Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Monday, June 2, 2014

On the Q haplotypes in Europe (Part 1)

Y chromosome haplogroup Q is always mentioned as being prevalent among Native Americans and used as proof of their Asian origin because some minor Asian groups also carry the same haplotypes found in America. With this incorrect generalization one would assume that it is the most recent haplogroup as it is carried by the latest group of humans to people a continent: Amerindians.

Actually Q is found not only in America, but also in Southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Western Asia, the Middle East and all across Europe. This is rather striking since it is portrayed as a relatively young haplogroup but has the most extended global dispersion: from Cape Horn in Tierra del Fuego on the southernmost tip of South America, to Scotland and Iceland in Europe, to Sri Lanka, Sicily, Sweden and Israel.

This post will look into the European Q haplotypes since some of them are closely related to those of Amerindians.

The origin of European Q haplogroup

The map below shows that hg Q is found in central Europe between an imaginary line that joins Marseille with Hambourg and another joining the Black Sea with Finland. It encompasses large portions of Scandinavia with in pockets in the UK, Iceland, Sicily, South Western Iberia, Cotentin, Dalmacia and South Sardinia. The voids are interesting too, it is absent from most of Western France, Spain, Italy, the Balkans and Slovenia, Belarus and central-western Poland.

Q haplogroup frequency Europe
Map showing the frequencies of Q haplogroup in Europe. Copyright ©

The "hot spots" are found in Scandinavia, South Sicily and the Rhone Valley in France. Why?

Several theories have been put forth to explain the distribution of an "Asian" haplogroup in European soil, and all must somehow explain how the Q hg got from Asia to Europe, to do so different dispersal "agents" originating in Asia are proposed:

Let's look into the different options


The only contemporary written record on their origin was penned by Ammianus Marcellinus (IVth century CE), who reported them [1] in Ukraine, clashing witht the Alans along the Don and then uniting them into a coaliton to invade Western Europe.

The Huns were nomads which came from beyond the Sea of Azov and moved towards the Danube around 150 CE.

After defeating the Alns, they raided the Roman Empire and the territories of the Barbarian Germanic nations that surrounded it (territories of the Goths, Taifalia and Sarmatae).

Their conquests spanned the Danube and their most known leader Attila was defeated in the battle of Catalunian Plains (or Battle of Chalons) in 451 CE, bringing an end to the hunnic "empire".

The descriptions that the Romans made of them clearly point to a prevalent Mongoloid strain, but how strong it was, is a mystery.[2] Furhtermore, the scant 300 years (roughly 10 generations)during which they dominated central Europe would not admit great admixture into their vassals or enemies. Furthermore, many of their soldiers were exterminated [2] after their defeat by the Romans, during the two Goth wars that ensued, and those that survived would have quickly melted into the original inhabitants of the lands they had formerly conquered, admixing into them.

The argument behind the Hun Q haplogroup admixture in Europe goes like this: as they were Asians, from central Siberia, apart from other haplogroups, they also carried the Q hg in them. This explains the presence of Q hg in the areas formerly occupied by the Hunnic Empire (central Europe); it is also found in Provence / Burgundy because many huns settled there after their defeat at Chalons. Furthermore, the Huns supposedly employed Scandinavian (i.e. Goth and Heruli) warriors and many Huns marched north with them after being beaten by the Romans, dispersing their Y chromosomes in that area.

The Norse peoples (Vikings, Normans) descended from this admixture later spread the hunnic Q hg widely when they raided Europe (ca. 900 CE): this explains its presence France (Cotentin - Normandy), Great Britain (Danelagh), Sicily (conquered by Normans in 1091 CE) and, as they went across the Atlantic, in Iceland, the Shetland and Faroe Islands.

