory, especially places that had been inhabited permanently. The dwellings were square dry-wall ground-floor buildings of one room. Similar stone houses are saved in Croatian tradition in all Dalmatia and Kvarner, mostly of rounded form.

Haughey's Fort, County Antrim (Ireland) radiocarbon dating points to 1170-770BC, which suggests that hill forts were not uncommon for any area from the iron age. see:

Burial tradition

The Liburnians buried their dead in graves near or beneath settlements. They laid their dead on a side in contracted position, mostly in chests of stone slabs. Most of graves were used from the time of the Iron Age. Tumuli are numerous on all Liburnian territory and especially in the narrowest region of Classical Liburnia (Nin, Zaton, etc.).

There were many different manners of performing a Viking funeral. Norsemen often cremated their dead in ship burials, known from archaeology, sagas, Old Norse poetry, and notably from the account of Ahmad ibn Fadlan.

The Viking dead were often laid in a boat, or a stone ship, and they were given grave offerings in accordance with the earthly status and profession of the deceased, and these offerings could include sacrificed slaves. Afterward, piles of stone and soil were usually laid on top of the remains in order to create a tumulus. The excavation of several Viking burial mounds have yielded complete intact maritime craft, large open boats propelled by oars and sails, several of which are now exhibited in various Scandinavian museums.

Throughout Scandinavia, there are many remaining tumuli in honor of Viking kings and chieftains, in addition to runestones and other memorials. Some of the most notable of them are at the Borre mound cemetery, in Norway, and Lindholm Høje and Jelling in Denmark.

Social customs

The Liburnian Ships

The Liburnians were renowned seafarers, notorious for their raids in the Adriatic Sea, which they conducted in their swift galleys. The Greeks and Romans knew them as pirates.

Battle between Liburnian and Picenian ships from the Novilara tablets (6th/5th century BC)

Danish Viking ship replica from The Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark

Liburnian stone engravings show long ships with square sails, containing men rowing with swords and round shields. The obvious structural difference between these ships and the Viking ships is the projectile point in the front of the Liburnian ship at the water line. The obvious similarities include the square Latin sail, shallow bottoms, men rowing, the circular shields and swords.

Remains of a 10 meters long ship from the 1st century BC, were found in Zaton near Nin (Aenona in Classical Liburnia), a ship keel with bottom planking made of 6 rows of the wooden boards on each side, specifically joined together, sewn with resin cords and wooden wedges, testifying the Liburnian shipbuilding tradition style, therefore named "Serilia Liburnica". Deciduous trees (oak and beech) were used, while some climber was used for the cords.

A 10th century AD ship of identical form and size, made with wooden fittings instead of sewn planking joints, was found in the same place, "Condura Croatica" used by the Medieval Croats. Condura could be the closest known vessel to the original "liburna" galley in form, only of much smaller size, with the same features of a quick and agile galley having shallow bottom, very straightened but long, with one large Latin sail and one row of oaks on each side.

By its original form, the liburna was the most similar to the Greek penteconter. It had one bench with 25 oars on each side, while in the late ages of the Roman Republic, it became a smaller version of a trireme, but with two banks of oars (a bireme), faster, lighter, and more agile than biremes and triremes. The liburnian design was adopted by the Romans and became a key part of Ancient Rome's navy, most possibly by mediation of Macedonian navy in the 2nd half of the 1st century BC.

It is interesting to note that Viking battle tactics (i.e., speed, agility) and piracy practices were also part of the Liburnian cultural history.

Apparently, there is sufficient historical evidence to suggest that the Liburnians were driven out of the area by sustained Roman aggression. However, the DNA timeline is only supported by a few Y-DNA STR samples from
Croatia, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. More DNA samples from the region may enable us to determine whether or not Croatia was a site of Viking origins.


Liburnian Timeline
and the personalities that affected their history (snippets from Wikipedia)

The Liburnians were first allied to the region of Illyria, and the Macedonian empire. These two alliances resulted from conflicts with Greek and Roman forces and caused the eventual demise of the Liburnians.

406 – 367 BC

Fall of Liburnian domination in the Adriatic Sea and their final retreat to their ethnic region (Liburnia) were
caused by military and political activities of Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse (406 – 367 BC). (Syracuse was what is now Sicily.)

384 – 383 BC

A great naval battle was recorded a year after the establishment of Pharos colony, by a Greek inscription in
Pharos (384 – 383 BC) and by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (80 – 29 BC), initiated by conflicts between the Greek colonizers and the indigenous islanders of Hvar island, who asked their compatriots for a support.

