Does Dutch DNA show if they are actually Dutch?

So, what started off this whole Dutch DNA discussion?

I visited the Netherlands last summer. We stayed with my half-Dutch wife’s relatives and we were able to stay in and visit many cities. I looked up Dutch traits and Netherland’s distinctions before the trip. It was because I wanted to know how to properly act without playing the fool, and know what I would be up against, in order to behave correctly.

I researched all the traits the Dutch are well known for (not to belabor them here). What interested me was the distinct look of the Dutch. I can pick a Dutchie out of a crowd easily. Yes, in every country or area people have specific physical traits but Dutch DNA is complicated and intertwined.  It is also not as though all Dutch people look like twins. Historically, Netherlanders were intermixed often with many ethnic groups.

Can ethnic and cultural groups retain a look beyond DNA?

According to DNA testing companies, Dutch DNA is considered mainly Germanic French, which seems a broader stroke of DNA than some common and visible Dutch characteristics that I see.

My wife recently spit in the tube and had her DNA analyzed… and surprise! Besides being a little Neanderthal (maybe she slobbered a little in the tube), her DNA is less than 25% Germanic French. Her Mother was adamant about being “200 percent” Dutch because Mom said “My Mother was 100 percent Dutch, and so was my Father, so I am 200% Dutch”. Clearly not a math major, but a passionate Dutchie.

So here is my opinionated research on where the Dutch DNA originated from. Are the Dutch actually Dutch?

EARLY DAYS:

Before 5000 BC, the ice age was ending (apparently as a result of global warming from the tribes burning too much peat). A few Neanderthals were left running around updating their resumes.

Ice Age Neanderthals dutch DNA
Another day in Neanderthal paradise soon to end.
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The Hunter Gatherers had started growing food, and Neanderthals died off from having to eat salad from a pottery dish. Maglemosian culture was throughout the Northern European area, and the glaciers hadn’t melted off. As a result, the British Isles, Netherlands and Scandinavia were all one land mass.  Seas eventually rose, and with water separation, the British Isles exited North Europe (BREXIT wasn’t the first time) and Scandinavia receded into the North Sea glacial melt. Life spans were short, and generations moved quickly (stepped on by Mastodons is a quick DNA eliminator).

Netherlands speeding toward the year zero

Funnelbeaker Culture and other small farming cultures extended from Denmark into Germany and the Northern Netherlands. Following behind them with their fancy Indo-European language spreading throughout most of North and Central Europe, was the touwbekercultuur, or “Corded Ware Culture” (makers of corded pottery) lasting into the Bronze Age.

 

Corded Ware Pottery – By Einsamer Schütze (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you wish to go in depth on their DNA, for aspiring DNA Phd types, go here. Crossover with the “Beaker Culture” from West Europe may have wandered into Southern Netherlands looking for sunshine.  The Beakers were traders, and probably the first door to door salespersons. Plus they kept alcohol in their beakers, so there was that.

Although Archaeologists argue where the Corded Ware Culture sprung from, the Black Sea or elsewhere in Europe (arguing over people dead thousands of years is their passion), what we do know is DNA from graves shows they were widespread in North Central Europe.  They were the first to have wagons, therefore wheels.  I am guessing they are Dutch ancestors and invented bicycles, peddling across Europe (some things never change).

old bike
Bike of the future for ancient cultures

PRE-ROMAN IRON AGE MIGRATION:

Germanic groups migrated into the Netherlands around 750 BC settling coastal floodplains “where no man had settled before” and probably invented boots and snorkels.

Wooden swamp boots?

This uniform DNA grouping extended into Poland and migrated from Southern Scandinavia due to deteriorating climate.  Apparently they brought it with them.

Several groupings and languages evolved:

  • North Sea Germanics (Ingvaeones) , in Northern Netherlands, south to the great rivers into Jutland.  This would be early Frisians and Saxons.
  • Weser-Rhine Germanics (Istvaeones) inhabited the Netherlands south of the great rivers from which the Salian Franks would spring.

Even though this happened a couple thousand years ago, it seems logical it was the beginnings of the ‘Dutch” peoples.

ancient germanic group migration
Early Germanic Culture group migration.  File:Germanic tribes (750BC-1AD).png, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Germanic_tribes_(750BC-1AD).png&oldid=247505945

THE EVER SPREADING CELTS AND DUTCH DNA:

Celtic (Gaul) culture about this time was in a triathlon across central Europe, spreading their DNA everywhere. They were more tribal than most cultures, and had Chiefs and classes of people within the tribes (perhaps political conservatives’ ancestors).

They spread from East Europe area to Britain and Iberia. Generally staying south of the Netherlands, Celts drifted as far north as Maastricht early on. Apparently they were busy irritating Romans and causing wars, and had no desire to be chased by a giant walrus in the lowlands mud.  The Celts integrated with Germanic tribes South of the Rhine eventually. Caesar defeated them, took their gold and assimilated them into Roman culture, where they probably invented fashion and anger management from their descriptions by Romans.

The Gauls in the fourth century were “tall and muscular, light skinned, reddish or light haired and eyed people who are quick to quarrel and fight”. There are not an excessive amount of redheads in the Netherlands, though Limburg has one of the higher percentages. Many Dutchies do fit other physical Gaul characteristics.  A recent study in the UK states the Celts are not a unique genetic group, which would indicate their original Germanic culture background. It also showed populations next to each other can have different ancestry.

THE ROMANS ARE COMING:

Roman Soldiers in latest of conquerors fashion

In year 57 BC, the Romans came to town in fashionable tunics. After years of battles with Germanic tribes south of the Oude Rijn, the river became the north boundary of the Roman Empire. Roman control existed farther north too.