Another theory is outlined below:

Cimmerians or Cimbri

The Cimmerian culture was centered in Crimea (a current Russian -Ukrainian hot spot) and Kerch, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, and around the Sea of Azov about 3,000 years ago. It was born from different ancestral roots: One was local, Ukranian, originating in the Belozerka culture; another was the Koban culture of Caucasian origin, and yet another, linked with the Ananino Culture from the Volga - Kazhan area. Finally people from further East (Ordos region). [3]

Remains of their bimetallic daggers, horse bits and arrowheads have been found across a vast region of Eastern and Central Europe (see the brown area in the map below).

cimmerian cimbrian migrations
Dispersal of the Cimmerian - Cimbri in Europe. Copyright © 2014 by Austin Whittall

The oldest written record on them, is from Homer, in his Odyssey (ca. 8th century BCE), [4], he imagines their territory as wild: "where is the land and city of the Cimmerians, wrapped in mist and cloud...", set on the northern shores of the Black Sea.

Greek historian, Herodotus, [5] (ca. 484–425 BCE) also wrote about the savage Cimmerian invasions in Asia: reporting that the Cimmerians were forced to migrate from their homeland, pushed by the Scythian nomads (pressed in turn by the Massagetai).

The Scyths were Asians, which after crossing the Araxes (Volga) River invaded Cimmeria ca. 713 BCE, causing them to flee in two directions: One group invaded Asia Minor (Phrygia) and settled in Sinope on the northern coast of Turkey. Another marched west after a fratricide battle on the shores of the Dniester (Tyras) River and then entered Thrace.

Herodotus reports their plundering raids on Ionia (675 or 695? BCE) during the reign of Ardys; and they also captured Sardis. It was later, ca. 600 BCE, that they were repulsed from Asia Minor by Ardys' son. [5]

Despite the Scyths, some Cimmerians remained in their homeland, by the Sea of Azov (Lake Maeotis). Pliny [6] quotes Greek poet Philemon (362 – ca. 262 BCE) when he says that they called their "ocean" Mori Marusa or, "Dead Sea" (either Azov or Black Seas). Some sources [7] incorrectly assume that this is the Baltic Sea, but, as we will see below, they are mistaken.

These Cimmerians from the Chersonesus (Crimea) several centuries later, sent an embassy to Emperor Augustus in Rome with gifts, to ask for pardon for their raids one century before (Plutarch [8] and Strabo [9]).

But the largest part of these people, had migrated from their Crimean home and lived in the wooded lands of Central Europe, along the Danube River and at the sources of the Elbe and the Vistula rivers, which they settled long before the appearance of the Germanic tribes. [10] They were considered Celtic people and they took part in the attack upon Delphi in Greece (279 BCE) allied with the Illyrians, but were defeated. [12]

After five centuries in central Europe and Thrace, they moved once again invading the Roman Republic in 113 BCE.

The Romans at that time occupied the coastal areas around the Mediterranean sea (green in map below), they ignored the homeland of these barbarians who " sallied forth against Italy, being called at first Cimmerians, and then, not inappropriately, Cimbri." [8]. Their twelve year campaing ended in defeat, and they retreated to the north, deep within the forests, into Jutland, which is now Denmark, where, according to Strabo [9] they occupied the country west of the Elbe. A map by Claudius Ptolemy (ca. 90 – ca. 168 CE) that is, roughly 220 years after their invasions, places the land of the Cimbri at the northernmost tip of Jutland.

Their campaign would explain the presence of their Q hg across the central parts of Europe. Its later dispersion from Denmark into Scandinavia and the rest of Europe would be identical to the "Hun's Q hg dispersal" already mentioned above. The presence of Cimbrian Y Chromosomes in the Valley of the Rhone belonged to the refugees escaping the defeat at Vercelli, crossing the Alpine passes into current Savoy and Haute Rhone. Or (chose your option): (1) the survivors of the Cimbri garrison that remained in Belgium (who later became the Aduatuci), after their defeat by Julius Caesar in 57 BCE (most were killed or sold as slaves). (2) Later moves towards the south (400 CE) of the Burgundians from Scandinavia, to current Poland, and finally to France, bearing Cimbrian admixture in their genomes.

An interesting paper (I. Rozhansky, 2010) [11] views the Cimbrians as carrying different haplogroups in their genome, but after being subjected to a bottleneck (the battles against Rome), male lineages were reduced and only a small part of it reached the Jutland refuge after a 1,700 km march. Their long settlement there (100 BC - 400 CE) subjected them to further genetic drift yielding two haplotypes of Q1a3 unique to Scandinavia which date back to a common ancestor 2200 - 2150 ya. (coincidental with the date of the Cimbrian Invasions).

