The Genographic Project

OK, I’m pretty excited about this project. Today National Geographic and IBM announce a five-year partnership to map the patterns of dispersal and change of human DNA across the Earth. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of ancestral human migration patterns by analyzing genetic markers — mutations transmitted from generation to generation — in blood samples and cheek swabs from people all around the world. This is forensics on a global scale, macrogenealogy.

What makes this project unique, I think, is the opportunity for public participation. In addition to the indigenous populations that comprise a major part of the study, interested people anywhere can purchase a cheek swab kit and submit their cells for analysis. The process is completely anonymous. All your cells get is a barcode. The results can be interesting, sometimes dismantling preconceptions about one’s family lineage going way back. (One Italian-American IBM executive who participated in an early test was shocked to learn that his family line extended into the mountains of Iran. How his family got there from Africa is one question that this project hopes to answer.) Once you submit your cells and the DNA is analyzed you can log in to the site and see the migration patterns, such as they are known at that point, of which your family is a part.

This will be controversial, no doubt. Society itself (not to mention the racist mind) depends on a firm belief in where people come from, who they are, and who they are not — however dubiously tied to fact these beliefs may be. But better to know the real shape of the family tree than only to imagine it, no?

Info on the specifics of IBM’s involvement is available. Some coverage here and elsewhere.

36 Responses to “The Genographic Project”

  1. Shahram says :

    I just got my results from National Geography and happened to be M172 and Haplogroup J2. However I am from Iran, I guess my ancestors remained there for all these years.

  2. Stewart says :

    Hello, I had my DNA tested through the Genographic project and mine came back as M172 as well, which was actually a surprise. My father’s father’s father’s (etc.) family is Hungarian and I became interested in the DNA test due to the sometimes unusual (and hotly debated) origins of the Hungarian people. So, it appears that, like John, at least part of me comes through where Shahram’s family (father’s anyway) stayed all these years. Very interesting. Cool site.

  3. Ali says :

    If you can please e-mail me at, I have a question about your genographic results.

  4. L. Mendes says :

    My DNA analyses indicates that I am J2 (M172) but I feel Genographic’s write-up and map is lacking and misleading.My family has been in India for well over 1000 years.I see figures from 5% to 9% of Indians as being J2. But other than a dot on some maps there is no branch shown into India. The belief that there was an “Aryan Invasion” and matters related to the caste system makes genetic studies and testing a matter of great interest to Indians.Unfortunately, one has to go elsewhere to learn about them.

    • Jenson says :

      I myself am from Nasrani Christian from Kerala and have tested J2 haplogroup. I did the testing because our community claims Jewish ancestry. Being in India for about 2000 years some of the people might have immigrated to other parts of the country spreading J2’s around.

  5. Ferdinand says :

    My DNA analyses indicates that I am a R1a (M17). My family has lived in Croatia for hundreds of years. The DNA Migratory map appeared to have been in line with what I have learned about Croatian origins growing up as a child.
    I was impressed with the outcome of the kit.

  6. Robert says :

    J2 (M172) came from Darskinned Caucasians Dravidian who were the ancestors to the Aryan race india that invade from Iran. Some my ancestors who were related Parsis were also J2 (M172).

  7. Nikola says :

    I got my result of genograpic project today.
    I am a born croatian living in germany and my genes belong to J2 M172.
    So Ferdinand, you are one of the russian boys, probably blond and blue eyed…:-)
    I am from the south of Croatia, dark haired, tall and with dark eyes.
    I was always wondering how different the people in Croatia are compared to other nations.

    • Hrvoje Golek says :

      My results also came back as J2 (M172). My family has lived in the Slavonia region of Croatia since the 1840’s. And the one who came to Slavonia was my paternal 3rd great grandfather who was a German born in Elek, Hungary in 1808…so what does this all mean?

  8. Praveen says :

    My genographic report came as a J2(M172).
    I am a Christian from Kerala in South India and legend has it that our family were converted to christianity from Hinduism 2000 years ago.

    • Satish Batta says :

      Oh well, I come from north India and am also J2-M172. But my last name is rather common in Hungry and Romania, so I dont know if I also came from thaat area or a local supposedly iving there in India for the alsat at least five hundred years.

