Can you find out if you have Iberian ancestry?

So you’re probably wondering if you might have some trace of Iberian in your DNA. Find out more here.

Iberia is the name used for Europe’s most southwesterly peninsula, which is comprised of modern-day Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Andorra, and France’s Cerdagne region. The name was given to the region by the Greeks, and has its roots in the name of the Ebro river. Early human species inhabited this region over a million years ago, and a large portion of people on Earth today will have had an ancestor that passed through Iberia.

40,000 years after anatomically modern humans first set foot here, the region now boasts some of the best ham in the world, several international football trophies, and some of the history’s best artists.

The bronze age was a pivotal point in Iberian history, as tribes began to grow and form distinct cultures, such as the Celts in the North-west, Tartessians in the South-West, Cogotas in the centre, and Phoenicians along the coast. Many of the cultures that roamed these lands left little trace of their existence and some are even branded ‘semi-mythical’, somewhat romanticising the interest in these beautiful environments. Iberia has been and remains a melting pot of European, African, and Mediterranean settlers, making it an interesting place for genetic tests.

Can you find out if you have Iberian ancestry?

A common Y-DNA haplogroup in Iberia is R1b, which is present in most males in the region (over 70% on average and up to 90% in some areas), which means that they share an ancient common male ancestor. If you have this haplogroup, you share that ancestor with them.

As well as that, there are some other genetic markers in your autosomal DNA that can provide further information about more recent ancestry. While we cannot tell you specifically who you are descended from, we can show you if your ancestors lived in Iberia.

Is it an easy process to find out if your ancestors were Iberians?

The process couldn’t be easier. You will simply need to purchase an ancestry DNA kit from Living DNA, which will display information about your ancestry from all over the world and highlight if we have been able to identify any Iberian ancestry. There are loads of cool perks to going through the testing journey with Living DNA, such as:

  1. Having the most informative sub-regional ancestry information in the market - an absolutely vital consideration for the Iberian peninsula
  2. Recent ancestry that explores the last 500-1000 years of your ancestry
  3. Extended ancestry information, going back tens of thousands of years to show you where your ancestors came from and how they moved across the world
  4. Seeing if you have any DNA test matches in our system!

What else should you know about your potentially Iberian ancestry?

The majority of Southern Iberia was taken over by the Moors, Arabs and Berbers of North Africa in the 7th Century, and it wasn’t until 1492, after the northern territories of Aragon, Leon, and Castille united through the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand II that the Arabs and Berbers were defeated and expelled. Since then, influxes of people into Iberia have been relatively minor, and are predominantly from Eastern Europe, North Africa, Britain, or Latin America.

People leaving Iberia however, is a different matter altogether. At around the same time as the Arabs and Berbers were leaving Spain, the American continent was discovered by European explorers, and a large scale migration of people from the Iberian continent to the “new world” began. Because of this, many Central and South Americans are very likely to have Iberian ancestry. In fact, most Spanish speakers around the world can find some links to an Iberian heritage.

What genetic markers are used for Iberian ancestry identification?

The R1b Haplogroup we mentioned before is the most common one among Spanish and Portuguese men, who comprise the vast majority of the Iberian population.

What’s also interesting about the Iberian genetic makeup is that during the Bronze Age, there seemed to be a huge migration of Steppe people, from what is now the South Russian region between the Black and Caspian seas. This means that there are traces of genetic markers common in these populations today which can also be found in modern Iberian populations.

Where did the Iberians come from, and where did they go?

As we’ve explained in this article, the Iberians came from so many different sources that rather than ending up as one distinct culture or race, they are a mix.

The Basques of Northern Iberia share little in common genetically with the Andalusians of the South, and the Andorrans are a long-settled mountain people with their own vernacular who have traditionally acted as a buffer between France and Spain.

The Portuguese are a distinct ancestral group as well, defined by the A26-B38-DR13 gene, which can also be found in tens of millions of people in Brazil, Venezuela, and France, and even in Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, and more. You can read more on the subject here.

How can you prove Iberian ancestry?

You may be quite certain about your Iberian heritage because of your name or family history, or you may just have a hunch based on family stories. Now you can delve into the unknowns of your ancestral past by purchasing a full ancestry DNA kit from Living DNA. Once it arrives, all you have to do is a quick mouth swab and send the kit back to us to help establish whether you have Iberian heritage or not.