View Full Version : Unexpected Greek Result

07-11-2018, 01:09 AM

I'm trying to sort out an estimate of 12.7% Greek in the My Heritage ethnicity estimate. I have no Greek ancestry on paper. The full My Heritage estimate is:

North and West Europe
Irish, Scottish, and Welsh
South Europe

My DNA was originally tested through Ancestry, where I received the following numbers:

Great Britain 38%
Europe West 37%
Ireland/Scotland/Wales 9%
Finland/NW Russia 7%
Iberian Peninsula 5%
Europe South 2%
Scandinavia 2%

I've uploaded my raw data to GEDmatch and have run it through the various Eurogenes calculators - happy to provide those estimates if that would help sort things out. Am I just giving the My Heritage results too much attention? Almost 13% seems like a lot more than noise.

Many thanks in advance for any ideas/corrections/analysis!

07-11-2018, 01:17 AM
Post your Eurogene's K13 results.

Im still sorting out MyHeritage's Italian/Greek/Iberian/Sardinian classifications. My guess is they are not actually literal, but depending on where your ancestry is from will dictate what combo you get. Southern Italians seem to get either all Greek and some Italian, or in my case, half and half.

07-11-2018, 01:50 AM
According to Ancestry, this is their "Europe South":

Europe South
Primarily located in: Italy, Greece

Also found in: France, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Romania, Turkey, Slovenia, Algeria, Tunisia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo

In other words, it might represent Greek ancestry. Of course, it could also be from Italy. It can even be from France, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, etc. The thing is, it doesn't pay to be overly literal about the names Ancestry gives the various regions -- even though all too often, Ancestry itself is overly literal about the names of its regions.

Of course, your question is focused on MyHeritage. I didn't test there, but I did upload files from three different companies: 23andMe, Ancestry, and FTDNA. The analyses was fairly close for each test, but let's take a quick look at the MyHeritage analysis of my Ancestry file.

They gave me 16.8% for South Europe, which was divided between 9.5% Iberian and 7.3% Italian. If each of these percentages came from just one ancestor, we'd probably be talking about either a great grandparent or a 2nd great grandparent from each place. However, I definitely do not have an Italian great grandparent or even an Italian 2nd great grandparent. I do, though, have two 2nd great fathers who were from Menorca. So on average you might expect me to have about 12.5% "Iberian" ancestry, assuming that all Menorcans would test as Iberian -- which is not likely to be true.

So it's certainly possible that a lot of my "South European" at MyHeritage reflects my Menorcan ancestry. But not necessarily all of it. I also have ancestry from southern France; from Switzerland; and likely from Austria. Any of these might also possibly be a source of whatever it is that MyHeritage is calling "South European".

Now, it appears to me that MyHeritage is -- reasonably -- treating "Greek" as a subgroup of "South European". So when they show you 12.5% for each, that of course is really just 12.5% for "Greek". This is certainly more than your combined "Iberian Peninsula" and "Europe South" at Ancestry, and I'd suspect that MyHeritage is also reading some of what Ancestry calls your "Europe West" as "South Europe" and "Greek".

But don't take that label of "Greek" or "South Europe" too literally. It's simply a component that may often be found among Greeks, but that doesn't mean it's only found among Greeks. There are lots of historical ties between Greece and Italy, and between Italy and Switzerland, Austria, and France.

My point is, what's being called "Greek" by MyHeritage doesn't have to have come from a Greek ancestor. Likewise, what Ancestry calls "Europe South" doesn't have to be from southern Europe -- or at least, it doesn't have to be just from "Italy" or "Greece". As they themselves admit, it could be from any number of other places that are more generally covered under different regional labels.

For example, even though Germany isn't in Ancestry's "also found in" list for "Europe South", if you look at the concentric rings for the category, you'll see that southern Germany is within the region where this component can be found. And if you look at the "Genetic Diversity" page for Europe South, you'll find that 17% of their selected sample of "typical natives of Europe South" have some level of "Europe West". Conversely, if you look at the page for "Europe West", you'll see that 39% of their "typical natives of Europe West" have some level of "Europe South". What that means is that if a person has ancestors from Germany, as I do, that doesn't mean they're going to be nothing but "Europe West", even though Germany lies within that region.

The bottom line is, don't expect to find "pure" populations of any component -- at least not throughout the whole region that bears the name. There's been too much movement, and borders have constantly shifted. Sometimes people didn't cross a border, it crossed them.

That's why I find some of Ancestry's commercials so aggravating -- although the same fault can be found in the other companies, too. They take their labels too seriously, as if everyone within the label should be 100% of whatever the label is. I have no doubt that if I could get one of my 18th century Palatine German ancestors tested, they wouldn't be 100% "Europe West". They'd be a mix of components. That does not mean they'd be any less "real" residents of what's now called "Europe West" than any modern inhabit of the region -- because the same thing is true of the modern folk, too.

Some folks within almost any region will test close to 100% of whatever their region is, but not all will. That does not mean that those who test lower are necessarily descended from recent immigrants. It just means that whatever DNA they have has not been identified the same way. With different reference populations, that could change somewhat.

07-11-2018, 01:27 PM
Here are my numbers on Eurogene K13. Thanks again for taking a look:

North_Atlantic 46.33
Baltic 25.79
West_Med 13.50
West_Asian 2.90
East_Med 6.99
Red_Sea 1.56
South_Asian 1.25
East_Asian 0.41
Siberian 1.27
Amerindian -
Oceanian -
Northeast_African -
Sub-Saharan -

07-11-2018, 03:37 PM
Ancestry DNA's commercials drive me crazy, too. I have nothing on paper that shows "Spanish" or "Southern European" ancestors but seeing those ethnicity estimates doesn't suddenly make me culturally from that nationality. I suspect something similar is happening with My Heritage - I have no Scandinavian ancestry on paper but My Heritage puts my Scandinavian ethnicity at 35% - in reality, this estimate is probably the way the test handles my Yorkshire ancestors with Norman/French last names which ultimately traces back to Norse ancestry. That certainly doesn't make me "Scandinavian."

I suspect the "Greek" result is a similar misconstruction but I know less about the migration paths that could get me to that point.

07-11-2018, 04:46 PM
Its hard to say really. Based on your K13, there is a Red Sea element and a slightly higher Eastern Med element (looking at the spreadsheets for the k13 calculator) but based on your AncestryDNA breakdown, you have about 7% Iberian/South Europe, so it could just be My Heritage picking up that part. I have not quite figured out MyHeritage's methods of applying the Southern European labels to results. I have known 100% Southern Italian relations in Italy that get Sardinian or iberian and Greek but no Italian so there must be some method to their approach