Next, the least likely origin for Q hg in Europe:

Mongolians & Tartars

The Mongol hordes employing cavalry and gunpowder advanced West (1235) and occupied the Russian principalities. They continued their advance into Poland, Hungary and Serbia, defeating all forces of armored knights that faced them. The death of the Great Khan and perhaps the dense forests and fortified castles of Western Europe stopped their advance in 1242. They conducted ther invasions until 1295 into Thrace and Poland, but finally retreated East. Their "Golden Horde Empire" later declined and fell prey to civil war.

The recency of this invasion (800 years ago) and the lack of penetration into areas where we currently find Q hg (Scandinavia, England, France), makes it an extremely unlikely vehicle for the introduction of it in Europe. Furthermore, they did not settle the land, they returned back to their Asian homes.

Above I have outlined the theories that try to explain how Asian Q haplogroup ended up in Europe. Personally none of them satisfy me. I find them too recent in comparison with the "sister" branch that entered America over 15 kya. Furthermore the low frequency but wide coverage of Q hg in Europe hints at an ancient origin: the other "latecomers" (in the sense of their later branching-off the P hg root), such as Hg N and R - with all its haplotypes, have covered the same territory with a higher frequency, overlaid on the archaic Q hg substrate. But this will be the subject of my next post.

Read the second part: An Ancient Dispersal


[1] Ammianus Marcellinus XXXI, 2, 12 The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus
[2] Otto Maenchen-Helfen, (1973). The World of the Huns: Studies in Their History and Culture. University of California Press
[3] Gocha R. Tsetskhladze, Ed., (2001). North Pontic Archaeology: Recent Discoveries and Studies. Brill, 2001
[4] Homer, Odyssey 11:14
[5] Herodotus, History, Translated by Rawlinson, George, Blakeney, Edward Henry. London, Dent. 1919. [1:1,6] [1:8,15][4:9,11 - 13]
[6] Pliny, 4:13
[7] David K. Faux, (2011). The Cimbri of Denmark, the Norse and Danish Vikings, and Y-DNA Haplogroup R-S28/U152 - (Hypothesis A)
[8] Plutarch, The Parallel Lives . Vol. IX, 11, Loeb Classical Library edition, 1920
[9] Strabo Vii. 293. 294 pp
[10] Anthon Charles, 1872. A classical dictionary... Harper. pp. 539.
[11] I. Rozhansky, (2010). Riddle of the Cimbri. Experience the historical and genealogical investigation. Proceedings of the Russian Academy of DNA Genaology, v.3., p. 545 (Russian language)
[12] Appian's Roman History. Vol II, pp 59

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 


  1. Huns are an ancient European population, describer by Herodotus as Scythians-Sarmathians-Allans (Iranian tribes) and after the death of Attila (clan Dulo) writers started addressing them as bulgarians, who shortly after established two powerful empires called by the Romans Great Bulgariq and later Volga Bulgaria. Bulgarians (Huns) after 452 AD migrated from central Europe to settle later around Volga river, they did not come the the east, as conveniently implied by the Turkic propaganda. There was no migration of the Huns from Asia, so far such a point has never been prove.

  2. Here is one of the best book ever written about the Huns/Bulgarians:

  3. The region you have marked on the Y-DNA Q map as Phrygia is actually Hurria and then later became Armenia. Thesis that Hurrians are the Q that settles in Sicily is a good estimate as a Hurro-Mitanni Warrior caste as mercenaries of the Phoenicians.

  4. Odin being a real central Asian figure & settling in Norway makes sense to me. The dispersal pattern would show that the Vikings served as personal guard to the Byzantine Empire, putting them right where they should be. They invaded both east & west. If he was considered royalty he could have fathered many sons like Charlemagne - spread quickly. He ended up starting a new religion somehow & most of those stories are (in small part) based on some fact. I think that is a likely reason.


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