Recent Progress and the Challenges of J-Z631 and J-Z1043 Origins

Before looking at the distribution of the samples in J-Z1043, J-Z631 (and upstream J-Z8421) themselves, we might be inclined to assume a western Balkans deeper origin for the immediate ancestors of J-Z631 due to the western Balkan diversity of related lineages of J-Z638 and due to the fact that the most ancient samples of J-Z2507 are found in Mokrin, Serbia and Vrgorac, Croatia.

Add to the ancient sample corpus a newly discovered Iron Age sample in sibling branch J-Y146400 from Slovenia. I'm assuming he'll be positive for this branch because it was announced that he's J-Z597(xZ2507).

Another relatively new find is the ancient sample from Timacum Minus, now Ravna, Serbia, that is positive for J-Z1043. There were I believe three samples buried there in a Roman military cemetery. This sample will become more significant when we learn which lineage it represents and if it helps establish an Iron Age lineage of J-Z1043 that formed in a specific region of the western Balkans.

Prior to this find the only Roman era ancient J-Z631 sample was the one found in the Via Salaria necropolis dating to 1-200 AD.

While one branch of J-L283 is found in ancient Etrurians, circumstantial evidence indicates that this line may have migrated to Etruria from the western Balkans sometime between 1300-900 BCE.

Generally, if a western Balkans deeper origin is assumed for a given lineage, then if it is now found in men in Italia (Italian Peninsula) and in the western Balkans, it makes sense to assume that the western Balkan guys represent remnants.

This might not always turn out to be the case - maybe the common ancestor of a given line, after his ancestor migrated from the western Balkans to Italia and sired him, by chance he had a child whose descendants coincidentally migrated back to the western Balkans homeland.

Now let's look more deeply at the samples from the Italian Peninsula, Sicily and the mysterious and conspicuous lack of Sardinians.

Lack of J-Z631 and J-Z1043 in Sardinia

One interesting thing, maybe it will turn out to be meaningful for the research into our origins if we can interpret it correctly. 14 of 36 YFull samples in J-L283 that are from Italy are designated as from Sardinia. They are found across most of the lines of J-L283 with TMRCAs between the Bronze Age and Iron Age. However J-Z631 which represents about 40% of the samples on the YFull tree does not have a single guy from Sardinia, itself the most oversampled part of Italy.

The ancient Romans did not consider Sicily or Sardinia to be Italia geographically. We should take their lead because it looks like a migratory process that ends in Sardinia could be very different from one that ends in Italia or Sicily.

Also note that the ancient Etruria/Liguria line of J-L283 has also not been found among the profuse Sardinian samples.

Let's enumerate a few of the vectors of migration to Sardinia since the Bronze Age because apparently none of them apply to J-Z631:

  • Introduction of Bell Beakers (possibly two waves, first Franco-Cantabrian and then Central European)
  • Iron Age Piracy / Colonization
  • Roman Era
  • Post-Roman

While we don't have ancient J-L283 samples dating back to the introduction of Bell Beaker cultures in Sardinia it is tempting to think that this may have taken place if we glance at the YFull tree and see J-YP157 with only 4 SNPs defining it, all from Sardinia. However there is no TMRCA computed for a reason, the samples have extremely low coverage (1X-3X).

So the high diversity of J-L283 in Sardinia could all come from Iron Age and later migrations that are simply oversampled from a living population that itself was a refugium - their lines survived more than J-L283 in the western Balkans, Pannonia and Adriatic coast.

Anyway, it appears that J-Z631 must have had a very different geography or way of life than other lineages of J-L283 because it didn't wind up in Sardinia like the others did. If there were J-Z631 in Sardinia it would be overwhelmingly likely to have been found by the scientific studies already conducted.

J-Z631 and J-Z1043 of Southern Italia and Sicily

In this and the following sections I only address samples who have tested SNPs. There are additional samples who tested STRs and whose terminal subclade is unknown from lack of testing.

There are three different lines of J-Z631/J-Z1043 found in Sicily and none have any known links to Albanians so they could date back to Iron Age migrations. One is J-Z1043>FGC55778>FGC55768 with 500-1000 year old roots in Messina. The other is J-Z631>Y87605 from Acireale. The other is J-Z1043* from Corleone.

A member of that Sicilian line funded a WGS400 for the other man so we'll soon know all the SNPs defining their Sicilian line. It will be the oldest/only exclusively Italian line of J-Z631. There are two other men who based on STRs must be J-FGC55778 like these Sicilians are, though it may be an unrelated branch - a more specific classification is not possible. I've not been able to reach them, both are in the Calabria project.

So if J-Z631 did participate in Iron Age migrations it appears to have been mostly limited to the Ionian Sea (i.e. they didn't go via Tyrrhenian Sea to Sardinia).

I'm currently in talks with a man tracing descent to Cosenza whose 111 STRs appear to indicate he is J-Z631 but I don't have a prediction yet. Hopefully his sample will shed more light once I can SNP test him. There may be other samples in our haplogroup from the heel of Italy but I haven't had contact.

