Ethiopian DNA studies and sundries.

So, a little reading turned up that there was a big back migration across the Red Sea into Africa from the Arab peninsula back some time in the stone age. I’ve seen one paper estimate the earliest back migration into Africa at 30,000 years, (of mt DNA type M).

It’s a common misconception that Europeans have a similar skull shape and facial features because Ethiopia was the presumed exit point for humans leaving Africa. In fact, if this were true, all the people of the world would look Caucasian, and they obviously don’t. The original people that left Africa would not have resembled any  modern ethnic group of people, they had Mongoloid, Caucasoid and Australoid characteristics. The modern racial appearances are all relatively modern, when you go back past 40,000 years none of them exist in their modern form. The Caucasian appearance of some Ethiopians is in a large part due to their Eruasian ancestry.

Mt DNA type ‘M’ is thought to have originated somewhere in the Pakistan area about 64,000 years ago, and migrated back to Africa bout 30,000 years ago. An expansion of the Semitic speaking Neolithic farmers from about 9,000 years ago also accounts for some Caucasian ancestry. This expansion took a wide variety of near Eastern Mt DNA and Y chromosome haplotypes into the Horn of Africa. There has also been some historical population movement into the horn of Africa since the advent of Islam

Anyway, the gist of these collected DNA studies is that Ethiopians are about 40% Caucasian, and are genetically a little more closely related to Mediterranean Caucasian groups like Berbers and Arabs than Western Africans, as is shown by this twig map. The actual amount of admixture varies from one group to another, but 40% is the average of all these samples. There is a Y chromosome study here that goes into more detail.




 “Notably, 62% of the Ethiopians fall in the first cluster, which encompasses the majority of the Jews, Norwegians and Armenians, indicating that placement of these individuals in a ‘Black’ cluster would be an inaccurate reflection of the genetic structure. Only 24% of the Ethiopians are placed in the cluster with the Bantu and most of the Afro-Caribbeans.”

 (Passarino et al. 1998)

“On the basis of historical, linguistic, and genetic data, it has been suggested that the Ethiopian population has been strongly affected by Caucasoid migrations since Neolithic times. On the basis of autosomal polymorphic loci, it has been estimated that 60% of the Ethiopian gene pool has an African origin, whereas ~40% is of Caucasoid derivation…. Our Ethiopian sample also lacks the sY81-G allele, which was associated with 86% and 69% of Senegalese and mixed-African YAP+ chromosomes, respectively. This suggests that male-mediated gene flow from Niger-Congo speakers to the Ethiopian population was probably very limited … Caucasoid gene flow into the Ethiopian gene pool occurred predominantly through males. Conversely, the Niger-Congo contribution to the Ethiopian population occurred mainly through females.* 

 (Poloni et al. 1997)

Approximately 10 miles separate the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula at Bab-el-Mandeb (the Gate of Tears). Both historic and archaeological evidence indicate tight cultural connections, over millennia, between these two regions. High-resolution phylogenetic analysis of 270 Ethiopian and 115 Yemeni mitochondrial DNAs was performed in a worldwide context, to explore gene flow across the Red and Arabian Seas. Nine distinct subclades, including three newly defined ones, were found to characterize entirely the variation of Ethiopian and Yemeni L3 lineages. Both Ethiopians and Yemenis contain an almost-equal proportion of Eurasian-specific M and N and African-specific lineages and therefore cluster together in a multidimensional scaling plot between Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African populations. Phylogeographic identification of potential founder haplotypes revealed that approximately one-half of haplogroup L0-L5 lineages in Yemenis have close or matching counterparts in southeastern Africans, compared with a minor share in Ethiopians. Newly defined clade L6, the most frequent haplogroup in Yemenis, showed no close matches among 3,000 African samples. These results highlight the complexity of Ethiopian and Yemeni genetic heritage and are consistent with the introduction of maternal lineages into the South Arabian gene pool from different source populations of East Africa. A high proportion of Ethiopian lineages, significantly more abundant in the northeast of that country, trace their western Eurasian origin in haplogroup N through assorted gene flow at different times and involving different source populations.

(Toomas Kivisild et al.) Human Biology 75.2 (2003) 293-300  

Genetic Variation at Apolipoprotein E Locus in Ethiopia: An E5 Variant Corresponds to Two Different Mutant Alleles: E*5 (Glu212Lys) and E*5 (Gln204Lys; Cys112Arg) R. Scacchi et al.

“Non sub-Saharan African samples are all grouped together…with…the Ethiopian Amharic sample [on the Y-chromosome]. Ethiopians are not statistically differentiated from the Egyptian and Tunisian samples, in agreement with their linguistic affiliation with the Afro-Asiatic family.” 

 The occurrence of E*5 212 and E*5 204 alleles in two populations of the Mediterranean basin (Turkey and Italy) but not in West Africans can be explained by taking into account that the Ethiopian gene pool was estimated to be >40% of Caucasoid derivation (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994). In addition, more recent phylogenetic analysis based on classical protein polymorphism (Tartaglia et al. 1996) and Y-chromosome sequence variation (Underhill et al. 2000) showed that Ethiopians appear to be distinct from Africans and more closely associated with populations of the Mediterranean basin.

(Scacchi et al. 2003)

Though present-day Ethiopia is a land of great ethnic diversity, the majority of Ethiopians speak different Semitic, Cushitic, and Omotic languages that belong to the Afro-Asiatic linguistic phylum. Maternal lineages of Semitic- (Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage) and Cushitic- (Oromo and Afar) speaking populations studied here reveal that their mtDNA pool is a nearly equal composite of sub-Saharan and western Eurasian lineages. This finding, consistent with classic genetic-marker studies (Cavalli-Sforza 1997) and previous mtDNA results, is also in agreement with a similarly high proportion of western Asian Y chromosomes in Ethiopians (Passarino et al. 1998; Semino et al. 2002), which supports the view (Richards et al. 2003) that the observed admixture between sub-Saharan African and, most probably, western Asian ancestors of the Ethiopian populations applies to their gene pool in general.

(Am. J. Hum. Genet., 75:000, 2004)

“The present composition of the Ethiopian population is the result of a complex and extensive intermixing of different peoples of North African, Near and Middle Eastern, and south-Saharan origin. The two main groups inhabiting the country are the Amhara, descended from Arabian conquerors, and the Oromo, the most important group among the Cushitic people. … The genetic distance analysis showed the separation between African and non-African populations, with the Amhara and Oromo located in an intermediate position.”

 (De Stefano et al. 2002)

East African groups, such as Ethiopians and Somalis, have great genetic resemblance to Caucasians and are clearly intermediate between sub-Saharan Africans and Caucasians [5]. The existence of such intermediate groups should not, however, overshadow the fact that the greatest genetic structure that exists in the human population occurs at the racial level.

Most recently, Wilson et al. [2] studied 354 individuals from 8 populations deriving from Africa (Bantus, Afro-Caribbeans and Ethiopians), Europe/Mideast (Norwegians, Ashkenazi Jews and Armenians), Asia (Chinese) and Pacific Islands (Papua New Guineans). Their study was based on cluster analysis using 39 microsatellite loci. Consistent with previous studies, they obtained evidence of four clusters representing the major continental(racial) divisions described above as African, Caucasian, Asian, and Pacific Islander. The one population in their analysis that was seemingly not clearly classified on continental grounds was the Ethiopians, who clustered more into the Caucasian group. But it is known that African populations with close contact with Middle East populations, including Ethiopians and North Africans, have had significant admixture from Middle Eastern (Caucasian) groups, and are thus more closely related to Caucasians [14].

Categorization of humans in biomedical research: genes, race and disease
Neil Risch,1,2 Esteban Burchard,3 Elad Ziv,3 and Hua Tang4

32 responses to “Ethiopian DNA studies and sundries.

