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Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 10 Dec 2012 4:53AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 10 Dec 2012 2:04PM GMT
I've tracked very reliably my family tree back to my great-great-grandparents plus once ancestor back one further. Of those 16 people, 12 were from the Naples, Italy area in Southern Italy (evenly split among Amalfi, Castellamare and Scafati). The other 4 were from Castelvecchia in the Marche region of Northeastern Italy. My DNA test showed: Central European 38%
Middle Eastern 46%
Persian/Turkish/ Caucasus 16%

I don't see how this is possible. How could nearly half be Middle Eastern?
If this data is right, the only explanation that I can think of is if the coast of the Naples area had a large dominant influx from the Middle East and Persia, but I've been doing research and can't find anything like that in Amalfi's history.
Is it possible that nearly everyone in the Naples area also shows that amount? Does it seem possible that none of those 16 people's parents bred with any Italians of Southern European descent?

Re: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 10 Dec 2012 1:37PM GMT
Classification: Query
The ethnicity results are not comparable to your family tree because the largely predate the genetic time period (last several hundred years.) They are based on slowly mutating markers that may in fact date back thousands of years, so the Middle East could reflect the migration west of early farming groups that displaced hunter-gatherer populations in Europe. Also, Italy was a crossroads of many civilizations for millennia so some complex results are not surprising.

This if from the Ancestry FAQ:

Your genetic ethnicity results go back hundreds of years

In some cases, the markers in your DNA may reveal ethnicities that go back hundreds, or even a thousand years. This could differ from what you have documented in your family tree. So keep in mind that there may be some ethnic differences in your more recent family history as compared to generations ago.

People and borders move

The past few thousand years were very dynamic and the constant historical movements and changes defined the people and places that we know around the world today. Because people move over time, (and when they do they take their DNA with them), a group may contribute DNA to other groups at different times. Because of this, ethnic groups can be defined by time and place—not just location. For example, if you have German or British ancestors in your family tree, it’s a possibility that your genetic ethnicity may be partly Scandinavian. The Viking invasions and conquests about a thousand years ago are likely responsible for occurrences of Scandinavian ethnicity throughout other regions. And there are similar examples for other ethnicities.

Between DNA inheritance and other factors, there is always the possibility of a difference between what your results show and what your research would lead you to expect. Consider: all your ancestors have their own mixes of ethnic information, and they may or may not pass every detail to the next generation. It is possible that some ethnicity may be lost due to either lack of detectability or lack of transfer from parent to child.


Re: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 10 Dec 2012 5:44PM GMT
Classification: Query
I just got my National Geographic Geno 2.0 results, and they have a good explanation of ethnicity analysis, which I have copied below:

Your percentages reflect both ancient and recent genetic influences.

What do you mean—ancient and recent?

Human genetic patterns have been created over tens of thousands of years as our ancestors migrated around the globe. People living in the same geographic region are more likely to share similar patterns of genetic markers than people living on opposite sides of the world, because their ancestors were more likely to have encountered each other and had children together. Over time, this has made people from, say, Senegal more similar to each other genetically than they are to people from China.

Migration has also served to disperse these regional patterns over time. For instance, the spread of agriculture from the Middle East into Europe also dispersed Middle Eastern genetic patterns as these early agriculturists moved into Europe. This is why someone who is say, Irish and Scottish on both sides of their family going back many generations would show Southwest Asian and Mediterranean components in their regional affiliations—not because their grandparents were from those parts of the world, but because over thousands of years, all Europeans have mixed with people from these regions and have retained traces of this in their DNA.

But your results also reveal details about your more recent ancestry.

If your parents were from very different parts of the world—say Denmark and Japan—this would be reflected in your regional percentages. In this case, since you get half of your genome from your mother and half from you father, you would be half Danish and half Japanese. At the genetic level, this would show up as half of the regional percentages that each of your parents had—Northern European, Mediterranean, Northeast Asian, and so on.

The percentage of your DNA that comes from each of your ancestors drops by half as we go back through the generations—you are carrying half of your genome from your mother and father, but only one-quarter from each of your grandparents. Because of this, our ability to see your recent ancestry decreases with each generation in the past. If, say, your great-grandmother (three generations in the past) was Native American, you should see that roughly 13% of your DNA is Native American. Our limit is six generations, which would represent around 2% of your DNA. Beyond that, we can’t be certain that the percentages are significant, and this is why you won’t see regional affiliations of less than 2%.

