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Haplogroup H is a human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup. The clade is believed to have originated in Southwest Asia, near present day Syria, around 20,000 to 25,000 years ago. Mitochondrial haplogroup H is today predominantly found in Europe, and is believed to have evolved before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). It first expanded in the northern Near East and Southern Caucasus soon, and later migrations from Iberia suggest that the clade reached Europe before the Last Glacial Maximum. The haplogroup has also spread to parts of Africa, Siberia and inner Asia. Today, around 40% of all maternal lineages in Europe belong to haplogroup H.
Haplogroup H is a descendant of haplogroup HV. The Cambridge Reference Sequence (CRS), which until recently was the human mitochondrial sequence to which all others were compared, belongs to haplogroup H2a2a1 (human mitochondrial sequences should now be compared with the ancestral Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence (RSRS)). Several independent studies conclude that haplogroup H probably evolved in West Asia c. 25,000 years ago.
In July 2008 ancient mtDNA from an individual called Paglicci 23, whose remains were dated to 28,000 years ago and excavated from Paglicci Cave (Apulia, Italy), were found to be identical to the Cambridge Reference Sequence in HVR1. This once was believed to indicate haplogroup H, but researchers now recognize that CRS HVR1 also appears in U or HV, because there are no HVR1 mutations that separate CRS from the haplogroup R founder. Haplogroup HV derives from the haplogroup R0 which in turn derives from haplogroup R is a descendant of macro-haplogroup N like its sibling M, is a descendant of haplogroup L3.
Haplogroup H has also been found among Iberomaurusian specimens dating from the Epipaleolithic at the Taforalt and Afalou prehistoric sites. Among the Taforalt individuals, around 29% of the observed haplotypes belonged to various H subclades, including H1 (2/24; 8%), H103 (1/24; 4%), H14b1 (1/24; 4%), H2a2a1 (1/24; 4%), and H2a1e1a (1/24; 4%). A further 41% of the analysed haplotypes could be assigned to either haplogroup H or haplogroup U. Among the Afalou individuals, the H subclades were represented by H103 (1/9; 11%). A further 44% of the analysed haplotypes could be assigned to either haplogroup H or haplogroup U (3/9; 33%) or to haplogroup H14b1 or haplogroup JT (1/9; 11%).
MtDNA H had frequency of 19% among Neolithic Early European Farmers and virtually absent among Mesolithic European hunter gatherers.
The majority of the European populations have an overall haplogroup H frequency of 40-50%, with frequencies decreasing in the southeast. The clade reaches 20% in the Near East and Caucasus, 17% in Iran, and <10% in the Arabian Peninsula, Northern India and Central Asia.
Among all these clades, the subhaplogroups H1 and H3 have been subject to a more detailed study and would be associated to the Magdalenian expansion from SW Europe c. 13,000 years ago:
Projected spatial frequency distribution of haplogroup H1
H1 encompasses an important fraction of Western European mtDNA lineages, reaching its local peak among contemporary Basques (27.8%). The clade also occurs at high frequencies elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in the Maghreb (Tamazgha). The haplogroup frequency is above 10% in many other parts of Europe (France, Sardinia, parts of the British Isles, Alps, large portions of Eastern Europe), and surpasses 5% in nearly all of the continent. Its H1b subclade is most common in eastern Europe and NW Siberia.
As of 2010[update], the highest frequency of the H1 subclade has been found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Fezzan region in Libya (61%). The basal H1* haplogroup is found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Gossi area in Mali (4.76%).
The rare H1cb subclade is concentrated among Fulani groups inhabiting the Sahel.