  1. cool info! i just love all the research you have done! it actually helps me a lot more then you know! i really don’t know what to look for a lot and your blogs on the internet always help!

  2. Thanks for the info. Interesting. I heard Afro-Caribbeans and Ethipoians are somehow related. I’ll check that out though.

  3. Man this lady is deleting my comments, LOL. I’m not tryn to bash her beliefs, or studies, I’m just tryn to correct her! Lady if ur seeing this, I’m only trying to convey the truth. I know well enough that I’m not 40% white. I’m dark skined with straight hair, and many Africans do as well. If u can’t beleive it, than ask god. If anything, white ppl, are decendents from Africans, it’s the truth! The white man says so! Stop concerning about beauty, haven’t u learned, love instead of finding ways to dis ur fathers!

    • Yep, dude I’m just repeating the worlds of many population gentics specialists.

      This Eurasian people moved in thousands of years ago. The population movements date to about 20k and 13k then 8k.

      If anything, white ppl, are decendents from Africans,

      Yes, but from about 100k ago. Plenty of traits are not African in origin.

  4. “Ethiopians are 40% Caucasian”

    Technically, could Caucasians be 40% Ethiopian? Which do you think is more likely…that Caucasians invaded Ethiopia, or that Caucasians are descended from the ancestors of Ethiopians?

    I’m not saying it is so, it’s just a question.

  5. nevermind…I read more carefully and saw that you addressed that already.

  6. Book of Ester 1:1 “Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus–this is Ahasuerus who reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces……” this could mean something for anthropologist, for sure. Well one can not rull any one from remote with out sending troops and governors. And the reason for all this should be economic benefit like trade and power. Any ways, from this one can understand the position of Ethiopia in the olden days. As Ethiopia was famous during those days, many have passed through for trade and adventure. Well, it is evident in our society the existence of all decedents of Noha’s Children. There is no reason for any one should hate or love a specific race but knowing facts could help us all at the end of the day. For instance for the medical science such genetic facts means something and after all the findings will bind us more instead of dividing us. We all are related and such research should be encouraged. Keep it up! Bravo.

  7. Asad AbdurRahman

    What this proves is that Ethiopians are the oldest people on earth, and that WE ALL descend from them.

    To make a long story short (and you’ll eventually conclude):

    1. The first man and woman were the blackest of all black people ever to exist on earth.

    2. REAL Black people migrated from India to Africa.

    3. Both Eurasians and Negros descend from BLACK Ethiopians. So does the rest of humanity.

    4. Before Black, White, and Yellow, mankind was divided into Red and Black. Black included: Sindh, Hindu, Chinese, Al-Sudan, Zanji, Negro, Moors, Fezzen, Berber, Arab, etc. Red included Persian, Frank, Slav, Aryan, etc.

    Caucasians/Europeans are the latest development in the human race. NO ONE descends from them. They are purely descendants (of Blacks).

    • Asad AbdurRahman

      With respect to religious beliefs..

      Modern humans left Africa a very long time ago- about 120k ago. Modern Europeana are nto the descandants of modern blacks, they are cousins. Other balck Africans are not the descnedants of Ethiopians either. If anything the San Bushman are most like our common ancestral group.

      And no, the first people wouldn’t necessarily have been the blackest. Africans range from black to Arab tan colour with no outside help. They could have been anywhere in that range. The San are generally a mid golden brown colour.

      Caucasians/Europeans are the latest development in the human race. NO ONE descends from them. They are purely descendants (of Blacks).

      Actually no. The modern East Asian ‘mongoploid’ people are pretty much the newest group. Caucasoids started appearing about 40k ago in West Asia, Mongoloids only date back about 11k. The only recent development in Europe has been the very pale skin, blue eyes and blond hair.

  8. Asad AbdurRahman

    PS: I’m getting my information from Arabic books that were written over 1400 years ago. They’re not my personal opinions.

    I stumbled across this blog in researching and attempting to confirm the ancient documentation I have in my own collections.

    Your research here mentions Yemen in connection with Ethiopia. That is correct. Ethiopia stretched from East Africa to West India, and included Yemen.

    Once I get enough proof about the origins of humanity and Black people, I’ll present it to the Afrocentrics (insha Allah).

    Because Africa is nothing but a colony- an invention of Europe. Blacks have migrated into Africa and settled there, but they are not FROM Africa.

    The ancient books on Black history refer to the negro as not REAL Black people. And this was written by an African (Al-Sudan) scholar in the 8th Century.

  9. Even in modern Hebrew, any negro is generally called “Kushi”, which literally means “Ethiopian”.

  10. Huh? So,Ethiopians are “caucasoid”now?I like how mathilda,makes up her own maps,without actually citing the source. Ethiopians are said to have 40% eurasian ancestry,the rest has to be predominantly sub -saharan,black ancestry.This is nonsense,nice try “klan woman”.

  11. I would imagine the strong genetic ties or ‘genetic resemblance’ found between east africans and ‘caucasians’ is due to some derivation from east africans not vice versa.

    • I would imagine the strong genetic ties or ‘genetic resemblance’ found between east africans and ‘caucasians’ is due to some derivation from east africans not vice versa

      Actually it is vice versa. there have been several backmigrations into Eats Africa from the near East and they are about 40% Arab. The first humans OOA didn’t look at all like modern EAst Africans, which kind of blows up the Europeans being depigmented horner theory.

      • Mathilda,

        Name one significant migration, its duration, cause, significance, etc, back to Africa to date. Ethiopia/Abyssinia, for all intensive historical purposes, is known as a region that has maintained high level of territorial integrity throughout time. The last 2 major European empires (Roman, Ottoman) have failed to make any significant inroads in to this fortress. Although, I fear the Anglo-American empire is succeeding where the others failed. So, where exactly are you getting your evidential support to invert a more widely held belief that any significant migration pattern that affected the human genealogy is extending out of Africa? You quote historically and anthropologically flawed studies by De Stefano and et. al. and others to justify your racially biased conclusion. How can a region with such high territorial integrity well in to the modern era be composed of 40% of non-native genealogy, when those with less territorial integrity throughout time (i.e. Europe) are virtually homogeneous, relatively speaking?

      • Dabban back migration- date 35/40k ago, mt DNA U and M1, Y chr R1.

        Capsian back migration- date 11-10k ago- Y chr J1, possibly T and a few others. mt DNa type H

        Neolithic back migration arrived 8k ago – y chr J2, j1, R1b

        Not actually based on anything historical, or anthropological. Based mainly on the DNA info, which the remains of North Africans and teh DNA on the 12k year old bones of North Africans support.

        BTW, calling a study flawed because you don’t like what it says doesn’t change that fact that most publishing PHd’s in human genetics will tell you Ethiopians and Soamlis are about 40% Eurasian in ancestry and have experienced substantial backmigrations from Eurasia.

  12. Africans are Africans can’t divide , but nice trie.Caucasian features originated in Africa, not all the way around.

    • Caucasian features originated in Africa, not all the way around.

      No they didn’t. The first Africans out of East African lookied nothing like modern East africans or Caucasians. They got mistaken for neanderthals a lot.

  13. Nicholas Folkes

    It is clear that most Ethiopians aren’t black Bantus just by looking at their features. Of course they are still brown/black in colour but thousands of years ago their skin colour was probably lighter. The gene pool and cross breeding has been happening since time began. It is much easier to go from white to black then the other way around.Civilisation came out of Mesopotamia, the middle east. The Godless Evolutionists will say we came out of Africa but the Bible says otherwise.

