The Journey Out of Africa

M170: Occupying the Balkans

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 20,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Southeastern Europe

Climate: Height of the Ice Age

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Hundreds of thousands

Tools and Skills: Gravettian culture of the Upper Paleolithic

Your ancestors were part of the M89 Middle Eastern Clan that continued to migrate northwest into the Balkans and eventually spread into central Europe. These people may have been responsible for the expansion of the prosperous Gravettian culture, which spread through northern Europe from about 21,000 to 28,000 years ago.

The Gravettian culture represents the second technological phase to sweep through prehistoric Western Europe. It is named after a site in La Gravette, France, where a set of tools different from the preceding era (Aurignacian culture) was found.
The Gravettian stone tool kit included a distinctive small pointed blade used for hunting big game.

The Gravettian culture is also known for their voluptuous carvings of big-bellied females often dubbed "Venus" figures. The small, frequently hand-sized sculptures appear to be of pregnant women—obesity not being a problem for hunter-gatherers—and may have served as fertility icons or as emblems conferring protection of some sort. Alternatively, they may have represented goddesses.

These early European ancestors of yours used communal hunting techniques, created shell jewelry, and used mammoth bones to build their homes. Recent findings suggest that the Gravettians may have discovered how to weave clothing using natural fibers as early as 25,000 years ago. Earlier estimates had placed weaving at about the same time as the emergence of agriculture, around 10,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to marker M170, was born about 20,000 years ago and was heir to this heritage. He was probably born in one of the isolated refuge areas people were forced to occupy during the last blast of the Ice Age, possibly in the Balkans. As the ice sheets covering much of Europe began to retreat around 15,000 years ago, his descendants likely played a central role in repopulating northern Europe.

It's possible that the Vikings descended from this line. The Viking raids on the British Isles might explain why the lineage can be found in populations in southern France and among some Celtic populations.

Overview -- M168 -- M89 -- M170 -- M223 -- Home