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The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010

ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

The origin of haplogroup I1-M253

Alexander Shtrunov
in Eastern Europe


One of the actual issues of modern genetic genealogy is the origin of a haplogroup. It is not easy to connect data on genetics,
archeology, linguistics, anthropology and other related sciences. In this paper the author tries to find the root of haplogroup I1-
M253 in Eastern Europe.

Haplogroup I1* together with it’s relative sub- «Spreading of «Nordic» haplogroup I1a in
clades I2a* and I2b* is the native European hap- Russian area is considered quite unexpected (Fig.
logroup because its frequencies outside Europe 1). The high values of I1a would be predicted
are extremely small. This spreading of carriers of close to Scandinavia in the northwest of Russian
this haplogroup gave basis to consider carriers of area. There, as well as at the western boundary
I1 as the descendants of Paleo-European popula- «Varangian» influence can be expected in the
tion. The area of haplogroup I1-M253 is concen- form of high frequencies of I1a. However, com-
trated mainly in the north of Europe, in the Scan- pact maximum of I1a (11-12%) is located in an
dinavian countries. There are also local of I1 in entirely different area at the north-east. This lo-
England (15,4%) [1], Sicily (up to 18,75%) [2] cal centre stands out against the background of
and in the centre of European Russia (up to 17%) low frequencies (less than 6%), which are typical
[3]. The presence of carriers of haplogroup I1- of the rest of the Russian area. The presence of
M253 at British Isles is associated with the ex- this center is based on data of three Russian
pansion of the Vikings and the Normans, which populations studied by extensive sampling. Of
was proved by historical and genealogical stu- course, in comparison with frequencies of I1a in
dies, though the ancient migrations are also Scandinavia (25-40%), this local maximum is
possible. In Sicily, haplogroup I1-M253 strongly minor. But its remoteness from the main zone of
correlates with Norman invasions from the terri- high frequencies of this haplogroup in Scandina-
tory of modern France (Normandy, I1 – 11,9%) via requires explanation. It is hard to explain this
and the foundation of the Kingdom of Sicily (Sici- local maximum by close relations between Scan-
lian Kingdom) in 1130. However, the presence of dinavia and regions of Transvolga and basin of
haplogroup I1-M253 with high frequencies in the Vychegda excluding other relative Russian re-
center of the European part of Russia brings up a gions. Apparently, history of population of haplo-
lot of questions. E.V. Balanovskaya and O.P. Ba- group I1a is more complicated than a simple ex-
lanovsky state the following about it in their book pansion from Scandinavia, and it may include an-
«The Russian gene pool of the Russian Plain» cient relations between the Finno-Ugric peoples
[4]: of Eastern Europe and the ancestors of German-
speaking Scandinavians».


Received: May 11 2010; accepted: May 12 2010; published: May 16 2010


The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

Fig. 1. Map of presence of haplogroup I1 (Balanovsky et al. 2008 [5]).

Krasnoborsk, Archangelsk region 12,1%

Vologda 11,6%
Unzha, Kostroma region 11,5%

Complete the data about the region in question from works of other researchers to compare the
spatial distribution of haplogroup I1:

Vologda Region 17,0% (Roewer et al. 2008 [3]*)

Archangelsk 14,2% (Mirabal et al. 2009 [6])
Ryazan Region 14,0% (Roewer et al. 2008)
Tatarstan 13,0% (**)
Moksha people from Staro-Shayga district of Mordovia 12,0% (Rootsi et al. 2004 [7])
Penza region 12,0% (Roewer et al. 2008)
Kostroma 11,3% (Underhill et al. 2007 [1])
Tambov region 10,0% (Roewer et al. 2008)
Ivanovo region 10,0% (Roewer et al. 2008)

Data from additional sources confirm the exis- this local maximum can be seen clearly on the
tence of a local maximum of I1-M253 in the cen- map (Figure 2) developed by the author.
tral part of European Russia. The boundaries of


*Calculation of frequency of haplogroup I1 was carried out by predictor,

** data was taken from the atlas at
The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

Fig. 1. Map of distribution of frequencies of haplogroup I1-M253.

