Wandering Thoughts on Ancient DNA and the Migration Period

leaving behind the Anglo-Saxon study and branching out into the wider world of Y DNA studies, I want to continue adding context for myself to the R-Z18 and R-U106 results discovered in Ancient DNA. I’m using the U106 group spreadsheet for ancient DNA as a guide to other studies where related people might appear. I’m also making heavy use of family tree DNA’s discover more tools to get their numbers, locations, and ancient DNA information.

Again, when I list modern testers, it is good to be aware of the bias in testing toward the United Kingdom and people who believe they are from the U.K. There is a steep bias toward people from the U.S. who may not have good family trees.

I’ve been working on this posting for a while because I’ve found it difficult as a layperson to get the level of depth I want in Y DNA results, and I’ve struggled to find the data in easy-to-consume bulk formats, like a spreadsheet or CSV. For instance, I may get a list of Y results that is very shallow in a spreadsheet format from a study, but the in-depth information on those results is kind of spread around various channels. Sometimes, even when in-depth analysis has been done, there isn’t more clarity to be had. The samples themselves are degraded.

Early Medieval Bavaria

google map showing straubing germany and Altenerding close to the border of Czechia and Austria

This study: “Population genomic analysis of elongated skulls reveals extensive female-biased immigration in Early Medieval Bavaria” produced two R-Z18 results from Straubing Germany and Two other R-U106 results from Altenerding about 115km away (also in Germany). The samples were roughly buried between 450 CE and 550 CE, so a good migration-era sampling like our Anglo-Saxon buddies. The study conclusions are interesting and show female migration from southeastern Europe and elsewhere within populations with what they thought of as relatively stable males.

Dude. I tried.

The study is pretty obviously geared towards female migration (although males were included in the 41 graves that were processed). I couldn’t find a Y DNA haplogroup table in the supplementary information. There was MTDNA info to be had, which plays into the study findings. These Y results were probably sussed out of the BAM files by people with the knowledge to do that. Since my source is the U106 group and they are biased towards U106 like I’m biased towards R-Z18 and R-CTS12023, all I have are the U106 results to look at in any coherent way. Looking through the forum threads at anthrogenica for this burst of citizen science research, yielded some posts with other results, but this is in no way inclusive of all the data. It’s just all the data I could parse out of the forum.

I’m betting that I am missing some R-P312 results. From what I was able to gather, Haplogroup I and Haplogroup R are neck and neck in this study, with 4 results each.

Haplogroup G

  • G-L497 – 1 result, formed in 5300 BCE, 1737 modern descendants and is most common in England and Germany.

Haplogroup I

  • I-M253 – 3 results, formed in 2550 BCE, 24,933 modern testers from England, Sweden and Germany.
  • I-M423 – 1 result, formed in 16000 BCE, 2,784 modern testers from Ireland, Poland and Russia.

Haplogroup R

All of these fall under R-U106

  • R-U106 – 1 result, this is the major parent group for the rest of these results. R-U106 formed around 2950 BCE.
  • R-Z156 – 1 result, formed around 2500 BCE, 3,487 modern testers mainly from England and Germany.
  • R-Z17 – 1 result, a major group under R-Z18 formed around 1950 BCE, with 1,193 modern testers from Sweden, England and Scotland. This result is under R-Z18.
  • R-ZP136 – 1 result, formed around 650 BCE. 21 modern testers from Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden. This result is under R-Z18. There may be a dispute about this result as it is also listed as possibly identified as R-L48 which is a different branch of the R-U106 tree.

Collegno and Szolad in the 6th Century

map from the 6th century barbarian study showing szolad hungary and collegno italy.

The study these migration era samples come from is “Understanding 6th-century barbarian social organization and migration through paleogenomics“. I’ve written about one of the men in this study before. The sample form SZ4 in Szolad Hungary is from Scandinavia and migrates down to Hungary among the Longobards (Lombards). It’s an example of how far people were moving in the migration period. Most of the R-U106 samples and the R-Z18 came from Szolad with two samples from Collegno.

I was able to grab the supplemental material, which did have Y DNA results, but at a pretty base level. The R-U106 group has a better breakdown of the R-U106 results. DNAExplained has a really nice breakdown with more information and better haplogroup designations than the study itself. So I’ll lean on the U106 group for R-U106 and lean on DNAExplained for the enhanced haplogroups for others.

Haplogroup E

  • E-BY3880 – 2200 BCE, 2,347 modern testers. Most common in England and Germany.
  • E-BY6865 – 4400 BCE, 27 modern testers. Most common in Iraq, Kuwait, and Italy.

Haplogroup G

  • G-FGC693 – 5800 BCE, 189 modern testers. Most common in Russia, Georgia, and Turkey.

