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Haplogroup J2b The Cultivators


I have recently completed the DNA test from DNA Ancestry and have discovered that I belong to the Cultivators, haplogroup J, who are about 20,000 years old. My ancient ancestors most likely lived in the southern and northern parts of the Fertile Crescent, where you'll find present day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, south-eastern Turkey and west and south-western Iran.

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent holds a remarkable place in human history and the history of the earth. It is a haven for biodiversity and the physical culmination of three rivers-the Nile, Euphrates and the Tigris bless the region with irrigation. As the area served as a land bridge between Africa and Eurasia, many migrations were forced through the Fertile Crescent, facilitating the exchange of resources, ideas and even genes.

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a region in the Near East, incorporating the Levant and Mesopotamia, and often somewhat incorrectly extended to Egypt. Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilization and saw the development of the earliest human civilizations and is the birthplace of writing and the wheel. The region of the Fertile Crescent broadly corresponds to present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, south-eastern Turkey and west and south-western Iran. The term "Fertile Crescent" was coined by University of Chicago archaeologist James Henry Breasted in his "Ancient Records of Egypt", around 1900. The region was named so due to its rich soil and crescent shape.

This region was also capable of weathering ice ages with tenacity, preventing the patterns of extinction experienced in other parts of the world. The Fertile Crescent's mountains, river basins and deserts also provide an abundance of resources and environments to humans populating the area.

Many scientists believe that the emergence of a number of edible seed-bearing plants contributed to the remarkable success of the Fertile Crescent - wheat, flax, chick pea and other seeds could have served as early dietary staples. My ancient ancestors may have also played a key role in the domestication of animals like goats, pigs and horses.

Early agriculture in the Fertile Crescent was ripe for development, and the Cultivators stepped up to the task. It's likely that alongside irrigation and other agricultural techniques, the Cultivators advanced their civilization in other areas, such as writing and government.
My particular DNA results reveal even more. It's likely I belong to a subgroup of the Cultivators, J2, associated with Anatolia, the eastern portion of modern day Turkey.


One of the great crossroads of ancient civilizations is a broad peninsula that lies between the Black and Mediterranean seas. Called Asia Minor (Lesser Asia) by the Romans, the land is the Asian part of modern Turkey, across Thrace. It lies across the Aegean Sea to the east of Greece and is usually known by its Greek name Anatolia.


The interior is a high arid plateau, about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in elevation, flanked to the north and south by rugged mountain ranges. Within the plateau a number of ranges enclose broad, flat valleys, where several salty lakes have formed.

A Mediterranean-type climate of hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters prevails in the coastal areas. The dry central plateau has hot summers and cold winters. During all seasons high winds are common; moist Mediterranean winds bring rain to the coastal regions in the winter. There is little summer rainfall.

In about 2000 BC Anatolia was in the hands of the Hittites, who migrated from the area east of the Black Sea. Their civilization rivalled that of the Egyptians and Babylonians. In the 12th century BC their empire fell to the Assyrians. Small seaboard states grew up, only to fall to the Greeks, who colonized the entire coast in about the 8th century BC. According to legend, they first laid siege to the city-state of Troy during the Trojan War. In 560 BC Croesus mounted the throne of Lydia in Anatolia and soon brought all the Greek colonies under his rule. Croesus was overthrown by Cyrus the Great of Persia. Two hundred years later Alexander the Great again spread Greek rule over the peninsula.

After its conquest by Rome in the 2nd century BC, Anatolia enjoyed centuries of peace. During the Middle Ages, as a part of the Byzantine Empire, it became a centre of Christianity and the guardian of Greek and Roman culture. One of the chief medieval trade routes passed through the region. As the power of the Empire declined, Arabs and Mongols invaded. In the 15th century the Ottoman Turks conquered the peninsula and made Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) the capital. The Ottoman Empire lasted until 1922. The next year Asia Minor became the larger part of the Turkish Republic under Kemal Atatürk. He had set up a government in Ankara, which became the new capital of Turkey.

Early records from the 24th century BC describe Anatolia as a thriving trade capitol with sophisticated systems of accounting, including lines of credit. While some members of the J2 haplogroup remained in Anatolia, about 5,000 years ago other members of the population migrated into Europe. This migration occurred during what scientists call the Neolithic period, a time defined by the emergence of farming techniques, the use of pottery and the invention of metal tools. It's possible that my ancestors were instrumental in developing and sharing this knowledge.

The J2 haplogroup

The J2 haplogroup can be found in today's populations with notable frequency in Italy, Iberia, Turkey, Albania, Greece and even India, and most likely interacted with numerous cultures, including the Greeks and Romans. Haplogroup J2 can be found in 20% of Ashkenazi Jewish populations, who settled in the Rhineland, now Germany.
DNA Ancestry determined that it is likely I belong to J2b, an even more specific subgroup. It is thought that J2b was closely and specifically associated with populations living in Greece during the Neolithic age. The two most famous Greek Neolithic settlements, Sesklo and Dimini, were found in Thessally, in central Greece.

Greek Neolithic settlements

Sesklo was made up of villages built into hillsides, located near fertile valleys. The Sesklo people likely grew wheat and barley and herded sheep and goats.

Dimini settlement

You can imagine my ancient ancestors working with stone and mud brick to build homes and other structures in central Greece. At the peak of its civilization, the Dimini settlement was located about 1 kilometre from the coast. This location allowed it to access important trade routes while keeping it close to flatlands ideal for maintaining animals. Decorated Dimini pottery, obsidian, stone and bone tools and jewellery have all been found as evidence of the culture's advancement.
For more information please visit DNA Ancestry