  14. Thanks for the info; good to know all the details!! …and well, i can not say this and that because i am not a professional in the field but am just curious about a couple of things! your research may be valid or not for modern Ethiopians but what wonders me is ur words about migration to Africa; I found it contradicting with what i have read… according to my information, earlier migration of the human race was from Africa (specifically, Ethiopia) to the rest of the world; correct me if i am wrong!

    biology and genetics is the least thing that i know about but, all the years that you are referring to are 30k, 60k or nearly so…but aint Lucy as old as about 3 millions years? and as a professional in the area you tell me how much we could change over those years!….and you said “…in fact, if this were true, all the people of the world would look Caucasian, and they obviously don’t.” …I disagree very much! Evolution says modern human came from apes and no wonder if people of the world look very different (as we are today) after 3 million years….I would be happy to read if you could do more research in the area!

    Once more, thank you for the info (regardless of my disagreements) and sorry if I have said anything offensive anyways! And just for your information, I’m Ethiopian and am brown! I consider myself as a 100% black; not just 60%

  15. Just one thing to clarify.. that 40% is wrong. It is a bit higher than that. Remember that that 40% is only the percentage of eurasian Y chromosomal haplogroups (33.3% J, 4.2% k2, and various mutations of e3b which occured in north africa and the mid east, I.E. m78 and m123).. since then there has been a study done on the mtdna for ethiopians and it comes to be around 55% eurasian for amhara and ~60% for tigray.. which are the semitic ethiopians, non semitic are more native african), along with the autosomal study done by wilson in 2001 showing that 62% is eurasian as well.. IMO this is much more than just 40%.. the 62% sounds even more accurate.. correct me if I am wrong

    the study for mtdna can be found here:

  16. Mathilda why are you purposely trying to mislead people who seek information. You know good and darn well that the study claiming that the Ethiopians are “40% caucasian” gave too much weight to a minority tribe in Ethiopia (The Amhara) which is why it was criticized by other geneticist in more recent studies. In fact the tribe in which is the largest in Ethiopia (The oromo) makes up over half of it’s overall population was found to have less admixture than stereotypical “Wide Nosed”, “big lipped” African Americans (between 15%-20%). Somalians were found to only be 15% Eurasian, with 5% of their DNA being that associated with West African/Bantu’s and the other 80% being comprised on DNA specific to Horners (who are also technically Sub Saharan Africans) essentially making them 85% African. Showing us that while there is admixture they are still overwhelimingly African! So to label their Narrow Noses , straight hair, or thin lips as “caucasian” (what ever the definition of that term is) is rather false considering that AA’s have just as much if not more Eurasian DNA, but still maintain their West African features. You have to remember Mathilda that indigenous Africans have more built in/Indigenous diversity than every continent combined! Brace has even stated that admixture does not explain how Horn Africans look the way they do and it is much more likely that those Thin Lips, Narrow Noses, and Straight hair are indigenous to that African population.

    It seems to me that you have an agenda Mathilda to almost “white wash” these Horn Africans in your every going attempt to label Ancient Egypt “caucasian”. Eurocentrism isn’t the way to beat Afrocentrism. BTW what I’ve just stated was in no way Afrocentric (and it seem to be what most of your opponents are debating you about) but simply logical thinking! The fact of the matter is labeling things as “caucasian” or “negroid” is essentially dishonest. One category had a model look (True Negroid) that has to be exactly matched to for inclusion while the other doesn’t and is allowed to varry and have admixture. This is in fact why most anthropologist do not subscribe to the concept of race anymore and those terms are more social labels than anything. Seriously what would be the harm in simply stating the fact that the majority of studies link the Ancient Egyptians closest to peoples from the Horn of Africa and let people attach their own social label to their image. Food for thought!

    • Actually it is 40% ifor the Somalis, based on autosomal dna. You don’t calculate the percentage of ancestry from the Y chr, otherwise the Ouldedme would be 95% Eurasian. I’m curious, why would you chose their Y chr, as their maternal DNA is actually 40% Eurasian. Chosen to be misleading, I suspect. Percentage of ancestry is VERY POORLY represented by Y chr, autsomal studies on Ethiopians and Somalis (which are much more relaible) show about 40% back-migrating ancestry.