Haplogroup I (11 samples)

  • I-FT104588 – 500 BCE, 10 modern testers. Most common in Germany, Slovenia, and France.
  • I-FGC21819 – 1 BCE, 4 modern testers, most popular in England, France, and Germany.
  • I-S8104 – 3 samples. 250 BCE, 57 modern testers. Most popular in Norway, Sweden, and England.
  • I-CTS616 – 9900 BCE, 5,210 modern testers. Most popular in England and Ireland.
  • I-ZS3 – 1650 BCE, 230 modern testers. Most popular in England and Sweden.
  • I-BY138 – 1700 BCE, 32 modern testers. Most popular in England, Ireland, and Germany.
  • I-BY3605 – 550 BCE, 21 modern testers. Most popular in Germany, Netherlands, and Norway.
  • I-Y6876 – 1150 BCE, 108 modern testers. Most common in Sweden, Norway, and Germany.

Haplogroup R (26 samples)

Going into some depth here because R is a monster in Europe. It is unfair depth, though because I’m giving preference to larger groups (or larger amounts of samples) and older designations, highlighting the differences between the big boys in P312 and U106.


  • R-YP986 – 50 BCE, 52 modern testers. Most common in Scotland and England.
  • R-Z2123 – 2150 BCE, 616 modern testers. Most common in Russia.


  • R-FGC24138 – 2250 BCE, 66 most common in Scotland and Germany.
  • R-L754 – 15000 BCE, 85,767 modern testers, most common in Ireland and England.
  • R-BY48364 – 1000 BCE, 4 modern testers, found in Germany, Poland, South Africa and Switzerland.
  • R-A8472 – 1650 BCE, 68 modern testers, found in England and France.
  • R-BY3194 – 350 CE, 33 modern testers found in Ireland, Northern Ireland and France.
  • R-BY70163 – 750 BCE, 9 testers, Bahrain, Italy, and Kuwait.


  • R-S22519 – 3 samples. 250 BCE, 2 modern testers, unknown origins.


  • R-FGC4166 – 2050 BCE, 165 modern testers mainly from England and Ireland.
  • R-P312 – 3 samples. Enormous base group of R1b. It’s most likely that the samples were degraded and couldn’t be pushed farther downstream.
  • R-BY3194 – 350 CE, 33 modern testers. Found mainly in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and France.
  • R-DF99 – 2400 BCE, 301 descendants. Mainly from England and Germany.


  • R-BY176786 – This one has no age estimate and is found in only one person in the U.K.
  • R-BY138397 – This one has no age estimate and is found in only one person in Italy.
  • R-Z381 – 2 samples. 2650 BCE. This is the largest branch of R-U106. It’s likely the samples couldn’t give a more specific result.
  • R-S10271 – 1000 BCE, 13 testers from Germany, Scotland, and Switzerland.
  • R-U198 – 1500 BCE, 1,471 modern testers. Most popular in England and the U.K.
  • R-S15627 – 1300 BCE, 590 modern testers. Most popular in England and Scotland.
  • R-Y98441 – 1150 BCE, 4 testers. Found in Germany and Sweden. This is a descendant line of R-Z18. This is our Scandinavian who moved to Hungary (one of two Scandinavians in Szolad, I believe) and lived with a family group of unrelated Germans if I remember the story right.

Haplogroup T

  • T-BY45363 – 2050 BCE, 8 modern testers from England, Iraq and Lebanon.
  • T-Y15712 – 5800 BCE, 28 modern testers from Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.

Niederstotzingen 6th and 7th Century Alemanni

Map of Niederstotzingen, Germany

This group has no R-Z18 results, but there are R-U106 results that can provide some context. This is a single graveyard genomic study: “Ancient genome-wide analyses infer kinship structure in an Early Medieval Alemannic graveyard.”

Haplogroup G

  • G-M406 – 9700 BCE, 690 modern testers. Most popular in Italy, Germany, and England.

Haplogroup R

These are all base groups in R and R1b. They are ancient and enormous groups. The samples were likely too degraded to provide a better result or the testing too limited.


  • R-FGC23143 – 6 samples. This SNP has no age estimate and has only been found in 1 modern tester from Belgium.
  • R-Z319 – 1050 BCE, 375 modern testers from Germany and England.
  • R-Y182993 – This one is on the struggle bus at FTDNA. Yfull has it at 550 BCE with one tester from the U.S.


These datasets could be classified as Continental Central Europeans or people who became continental central Europeans.

Below is a walking map of the places with Medieval R-U106 DNA in my transect of results.

Map showing, Niederstotzingen, Strauben, Altenerding, Collegno and Szolad.

R-Z18 is a subset of these results. The map below represents the two locations and three results for R-Z18.

map with Straubing and Szolad. The two locations where R-Z18 was found.

My Sampling

In my transect of the U106 migration period studies, R-Z18 actually makes a pretty good showing. It’s no surprise that Haplogroup R makes its presence felt with the bulk of the results. Although I suspect I’m missing some R-P312 results from the first study in my list, they also make a good show.

My purpose is to show the R-U106 and R-Z18 world in context with other Y haplogroups. Because I’m looking at R-U106 groups, it is not surprising to be floating around in the “Germanic” world. R-U106 is often described as Germanic R1b.