Due to the fact that detailed studies (for) cla-

rifying the reason of such high local frequencies Ermanaric and his Goths probably could not
of haplogroup I1 on such a wide area still don`t have made a significant mark on the territory of
exist, let us try to fill up the gap by analyzing da- modern Russia - especially in this region, be-
ta from published papers, linking data of genet- cause the existence of such vast empire is quite
ics, archeology, linguistics, anthropology and doubtful (Fig. 3). Even if this Empire had existed,
other related sciences. its age wasn`t long because of the invasion of
Huns. Goths are associated with Chernyakhov
Since there is no reliable data about historical archaeological culture (III century AD), and
migrations from Scandinavia, which could have therefore we should look for descendants of
left such a significant mark on the territory of Goths among the mountain population of the
modern Russia, we will try to consider all availa- Crimean Tartars (Tata) and the Greeks of Azov
ble variants. region, comparing their haplotypes with the hap-
lotypes of population of northern Spain and Got-
Goths of Ermanaric. Ermanaric (died in 376) land.
was the king of the Goths from the Amali clan.
Gothic historian Jordanes wrote about Ermanaric Varangians. Varangian invasions (IX-XII cc.)
[8]: «Soon after Geberich, king of the Goths, had could also made their mark in the gene pool of
passed away from human deeds, Hermanaric, the Eastern Europe, though basic routs of Varangians
noblest of the Amali, succeeded to the throne. He had passed away from examined areas. The finds
subdued many warlike peoples of the north and related to the Scandinavians point rather at trade
made them obey his laws. Many ancient authors relations, than expansion. Therefore the Varan-
had justly compared him to Alexander the Great. gians had to be excluded from the list of possible
Among the tribes he conquered were the Gol- contenders who could have left a significant mark
thescytha, Thiudos, Inaunxis, Vasinabroncae, Me- in the gene pool of eastern Europe. Though it`s
rens, Mordens, Imniscaris, Rogas, Tadzans, quite possible that a part of the Normans could
Athaul, Navego, Bubegenae and Coldae». (Here have settled and assimilated with the local popu-
the researchers assume the prototype of enume- lation of this region [10].
ration from Russian Chronicles: Rus, Chud and all
languages: Ves, Merya, Mordvins (?)...)

The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

Fig. 3. «Empire of Ermanaric» in IV century AD and the assumed itinerary of III-IV centuries AD (by BA Rybakov).
a – peoples mentioned in the list of Jordanes; b – the order of the peoples; c – the main areas of Cherniakhov culture in II-IV
centuries AD.; d – direction of sea expansions in III century AD; e – direction of Slavic colonization in III-IV centuries AD. [9].

Ancient migrations. Probably, we deal with Examples of substrate toponyms with end-
ancient migrations on the territory of Eastern Eu- ings:
rope, assumed by The Balanovskys. That seems
reasonable, given the exclusively European area – ga (Yuzga – branch of Moksha, Arga –
of haplogroup I-M170. branch of Alatyr, Vyazhga – branch of Moksha
and Volga)
If haplogroup I1-M253 is linked with the an-
cient population of Europe, it is quite possible – ta (Pushta – branch of Satis, etc.);
that they were the speakers of Paleo-European
language. – sha (Ksha – branch of Sura, Shoksha);

Researches of Serebrennikov BA [11] have – ma (Losma – branch of Moksha, Shalma –

showed that the ancient substrate toponyms of branch of Sivin);
unknown origin (i.e. non-Uralic and non-Indo-
European) are presented on the territory between – da (Amorda) [12].
Volga and Oka rivers. Also it is widely spread in
the Nizhny Novgorod area (no data), Chuvashia On the basis of Serebrennikova’s study Tre-
(7,5% I1), Kirov region (no data), Vologda region tyakov PN offered a hypothesis that this Paleo-
(17% I1), Archangelsk region (14,2%), in Karelia European language belonged to the creators of
(8,6% I1) and in the west of Smolensk region the Neolithic cultures of the comb ceramics (CCC)
(2% I1). [13].

The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

CCC had originally occupied the territory of Craniological data suggest that the carriers of
the Volga-Oka-Klyazma rivers. In 3rd millennium CCC of Lyalovo type are very heterogeneous.
BC its carriers moved to the north and north- Lyalovo people was generated by alien Nordic
west, where they settled on the territory from the population of Sami subrace (Fig. 4, at right) and
Baltic sea to Vychegda and Pechora. the aboriginal Mesolithic population of Caucasoid
people of Volga-Oka post-Swiderian culture - as
the carriers of Upper Volga culture [14].

Fig. 4. Sculptural reconstruction of the skull of a man from Valadar* (the lower reaches of the Oka region) [15]
and the skull of a young man from the burial № 19 of the Sakhtysh II sepulcher (Ivanovo region) [16].

Culture of Upper Volga had spread in the cen- are concentrated in the eastern part of its area,
ter of the Russian Plain since the turn of the 6-5th the later – in the central and western areas that
millennium BC until the end of 5 th millennium BC. is apparently due to the arrival of new alien
The earlier monuments of Upper Volga culture population.

Fig. 5. Area of Upper Volga, Volosovo and Fatyanovo cultures [17].


*This site refers to the culture more ancient than Upper Volga and Volosovo
archaeological cultures, but the sculptural reconstruction reflects more close-
ly the image of Caucasoid population of the Volga-Oka Mesolithic post-
Swiderian tradition
The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

At present the hypothesis of origin of Volga- The same processes forced the migrations of
Oka culture and CCC from the Volga-Oka Meso- the neighboring population of carriers of Ahrens-
lithic post-Swiderian tradition is the most plausi- burgian tradition, probably allied to the people of
ble, since the transition from Mesolithic to Neo- Sviderian culture. This Paleolithic culture existed
lithic was smooth and Butovo culture prevailing in in 10-9th millennium BC in Denmark and Northern
the end of the Mesolithic in the Volga-Oka region Germany; the main occupation of this population
also succeeded to the Swiderski tradition [18]. was hunting for reindeer.

Swiderian culture is the archaeological culture In 10th millennium BC people of Ahrensbur-

of the final Paleolithic on the territory of Central gian culture began to move following two direc-
and Eastern Europe. Due to the changes of cli- tions of the retreating ice cover – to the north-
matic conditions in the 11-10th millennium BC west and north-east, passing along both sides of
people of Sviderian culture began to move from the Baltic glacial lake (Fig. 6).
the area of modern Poland, Belarus and Lithuania
to the east and reached the given region of Vol-
ga-Oka rivers in 8th millennium BC.

Fig. 6. Stages of the formation of Baltic Sea basin [19].

1. Baltic Ice Lake (about 16 thousand years BC).
2. Yoldia Sea (about 7,9 thousand years BC).
3. Ancylus Lake (about 6,8 thousand years BC).
4. Littorina Sea (about 5 thousand years BC).

Arensburgian people established a number of It is necessary to mantion that most high di-
so-called «culture of Maglemose» in 8-6th millen- versity of haplotypes of I1-M253 - a is fixed it in
nium BC. These are such cultures as Fosna- Denmark [1], which is the starting point of
Hensbacka in Sweden and Norway, Komsa in the people of Arensburgian culture.
far north of Scandinavia, including the Kola Pe-
ninsula, Askola and Suomusjärvi in Finland and If the assumption about the relationship be-
Karelia, Veretye in east the lakeside of Ladoga, tween carriers of Ahrensburgian and Swiderian
Kunda in the Neva region, Estonia, Latvia and cultures is correct, then we will observe similar
Maglemose in England, Northern Germany and anthropological, linguistic and genetic situation in
Denmark. Scandinavia.

The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

Fig. 7. Mesolithic (8.-5. mil BC) roots of Early Iron Age substratum components. [18].
Legend: 1 – Maglemose-Ertebølle tradition (M – Maglemose incl. English Maglemose; F – Fosna; K – Komsa; A – Askola; S – Su-
omusjärvi); 2 – Świdry tradition (Ś – Świdry, Co – Baltic Typical Comb Pottery culture); 3 – area of formation of Pit-and-Comb
Pottery cultures of Central Russia.

Anthropological type of carriers of Ahrensbur- presents features of the ancient North-European

gian culture had a characteristic sharp dolicho- population and more recent features associated
cranic (Fig.8.) broad-faced Caucasoid type, which with penetration of the Mongoloid features to the
corresponds well to the post-Sviderian aboriginal north. The combination of the two components
type in the Volga-Oka region, who had a dis- led to the formation of anthropological features of
tinctly Caucasoid dolichocranic type with the nar- Sami people. Dentistry also notes the existence
row face. The same anthropological type partici- of ancient Northern and recent Mongoloid fea-
pated in formation of the Sami. Comparison of tures among Sami [20].
anthropological data shows that Sami type

Fig. 8. Examples of different skull types [21].

