Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marie Antoinette: DNA Family History

   When we use DNA to research our family history, we have the potential to uncover quite a bit of information.  We could find living cousins, lost connections and deep ancestral origins.  There is also geographic information associated with your DNA.  When you start comparing your DNA to your Clan and your Tribe, you can map your recent old world origins and your migrations.

   You are not limited to your own DNA as you are researching.  As we work on our traditional genealogy, we may find famous ancestors, a Mayflower passenger here or a President there.  If you are descended from them then you can bet that hundreds of other people are also.  Many times one of those hundreds has had their DNA tested to confirm their relationship to that famous ancestor.  You can use that published data to add to your family history.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

   Let’s look at Marie Antoinette, while she has no living descendants, she makes a great example.  Tests from a lock of her hair and from her son’s preserved heart show her mitochondrial DNA to be haplogroup H, the most common group in Europe.

   Marie Antoinette’s results - HVR1 - 16519C and HVR2 - 152C, 194T, 263G, 315.1C

   Marie Antoinette’s maternal line has been documented back 25 generations to the 1100s.  You could still be related to her through this Germanic line of women.  There are twelve exact HVR1/HVR2 matches for Marie Antoinette on  Even with an exact match, that common ancestor lived over 625 years ago, in the 1300s or earlier.

   On paper, Marie Antoinette’s ancestry goes back to the 1100s in the Holy Roman Empire (modern day Germany).  DNA can take us further.  One theory shows a correlation between HVR2 marker 152C and the Goth barbarian tribes.  The Goths were in no way a homogenous genetic group as they grew through mergers and acquisitions.  To say that one DNA marker defines a mixed group like the Goths may be hard to prove.

   If we look at the geographic data associated with Marie Antoinette’s maternal tribe, a pattern starts to emerge.  Take all the DNA records available, matches and close matches.  With each close mismatch, we can step backwards in time in roughly 625-year increments.   TribeMapper® analysis shows a genetic flow of ancestors from Scandinavia down through the Germanic heartland.  The timing of this flow, from 2200 to 1300 years ago suggests a connection to the Goth migrations.  While this is still not definitive proof, it is an additional element that could be used to build a case that Marie Antoinette was a Goth descendant.

   This is an example of the geographic data that can be harnessed from mitochondrial DNA.  The results with mtDNA tend to be more macro as there is less variability, which leads to less timeline resolution.  Y DNA has more variability and will produce maps in greater detail.  Our unique Tribal DNA will tell its own migration story and help tie us to history.

© Michael R. Maglio and OriginsDNA