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Haplogroups R1a & R1b

This page is about the Y--chromosome haplogroups R1a and the most common in Taylor Family Genes, R1b. It describes their development, spread and cultures. About 2% of Taylor Family Genes members are R1a and 70% are R1b.

What makes R1a & R1b?

Haplogroups are definitively established by the presence (and/or absence) of mutations known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The presence of the M207 SNP, for example, marks the R haplogroup; M173, also known as P241, marks R1.

SNPs have a peculiar (to this writer) naming system. The first one to three letters of the name denote the research group which found and published it; the numbers indicate the order in which found by the group. None of that has anything to do with the SNP itself -- its chemistry, origin or place on the tree -- and results in the same thing getting multiple names. (When we say "AKA", we'll be giving the alternate SNP names.)

If the SNP name is "rs" followed by 7 digits, it has been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information and listed in its SNP database.

The R Tree

We are relatively safe that the information we give will be current for a while, so long as we don't put too fine a point on our pencil. The relationships of R1a and R1b aren't likely to be proven wrong by new discoveries.

Here's what we know:

R1a & R1b tree
This diagram shows the origins and some further branching of haplogroup R.

From the Beginning

Some 5,000 years ago -- perhaps 9,000 years ago -- the long-forgotten Harappan Civilization flourished in the Indus River Valley of India, surpassing its contemporaries, of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Discovered anew in the 1920s, scientists are still uncovering its mysteries. The Harappans may be the ancestors of all R1a and R1b people living today.

The Harappan populace numbered in the millions and extended over 386,000 square miles -- north and west into present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the west coast of Iran. At their peak, they may have made up more than 10% of the world's population. 

They were inventive. They fired bricks for cities of multi-storied buildings. They smelted and forged copper, bronze, lead, and tin. They built roadside drainage ditches. They developed advanced handicrafts.

Climate change was their undoing. About 3,000 years ago, rain became less dependable and the rivers dried up -- making food production more difficult and under-cutting the civilization's foundation. The people stared moving away, east to the Ganges, but also northwest -- into the Caucasus and further.

It's thought they stayed for a time around the Black Sea. Then one group (R1a) pushed north and another (R1b) mostly west. As they encountered the indigenous peoples, their bronze weapons gave them a strong military and reproductive advantage.

References

Also see these sources: