Refining DNA data: The maternal haplotype

In my list of relative matches on 23andMe, I have a few cousins who share my paternal haplotype marker (T). This means that we share a paternal ancestor somewhere back in the family lineage. I looked through my initial list in terms of what towns and family names these cousins listed, and this is how I came to find what I believe is my village (Qurnayel) as well as my family name. Questions posed to my other relatives confirmed this to be most likely.

My maternal haplotype (H26) was more elusive. It wasn’t shared by anyone in my list, and I was not able to find much reference to it online. What I did find painted a very broad picture, as it has evolved to be rather common throughout Europe most notably. I started looking through the 23andMe discussion boards to see if there wasn’t any further information on the group.

I came across a link to a web site that gives a more finely tuned marker based on an upload of mitochondrial or mtDNA. I readily admit that I have the barest vague understanding of DNA science, but following the instructions I found, I downloaded from 23andMe only the mtDNA sequences (less than 100k, as opposed to the multiple MBs of the whole DNA sequence) and uploaded it to which quickly returned a “most likely” marker: H26b.

As a side trip that I can recommend but which to my feeble understanding is otherwise useless, you can go to this page and then click on the major subcategory (in my case, H) which will bring up the full genome tree and its branching down to the particular branch you are looking for. On the right side are sample data references. Clicking on mine brings up something that I can barely understand, but I do see the word “Druze” in the title, and so another confirmation.

Screen shot 2015-08-26 at 4.58.12 PM

This page came up in one of the discussion boards; it is a breakdown of samples of mtDNA according to haplotype. When I click on mine (H26b) I can see the registered samples like the one above, which gives information as to the source community. It also provides a name that links to the study that provided the samples. Here we see mostly Druze, and…one Armenian*….

Screen shot 2015-08-26 at 4.13.29 PM

On this page I can download the originating studies themselves. Honestly, I’m greatly disturbed by the Shlush study, since it is funded by the Israel Science Foundation as well as the rather shady- and dubious-sounding “Canadian and American Technion Societies”. Their aim one quickly gleans is to “prove” genetically the Zionist notion that the Ashkenazim source to Occupied Palestine, and that those with claims to the place do not: a theoretical occupation and ethnic cleansing.

Ironically, they end up proving the exact opposite, once the bias filter is in place. Nonetheless, you will notice that companies like 23andMe buy into this, and thus have a category of “Ashkenazim” that will show up in many of our test results, especially among the Druze and Shi‘a populations. This has become somewhat of a joke among the Lebanese who have this tiny green one-tenth of one percent marker in their profile.

The comment by this guy [] in this blog entry explains things a bit better:

I set out writing this as something helpful to other adoptees, but now I feel it is completely misleading. The bias of sample takers, the limited number of samples, and the “wishful thinking” of the adoptee all conspire to produce what are likely false turns and dead ends. Any further info from adoptees who have delved deeper or who understand better the DNA science is greatly appreciated.

* This is of interest because the article this is gleaned from is attempting to “distance” the Druze from Occupied Palestine by claiming that their “closest genetic neighbors” (whatever that means) “are the Iranians, Turks, Egyptians, and Armenians”. False markers? Altered samples?


About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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12 Responses to Refining DNA data: The maternal haplotype

  1. Pingback: Refining DNA data: The maternal haplotype | The Life Of Von

  2. “Refugium”. This word is also used to describe fish which are washed into a tidal basin and then develop their own ecosystem. By describing the Druze this way, the authors of this article are trying to say that they didn’t quite manage to “wash back out with the migratory tide” and that they are not “of” Palestine. At Transracial Eyes I remember bringing this up as a “function” of the National Geographic Genome Project: Namely, to show that the Indigenous are, in fact, “from” somewhere else [and therefore their removal is justified]. Hugely offensive, especially when DNA research in fact proves our connected-ness, not our racial isolation.

    Currently researching a possible connection to Palestine/Galilee…stay tuned.

    • My recent research turned this up in an article written by Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

      Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

  3. Pingback: Refining DNA data: The maternal haplotype | Terre Libanaise

  4. Hi Daniel, I’m also maternal group H26, I came across your blog trying to find more information about it.

  5. I am also adopted and looking for answers, ironically. :)

    • Welcome! Did you test at 23andMe? It’s important to get a further breakdown of the mtDNA to see which subgroup we are (he said pretending to know what he’s talking about)….I hope this was helpful!

  6. kassim says:

    Hi daniel,

    have you ever considered testing for your y-str markers, markers that compose your paternal haplogroup. unfortunately 23andme does not test these markers, you can do this by testing with FamilyTreeDna, this test will allow you to find matching paternal relatives more accurately.

    • I’m hoping the next time I shell out money for a DNA test, it will be because I’ve narrowed things down to a likely match based on on-the-ground searching here. The paternal side I’m pretty sure I’ve narrowed down to town and family name, and extended family members are very kindly helping me out. The mystery remains the maternal link….but I’m certain things will unravel with time, inch’allah. I’ve looked into FTDNA, and I found their name-search groups for the T marker, but I didn’t see this family name there….so it didn’t seem worthwhile….but now you have me rethinking….

  7. Nader Daou says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I am the administrator for the Druze Y-DNA project at FTDNA ( You are welcome to join the project. I already have 2 members who’ve tested positive for T Haplogroup. I am interested to know more about your paternal ancestry.
    I am a Druze myself (Y-DNA Haplogroup: J-M319, mtDNA Haplogroup H33b). mtDNA H33b is also listed for some Druze samples on (also found in Germany/Uk). My wife’s mtDNA Hap is HV14. I guess H & HV are prevalent amongst the Druze. It is good to know that H26b is also listed as Druze. In the FTDNA mtDNA H project, H26b is listed for a woman in Turkey (

    • Thank you Nader; this means more to me than you can imagine. I had come across your project, and almost emailed you, but I thought that ftDNA membership was a requirement. They were accepting 23andMe results, but it seems I am chip 4 and they allow chip 3 only. I’ve thought about doing the ftDNA tests, especially as mentioned above concerning a finetuned y chromosome analysis, but right now it is not in my budget. I will email separately; thank you again most graciously.

  8. Adoptees might want to check out DNA Land too:

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