According to Diodorus, The Greeks killed more than 5,000 and captured 2,000 prisoners, ran down or captured their ships and burnt down their weapons in dedication their god.

This battle meant the loss of the most important strategic Liburnian positions in the centre of the Adriatic Sea, resulting in their final retreat to their main ethnic region, Liburnia, and their complete departure from the Italic coast, except from Trentum. Greek colonization, however, did not penetrate into the Liburnian area, which remained strongly held, while Syracusan dominance suddenly diminished, very soon, after death of Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse. The Liburnians recovered and developed piracy to secure navigable routes in the Adriatic, as recorded by Livius in year 302 BC.

323 BC

Alexander the Great dies in Babylon. Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC),
commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of Macedon or Macedonia, a state in the north eastern region of Greece, and by the age of thirty was the creator of one of the largest empires in ancient history, stretching from the Ionian sea to the Himalaya.

He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of the most successful commanders of all time.
Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander was tutored by the famed philosopher Aristotle. In 336 BC he succeeded his father Philip II of Macedon to the throne after he was assassinated. Philip had brought most of the city-states of mainland Greece under Macedonian hegemony, using both military and diplomatic means.

In the years following Alexander's death a series of civil wars tore his empire apart which resulted in the formation of a number of states ruled by the Diadochi - Alexander's surviving generals.

200 - 300 BC

The middle of the 3rd century BC was marked by the rise of an Illyrian kingdom in the south of the
Adriatic Sea, led by king Agron of the Ardiaei. Its piratical activities imperiled Greek and Roman interests in the Adriatic Sea and caused the first Roman intervention at the eastern coast in 229 BC Illyrian Wars were a set of conflicts of 229 BC, 219 BC and 168 BC when Rome overran the Illyrian settlements and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic unsafe for Italian commerce. There were three campaigns, the first against Teuta, the second against Demetrius of Pharos and the third against Gentius. The initial campaign in 229 BC marks the first time that the Roman Navy crossed the Adriatic Sea to launch an invasion.

231 BC

Demetrius II, king of Macedon, hired Agron (king of the Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaei)
for military aid against the advancing Greek Aetolians. The Illyrian soldiers routed the Aetolians and returned home as victors. Agron, overjoyed with his success, imbibed a large quantity of wine, which, along with other indulgences caused him a pleurisy. Agron died in 230 BC, just within a few days later after the battle.

230 BC

Agron, king of the Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaei dies a few days after successfully defeating the Greek Aetolians.

229 BC

To protect against piracy upon Greek and Roman interests, Rome launches the First Illyrian War against Teuta
in 299 BC. (Queen Teuta was the second wife Agron and acting regent of Illyria after Agron's death.) The Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaei is subdued by the Romans.

220 BC

The Second Illyrian War lasted from 220 BC to 219 BC. In 219 BC the Roman Republic was at war with the
Celts of Cisalpine Gaul, and the Second Punic War with Carthage was beginning. Leading this fleet of 90 ships, Demetrius sailed south of Lissus, violating his earlier treaty and starting the war.

Demetrius' fleet first attacked Pylos where he captured 50 ships after several attempts. From Pylos the fleet sailed to the Cyclades, quelling resistance they found on the way. Demetrius foolishly sent a fleet across the Adriatic, and, with the Illyrian forces divided, the fortified city of Dimale was captured by the Roman fleet under Lucius Aemilius Paulus.

From Dimale the
navy went towards Pharos. The forces of Rome routed the Illyrians and Demetrius fled to Macedon where he became a trusted councilor at the court of Philip V of Macedon, and remained until his death at Messene in 214 BC.

217 BC

First Macedonian War. Philip V had tried to replace Roman influence along the eastern shore of the Adriatic,
forming alliances or lending patronage to certain island and coastal provinces such as Lato on Crete. He first tried to invade Illyria from the sea, but with limited success. His first expedition in 216 BC had to be aborted, while he suffered the loss of his whole fleet in a second expedition in 214 BC. A later expedition by land met with greater success when he captured Lissus in 212 BC.

216 BC

Philip V first tried to invade Illyria from the sea (during the First Macedonian War), but with limited success.
His first expedition in 216 BC had to be aborted, while he suffered the loss of his whole fleet in a second expedition in 214 BC. A later expedition by land met with greater success when he captured Lissus in 212 BC.

215 BC

Philip V, King of Macedon enters into a treaty with Hannibal, the Carthaginian general then in the middle of
an invasion of Roman Italy.