Haplogroup H has been found in various fossils that were analysed for ancient DNA, including specimens associated with the Linearbandkeramik culture (H1e, Halberstadt-Sonntagsfeld, 1/22 or ~5%; H1 or H1au1b, Karsdorf, 1/2 or 50%), Germany Middle Neolithic (H1e1a, Esperstedt, 1/1 or 100%), Iberia Early Neolithic (H1, El Prado de Pancorbo, 1/2 or 50%), Iberia Middle Neolithic (H1, La Mina, 1/4 or 25%), and Iberia Chalcolithic (H1t, El Mirador Cave, 1/12 or ~8%). Haplogroup H has been observed in ancient Guanche fossils excavated in Gran Canaria and Tenerife on the Canary Islands, which have been radiocarbon-dated to between the 7th and 11th centuries CE. At the Tenerife site, these clade-bearing individuals were found to belong to the H1cf subclade (1/7; ~14%); at the Gran Canaria site, the specimens carried the H2a subhaplogroup (1/4; 25%). Additionally, ancient Guanche (Bimbaches) individuals excavated in Punta Azul, El Hierro, Canary Islands were all found to belong to the H1 maternal subclade. These locally born individuals were dated to the 10th century and carried the H1-16260 haplotype, which is exclusive to the Canary Islands and Algeria.
Frequencies of haplogroup H1 in the world (Ottoni et al. 2010)
Region or Population
No. of subjects
Tuareg (West Sahel)
Guineans (Guiné Bissau)
Volga-Ural Finnic speakers
Greece (Aegean islands)
Arabian Peninsula (incl. Yemen, Oman)
Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
H3 is found throughout the whole of Europe and in the Maghreb but does not exist in the Far East[vague], and is believed to have originated among Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in south-western Europe between 9 000 and 11 000 years ago. H3 represents the second largest fraction of the H genome after H1 and has a somewhat similar distribution, with peaks in Portugal, Spain, Scandinavia and Finland. It is common in Portugal (12%), Sardinia (11%), Galicia (10%), the Basque country (10%), Ireland (6%), Norway (6%), Hungary (6%) and southwestern France (5%). Studies have suggested haplogroup H3 is highly protective against AIDS progression.
H3b and H3k, found in the British Isles and Catalonia;
H3c, found in Western Europe, including among the Basques;
H3h, found throughout northern Europe, including the remains of Cerdic (519 to 534), King of Wessex;
H3i found in Ireland and Scotland;
H3j found in Italy;
H3v found especially in Germanic countries and;
H3z found in Atlantic Europe.
The basal H3* haplogroup is found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Gossi area in Mali (4.76%).
H5 may have evolved in West Asia, where it is most frequent and diverse in the Western Caucasus. However, its H5a subclade has a stronger representation in Europe, though at low levels.
H2, H6 and H8
The H2, H6 and H8 haplogroups are somewhat common in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. They may be the most common H subclades among Central Asians and have also been found in West Asia.H2a5 has been found in the Basque Country, Spain, and in Norway, Ireland and Slovakia.H6a1a1a is common among Ashkenazi Jews.
H7 and H13
These H4, H7 and H13 subhaplogroups are present in both Europe and West Asia; the H13 subclade is also found in the Caucasus; H13c was found in a 9,700 year old sample in Mesolithic Georgia. They are quite rare.
H4 and H13, along with H2 account for 42% of the hg H lineages in Egypt.
Haplogroup H10 is subclade which came into existence between 6,300 and 10,900 years ago. Its descendant branches are H10a H10b H10c H10d H10e H10f H10g and H10h.
Haplogroup H10e has been found at a neolithic site, namely the Bom Santo cave near Lisbon. This is the oldest sample of H10 which has ever been found and it has been dated to 3735 BCE (+- 45 years).
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^Kulichová I, Fernandes V, Deme A, Nová?ková J, Stenzl V, Novelletto A, et al. (October 2017). "Internal diversification of non-Sub-Saharan haplogroups in Sahelian populations and the spread of pastoralism beyond the Sahara". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 164 (2): 424-434. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23285. PMID28736914.
^Alejandra C, Fregel R, Trujillo-Mederos A, Hervella M, De-La-Rúa C, Arnay-De-La-Rosa M (2017). "Genetic studies on the prehispanic population buried in Punta Azul cave (El Hierro, Canary Islands)". Journal of Archaeological Science. 78: 20-28. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2016.11.004.