The Journey Out of Africa

M223: Reclaiming Europe From Ice

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 14,000 to 18,000 years ago

Place of origin: Europe

Climate: Ice sheets in retreat in the years soon after Last Glacial Maximum

Tools and Skills: Cooperative hunting, dependence on herd animals

The M223 lineage originated some 14,000 to 18,000 years ago with a genetic mutation in a single man who lived in what is now southern France. This period was one of tremendous climactic change. Europe was experiencing a temperate rebirth as the world's frozen expanses of ice began to retreat at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

Some tribes of ancient European hunters pressed northward with the retreating ice, pursuing herds. By "following the food," these descendents of the original M223 went on to populate much of northern Europe.

The members of this ancient lineage were effective hunters who used teamwork to harvest large herds of wild horses and other game. Their descendents founded the widespread Gravettian culture, which developed exceptional art in the form of voluptuous female statues called Venus figures. These statues most likely had religious overtones as well and may have represented ancient fertility rites.

Today about 25 percent of all northwest European men are members of this haplogroup. The lineage has three primary sub-clades, and each one is prominent in a different geographic location.

I1a is found at highest frequency in Scandinavia, where it occurs in some 35 percent of the male population. Fifteen percent of British men also are members of I1a.

Haplogroup I1b is most common in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Your own haplogroup, I1c, is most common in Germany. About 11 percent of all German men belong to this genetic lineage.

This is where your genetic trail, as we know it today, ends. However, be sure to revisit these pages. As additional data are collected and analyzed, more will be learned about your place in the history of the men and women who first populated the Earth. We will be updating these stories throughout the life of the project.

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