Happy DNA Day

The circled areas indicate the places my DNA is associated with: overwhelmingly Northern and South Italian, but with small percentages from the Aegean Islands and Cyprus. The dotted circles show the regions of Italy that provide the closest matches: Central Eastern and Central Southwest.

April 25 is National DNA Day! This annual event celebrates the completion of the human genome project in 2003 and the discovery of the double helix in 1953.

I’ve posted about my genealogical research various times, but never about the results of my DNA test. Partly that’s because the results keep changing. As the testing company learns more about analyzing the data, updates come out periodically. Every time, I’m told once again that I am overwhelmingly Italian. But I already knew that. In fact, every direct ancestor I’ve uncovered is Italian — and some of my family lines go back more than 400 years. The general DNA results go back even further — 2,000 years.

The results distinguish between Northern Italian and Southern Italian; I have both. (The latitude of Rome is generally considered the dividing line between North and South.) And with the recent update, they also include estimates of which parent each portion came from. That’s new. The results are listed as “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” because they are based on my own DNA and not on separate testing of my parents. But I’m pretty sure I know which is which, because my mother’s family tends to come from farther south than my father’s.

My current results:

  • Southern Italy 57% (39% mother, 18% father)
  • Northern Italy 31% (5% mother, 26% father)
  • Aegean Islands 6% (mother)
  • Cyprus 6% (father)

So that’s 88% Italian and 6% each Aegean Islander and Cyprian. That 88 percent is actually a bit lower than before. Most of my test results have shown somewhere between 94 percent and 100 percent Italian ancestry.

To be honest, I don’t take the non-Italian portion that seriously, because the small percentage of my DNA that is not Italian changes countries with each update. The next time my results are revised, they may show completely different parts of the Mediterranean world. At times it has been labeled as coming from Sardinia (now a part of Italy); Croatia; and the Levant (which refers to Eastern Mediterranean countries as Syria, Israel, Jordan, but also has at times included Greece and even Venice).

The Italian portions of my ancestry have been further broken down into smaller areas: Central Eastern and Central Southwest. Within the Central Southwest area, my family most closely matches the East Naples/West Avellino Provinces and the North Campania Region. And that Central Eastern region also includes San Marino, which is a tiny autonomous country that is east of Florence and completely surrounded by Italy, much as the Vatican is.

The timeline for my ancestry in these specific areas can’t be pinpointed as far back as 2,000 years, but the data says my DNA match the people in those areas going back to 1700. This does not mean I don’t have ancestry from further South or further North, just that my DNA doesn’t indicate a connection to people in those areas in recent centuries. The parts of Italy do not surprise me. While being both Southern and Northern Italian sounds like my ancestors came from all over the country, most that I’ve heard of are from the central part of Italy, roughly between Naples in the South and Florence in the North.

I ordered another DNA test the last time they were on sale. I was hoping to get my mother to take it. She’s not that interested, but I may be able to convince her if I tell her she won’t have to do anything but provide a saliva sample; I’ll have the testing done and manage the online page. I really would like to get some more solid data.

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