  9. Dan says :

    I was tested a year ago by National Geographic as J2 (M172). Having been born in Canada my ancestors came overseas in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. They were from an area which is now the southern Ukraine.
    Surprisingly photos of my grandfather and his brothers when they were young men looked Turkish. I am tall, slim, dark haired, and with olive complexion. We called ourselves Ukrainian but this DNA result has me questioning that.

  10. shahram says :

    I am a R1A from turkish speaking people of iran, my vilage name is Hunj, the name reflecting a scythian tribe(Huns), about 20% of iranian azerbaijani are R1a so it shows a heavy back ground of steps for them

  11. Ferdinand says :

    Hi Nikola,
    As far as being a Russian boy I am not so sure about that 🙂 I am blond curly haired with dark eyes and light complexion. My father (from Gorski Kotar, Croatia) has dark curly hair, olive skin, and dark eyes. My djeda had blond hair, grey eyes, and light complexion, apparently, his father was dark skinned, dark eyes, dark hair. Go figure 🙂 You can never tell with genes. Physically we all look alike in our Croatian family but different shades of color 🙂

  12. Joel says :

    Can some tell me what civilsations are assoicaited with M172?
    Jewish, Phoenician, Arab, Persian?

  13. Alan says :

    I tested J2 (M172). My Dads family was Hungarian and although my father was blond, his father was dark haired. Small world!

  14. Raff Ellis says :

    Both my mother and father came from Lebanon and I tested as J2 (M172). I got a kit for my cousin (I wanted to trace my mother’s side of family) who remained in Lebanon and he tested as J (12f2.1). I have no idea what all this means.

  15. George Mathew says :

    Hello, I am George Mathew and from the very South West of India, called Kerala. I am tested J2 too. We are Nasrani’s or Syrian Christian’s also called Saint Thomas Christians. Our heritage is Jewish. The conversion from Hinduism to Christianity theory of the Nasranis is not any more holding water in the light of several DNAs being J2(Cohen) and R1a (Levite). We are all awaiting for further test results. I did my test with Family Tree DNA at Houston.

  16. Syed says :

    My family claims descent from the prophet Muhammad´s paternal grandfather. Here is some info I have gathered on J2 haplogroup:

    • Zaidi says :

      Syed, unfortunately J2 isnt apparently the haplogroup of Muhammad. The common haplogroup which researches agree was J1 included in the subgroup J1c3d which common among people who are descended from Arab Adnani which Muhammad was apart of and also common among people descended from the Jewish tribes.

  17. Bill says :

    Do posters realized that low levels of J2 are common to India and dates to Vedic (Rg Veda) times? And would probably be tracable to the introduction of agriculture?

  18. Syed says :

    J2 is most common in the Fertile Crescent/ Levant where it forms 25%-30% of the population. Haplogroup J is the only haplogroup found in all four Israelite populations, general Jewish, Cohanim within gen. Jewish population, Samaritans and Bene Israel of India.
    J2 is less common in Europe and India. In India haplogroup H is followed by R, O, then J followed by F. Haplogroup J2a-M410 is confined to upper caste Dravidian and Indo-European speakers, with little occurrence in the middle and lower castes.
    I think, if J2a-M410 was ancient in India, then it would be more evenly distributed in the Indian population, like most of the other haplogroups.
    In my case, I have yet to find a single 12 marker match (leave alone the 67 listed on my website) from the general Hindu/ Indian population and I have searched many databases.

  19. K Beckley says :

    I had my y-dna 67 marker test done through Family Tree DNA. I was adopted at birth, and have never met a biological relative. My test came back, and I found a relative (within the past couple hundred years) through the service. He is a Jewish Levite, and our haplogroup is E3b1a1. I didn’t know that I had Jewish roots, now I do.

  20. Joseph Carvalko says :

    I just tested with the Genographic Project- as a J2 (M172) My father’s parents were Portuguese–the name is a derivative of Carvalho an old Portuguese name and there are many christians and jews with this surname–the Jews are Sephardic generally and dispersed into England and the US, perhaps elswhere. I would like to compare others who have the same DYS (Short Tandem Repeats)to see if there re matches somewhere.

  21. Robespierre Garces says :

    Fiz meu teste na Tree family dna ,Houston ,EUA.
    Meu resultado deu Haplogroup J2 172M .Com certeza de judeus sefaraditas que vieram para o Brasil de Portugal.

