(2014) I-L38 Chronology

This page summarizes the migrations that can/could be linked at haplogroup I-L38. It should be seen as a never ending work in progress.



Relation to I-L38

Paleolithic (old stone age) til 100,00 years ago

310,000 - 79,000 years ago

The "Eurasian Adam" (the MRCA of all non-Africans) lived in Africa. This megahaplogroup, called CT, was characterized by SNP mutation M168.


48,000 years ago

The SNP mutation M89 occurred on one branch of megahaplogroup CT, creating megahaplogroup F. F-M89 probably originated in Eurasia.


38,500 years ago

F-M89 branches IJ and K separated 38,500 years ago. Haplogroup IJ probably originated in the vicinity of West Asia (Iran) or the Middle East and subsequently spread throughout Western Eurasia (Caucasus, Anatolia).


32,000 years ago

Around 32,000 years ago the Early Gravettian culture appeared in the Crimean Mountains (southern Ukraine).

Possibly the Gravettian culture also carried haplogroup IJ of which haplogroup I is a branch.

25,000-19,500 years ago

Between 25,000 and 19,000 years ago the ice sheets reached their maximum extension. This period is called the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Just before or during this ice age haplogroup I, characterized by SNP mutation M170, arose from an IJ father.

It is unclear where haplogroup I originated.

22,000 years ago

Around 22,000 years ago people from the Middle East, Anatolia and the Balkans brought the Solutrean or Gravettian culture to southwest Europe.
I branches I1 (M253) and I2 (M438/P215/S31) separated around 22,000 years ago. I2 probably originated in a Carpathian/Balkan LGM refugium or in Anatolia or the in the Caucasus ...

Possibly the Gravettian culture also carried haplogroup I. Is is unclear where the branches of haplogroup I sheltered during the Last Glacial Maximum.

21,000 years ago

I2 branches I2a (L460) and I2b separated around 21,000 years ago.

It is unclear where the ancestral lines of I2a and I2b separated.

20,000 years ago

I2a branches I2a2 (P214/M436) and I2a1 (P37) separated around 20,000 years ago.

It is unclear where the ancestral lines of I2a2 and I2a1 separated.

19,500 years -12,800 years ago

Starting 19,500 years ago, there was a gradual warming for the next 7000 years.
Following the retreating ice sheet, populations that had advanced to an epigravettian toolkit began to re-enter central Europe around 17,000 years ago.
Beginning 14,800 years ago, the temperatures increased rapidly for the next 2000 years.

It is unclear if I2a2 branches recolonized Europe.

12,800 - 11,500 years ago

Around 12,800 years ago, the warm climate changed very abruptly in the Tardiglacial (Late Glacial), a 1,300 years long period of cold climatic conditions.
Around 12,500 years ago I2a2 branches I2a2a-M223 and I2a2b-L38 separated.
When the Big Freeze ended 11,500 years ago, the Holocene began with a continual warming that has been stable to the present.

It is unclear where the ancestral lines of I2a2a and I2a2b separated.

Mesolithic (middle stone age) from 10,000 to 5,500 years ago

8,200 years ago

Due to the rising sealevel Doggerland was flooded, separating Great Britain from mainland Europe.

It is unlikely (but not impossible) that I-L38 was present on the British Isles before Doggerland was flooded.

8,000 years ago

A I2 (L68) and a I2a1b* M423 sample were found in Motola, Sweden. Also in Loschbour, Luxembourg a I2a1b* M423 sample was found.

I2 haplotypes are seen as West European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG).

Mesolithic hunter/gatherer probably integrated peacefully into Neolithic farming culture that spread from Anatolia along the Romanian and Serbian Danube gorges.

It is unknown if and when I-L38 hunter/gatherers converted into farmers.

7,500 years ago

Farmers reached central Europe (LBK: linear pottery culture); dramatic reduction in hunter/gatherer mtDNA.

It is unknown if and when I-L38 hunter/gatherers converted into farmers.

6,500 years ago

Excavations at Pločnik, a Vinča culture site in Serbia, recovered tin-bronze artefacts. This is the oldest proof of bronze making in Eurasia.

Since the MRCA of most contemporary I-L38s is situated in the EBA, the history of bronze industry might be of importance.

6,500 years ago

LBK farmers displaced by new farming groups with more modern mtDNA distribution.

It is unknown if and when I-L38 did become part of farming groups.

6,000 – 4000 years ago

Isotope analyses on bones from the Blätterhöhle (Hagen, Germany) indicates that farmers and hunter/gatherers lived as separate communities next to each other.

The distance between the Blätter cave and Lichtenstein cave is 250 Km.

Neolithic (new stone age) from 5,500 to 4,600 years ago

5,500 years ago

I2a2b branches I-L38* and I-L533 separated.

It is unclear where the ancestral lines of I-L38 and I-L533 separated.

