Maternal DNA of Parsi Zoroastrians of India, and interesting links to pre-islamic Iran and ancient Indo Europeans

The most recent study on the maternal DNA of the Parsi Zoroastrians of India appears in The mtDNA Landscape of the Southwestern Asian Corridor.

While close to 60% of Parsi Zoroastrians show distinctive Indian and Asian maternal lineages, with NO links to ancient Iran, over a third however show distinctive, and rare maternal haplogroups going back to ancient Indo Europeans and pre Islamic Aryan Iran.

Interestingly, the YDNA or paternal lineages of the Parsis mostly come from the Iranian Northeast and the Caspian region of Mazandaran, but these lineages seem not to go back to the Sassanid times. Instead, the make up of Parsi YDNA show clear effects of the arab invasion, and appear to go back to 400-500 years after the arab invasion or about 1000 years ago. Parsi mtDNA statistics is as follows:

M* – 54.5%

M is the single most common mtDNA haplogroup in Asia, and peaks in Japan and Tibet, where it represents on average about 70% of the maternal lineages and is prevalent in India, where it has approximately 60% frequency. This maternal lineage is NOT linked to ancient Iranians.

U4 – 13.6%

U4 is the second most prevalent maternal lineage among the Parsi Zoroastrians. It is an ancient Indo European mitochondrial haplogroup. U4 is relatively rare in modern populations except in Europe, with highest concentrations in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Outside Europe U4 is found especially in Iran.

U4 appears to have been a relatively common lineage among Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers. It was identified in skeletons from Mesolithic Russia, Lithuania, Sweden and Germany. U4 seems to have been much more common in Northeast Europe than elsewhere. U4 correlates strongly with Y-haplogroup R1a, the distinct, marker of ancient Aryans and Indo Iranians.

Originally from Eastern Europe, these R1a/U4 populations would have crossed all Europe and survived in isolated pockets of northern Europe and the Baltic region from the Neolithic onwards.

HV* – 2.3%
H – 2.3%

Haplogroup HV is the most successful maternal lineage in Western Europe. Over half of the Western European populations descend from Haplogroup HV. Most Europeans belonging to the HV lineage descend from a branch that was renamed haplogroup H.

HV2 – 9.1%

HV2 is the earliest mutation of HV, and is my very own maternal lineage. HV2 is an extremely rare haplogroup, and the third most prevalent haplogroup among the Parsi Zoroastrians. HV2 is closely associated with ancient Scythians roaming the Caspian Pontic Steppes and the Altai mountains. The famed Siberian Ice Maiden, found in the Altai belongs to haplogroup HV2.

HV2 can be found among Iranians, kurds, balochs, in Volga-Ural region of Russia and in Slovakia. HV2’s distribution and origins seem very similar to maternal haplogroup U7.

U7 – 2.3%

U7 is considered a West Eurasian-specific mtDNA haplogroup, believed to have originated in the Black Sea area. In modern populations, U7 occurs at low frequency in the Caucasus, the western Siberian tribes, and about 10% in Iranians.

Genetic analysis of individuals associated with the Late Hallstatt culture from Baden-Württemberg Germany considered to be examples of Iron Age “princely burials” included haplogroup U7. Haplogroup U7 was found in 1200-year-old human remains (dating to around 834), in a woman believed to be from a royal clan who was buried with the Viking Oseberg Ship in Norway. However, U7 is rare among present-day ethnic Scandinavians.

T1 – 6.8%
T* – 4.5%

Haplogroups T* have been found in skeletons from late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers respectively from Russia and Sweden. Wild et al 2014 tested mtDNA samples from the Yamna culture, the presumed homeland (or Urheimat) of Proto-Indo-European speakers, and found T2a1b in the Middle Volga region and Bulgaria, and T1a both in central Ukraine and the Middle Volga.

The frequency of T1a and T2 in Yamna samples, were each 14.5%, a percentage higher than in any country today and only found in similarly high frequencies among the Udmurts of the Volga-Ural region. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia had maternal haplogroup T.

Haplogroup T is found in approximately 10% of native Europeans. It is also common among modern day Iranians.

U1 – 4.5%

Haplogroup U1 is a very ancient haplogroup, found at very low frequency throughout Europe. It is more often observed in Eastern Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus. DNA analysis of excavated remains now located at ruins of the Church of St. Augustine in Goa, India revealed the unique mtDNA subclade U1b, which is absent in India, but present in Georgia and surrounding regions.


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1 Response to Maternal DNA of Parsi Zoroastrians of India, and interesting links to pre-islamic Iran and ancient Indo Europeans

  1. Pingback: Maternal DNA of Parsi Zoroastrians of India, and interesting links to pre-islamic Iran and ancient Indo Europeans | Authentic Gatha Zoroastrianism | Cyrus49's Blog

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