DNA Testing/Autosomal/How far back can we trace? #dna
In replying to Raina and the original poster on this issue, perhapstoggle quoted messageShow quoted text
my own anecdotal case would be of help.
The most distant cousinhood I can trace (without gaps) is that between
my daughter and her 9th cousin. What I actually confirmed with DNA is
the connection between myself and my Dad with this 9th cousin's
grandfather (so my father's 7th cousin). They are all descendants of
one Jacob Gancarski of Radoszyce, Poland, probably born around 1740. So,
in this case, DNA (along with the well documented trees of both parties)
helped us both trace back about 280 years (maybe 300, since we don't
know birth date of Jacob).
With some gaps, there is some evidence mounting that DNA has shown
evidence of my claimed descent >from Jehiel Heilperin ("Seder Hadorot"
and Chief Rabbi of Minsk). He was born in 1660, so in that case, if it
proves solid, we may have traced back 360 years. Some even think we show
evidence of linking to prior generations of Heilperins (this is all
part of Andi Ziegelman's FTDNA study of Halpern and associated families).
But, reliably, for "typical" trees derived >from East European records,
I'd bet 300 years is about the limit.
Your DNA ethnicity estimate will change based on improved data >from
growing sample populations as Ancestry/FTdna/23andMe etc update their
ethnicity calculators. Your ethnicity breakdown does not tell you when
your ancestors lived, only that you have similar DNA to other people
whose ancestors lived in certain areas. In terms of finding DNA matches,
the autosomal DNA tests are most useful within 6 generations. So if a
generation is about 30 years that would be about 180 years. However it
is still possible to make connections back 10 generations if you get
lucky and have a well documented tree (and your match also has a well
As far as going back beyond a few hundred years and paper records, you
can take the mitochondria DNA test (MtDNA) or the YDNA test to get DNA
matches that reach back before paper records. You might be able to pick
out patterns of migration based on your matches individual family
histories. The haplogroups you will be assigned with those tests have
histories that show when (1000s of years ago) and where the original
mutation in that type of DNA occurred. The autosomal test only tests to
within a few hundred years as you said. I believe Family Tree DNA and
23andMe can do the mt-DNA and Y-DNA tests.
Saugerties, NY, USA