214 BC

Demetrius of Pharos dies. Demetrius of Pharos (also Pharus) was a ruler of Pharos
involved in the First Illyrian War, after which he ruled a portion of the Illyrian Adriatic coast on behalf of the Romans, as a Client king. He was expelled from Illyria by Rome after the Second Illyrian War and became a trusted councilor at the court of Philip V of Macedon, where he remained until his death at Messene in 214 BC.

202 BC

Hannibal's defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC.

200 BC

Second Macedonian War. In 200 BC, with Carthage no longer a threat, the Romans declared war on Macedonia.

179 BC

Philip V, King of Macedon dies. Philip V (238 BC – 179 BC) was King of Macedon from
221 BC to 179 BC. Philip's reign was principally marked by an unsuccessful struggle with the emerging power of Rome.

However, his efforts were undermined by the pro-Roman policy of his younger son Demetrius, who was encouraged by Rome to consider the possibility of succession ahead of his older brother, Perseus. This eventually led to a quarrel between Perseus and Demetrius which forced Philip to reluctantly decide to execute Demetrius for treason in 180 BC. This decision had a severe impact on Philip's health and he died a year later at Amphipolis.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Perseus, who ruled as the last king of Macedon.

168 BC

Third Illyrian War

In 168 BC the Illyrian king Gentius allied himself with the Macedonians. First in 171 BC, he was allied with the Romans against the Macedonians, but in 169 he changed sides and allied himself with Perseus of Macedon. He arrested two Roman legati and destroyed the cities of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium, which were allied with Rome. In 168 he was defeated at Scodra by a Roman force under L. Anicius Gallus, and in 167 brought to Rome as a captive to participate in Gallus' triumph, after which he was interned in Iguvium.

166 BC

The last king of Macedon dies. Perseus (ca. 212 BC - 166 BC) was the last king (Basileus)
of the Antigonid dynasty, who ruled the successor state in Macedon created upon the death of Alexander the Great. He also has the distinction of being the last of the line, after losing the Battle of Pydna on 22 June 168 BC; subsequently Macedon came under Roman rule.

146 BC

After the Third Punic War, the city of Carthage was destroyed by the Romans.

It seems that the Liburna warship was used by the Romans during the Punic Wars and in the Second Macedonian War.

84 BC In 84 BC, the Roman consuls, enemies of Sulla, mobilized an army in Italy and tried to use Liburnia, probably some outer island, to organize military campaign back to Italy, against Sulla, which failed due to bad weather conditions and low morality of the soldiers, who massively escaped to their homes in Italy or refused to cross over the sea to Liburnia. The Roman legions once again passed through the Liburnian territory, probably by sea along the coast, in their next expedition against Dalmatae in 78 – 76 BC, started from the north, from Aquilea and Istria, to stabilize control of Dalmatian city Salona.

87 BC

First Mithridatic War (southeastern border of the Black Sea) Asia Minor just before the First Mithridatic War

In the spring of 87 BC Sulla landed at Dyrrachium, Greece. Asia was occupied by the forces of Mithridates under the command of Archelaus. Sulla’s first target was Athens, ruled by a Mithridatic puppet; the tyrant Aristion. Sulla moved southeast, picking up supplies and reinforcements as he went. Sulla’s chief of staff was Lucullus, who went ahead of him to scout the way and negotiate with Bruttius Sura, the existing Roman commander in Greece. After speaking with Lucullus, Sura handed over the command of his troops to Sulla. At Chaeronea, ambassadors from all the major cities of Greece (except Athens) met with Sulla, who impressed on them Rome's determination to drive Mithridates from Greece and Asia Province. Sulla then advanced on Athens.

78 BC

Sulla dies. Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC), known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general
and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator. He was one of the canonical great men of Roman history; included in the biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans, published by Marcus Terentius Varro. In Plutarch's Sulla, in the famous series - Parallel Lives, Sulla is paired with the Spartan general and strategist Lysander.

Sulla's dictatorship came during a high point in the struggle between optimates and populares, the former seeking to maintain the power of the oligarchy in the form of the Senate while the latter resorted in many cases to naked populism, culminating in Caesar's dictatorship. Sulla was a highly original, gifted and skillful general, never losing a battle; he remains the only man in history to have attacked and occupied both Athens and Rome. His rival, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, described Sulla as having the cunning of a fox and the courage of a lion - but that it was the former attribute that was by far the most dangerous. This mixture was later referred to by Machiavelli in his description of the ideal characteristics of a ruler.