5,500 - 5,000 years ago

Groups from the Usatovo culture (that likely harbored I2a-L460 branches) possibly migrated from the Black Sea and the Dniester (Ukraine) around the Carpathians bringing the pre-Germanic language (closer) to Germany.

There are several scenario's about how I-L38 entered Germany. The Usatovo-scenario is a scenario based on linguistic arguments.

Early Bronze Age (EBA) 4,600-3,600 years ago

4500 years ago

From the Balkan and Carpathians bronze technology entered central Europe (and changed the egalitarian society of farmers).

Central Germany became a crossroad of European trade. Ores, metals, salt, barnstone, lapislazuli, ivory, fabrics, parfums, Alpine daggers, British axes, Carpathians spindles and horses were traded. Materials and people travelled through Europe on a pack animal or over water.

The actual distribution of I-L38 from the Alps, along the Rhine, to the British Isles still might be a reflection of the bronze age trade routes.

4,400 years ago

The first Bell Beakers (AOO or All Over Ornamented) appeared in the Danube, Rhine, and Elbe/Saale regions appeared around 4400/4200 years ago.

The distribution of I-L38 along the Rhine and into the British Isles, resembles the Bell Beaker distribution.

4,300 – 3,600 years ago

The Únětice culture flourished. This archaeological culture is known 1400 Czech/Slovakia sites, 550 Polish sites, 500 German sites and in a lesser degree from north-eastern Austria and western Ukraine.

In Central Europe, the Unetice culture included numerous smaller groups like the Straubing, Adlerberg and Hatvan cultures.

The princes of the Únêtician centres of metalworking provided finished goods to the areas to their north that still stuck to late neolithic ways of life and production.

As symbol of their power and wealth “princely graves” were erected, among them the Leubingen barrow in central Germany.

The Unetice culture was followed by the Tumulus culture.

This is the context in which the MCRA of most contemporary I-L38s lived and in which this MCRA apparently reproduced succesfully.

May be I-L38 was affiliated to a bronze age prince as a vassal of a prince or as a wealthy metal workers. Power and/or wealth often result in reproductive success. This might explain the hub-structure in the I-L38 networks.

The distance between the Lichtenstein cave and Leubingen is 120 Km. The “burg” near the Lichtenstein cave suggests a local chiefdom.

4,000 years ago

The MRCA of most contempary I-L38s lived.

Since most present I-L38 samples are generic and the highest I-L38 frequency and diversity is found in south-west Germany it is likely the I-L38* MCRA lived there.

3,700 years ago

At the end of the EBA the north of Europe managed to get around the Únêtician monopoly and took part in the central European distribution network for copper and tin (and the techniques of working them); leading to a gradual decline of the Únêtician culture.

Might explain why the EBA I-L38 population boost did not last and why I-L 38 was outnumbered by other haplogroups.

3,600 years ago

The Nebra Sky Disc (Únêtician culture) was made as a solar and lunar based indicator for agricultural seasons. The copper of the Nebra disc comes from the Mitterberg in Austria and the gold from Romania.

The distance between Nebra and the Lichtenstein cave is 150 Km.

Middle Bronze Age (MBA) from 3,600 to 3,200 years ago

3600 - 3200 years ago

The Hügelgräber or Tumulus culture (1600 until 1300/1200 BC) spread from Hungary (Carpathian Bassin) to eastern France (Alsace). The Hügelgräber culture was followed by the Urnfield culture.

It seems likely that the ancestors of the 'Lichtenstein people' had roots in the Tumulus culture.

3500 years ago

MRCA of most contempary I-L533s lived.

It is unclear where the ancestral lines of I-L38 and I-L533 separated.

Late Bronze Age (LBA) from 3,300 to 2,800 years ago

3300 - 2800 years ago

From 3,300 to 2,800 years ago the Urnfield culture had spread north of the Alps. The Lichtenstein people that were burried in the Lichtenstein cave belonged to the Unstrut culture, a central German Urnfield group.

The Lichtenstein cave proved that I-L38 was present in the Unstrut group which of the Urnfield culture.

3300 - 2800 years ago

Northern Swiss and South and South-Western German Urnfield groups entered the South of Belgium. They conquered local groups and, in a number of cases, embraced the old local Neolithic habit of collective inhumation in caves (as the Trou del Leuve and Trou de L’Ambre). In these caves also bronze bracelets, rings, amulets and pottery was found.

The resemblance to the Lichtenstein cave is remarkable.

Iron Age from 2,800 to 2,700 years ago

2750 - 2420 years ago (Hallstatt period)

The Hallstatt culture developed out of the Urnfield culture. It extended for some 1000 kilometers from the Champagne-Ardenne in the west to the Danubian Lowland in the east, and from the Main, Bohemia, and the Little Carpathians in the north to the Swiss plateau and Austria in the south.

The distribution of the Hallstatt culture ressembles the distribution of I-L38.