The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

In the Sami language two components are al- Paleolithic population of Europe looks very con-
so made out. The first is Pre-Finnish substratum, vincing.
the second is the Old Finnish, which is close to
the Baltic-Finnic and Finno-Volgaic languages. Analysis of sources allows us to reconstruct
The legacy of the Pre-Finnish substratum can be the population history of haplogroup I1-M253 the
seen well in the lexicon, less in the morphology, following way:
phonetics and syntax. According to specialists, up
to one third of the Sami lexicon is of substratum It is not clear yet how and when carriers of
origin, and has no analogies in any of the existing haplogroup I appeared in Europe, this question is
languages of the world [20]. being dicussed at present. It is not also clear
when and where I1 separated from I. However,
Genetic evidence suggests that haplogroup I1, in the Paleolithic era carriers of haplogroup I1
with which we associate Paleo-European popula- settled in in the northern part of central Europe
tion of Northern Europe, has the following fre- of the territory of present Denmark, northern
quencies in the Sami gene pool: Sami – 28% [7], Germany and Poland. They created such cultures
the Sami from Sweden – 32% [22], Inari Sami– as Ahrensburgian and Swiderian (the author does
34% [23]*, Skolt Sami – 52% [23], Sami from not exclude the role of carriers of I2a in forming
Lujávri (Lovozero) – 17% [23]. of Swiderian culture); their main occupation was
hunting (predominantly for reindeer, elk (Fig. 9)
Based on the stated data the hypothesis and beaver) and gathering.
about the connection between haplogroup I1 and

Fig. 9. The elk. The skeleton of an elk aged 8700 years was found in a peat bog in 1922 near the town Taderup.
Elk was wounded, in the same bog harpoon was found [26].


*Haplogroup I1 is not typed in this paper, but the results of other studies [24]
and public DNA projects [25] allow us to declare it
The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy: Vol 1, №2, 2010
ISSN: 1920-2989 © All rights reserved

In 11-10th millennium BC global climate militarily, because it was not familiar with metal-
changes took place, this led to the melting of the lurgy and productive farming [29].
ice cover in Scandinavia. Vegetation penetrated
to the territories cleared from the ice cover, with Mass migration of Slavic tribes (VII-VIII cen-
the main food of local population – reindeer – fol- turies AD) that have made significant changes to
lowing after it; that caused the migration of Pa- the gene pool of Eastern Europe should also be
leolithic hunters. The colonization of Scandinavia, mentioned. The Slavs were mainly the carriers of
Baltic and Central Eastern Europe was started. haplogroup R1a (more) and I2a.

In the Mesolithic haplogroup I1 faced the As a result of these processes carriers of Hap-
eastern newcomers, who related confidently with logroup I1 were partially displaced from their
haplogroup N1c. They had Uraloid appearance areals and assimilated by more developed new-
(with a Mongoloid and Caucasoid features). comers.
Spreading of Uralic languages in Eastern Europe
is connected with N1c. In the end I would like to highlight the basic
Relations between the newcomers and abori-
ginal population were generally peaceful; it is - Roots of haplogroup I1 evidently came from
evident from mixed graves and gradual appear- such Paleolithic cultures as Ahrensburgian and
ance of mixed anthropological types. Swiderian; its carriers represented were the part
of autochthonous population of Northern and
The next important step to the formation of Eastern Europe.
present situation was made by the carriers of
cord ceramics cultures, who had haplogroup R1a - The main activities of carriers of haplogroup
[27], and were related to the spreading of South- I1 were hunting and gathering.
ern European agricultural and pastoral tribes in
Central Europe. - Initial anthropological appearance of carriers
of haplogroup I1 was sharply dolichocranic,
In the 3rd millennium BC tribes of corded ce- broad-faced, tall Caucasoid type.
ramics from Central Europe entered the Baltic
region (Corded ware culture) and the upper and - Carriers of haplogroup I1 were speakers of
middle Volga areas (Fatyanovo-Balanovo cul- Paleo-European language, which didn’t belong to
tures, (Fig. 5)). Their anthropological type was the Uralic or Indo-European families. Its traces
sharply dolichocranic with moderately broad- were reveiled in the European toponimy and in
Caucasoid type [28]. the Sami language.

Most likely the tribes of corded ceramics were Compact local maximum of frequencies of I1
quite aggressive and forced out aboriginal popu- in the center of the Russian Plain is the conse-
lation (I1/N1c) to the remote areas and partially quence of ancient migrations of Paleolithic popu-
assimilated it. Aboriginal population could not lation of Europe, which led to the foundation of
compete with the newcomers economically and Upper Volga culture (the 6-5th millennium BC).

genetic evidence from the Y chromosome. Eur J Hum Ge-
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