  22. Bob Bencini says :

    I got my test done by the Genographic Project too and it is J2 (M172). I am tall (6′-2″) and blue eyed. My Father had very bright blue eyes and his father had green eyes. We are blond and white. I am from California but the family goes back to North Carolina (Fathers-Father) for Two Hundred years. Family before that is from Florence, Italy for at least a thousand years or more. This is all very interesting.

  23. Anthony Moniz says :

    I also participated in the Nat’l Geographic Genographics project . My parents came from Sao Miguel , Azores ,Portugal which was first discovered & inhabited by the Portuguese in the year 1421 . I have been quite interested in tracing my ancestry as it appears that there have been quite a mix with Romans, Phoenicians, Moors , Separdic jews , Greek, Flemish etc who moved into Portugal & Spain … I am trying to see the extent of my ancestors travels throughout Europe ,Asia, The Middle East,India and Africa .
    I am also in Haplogroup J2 (M172) . I would be very interested in receiving any information on the above .Thanks !
    My email is :

  24. Oktan TURE says :

    I am participated Nat’l Geographic Genographics project too. I am belonging to haplogroup J2 M172 according to the paternal test. My father side from Turkey . Originally they are Yoruk TURKMEN. What I am ? Are my ancestors not from central asia? We are sepherdic and Middle Eastern origin everything that we knew is mixed up? If any body more information about these J2 M172 pls send me a e mail to

  25. Oktan TURE says :

    I am participated Nat’l Geographic Genographics project too. I am belonging to haplogroup J2 M172 according to the paternal test. My father side from Turkey . Originally they are Yoruk TURKMEN. What I am ? Are my ancestors not from central asia? We are sepherdic and Middle Eastern origin everything that we knew is mixed up? If any body more information about these J2 M172 pls send me a e mail to

  26. Fred says :

    I’m reading a lot of comments expressing confusion by different people about their tested haplogroup. Remember that there is a huge number of genes in the human genome, and because of random mixing from generation to generation, each person’s individual genes (or haplogroups) may have a different ancestry from their other genes. Having Y-chromosome, or mitichondria, of a particular type will tell only a tiny bit of your ancestral story. And your mitichondria may not tell anything at all about your physical characteristics!

  27. M.S,Rodeja says :

    Our family tested for DNA and found that we belong to J2 (M172) group hailing from northern frontiers of PAKISTANT now living in north INDIA, we wish to contact with all people belonging to our haplogroup

  28. arthur noland says :

    I had the test done by the genographic project last year to shine a light on my fathers origen.I tested j2 m172.My dad was adopted,8 months ago we located his birth realitives,his father came from the austro hungarian empire born in 1909 the exact location was trieste at that time it belonged to present day slovenia.

  29. muni says :

    hi so very interesting .. I am from south india and i would like to take the natgeo DNA testing but i have a few questions.
    1 is it the best testing for DNA ?
    2 are there any testing places in India ?
    some many more questions about the past 🙂

  30. Tamer says :

    I am from Turkey, the Caucasus-Azeri region. I am J2 M172 and our family has always believed to be very deeply Turkish. We are mainly white, black/red/auburn hair, brown/haze/green eyes. Note, J-2 is not a Hebrew trait, it is a mainly an Anatolian/Central Asian/Caucasian and Near Eastern trait. The ancient prot-Turks lived in a region from Scandinavia to Yakut and down to the Mediterranean. The Jewish based J2 M172 are descendents of the Avar and Khazars. The “Iranians” are likely related to the ancient Turks and Syrians/Lebanese, likely Phoenicians(Central Asian), and the Central Europeans and other Northern European, related to the Sumerians Turks that gave birth to the Scythians, Thracians, Etruscans, Trojans and mass waves of ancient Huns. The diverse regions are explained by ancient trade routes(Silk Road) and due ice and earthquakes that changed migration patterns. This is why Finnish and Turkic is similar in structure and grammar, but words have changed.

  31. Anonymous says :

    Tamer, J2 among Jews probably did not come from from Khazaria because J2 is also present among other Israelite populations, such as, Samaritans of Israel and Bene Israel in India. The Samaritans have a history of living in Palestine alongside the Muslims and Christians long before Khazar converted to Judaism. Simiarly, The Bene Israel moved to India a long time before the Khazars convereted to Judaism.

  32. John says :

    I also belong to the J2 M172 group. My ancestors are from Chios, one of the Greek islands of North East Aegean. They probably established there coming from the fertile crescent very early. I would be interested to connect with anyone else originally from Chios. Cheers. Yannis