Genetic relationships of European populations reflect their ethnohistorical affinities

Robert R. Sokal, Geoffrey M. Jacquez, Neal L. Oden, Donna DiGiovanni, Anthony B. Falsetti, Elizabeth McGee, Barbara A. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


From 420 records of ethnic locations and movements since 2000 B. C., we computed vectors describing the proportions which peoples of the various European language families contributed to the gene pools within 85 land‐based 5 × 5‐degree quadrats in Europe. Using these language family vectors, we computed ethnohistorical affinities as arc distances between all pairs of the 85 quadrats. These affinities are significantly correlated with genetic distances based on 26 genetic systems, even when geographic distances, a common causative factor, are held constant. Thus, the ethnohistorical distances explain a significant amount of the genetic variation observed in modern populations. Randomizations of the records by chronology result in loss of significance for the observed partial correlation between genetics and ethnohistory, when geography is held constant. However, a randomization of records by location only results in reduced significance. Thus, while the historical sequence of the movements does not seem to matter in Europe, their geographic locations do. We discuss the implications of these findings. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnohistory
  • European populations
  • Gene frequencies
  • Language families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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