People with recent ancestry from very different populations can have a mix of these regions that is not typically seen in indigenous populations. Hispanics, for instance, will have some of the typical European components from their European ancestors, but also Native American and even African components as a result of the recent mix of world cultures and populations that has occurred in the Americas over the past 500 years.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 12 Dec 2012 4:37AM GMT
Classification: Query
Join the club - there are several of us here with similar results! My mother was actually born in Naples (Portici), and my breakdown is 59% Central Europe, 15% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus, 13% Britsh Isles (my father presumably) and 8% Eastern Europe - no Italian at all. I can understand the part about Turkish etc. since Naples is an ancient port city invaded numerous times, but her father was from Venice and I assume there would have been some marriage at some point with someone considered Italian. The difficulty is we don't know how ancestry defines their groups, and I suspect the Naples region probably should have one of it's own.

I ordered a test for my mother and will get that done over Christmas, so maybe in January I'll have a clearer picture.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 8:50PM GMT
Classification: Query
I think ethnic Italians show up as Middle Eastern and Persian on this test. My mother is 3/4 Italian and 1/4 Armenian and came up Persian/Turkish 39%, Middle Eastern 29%, Central European 22%, and Uncertain 10%. We too have history in the Naples region. I don't see Southern European coming up very much on results in general, even for trees that are full of Italian last names, so I think the markers they're looking for for that group must not be as common.

I came up: British Isles 57%, Persian/Turkish/ Caucasus 20%, Middle Eastern 14%, and Southern European 9%.

My dad's Irish, so the 50-ish % for British Isles makes sense, as do the Persian and Middle Eastern #s (roughly half of my mom's #s), but it doesn't make sense that I would be 9% Southern European and she would be 22% Central European. So...something is amiss.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 2 Jan 2013 9:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 2 Jan 2013 9:29PM GMT
Thank you for your reply. I think it would be great to see more raw data on these tests. I've fully positively identified every individual in my tree back 4 generations and every one of them has an Italian surname and came from there. Wouldn't these results mean that virtually all of them would have had some subset of my results? It implies that there must have been a significant migration from those areas into my areas of Italy. Extra data might show when that happened.

I'm not doubting the results at all, I just think that there should be evidence that, for example, people from the Naples area of Italy must have a similar profile to this and that they should be able to identify that.

I would imagine results along the lines of what they're showing, but with another layer that says "here are other areas in the world that show this mixture of markers". I would think they would then be able to identify that area and others. Even New Haven, Connecticut might be able to be identified this way as that was one of the primary destinations of the migration to the US from Southern Italy. You look at the ship manifests and it's pages of people heading to New Haven to work at, for example, Sargent or some other factory. Even today, 40-50% of the New Haven area is still of Italian descent.

I'm having my mother tested, so we'll see what portion is hers. She's 50% northern Italian (Marche) and 50% Naples (Castellamare). My father is 100% Naples area (50% Amalfi, 50% Scafati). I'm curious whether she'll get most of that Central European. She has many of the northern Italian features that perhaps came from Central/Northern Europe like the blue eyes and fair skin.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 5 Jan 2013 6:56PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 5 Jan 2013 6:58PM GMT
Yes, yes it is. Any Italian match I have seems to have Persian/Turkish, Middle Eastern, N. African, or Eastern European mixed in there when there isn't a paper-trail for it. I don't think it means you've any recent descendants from that area, just that Southern Italians have a very distinct admixture from their particular history. I have Northern, Central, and Italian lineage and some showed up in me, too!

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 8 Jan 2013 11:10PM GMT
Classification: Query
My father's side is Sicilian and Lipari and I have 0% Southern European and 31% Eureopean Jewish.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 16 Jan 2013 11:41PM GMT
Classification: Query
I just got the result from my mother who was born in Naples:

S. Europe 33%
Middle Eastern 47%
Scandinavian 15%

Other than the Scandinavian, that is more like I was expecting for Naples. However, I have 0% of any of those! We show as parent/child with a 99% confidence (I have the birth certifcate so there really wasn't any doubt). I realize the DNA we get from each parent is not necessarily 50-50, but it does seem interesting that we match on none of the ethnic groups.

Re: Ethnic breakdown on DNA test results: Problem with Naples, Italy?

Posted: 17 Jan 2013 4:54AM GMT
Classification: Query
Yes, the "cousin matching part" of ancestryDNA seems to be working very good. But I am very, very skeptical about the results of the ethnicity part of the test results. Mine also HAS to be incorrect. Now it seems they have taken other peoples ethnicity results to view off the DNA site. A person use to be able to look at other's DNA ethnicity results and NOW THEY CAN NOT. Does anyone know the reason that they took other people ethnicity results away from viewing?
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