2450 - 2100 years ago (La Tène period)

The Hallstatt culture was followed by the La Tène culture. The Tenian culture spread from the middle Rhine region East into the Danube valley, South into Switzerland, and West and North into France, the Low Countries, Denmark, and the British Isles. This period marked the first of the great Celtic migrations.

The distribution of the La Tène culture ressembles the distribution of I-L38.

Roman Empire from 100 BC to 400 AD

70 BC

The Coritani, a tribe that inhabited the Roman 'Agri Decumates' in what is now southwest Germany, crossed the Channel and founded Leicester. They also controlled Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and a part of Yorkshire.

Might explain the early presence of I-L38 on the British Isles.

Great Migrations, Barbarian invasions, Volkswänderung transition Antiquity to Early Middle Ages from 400 to 800 AD

3rd -5th century

The Alemanni, a confederation of Suebian Germanic tribes located on the Upper Rhine river, conquered the Roman 'Agri Decumates' in 260 and expanded into the Alsace and northern Switzerland,
In this era the Franks were a competing Germanic confederation occupying land in the Lower and Middle Rhine in the 3rd Century.

Might explain the distribution of I-L38 in Switzerland and the North of Italy.

4th -6th century

Decline of the Roman Empire. In 496, the Alemanni were conquered by Frankish leader Clovis. After the collapse of Rome in the West, the Frankish tribes conquered most of Gaul in the 6th century.

Might explain the distribution of I-L38 in France.

Middle Ages from 400 to 1400 AD

10th - 14th century

In search of a buffer population, farming technology, and mining expertise, Hungarian kings invited Germans to settle in Transylvania. The bulk of the colonists came from Luxembourg, the Moselle region, the Rhineland, and Flanders. This migration of the 'Transylvanian Saxons' was part of a larger process called the Ostsiedlung (the medieval eastward migration of Germans into eastern Central Europe and Eastern Europe).

Might explain the distribution of eastern Central European and Eastern European I-L38 samples.

AD 1066

Norman Conquest of England William assembled a large invasion fleet and an army gathered from Normandy and all over France, including contingents from Brittany and Flanders.

Might explain the distribution of I-L38 on the British Isles.

AD 1308

In 1308 the Teutonic Knights conquered the formerly Polish region of Pomerelia with Gdańsk (Danzig). Their monastic state was mostly Germanized through immigration from central and western Germany.

Might explain the distribution of I-L38 in Poland.


Between the eleventh and seventeenth centuries three waves of Flemish migrated to Scotland; consecutively: allies of the Normans, weavers and religious (Protestant) refugees. Most Flemish settled in the North or on the East coast of Scotland.

Might explain the relation between Scottish and continental I-L38 samples. It also might explain the distribution of I-L38 in Scotland.

11th-16th century

Skilled Flemish weavers and textile workers migrated to major centers such as London, Norwich and Colchester from the 11th to the 16th century.

Might explain the relation between English and continental I-L38 samples.

13th - 17th century

From the 13th until 17th century, the Hanseatic League dominated trade along the coasts from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages and early modern period.

Might explain the relation between Scandinavian, Dutch and Scottish samples.

Modern History from 1500 AD til present

AD 1524-1525

The German Peasants' Revolt (1524–1525) was a widespread popular revolt in the German-speaking areas of Central Europe, .

The German Peasants' Revolt probably have triggered the Yenishe (which has I-L38 haplotypes among them) to roam.

AD 1568-1648

As a result of the Eighty Years' War ( (1568-1648) tens of thousands Flemish and Walloons fled to the Netherlands, England and Germany.

The religious refugees migrating to the Netherlands explains why many Dutch I-L38 haplotypes have Flemish roots.

AD 1618-1648

As a major consequence of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) more than 66% of the population between Mainz and Augsburg fled - de facto depopulating the UpperRhine region.

Because of the Thirty Years' War many Rhineland-Palatinates, among them certainly a fair amount of I-L38 haplotypes, fled in all directions.

17th-19th century

German seasonal workers, called Hollandgänger, migrated back and forth between Germany and the Netherlands.

The Hollandgängers explain why many Dutch I-L38 haplotypes have quite recent German roots.

AD 1708-1709

Exhausted by the War of the Palatinate (1689-1697) and as a result of an extreme harsh winter Palatinates fled to England, Ireland and the United States.

Might explain the distribution of I-L38 samples in England, Ireland and the United States.

AD 1680-1750

Emmigrants from Alsace, southwestern Germany, and Switzerland settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries. They are known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Explains the distribution of most I-L38s in the United States.

18th century

Austrian Empire encouraged Germans to settle in regions of the empire that had been depopulated by Turkish wars. In the Banat, many came from Alsace-Lorraine, Franconia and the Palatinate. They were all refered to as Banat (or Danube) Swabians.

Might explain the distribution I-L38 samples in the former Banat (Romania, Serbia and Hungary).

Last update: March 2014 - Hans De Beule