Sulla used his armies to march on Rome twice, and after the second he revived the office of dictator, which had not been used since the Second Punic War over a century before. He used his powers to enact a series of reforms to the Roman constitution, meant to restore the balance of power between the Senate and the Tribunes; he then stunned the Roman World (and posterity) by resigning the dictatorship, restoring normal constitutional government, and after his second Consulship, retiring to private life.

Succeeded by Gaius Julius Caesar in 49 BC

59 BC

In 59 BC Illyricum was assigned as a provincia (zone of responsibility) to Julius Caesar and Liburnian Iadera was
nominally proclaimed a Roman municipium, but real establishment of the Roman province occurred not earlier than in 33 BC. Dalmatae soon recovered and stepped into conflict with the Liburnians in 51 BC, probably because of possession of the pasture grounds around Krka river, taking their city Promona.

49 BC

Civil war between Caesar and Pompey in 49 BC affected all of the Roman Empire as well as Liburnia. In the same
year, near island of Krk, there was an important naval battle between armies of Caesar and Pompey, probably due to the local Liburnian support to one or another side. Caesar was supported by the urban Liburnian centres, like Iader, Aenona and Curicum, while the rest of Liburnians supported Pompey, including city of Issa which citizens were in conflicts with Caesar supporting Dalmatae from Salona. "Navy of Iader" (Zadar) probably equipped by mixed Liburnian
and Roman ships confronted
"Liburnian navy" in service to Pompey, equipped only with Liburnians in their liburna galleys.

Thus, the Liburnian naval force was
dragged into the Roman civil war, partially by force, partially because of local interests of the participants. Caesar rewarded his supporters in Liburnian Iader and Dalmatian Salona, by giving status of the Roman colonies to their communities, but battle was won by the Liburnian navy, which prolonged the civil war and ensured control of the Adriatic Sea to side aligned with Pompey in next 2 years, until his final defeat in 48 BC. In the same year, Caesar sent his legions to take control of rebelled Illyricum province, and took the fortress of Promona from Dalmatian hands, making them submit.

35 BC

In all that period the Roman rule in only nominally established Illyricum province was concentrated only to a few
cities at the eastern Adriatic coast, such as Iader, Salona and Narona. Renewed Illyrian and Liburnian pirate activities motivated Octavian to organize great military operation in Illyricum province in 35 BC, to finally stabilize Roman control of it.

Action was first concentrated on the coastal Illyrian tribes to the east of Narona, then it prolonged to the depth of the Illyrian territory, where continental tribes gave much stronger resistance. After return from inland of Illyricum, Octavian destroyed Illyrian pirate communities in the islands of Melita (Mljet) and Korkyra Nigra (Korcula) and continued to Liburnia, where he wiped out the last remains of the Liburnian naval forces, resolving problems of their renewed piratical activities in the bay of Kvarner (sinus Flanaticus) and attempt to secede from Rome. Octavian commandeered all the Liburnian ships. Very soon these galleys would play a decisive role in the battle near Actium.

Octavian went for another expedition to the inland, against the Iapodes, from the Liburnian port of Senia (Senj) and conquered their most important positions in 34 BC. In the next 2 years the Roman army, led by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa fought hard battles with the Dalmatae. Liburnians were not recorded the participants in this war but their most southern territories were surely involved.

It is not certain whether Liburnians joined the last Great Illyrian Revolt, this remains controversial, as the only evidence is a damaged inscription found in Verona, mentioning Iapodes and Liburnians under an unknown leader.

6 AD

In AD 6, the Pannonians, with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, revolted, and were overcome by Tiberius and
Germanicus, after a hard-fought campaign which lasted for three years. After the rebellion was crushed in AD 9, the province of Illyricum was dissolved, and its lands were divided between the new provinces of Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south. The date of the division is unknown, most certainly after AD 20 but before AD 50. The proximity of dangerous barbarian tribes (Quadi, Marcomanni) necessitated the presence of a large number of troops
(seven legions in later times), and
numerous fortresses were built on the bank of the Danube.


mid 4th century BC The first account of the Liburni comes from Periplus or Coastal passage, an ancient Greek text.

Fall of Liburnian domination in the Adriatic Sea and their final retreat to their ethnic region (Liburnia) were caused by military and political activities of Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse (406 – 367 BC, now Sicily). The imperial power base of this Syracusan tyrant stemmed from a huge naval fleet of 300 tetreras and penteras. When he finished Carthaginian authority and diminished concurrence in Sicily, Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse turned against the Etruscans.