      And the average for Ethiopia was 40% The coastal tribes were more like 47% (Cavalli Sforza). Even the northern Sudanese are 50%. The overall for the Sudan seems to be about 1/3 to 1/4 Eurasian, but virtually nil in the south.

      And no, the hair texture is very unlikely to be indigenous to the horn. Do quote Brace for me though, it should be interesting to read what he actually said as opposed to your ‘interpretation’.

      I suspect the real reason you are insiting on this ‘mainly African’ origin for east Africans has nothing to with science. The real issue is, why do you feel the need to ‘sanitize’ East Africans of their Eurasian ancestry? It’s a bit disturbing frankly. I don’t have an agenda, I am simply repeating the results from large scale DNA studies, and you obviously find the Eurasain ancestry in East Africans distasteful, to say the least, and are desperately trying to minimize it.

      This is in fact why most anthropologist do not subscribe to the concept of race anymore

      Actually this is incorrect, at least as far as forensic and biological anthropologists go. You should actually try talking to some and reading the poll they took on the subject.

      Seriously what would be the harm in simply stating the fact that the majority of studies link the Ancient Egyptians closest to peoples from the Horn of Africa

      And there is the real reason for the objection to Eurasain ancestry in East Africans. They are the only group that comes any where near ancient Egyptians, and still not close. To admit they have about 40% Eurasian ancestry turns’pure black’ Egyptians into at least mixed race people.

      FYI, NOT ONE study finds east Africans closest to dynastic Egyptians- That’s something you have made up.

      Only Keita found predynastic Upper Egyptians were similar to mixed ancestry East African groups, and he’s very clear they are not like later dynastic or lower Egyptians skulls. In fact, we have the mummy DNA now which shows their maternal ancestry at least was mainly Eurasian, and the current Y DNA of Egyptians make any large scale invasion from Eurasia physically impossible.

      I find it curious how keen you are to embrace Ethiopians etc as ‘all African’ but Egyptians, who have exactly the same kinds of mt /y DNA in only slightly different proportions are ‘all invading whatevers’. The reason for your insistence on ‘black Egyptians’ and ‘pure east Africans’ is entirely borne from racism, and has been disproved by DNA.

  17. I don’t understand. How could they be only 40% white and yet still be more closely related to whites than west african blacks.

    • I don’t understand

      Bantu and East African populations split off before the exit from Africa. WHich means non Africans are descended from a subset of East Africans, and some of those who left came back ages later in back migrations

  18. A 2001 study based on cluster analysis that looked at a combined sample of Amhara and Oromo found that they share 62% of their genome with Caucasians (Ashkenazi Jews, Norwegians and Armenians), 24% with other Sub-Saharan Africans (Bantus),

  19. The article is about the present day Ethiopia. Please, do not confuse yourself and others about old Ethiopia, Abysssinia, whatever you may add.

  20. Great info mathilda, i always suspected east africans had caucasian blood in them cause they look more like us than true negroids.

    But since according to your info almost all of the caucasian dna came from males, does that mean the negroids where slaves even back then? and that arabs raped the west african women?

    • and that arabs raped the west african women?

      The Y dna seems to have come from incoming Neolithic farming/pastoral tribes from the near East. Judging what happened to the Khoisan when the Bantu farmers turned up in Southern Africa it probably wasn’t a happy time for the indigenous hunter gatherers of East Africa.

  21. I am Ethiopian. I am wondered, in Ethiopia a mother and father with chocolate color may give birth of lighter skinned color baby and some sort of softer hair who is more Caucasoid at birth. This indicates that the mother and the father have some kind of genetic inheritance from some race that is different what they are looking at the moment. Whenever we come-across instances like this genetic solution becomes more reliable than what we analyze from history and linguistic. If studies done on genetics confirm some facts about human race and if it is not reverted intentional, what can we do? except accepting the truth. But peoples in this hot issues usually draw the thing towards politics and divert the fact to their personal view. And that is why I said genetic evidence is much more reliable than any other source in order to solve the debate that may rise on the same topics. Even you can see different opinion in the issue under discussion.

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