The next two posts will focus on recent experiences with DNA.
I have been receiving Lithuanian Heritage since I first heard about it in the 1990s. The occasional articles about history, family roots, genealogy, specific locations in the Suwalki region, and notable Lithuanians hold my interest.
In December 2016 the colorful cover showed three “relatively common” European haplogroups: R1b, R1a, and N1c.
Knowing that my brother tested as R1b, I eagerly approached this article:
The article focused on the report of Dr. Vaidutis Kučinskas at the Department of Human and Medical Genetics at Vilnius University which I had toured with Road Scholar one morning in July 2013.
Dr. Vaidutis Kučinskas answered seven questions:
1. Does an examination of Lithuanian DDA support or refute the idea that Lithuanians (and other Baltic tribes) were isolated from the rest of Europe?
Current studies do not reflect the isolationist theory. Geographical distance is the more likely reason that Lithuanians and other eastern and northern Europeans have different DNA.
2. Is there evidence of Viking and Lithuanian DNA?
More study of this questions needs to be done, but the basic answer is, “No.”
3. How close are the Lithuanians to the Latvians, Estonians, Germans, and other western Europeans?
“Lithuanian population is close genetically to the population of neighboring countries (e.g. Latvians, Estonians, Poles, and Russians)…” R1a (45%) and N3 (37%) are the two largest groups. Some differences exist between the northwest and north versus the south and southeast. Lithuanians are closest to Latvians. Geographical distance determines the relationship to the others, (i. e. the closer the country, the increase in a DNA match.)
4. How closely are European Jews related to no-Jewish Lithuanians?
Lithuanians are more closely related to other Europeans than to European Jews.
5. Is there evidence in Lithuanians of Asian, especially Mongol genes?
Tatars have a “high prevalence” of N1c1 and R1a1, both prominent in Lithuanians.
6. With regard to Y-DNA and MtDNA, what differences are there between Lithuanian men and women?
Common to many people, men show a higher diversity than women.
7. How do Lithuanians compare with other Europeans with regard to African origins?
The closer the country geographical, the closer the Y-DAN and MtDNA match.
These questions and answers only somewhat told me what I wanted to know: Is my family Prussian or Lithuanian? The R1b, Western European origins, rather the prominent R1a prominent in Lithuania, suggested the German or Prussian origin of my Spurgat family.
An Editor’s Note defined haplogroup and cited a website www. eupedia.com maintained by Maciamo Hay. Although not peer-reviewed, it offers a great deal of information about “population genetics.”
On the home page you can click on the haplogroup of your choice. The map for R1b (it was the same map as on the cover of Lithuanian Heritage) and scroll down. I learned a great deal about the R1b haplogroup. And found specific reference to my particular sub group.
The information about DNA in the article and website supports the “Prussian” side of the debate surrounding those with -at names rather than the Lithuanian side. At least at this moment.