The middle of the 3rd century BC was marked by the rise of an Illyrian kingdom in the south of the Adriatic Sea, led by king Agron of the Ardiaei. Its piratical activities imperiled Greek and Roman interests in the Adriatic Sea and caused the first Roman intervention at the eastern coast in 229 BC; Florus (II,5) noted the Liburnians as the Roman enemies in this expedition, while Appian (Bell. Civ., II, 39) noted liburnae as swift galleys the Romans first fought with when they entered to the Adriatic Sea.

Roman wars followed in conflicts with Pyrrhus, Carthage, Macedonia and southern Illyrian state. However, although their territory was not involved in these confrontations, it seems that the Liburna warship was used by the Romans during the Punic Wars and in the Second Macedonian War.
Problems with this DNA analysis
Any given country can have a variable amount of genetic distance per location (per individual). The values used here were mostly modals, and the migration sequence can vary depending upon what is considered to be the modal. For example, Scotland appears to have numerous groups of I1 individuals that migrated (into Scotland), but only one group is actually represented by the modal.

Further delineation might be obtained by division of each country into separate migrating "groups." Theoretically, the best resolution would be obtained by including all individuals and scaling to the Norman Conquest. However, there isn't enough DNA data available to apply this properly for the very early time periods in the area of the Mediterranean. At the current time, there are only scant samples from Croatia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic to support an approximate time frame for an exodus from Croatia.

Y-DNA studies have been underway for nearly a decade now, but the science is still fairly new.

A possible problem with the Time to Most Recent Ancestor (TMRCA) has recently been suggested to be indicated by interclade ages (i.e., Nordvedt). It has been suggested that interclade ages might be younger than previously published material suggests. For any given Y-search study, there is typically a maximum genetic distance reached per search. Theoretically, this might be an indication of other things, such as maximum TMRCA returned from a certain number of STR markers tested, or perhaps could also indicate if any bottlenecks may have occurred in recent history.

If the SNP classification is not restricted from the search criteria, then other haplotype group classifications can be returned from a genetic distance based search. It might be instructive to view a scientific study on what the expected genetic distance limits might be (returned) between the various haplotype group (SNP) classifications for a given number of STR markers tested. Such a study might provide some information regarding the value of scaling modals to a known event, such as the Norman Conquest.

In effect, what is needed are more robust modal values from the region surrounding the Black Sea, but particularly from the Balkan peninsula. Basically, there are few results from the Balkan peninsula, and a greater genetic distance would be expected from that area if this timeline is to be confirmed or denied.

If the current thinking on interclade ages is not correct, then Y-Search might include other classifications than I1 individuals, but should retain the M170 SNP.
For example, the previously I1b category (now I) is thought to have originated near Croatia, according to population density studies (Rootsi, et. al.). (I1b is not a significant portion of the Nowegian population.) This suggests that I1b could have been a significant portion of the Liburnian population. A younger interclade age could mean that I1b results might be a valid comparison to I1 (in terms of using Y-DNA to date samples from the Balkan area, etc).

Finally, there were no known Native American I1 samples used in the study. (Currently, there is no way to distinguish Native American Y-DNA samples from the rest of the U.S. population.) Since it is expected that I1 would follow the M170 SNP tree back to the Black Sea area, this should not be a problem. If, however the age of Native American I1 samples pre-date the the arrival on the east coast of Europe, then this could be significant in terms of I1 origins.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Y-DNA and Viking Migration

Y-DNA and Viking Migration

Y-DNA analysis of STR information can provide clues to Viking migration in recent time frames. The Y-DNA STR Genetic Distance suggests that the Norse (Vikings) could have originated from seafaring peoples of the Mediterranean Sea.


Ever since the National Genographic Project began, DNA has been a useful tool to analyze migration patterns of various indigenous peoples. The National Genographic Project typically uses a combination of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) and a limited number of Short Tandem Repeats (STR). The analysis of a larger number of STR's can be used to provide clues to Viking migration in recent times.

The technique has been used successfully in the past by the HAM DNA Project in order to provide clues to the ancestral origins of the participants. An extension of the technique can be used to help understand the migration patterns of the Norse peoples, often referred to as Vikings.

It would appear, however, that nobody has attempted to analyze the the migration patterns of the Norse groups up to this time. In this study, Y-Search data for the HAM DNA Group #1 was used. This group has been previously shown to have an ancestral haplotype that corresponds to the modal for the I1 (M253) haplotype group. Therefore, the results may apply to a number of I1 groups. For example, HAM DNA Group #7 has German origins, and the findings of this analysis can also be applied to this separate I1 group.