Moving northward up to Campania, Italy, I have confirmed a man from there is J-Z631*. His is a sample we could try to help upgrade to WGS.

J-Z8421* of Chieti, Italia

J-Z8421 is the parent of J-Z631. We see a guy from Chieti is J-Z8421*.

If it were not for the strong upstream diversity and ancient samples in the western Balkans, one might take this sample, along with other samples' presence in Italia, as an indicator of origin in Italia.

But this is just one sample and Chieti is on the Adriatic coast. This is a little further north up the coast from the areas that are historically known to have been colonized by Illyrian tribes known as the Iapygians. I mention this not because this is hard proof that the origin was actually Iapygians but that it is not hard proof that the origin was not Iapygians. I consider the geography ambiguous to answering the question.

J-Z631 and J-Z1043 of Central and Northern Italy

Now looking at Central Italy. There is a man from L'Aquila who I had confirmed was J-Z631>Y87605 by SNP testing at YSEQ and who informed me he recently ordered Big Y, so this will advance our research.

Another guy tracing descent to near here is from Manfredonia, Foggia. He has a rare allele, DYS388 = 17 found only in J-FT33373 from Bulgaria and J-BY56175 found only in the England and Wales. He informed me he purchased Big Y recently so we'll get confirmation if he is related to either of these lines or not. Since this is an off by 2 mutation and very rare I expect he'll be positive for one of the lines.

In northern Italy we have a total of three samples from Florence and one from Treviso on the YFull tree. Each is in a prolific line that has men from nearly every other part of Europe.

No Iron Age Exclusively/Mostly Italian Line of J-Z631

At the end of the day, we don't have the strong evidence for an ancient origin in Italia for any line of J-Z631 or J-Z631 itself like we do for the Etruria/Liguria line J-CTS473 that is backed by an Iron Age sample and corroborated by modern diversity that is nearly exclusive to that region.

If more Italians are tested this might change but this is the current situation.


Of the five samples on the YFull tree, three are from Vlorë. One has marked his sample as Tosk speaker, the southern variant of Albanian which has become the national standard. I'm not sure if this is enough information on its own to make some kind of inference.

What is interesting is that this line is not as common among Albanians as some of the other lines.

So it appears that this lineage was not living somewhere that would ultimately go on to contribute significantly to the ethnogenesis of Albanians. For the ethnogenesis of Albanians there are many theories but I think most likely are northeastern Albania itself or the areas immediately to the north and east of Albania - a combination of people from these areas and refugees from further afield having fled Slav incursions.

Not This, not That - Then What?

Since this line is not found in Sardinia and only found to a limited extent in Sicily and elsewhere in Italia, with no one region having much more than another, perhaps we are looking at a lineage that was not living along the Adriatic coast.

If J-Z631 were living more inland somewhere between the western Balkans (but further north than core Albanian ethnogenesis areas) , Pannonia and Slovenia, then as a result they would not have engaged in long distance piracy or trade or have participated in the migrations to Apulia to the extent that other lineages of J-L283 appear to have done.

Could a line have become as prolific as J-Z631 during the Iron Age by subsisting within this land area?

It could certainly have been recruited by the Romans to migrate elsewhere within the Empire and then later leave little trace as a result of male line replacement by incoming Slavs and other groups.

So let's see what the future has in store. Maybe we eventually find ancient samples that are J-Z631 in Hungary -

One Promising Iron Age Exclusively/Mostly Western Balkan Line of J-Z631

We are waiting for the sample to be analyzed on the YFull tree, but a Bosniak from Sandžak (now Petnjice, Montenegro) that is J-Z1043>FGC55778>Y98609>FT117099* might indicate pre-Roman western Balkan diversity. It is unknown whether he will share any SNPs with the samples from England, North Macedonia or Turkey.

Other Samples Recently Funded For WGS400

These were ordered different times in September so we may start to get results within a month or so depending on when the batch began processing at YSEQ.

How Can You Advance the Research?

If you are in this line, contact me about the test you did and where you trace your male line.

If you would like to donate to advance the research into your particular line of J-Z631, let me know what line is yours and I can advise you how best to do it.

If you would like to donate to the general fund, I will use your donation to pay for WGS test + YFull analysis for a sample at my discretion to advance the research into our deeper origins. Please add a note "J-Z631/Z1043" so I know it is not for the J-L283 general research fund.

These posts are the opinion of Hunter Provyn, a haplogroup researcher in J-M241 and J-M102.

2 thoughts on “Recent Progress and the Challenges of J-Z631 and J-Z1043 Origins”

  1. Our newly assigned Big Y tester to J-Z631 is known to have lived around Sulmona. Is there a FTDNA interest group to join Hunter that we could learn more from. Thanks a mllion for your work!

    1. Hi Roseann,

      FTDNA customers they can join the J-M241 project.

      YSEQ customers can join my J2b-L283 project id 711.

      We have a J2b-L283 Faceboook Group as well –

      I emailed you because I’m interested to know this sample’s terminal subclade within J2b-Z631, this is also my Iron Age line that we believe originated in the western Balkans.

      Best Regards,

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