What I’ve gathered is that R-U106 leans towards the Germanic language groups in the migration period, but people living in those communities don’t necessarily all lean towards R-U106. Non-U106 Haplogroup R Y DNA branches are constant companions with similar numbers of results. R-P312 descendants are also major players in these communities. Haplogroup I is formidable. It seems to be almost everywhere that U106 is in abundance. Haplogroups E, G, J, and T crop up in smaller numbers but in a diversity of locations.

All human Y DNA Haplogroups have an origin person who lived in a place who was probably related to similar people from a region and spoke a language, but once they leave that place and spread out in space and time, it seems like all bets are off. As if people don’t just line themselves up by Y DNA as a defining feature.

There is an obvious skew in my perspective because I’m the center of the universe in my online diary. I’m only looking at migration-era studies that contain known R-U106 samples, and I’ve been selective, trying to pick studies that were more recent and had more results to offer.

I wouldn’t have expected R-Z18 to have a decent presence in Southern Germany or Hungary, but there they were. Finding R-Z18 results among Lombards and Ostrogoths (?) makes me hopeful that we’ll be picked up in further genetic studies in central Europe. That brings me to the next conclusion.

Migration and Community vs Origin vs Geography vs Culture

As I wrote in a previous posting the Z18 result (SZ4) in Szolad is from Scandinavia. That’s his personal origin based on isotope analysis. In the study, he’s buried with other group members who are from Germany and also more local people who are in the group but separated by status. So whatever or whoever this guy was in Scandinavia, he was with the Lombards (Langobards) and headed south for maybe 1000 km or 700-ish miles.

By Castagna – Own elaboration from Image:Europe satellite orthographic.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5154047

Like the Anglo-Saxons, the Langobards believe they come from southern Scandinavia, so…maybe we’re talking about Sweden as the map above portrays. Maybe that’s where SZ4 is from, and there is a cultural affinity at play in his decision to be a Langobard.

Bardowick is apparently the hometown of the Langobards (before they calved off a group that went south). Bardowick (Bewick) is in the same general area attributed to the Heathobards, who may have been related to the Langobards. There is a lot of beard-related naming going on here and geographic overlap, so it is easy to lump all the “beards” together in continental northern Europe.

map showing bardowick south of Hamburg

Our SZ4 R-Z18 guy is a Longbeard, whether he was born one or not. Culturally, he’s with them. Although I want to ascribe family ties to that move, it could be a conscious decision that has nothing to do with geographic origins or genetic affinity. Maybe he was always a part of their extended group, or maybe he just liked them after running into them some other way. Maybe he was a slave that became higher ranking?

Within a few generations in Hungary/Italy the Langobards are going to admix with local people. They become the locals geographically and genetically. That becomes the community they are in.

map showing walking path from Bardowick south to Szolad Hungary

The journey from Scandinavia for this one person SZ4, is lost in the next generation. Isotope analysis was for him alone. His children and grandchildren will be Central Europeans, Southern Europeans, or Eastern Europeans. Their language and customs will change along with their autosomal genetic makeup.

His descendants will likely have no idea about this migration in their past until one of them bumps into Y and MT DNA, and they get a glimpse of the arch of time and the generations of ancestors on individual journeys that led to their birth.

I don’t have this migration information for our Z18 cousins in Bavaria. In that study, they are the locals, and an influx of women from the east is the focus. The two R-Z18 samples are classified as Northern/Central Europeans. They may be a branch of the Goths or Ostrogoths or part of the Alemanni. The study itself doesn’t really try to determine any of that spaghetti mess. One of them is listed as most closely related tp the FRE population and another to the NOW. For the life of me, I could not find a reference to what those populations are. GER and UK were kind of obvious. ROM was less so..does it mean Romanian or Roman? FRE makes me think French? NOW is a complete mystery.

As you might have guessed, this study was really frustrating for me to try to put together. I’m sure the study itself does a great job of what it’s doing with elongated skulls and female eastern European immigration into Bavaria; it’s just hard for me to decipher as an amateur genetic genealogist.

These R-Z18 men are Bavarians by the time we catch up with them. Whatever paths brought them there, I do not know. It is interesting that one of their haplogroups (R-ZP136) is often found in modern testers from the Czech Republic and Germany. Did this haplogroup form in Central Europe or Eastern Europe? I don’t know.

In the back of my mind, though, is that all these places are inhabited by people moving in a timeline. In the migration period, today’s locals were yesterday’s immigrants or invaders. Each person represents a point, unknowingly carrying around a chromosome that has passed through many other places and people over thousands of years.

And…just like that

Normally, at this point, I would lament that we don’t have any ancient R-CTS12023 DNA to look at from this period in Central and Eastern Europe, but Family Tree DNA seems to have just dropped a hint at an R-CTS12023 result in Hungary from around this time period.

So I’ll spend some time with those results and see what I can see about Tiszapüspöki 18184 and his community.

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