Haplogroups I and J split from each other somewhere in present day Iraq. What they did subsequently is rather interesting. The J’s migrated from there to completely encircle the Mediterranean Sea. The southern European coastline was predominantly populated by J2’s while the J1’s peopled Africa’s northern shoreline. The I’s on the other hand, moved from the Levant, north west into southern Europe; occupying the Balkans, Iberia and the Italian peninsula. Beyond the Alps and the Pyrenees lay tundra and ice. As the ice age retreated, the I’s advanced, crossing both of these snow capped mountain ranges into the north, into the lands that would millennia later become Germany, France, Scandinavia and Britain. The J’s had settled the coasts and the I’s the interior.
The I’s went against the current and spread upstream, from the Black Sea along the blue Danube, right into the heart of Europe. In ancient times rivers were highways and the Danube is a navigable river; slow moving, broad and deep for much of it’s course. Effectively, this river extended the accumulated knowledge of the various civilisations of the age, far into the forested hinterland of central Europe. Is it in the nature of I haplogroup people to seek the shadows and the wildness of the woodlands?
Their direct sibling, J, seemed to demonstrate an entirely different disposition. That group headed for where they could look directly at the distant horizon; where sea spoke to sky. Where they could taste the salt of the ocean in the air. Salt, that most coveted commodity of countless completed centuries. In their subsequent forays from their birth place in Iraq, whether they made them by land or by sea, they always kept close to the sea. They circumambulated, settled and civilised the Mediterranean coastline. J haplogroup is today found in significant proportions in the blood of Semitic peoples – Arabs and Jews both. Mercantilists, traders and peoples of the bazaar. Historically and today the J’s find themselves in the marketplaces of the world, in the trading centres, the financial districts and ports, buying and selling; making the money that makes the world go round.
Like J, I had also split into two (a third strain emerged later). The I1a Germanic/Nordic strain (and I1b Germanic/Saxon) dominated in the lands of the north; Scandinavia and Germany. I2 dominated and continues to have a significant presence in the population in the Balkans, notably Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, however I2 is also present south of the Pyrenees and the Alps. These ancient populations of I’s have not moved much. Strains have remained in significant numbers where they had at first emerged in the Stone Age.
As happened with I, group R split into two, with one of the groups fracturing again. The R2’s that moved south into the subcontinent, we will reluctantly ignore for this piece, however from the other half came the R1a and the R1b clades, and this pair of brothers are of interest to us here. Europe today, all of it, is dominated by either one clade or another. Southern and western areas by R1b (Indo-European) and the east of the smallest continent, by R1a (Eurasian).
Broadly speaking, in the modern era, those areas of Europe that we associate with the Slavic people are overwhelmingly belonging to the R1a clade and the Celtic west belonging to R1b. The Scandinavians and the Germans are more mixed; the latter being located in the middle of the continent, geographically speaking and therefore draws from all sides. The Scandinavians and Germans also had the influence of being in the heartland of the original I population. It may also be true that in our imagination, the west and south of Europe, the Celtic lands, are associated with the countryside with agrarian societies. It is also worthy of note, that the Scandinavians have the most balanced populations, from a haplogroup point of view; split roughly between I’s, R1a’s and R1b’s, with none being particularly dominant. Is it a coincidence that today we consider the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes to have constructed the most progressive, pluralistic and balanced nation states in Europe. They are neither skewed one way nor t’other. From Germany eastward, the imagination conjures more industrialised societies. Proletariats rather than peasants.
May I suggest that the Indo-European R1b’s of Anatolia and the Crimea, were one half of what would become Celtic Europe. They migrated through North Africa into Iberia and from the Anatolian region, directly into the Balkans, fusing with the indigenous I’s to create the basis for modern western european societies. The R1a clade (which is a later mutation than R1b but discovered earlier), emerged on the Asian steppe and was the first, it seems, to domesticate the horse. The fact that the horse was expected to work, gives me some latitude to state when describing this momentous step, that it was a primitive form of industrialisation.
By the time the R1a horsemen had ridden across the eastern European plain, the I’s and R1b’s had established themselves and their interconnected Celtic cultures from the Atlantic seaboard to the frontier in the east. From the Middle East they had brought their agrarian knowledge and shared it.
The R1a’s brought their ‘industrial’ knowledge – the bridled horse. They never made it farther than to the centre of the continent, to the area occupied by Germany today but their input into the genetic soup of the areas in which they did settle, perhaps created the Germanic cultures of central Europe, that today are considered to be a model of industry and industriousness. The small, independent farms of the British Isles, France, the Low Countries, Spain and Italy have always formed the backbone of those societies, historically speaking. That notion changes when the formidable natural barrier that is the River Rhine is crossed. Eastward from here these days means traveling through countries full of industry, some heavier than others. Of course there are farms in the east, people grow food everywhere, just as there is industry to be found in the west (lest we forget that the industrial revolution took place in Britain, although I would suggest that, that had more to with the nature of the people’s relationship with the church and state, and those institutions with themselves, than with genetics), however the proportionality between urban and rural, industry and agriculture is different, just as it is in the case of the genetics of individuals from different countries.
As in any brood of brothers, one brother will be this way inclined, another that way so. And the more brothers that there are, then the more scope for various inclinations to develop themselves and be passed on. The chances are, is that they’ll all end up working in a different field from one another, perhaps even in a different factory!
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