Deep Ancestry – Our Maternal Line

Haplogroup H1
Distribution of Haplogroup H1 - Source

Helena’s descendents


She lived about 13,000 years ago, not long after the Ice Age ended.   The DNA within her carried a mutation (also called a marker)  that would be passed down to her offspring through the maternal line to me.       

Me, my mother, grandmother and g.g.g.g.grandmothers all carry a genetic marker that defines this mutation. My siblings and my children also have this marker.

What is it? 

It is the genetic marker M52 and it defines my maternal haplogroup of H1. 

[Note for the relatives – This mutation (marker) is simply a slight change in the DNA sequence that defines a movement of people thousands of years ago.   The maternal haploGROUP has no significance to our family tree other than to show anthropologists the migrations of people out of Africa.   There is no stigma or bad thing associated with this or with any haplogroup.]

Origins of Haplogroup H1

Helena, one of the Seven Daughters of Eve“, was the progenitor of my H1 maternal haplogroup.  According to Wikipedia, Haplogroup H likely orginated in Southwest Asia/Middle East 25,000-30,000 YBP (years before present). 

“Haplogroup H is the most common mtDNA haplogroup in Europe. About one half of Europeans are of mtDNA haplogroup H. The haplogroup is also common in North Africa and the Middle East.  The majority of the European populations have an overall haplogroup H frequency of 40%–50%. Frequencies decrease in the southeast of the continent, reaching 20% in the Near East and Caucasus, 17% in Iran, and <10% in the Persian Gulf, Northern India and Central Asia. 

Among all these clades, the subhaplogroups H1 and H3 have been subject to a more detailed study and would be associated to the Magdalenian expansion from SW Europe c. 13,000 years ago. 

Sub-Haplogroup H1

“Subhaplogroup H1 encompasses an important fraction of Western European mtDNA, reaching its local peak among Basques (27.8%) and being also very important among other Iberians, North Africans and Sardinians. It is above 10% in many other parts of Europe (France, British Isles, Alps, large portions of Eastern Europe) and above 5% in nearly all the continent. Its subclade H1b is most common in Eastern Europe and NW Siberia.  The highest frequency of H1 found so far in the world (61%) were observed in the Tuareg of the Fezzan region in Libya. ” [Source – Wikipedia]. 

The Science

The genetic marker that defines H1 is M52.  Testing was performed by on the complete mitochondrial genomic sequence.  

With rare exceptions, only the daughters pass mitrochondrial DNA  to the next generation thus making it a measure of deep ancestry on the maternal side. 

Our Maternal Haplogroup

We are Haplogroup H1.  We are Helena’s descendents. 


Further reading: 

Wikipedia – Haplogroup H1 

International Society of Genetic Genealogists – Haplogroup H 

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes 

Author: © Joan Miller - Luxegen Genealogy.

The Luxegen Genealogy and Family History blog presents the family history stories of Joan Miller.