Y-dna haplotypes and the Indo-European languages

The Y-dna haplogroups most associated with Indo-European languages are I and R.

I (I-M170) was the Y-dna native to the Balkan refuge from the period prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and may have been in Europe for as long as 25,000 years. It is related to the J haplotypes found in the Middle East. As the ice retreated, some I people migrated north towards Scandinavia, where I1 (I-M253) differentiated from Balkan I2 (I-M423). Today, the I haplogroups are found in the Balkans, Scandinavia, and Sardinia.

The R haplotypes originated in western Asia circa 20,000 bc. The variant R1b (R-M343) is most often found in western Europe. R1b people travelled from west Asia to western Europe by taking a northerly route past the Balkans prior to the LGM. They then spent the LGM in the Franco-Cantabrian refuge (southern France and northern Spain). When the ice retreated, the R1b people then migrated north toward the Lowlands and Britain.

R1a (R-M420), now found from Poland to India, was native to the steppes of Ukraine and southern Russia. After the LGM, the R1a people migrated northwest to European Russia as well as south towards Afghanistan and, later, Iran and northern India.

Having adopted agriculture and the domestication of animals from their neighbors in Greece and Anatolia, the population of the Balkan I people (who, I believe, may represent the Proto-Indo-Europeans) increased dramatically and they became more influential and powerful. Their culture (and PIE language) was adopted by the northern I people and neighboring R populations through a mixture of cultural borrowing and farmer expansion. As their expansion progressed, the I haplogroup was slowly overwhelmed by the R, to the point that I now remains a dominant haplogroup only in its original Balkan and Scandinavian homelands.

Early R1b PIE people (proto-Celts and Italics) and R1a people (proto-Indo-Iranian and proto-Balto-Slavic) became powerful in their own right. The original Balkan I people became the Illyrians, Daco-Thracians, and the Greeks. The original Scandinavian I people became the Germanics.

Other Y haplogroups that have strongly influenced European populations include these:

G (M201) was the most common haplotype in much of neolithic Europe, especially in southern France, northwestern Spain, Italy, Sardinia, Dalmatia, and the Alps. "Ötzi", the "iceman" found in the Italian Alps, was G2a. It remains today in those areas where I and R failed to penetrate. It is also common in the Caucasus today.

N (N-M231) was native to the Siberian refuge. When the ice retreated, the N people migrated north into the taiga forests of Siberia and northern Russia. It is today characteristic of the Finnic, Ugric, and Samoyedic people, and extends from Finland through much of north-central Siberia.

J1 (J-M267) is found in the Arabian peninsula and parts of north Africa. J2 (J-M172) hails from Mesopotamia and Anatolia, and is also found in Italy, Greece, and Albania, and other Mediterranean areas. J is a close relative of I.

E is found primarily in Africa, with E-M215 common in north Africa. A branch (E-V13), is common in Kosovo, Albania, and Greece.

The C3 (C-M217) haplotype is characteristic of the Mongolic, Turkic, and Tungusic people. Their home is likely the area of Mongolia and Manchuria. Now it extends well into Kazakhstan today, as well as the Na-dene people of North America.

© C. George Boeree 2013