I was NOT expecting to see the Persian/Turkish/Caucasus region anywhere in my genetic makeup. Actually, my first reaction when I saw the pie chart was, "Oh great, they messed up my test and the results are inaccurate." Then, I started to get a little more analytical and did some research. I looked at the map and started to think about my great-grandpa Licciardi, who was born in Palermo, Sicily, which appears at first glance to be isolated from any of the genetic regions highlighted. I do a little Google-searching about Sicily and its history. The more that I read, the more I begin to realize that, genetically, Sicilians are some of the most diverse people in Europe. It's a large island, situated right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, which, for thousands of years was the main conduit for travel, trade, and conquest for most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. Even today, evidence of the island's unique history remains in some of the island's older architecture. This is a photo from a wall in the city of Palermo:
So, it's possible that that Persian/Turkish marker came from my Sicilian great-grandfather, but I'll probably never know for sure. And my 23% of "Central European" also may partially come through my Sicilian roots as well, considering the influences of various western European kingdoms in Sicily after the Arab influence had mostly waned.
This DNA test is different from others out there in that it traces both your matrilineal and patrilineal lines by looking at the makeup of all 23 chromosomes, looking at 700,000 locations in the DNA. Ancestry.com claims that results are at least 98% accurate. If one of my siblings were to have their DNA analyzed, the results would probably be similar, but not exactly the same, because a person does not inherit genes from her mother and father equally (50/50). In fact, we can have ANY combination of our parents' genes in our DNA (40/60, 15/85, 96/4...you get the idea), and THEY have inherited some unknown combination from their parents, and so on and so on as you go back through the generations. Mother Nature is a wacky gal.
Ancestry.com claims that the results of my test may change slightly as they acquire new DNA data that they are continually collecting from people all over the world. That's fine; I didn't expect it to help me find specific names of my ancestors or anything detailed like that. I mostly did this for fun, but it has certainly changed my perception of what a European heritage can look like and it has driven me to learn more about my great-grandfather's homeland.
©2012, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder