Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-01 > 1136872295

Subject: Assyrian Heritage DNA Project
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 21:51:35 -0800

Hello Ed & Mary, & welcome to the wonderful world of personal DNA
testing <grin>!! Seriously, the goals you have proposed are very
broad in scope, but I think this will be a very interesting &
exciting investigation for you, not to mention for all the rest of
us. Your project falls into the category of a "geographic project" &
therefore provides good prospects for recruiting.

Please forgive my rather tardy response to your post. My somewhat
eccentric work schedule constrains my postings to odd times of the
day & night, so I am often late joining a discussion thread. I will
try respond to several points & questions that you have laid out.

You ask what you might expect to find in the way of haplogroups among
those of Assyrian ancestry. As you pointed out, the geographic area
that you are studying is one of the cradles of civilization, with a
very ancient written history, as well as an obviously much more
ancient history of occupation from very early prehistoric time. You
are clearly far more informed about middle eastern history than I am
ever likely to be, but with the very long & complex history of the
Assyrian Empire, I would suggest that you are likely to see quite a
bit of diversity in your project when you have greater than 25 people
tested. I picked that number out of hat simply because you are likely
to get at least a few groups of people who are exploring family
relationships, which might mean that at the 25 participant mark, you
might have only 10-15 clearly unrelated haplotypes. When you have
more than 20 unique haplotypes, you might have a good idea of how
much diversity to expect. Diversity (or lack of diversity) within a
specific culture is often debated quite heatedly on the list. It is a
complex question involving many variables (both historic &
contemporary), & question that is far from being resolved. Your
project's results will no doubt provide material to fuel that
discussion. One thing that you might help me with, where was Ed's
ancestral village located in relation to ancient trade routes? This
will probably have a great bearing on the diversity you might expect
in your project. Another variable that you mentioned touches on the
idea of displacement - do historians suggest that the original
populations of the area have been replaced by more recent cultures
(perhaps many times throughout history), or conversely, is there a
known history of cultural/ethnic diversity in that area? What are
YOUR expectations of what the project may discover? Your expectations
may very well be on the mark as you are clearly well versed in the
history & culture of the area.

Ed already knows his haplogroup & that is as good a place as any to
start. The subclade testing is the obvious follow up. Seek out the
"R1a" experts on the list. Each of us tends to gravitate towards
investigating his/her own haplotype, & I'm sure there are some on the
list who are immersed in R1a. That should keep you busy for quite a
while. Likewise with the mtDNA results.

My personal opinion (& that's all it is) is that you are correct in
your assessment that encouraging your participants to join the
Genographic project initially will add a layer of complexity that
will perhaps inhibit them. Any of your project participants can join
the Genographic Project later. Keep it as simple as possible for your
prospective participants. That's a lesson I have learned the hard way
with my little surname project. DNA testing is becoming more & more
affordable. For that reason, I would suggest that you start your
participants with a 25 or 26 marker Y-STR test. That gives you enough
of an initial haplotype to enable a reasonable assessment of
potential, & make decisions from there. A 25 marker STR is often
enough to provide a fairly accurate haplogroup prediciton. As for
mtDNA, I'm certainly not qualified to even offer an opinion there. I
am waiting for my first HVR-I test to be returned.

One last point about the scope of your project. Your goals are very
broad & inclusive. I started my small project in the same fashion &
it has made very slow progress. Many of the very large projects
started with very specific goals to answer very specific questions.
Doing so provides for measurable outcome. This helps spur the
interest of participants & provides incentives for prospective
participants that may be sitting on the fence. In the not too distant
future I will modify my own small surname project in that fashion in
the hopes of moving it along.

It's good to have you aboard. Best wishes & good luck with your
research, Pat Tagert

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