Further, HAM DNA Group #1 contains an individual with known ancestors from County Somerset, England. The HAM surname for this area has been documented back to Taunton circa 1250 A.D. There is an ancient Norman castle in Taunton, and other Norman strongholds in that area of County Somerset. Additionally, County Somerset was not settled by the Danes, providing further support that the arrival of haplotype group I1 in County Somerset, England was with the Norman invasion of 1066. It is important to note this, as the time scale (below) has been dated to the time of the Norman Conquest.

Previous Background: Scientific Studies

Siiri Rootsi, et. al., (2004) was perhaps one of the first to suggest haplotype I1 origins in Norway. More recently, Alexander Shtrunov has written about the I1 (M253) origins in Eastern Europe. They did use a limited number of STR values in order to infer population frequencies. Regarding haplotype I1a (now reclassified as 'I1'), Siiri Rootsi, et. al. noted:

"Subclade I1a accounts for most of Hg I in Scandinavia, with a rapidly decreasing frequency toward both the East European Plain and the Atlantic fringe, but microsatellite diversity reveals that France could be the source region of the early spread of both I1a and the less common I1c. Also, I1b*, which extends from the eastern Adriatic to eastern Europe and declines noticeably toward the southern Balkans and abruptly toward the periphery of northern Italy, probably diffused after the Last Glacial Maximum from a homeland in eastern Europe or the Balkans. In contrast, I1b2 most likely arose in southern France/Iberia. Similarly to the other subclades, it underwent a postglacial expansion and marked the human colonization of Sardinia ∼9,000 years ago...."

"Previous studies revealed that Hg I reached a frequency of ∼40%–50% in two distinct regions—in Nordic populations of Scandinavia and, in southern Europe, around the Dinaric Alps—each showing different background STR modal haplotypes (Semino et al. 2000; Passarino et al. 2002; Barac´ et al. 2003)."

I1 density map, Rootsi et. al., 2004

Rootsi et. al. had recognized that I1 was observed in high frequencies among Norse (or Scandinavian) populations. Here, they speculate early origins in France, and mentions the locations of I1 in France, Scandinavia, and the Dinaric Alps. They also mention I1b in the Balkans and northern Italy.

Ken Nordvedt is a widely known researcher of the Norse populations. He has categorized the various DNA patterns into a number of different Norse groups, largely based upon STR patterns. It should be noted that Ken has recently commented on the Genealogy-DNA email list (Dec 26, 2010) that after examination of I1 interclade ages:
      "TMRCA for AS1 is 70 generations; TMRCA for AS2 is 64 generations, and the interclade node age between them is 180 generations estimated.
   So perhaps you can see why I conclude that the overall I1 TMRCA lived 4000 to 4500 years ago?"

For the purposes of this study, it is useful to be aware that dating Y-DNA samples using STR values is still under development, and that Y-DNA SNP dating is, at least, arguable.
David Faux has written separately on the Cimbri people, an element of the Danish Vikings who lived between the 9th to 11th centuries (2007).

Alexander Shtrunov has written (2010) about the Vikings in Eastern Europe and Russia, and has some discussion of various tribes, such as the Goths, the Varangians, the Sami people, the Arensburgian people, Swiderian, etc. He appears to have analyzed the DNA for SNP population frequencies, combining genetics, archeology, linguistics, anthropology. For I1 in Eastern Europe, he suggests:

"Roots of haplogroup I1 evidently came from such Paleolithic cultures as Ahrensburgian and Swiderian; its carriers represented were the part of autochthonous population of Northern and Eastern Europe."

The National Genographic Project has current information about I1 (M253) migration paths online, and should be publishing the final results of the Project in the future. Past migration maps of the I1 haplotype had shown an overland route through the mountains of Europe, north of the Mediterranean Sea upwards to Norway, then back down the western coast of Europe to France and England. This has traditionally been displayed as an overland route to Norway.

The current National Genographic web page for M253 is out of date, as the web page for M253 is still using the old "I1a" nomenclature (Family Tree DNA reclassified this as "I1" in May, 2008):

National Genographic map

This (Viking Migration Y-DNA STR) study suggests that the I1 haplotype possibly took a sea route from the Mediterranean Sea (perhaps Sicily), first landing in the Netherlands.

Regarding the HAM DNA Project, the National Genographic Project shows

For I1, the SNP's are:

"Adam" -> M168 -> M89 -> M170 -> M258 ( -> M253 -> M307) Migrated from the middle east along the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, then finally migrating north along the east coast of Europe. (Entered the area of Norway)

For I1b, the SNP's are:

"Adam" -> M168 -> M89 -> M170 -> M258 (Negative for M253 and M307 ) Migrated from the middle east along the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, then finally migrating north along the east coast of Europe. (did not enter Norway)

The focus of the data was on the Genetic Distance for the I1 haplotype STR values. Other haplotypes that may have been included in the data would be the I1d haplotype group.

There is an I1 Project at Family Tree DNA that summarizes a number of the Nordvedt and various I haploype group (SNP) categories. This web site presents the raw data from FTDNA participants.

The Procedure

Using the I1 ancestral haplotype of the HAM DNA Project (Group #1, the ancestral haplotype previously determined), the Y-Search database was utilized to obtain matches on 35 to 42 markers. This returned about 1,000 kits that matched the haplotype given.

The number of STR markers used typically numbered 67, with a maximum at about 96 STR markers.
Genetic Distance typically ranged from 15 to 25
There are about 39 mutating markers for the I1 haplotype in this study.

The output was then sorted by Country of origin, ignoring the results from the United States and Canada. For each Country of origin, the STR marker values were provided as input into Dean McGee's Y-DNA Utility. A modal value was obtained for each country of origin. These modal values (of countries of origin) were then provided as input into Dean McGee's Utility again, this time without computing the modal. The output was then run through the "Kitsch" program of the PHYLIP software package for proper rooting of the resulting tree. The phylogenetic tree was then examined graphically for time scale. The Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor of these modals (as given by McGee's Utility) was suspect, having known the time of the Norman Conquest (i.e., 1066). Therefore, the resulting phylogenetic tree was then scaled, using the Norman Conquest as a basis for the time frames on display.

I1 geographic modal values by country of origin
[ click on image to enlarge ]

The modal table (above) shows some 39 mutating markers by country of origin. Generated by Dean McGee's Y-DNA Utility, it color codes some of the markers by Genetic Distance from the reference (row #1).

The mutating markers that appear to be useful for geographic identification include DYS464d, DYS576, CDYb, DYS413a, DYS635, DYS494, DYS522, and DYS549.


The resulting tree shows a common entry into England. This resulted from using the I1 modals for the participants that indicated separate origins from England and Scotland. At the time of the Conquest, England and Scotland were united into one country, so the DNA results appear to reflect that properly.

Phylogenetic Tree of modals for various countries
[ click on image to enlarge ]

What the Y-DNA modals (per region) revealed was that each country typically displayed separate times of origin. That is, the genetic distance was found to correspond to region.

An overland route through Switzerland might be suspected if the Genetic Distance had reflected that. However, the Y-DNA suggests that Switzerland was a migration point much later than that of that of Scandinavia. That is to say, the Genetic Distance to the Netherlands suggests that the Netherlands as one of the first (if not the first) point of entry into northern Europe. An alternative overland route would be through Austria. Austria does appear to have early origins. However, it ia hard to explain an overland route to Austria with the data available for this study. The Y-DNA STR values suggest that Austria began to be settled at about the same time as Finland, Spain, and France. During this period (roughly the 4th century), it is apparent that the countries were being settled by I1 via sea routes. Settlement of the I1 haplotype in Austria is perhaps, better explained by a sea route as well.

Also, it is well known that the Norse (Vikings) were very skilled with ships. This is reinforced by the Genetic Distance from the Y-DNA. It makes sense that that a path of migration could have been by sea, with a departure from the Mediterranean Sea and arrival in the Netherlands.

Problem discussion

There are some basic problems with the analysis:

a) The data was limited to less than 100 STR markers per individual.

b) There is limited data available from the Y-Search database, notably limited information from I1 participants in Sicilly. The early arrival in Portugal may support the theory of seafaring people from the Mediterranean. This data could be questioned given the scope of the Roman Empire, and not knowing how long the participants have actually lived in Sicily. On the other hand, Norse settlement in Sicily has been dated by some to the 11th century. The Norman Conquest timeline is supported by the Tune Runestone in Oestfold, Norway, which has been dated to the 5th century. More archeological evidence should show whether or not the theory is valid.

c) This study presumes previous SNP testing for I1, and does no real analysis of SNP data.

d) The timeline reported from these utilities can change, depending upon the data in use.
Proper scaling of Y-DNA phylogenetic trees along a timeline is not currently reliable, due to the relatively low number of markers currently being tested. Carbon dating is typically used instead.

e) This study makes no attempt to include other Norse haplotype, such as R1b or R1a.

f) Finally, this study ignored DNA results for I1 in North America. Which is to say, no attempt was made to locate Native American I1 modal values. Following the M170 migration route would suggest that Viking migration was not from the Americas, but no attempt was made to confirm this with haplotype group I1 STR values from Native Americans.


When the Y-DNA STR marker data is separated by location, a modal can be derived for each location. Each modal for each country then appear to indicate marker differences that may reflect the location. When the modals are then examined for Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor, a continuous migration trail is implied.

The data suggests that the Norse Vikings perhaps originated as seafaring peoples from the area of the Mediterranean Sea (perhaps from Sicily). These people appear to date from the very early Roman period. (The city of Rome is believed to have been founded in 753 B.C., but archeological evidence suggests a slightly earlier date.) The DNA suggests that the initial point of entry of the I1 haplotype into Scandinavia appears to be from the Netherlands.

The phylogenetic tree suggests a possible Norse migration in this order:

Sicily --> Netherlands --> Finland -> France -> Denmark -> Norway -> England, Scotland & Germany

2500 <--- 2010 <--- 1700 <--- 1500 <--- 1300 <--- 1300 <--- 1000 <--- (rough est. of years ago)

It is important to note that the entrance of the I1 haplotype into France is indicated to have happened much earlier than the settlement of Normandy (in the 9th century). The phylogenetic tree suggests that the Vikings should have entered France some 400 years earlier (circa 375 A.D.). The Y-DNA STR data regarding France suggests a correlation to the quote from Rootsi (2004) that the early spread of I1 could have been through France. Here, we find France and Denmark to be one of the early locations, but the entrance into Eastern Europe appears to have been earlier than through France. This study shows that the I1 entrance into Europe began in the Netherlands, Russia, and Belgium circa 100 A.D.

The Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor roughly estimated by using McGee's Utility on the modals for STR markers, then scaling to the time of the Norman Conquest. Carbon dating of the archeological evidence from these locations may provide a more robust timeline. In particular, better evidence may require more Y-DNA STR markers, or a better study of M170 in the area of the Black Sea. More Y-DNA testing in the area of the Mediterranean may provide better evidence for an earlier point of origin. Alternatively, Y-Search could be used with a greater Genetic Distance to search to search for M170 matches near the Black Sea.

note: edits added 03/16/2011


update 03/21/2011:

I have been able to use Y-Search to find a minimal amount of (I1) Y-DNA samples for 9 additional countries. Of interest to this study is the timeline for Sicily appears to hold using minimal data from Romania, Turkey, and the Ukraine. Using the data for the area around the Black Sea, the sequence appears to be more like this:

232 B.C. Croatia
324 B.C. Romania
624 B.C. Turkey
662 B.C. Sicily
887 B.C. Ukraine
1075 B.C. Slovenia
1300 B.C. Czech Republic

The DNA information from Croatia suggests that Croatia may have been the departure point to Portugal and the Netherlands.

Which suggests that the time line for Sicily is supported by data from Romania, Turkey, and the Ukraine. What is interesting is the data from Slovenia and the Czech Republic. This suggests a period of migration of this I1 group in and around the Black Sea prior to the beginning of the (more bold) Mediterranean adventures.

update September, 2011:

The results of the STR modal TMRCA estimates have been graphically mapped here:



Siiri Rootsi, et. al., "Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup I Reveals Distinct Domains of Prehistoric Gene Flow in Europe" Am. J. Hum. Genet. 75:128–137, 2004

Alexander Shtrunov, "The origin of haplogroup I1-M253 in Eastern Europe" The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, No. 2, 2010

Ken Nordvedt

Ken Nordvedt: Genealogy-DNA email list at rootsweb ( ),
Subject: "[DNA] I1 L22- interclade ages," Sun, 26 Dec 2010.

David Faux "The Cimbri Nation of Jutland, Denmark and the Danelaw, England: A Chronological Approach Based on Diverse Data Sources" Sep., 2007

The National Genographic Project

The I1 Project at FTDNA


Dean McGee's Y-DNA Utility

The PHYLIP software package

HAM DNA I1 (Group #1) Ancestral haplotype:

Wikipedia page on Ancient Rome:

Wikipedia page on the Tune Runestone from Oestfold, Norway:

'How to Read HAM DNA Phylograms' You Tube video

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