Roman Empire in Europe.  File:Germania 70.svg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Germania_70.svg&oldid=190219889)

 

For four centuries the Romans ruled, integrating towns and building forts, exerting genetic intermingling in the Netherlands.

With the Celtic, Germanic and Roman cultures intermingling, even Augustus Las Vegas wouldn’t lay odds on DNA results. Romans used both Celt and Germanic tribes as soldiers and ruled settlements where these “barbarians” would be raised for Roman armies.

Two Centuries later, the early Germanic Frisii living on the North Sea coast and occupying most areas north of the Oude Rijn were coerced by the Romans and rising seas to relocate to Roman territory and were assimilated into that society.  So much for early Frisii DNA being dominant in the future.

SALIAN FRANKS:

Around 200 AD, proclaiming their own DNA, some Germanic small groups inhabiting the Netherlands emerged as the Salian Franks many of whom settled in Southern Netherlands areas.

Concentrated in the North Sea lowlands, the early Frisians, Chauci, Saxons and Angles were closely related Germanic groups.  Like happens in many close families however, the Chauci later joined with and became Saxons.

These groups expanded after the Romans fell. Some remained in now Southern Netherlands.

EARLY MIDDLE AGES MIGRATION:

As the seas receded, (400 AD to 1000 AD) Germanic groups such as Jutes, Angles and mainly Saxons waded into Northern Netherlands (and eventually all the way to British Isles). The ones who stayed in North Netherlands became ancestors of modern Frisians.

Generally, Frisians and Saxons settled in future Northern Netherlands, and Salian Francs in Southern Netherlands.

VIKING BLOOD:

Viking
Spike, the Bad-ass horny Viking. How did their boats float with all that hardware?

In the ninth century, Danish Vikings wreaked havok in the Netherlands lowlands with raids and attacks. Although they maintained a presence and ruled over parts, there were few permanent settlements.  The DNA that was brought in for this short time seems of lesser influence.  During the Iron Age migration, Germanic hunter gatherer tribes of same or similar descent fled the climate and populated the Netherlands area. The Viking DNA was probably related (but with a nasty mutated mean gene).

1000 AD TO 1600 AD:

The next seven centuries was a culture slug fest with the Netherlands often occupied or at war.  Areas now Germany, Spain, British isles, Italy, the holy Roman Church, and pretty much anyone with a stick, rock or religious robe battled.  Surprisingly, some lucky males survived to spread a “Y” chromosome.

DNA in hand
I survived?  I’ve got this!

There weren’t mass migrations, but significant intermingling.  I imagine with all the battles going on, the general population was able to continue their own DNA propagation within their groups and settlements.

MODERN CENTURIES:

The 17th century forward the Dutch were traders and colonized around the world.  Amsterdam was a top world trade city and people came to stay.  In 1650, according to Cairn.info, 8 percent of the Netherlands was of foreign descent. In the early 1800’s, 85 percent of immigrants were from Germany, Belgium or France, all with similar ancient roots. Currently 11.1 percent of Netherlands population is foreign born.

Transportation improves. Immigration and culture crossover grows. These blending trends will eventually change the Dutch DNA and that of every culture.

Having trouble seeing how any genetic group could retain it’s characteristics over the centuries?  Is it just the luck of the DNA draw from parents, grands and great grands (only one eighth from the greats)?  Maybe, but enter Epigenetics. Is there another factor?

EPIGENETICS:

Epigenetics studies a chemical reaction that influences who we are without altering DNA. Events that happened to our Grandparents can be physically passed down. Studies show events like the “Hunger Winter” in 1944-45 which caused severe malnutrition may have caused children and grandchildren born after to be smaller.

Complex DNA- is there more to it?

Could Dutch physical characteristics be maintained by more than Dutch DNA? Does happiness, physical activity, social society or diet of cheese and herring unknowingly in part “will” them or any culture to retain the classic Dutch look through generations?

Science continues to chime in. I just hope you enjoy knowing a little more about where the Dutch DNA came from.

MY OWN DUTCH DNA CONCLUSIONS:

  • Germanic cultures are ancestors to most of what is North, Central and West Europe.
  • Isolated early groups kept cultural DNA more pure, but still developing uniqueness.
  • Early European migratory cultures had closely related DNA.
  • Migrating cultures joined creating larger unique blended cultures.
  • Culture group wars and spreading populations slowly intermingled DNA for a time.
  • Ancient genetic cultures co-existed adjacent to each other with little intermingling.
  • Genetics is advancing rapidly and will have more answers.
  • DNA data cannot yet determine if the Dutch should have their own DNA classification. If you ask me, I think they might.

Finally, what’s up with Neanderthal bashing?  They were around a million years before salads ran them off!

Please, don’t forget to comment with your own conclusions!

16 COMMENTS

  1. I just learned yesterday that I am H4a….my mother’s mother always told us her mother’s mother’s mother was Dutch (or maybe her mother was lol), and that’s where she got her olive skin; so where did THAT come from? She said the Spanish soldiers way back….(my mother and my sister and I are olive). I also learned that H4a is most prevalent in Poland and Ireland….so glad I stumbled upon this! Europe is just a melting pot too! But still, amazing to be able to trace a maternal line and see the history behind it!!!!!!

    • Lori, there were everything from Eastern European Celts migrating through early, to Spanish wars lasting about a century, to Romans from the south, so as you said, Europe is a melting pot. In addition, Amsterdam was a huge international trade city starting about 600 years ago or so. As DNA databases get larger and better, it will tell us more. DNA is complicated, and although similarities are in higher percentage, siblings can have some completely different strands from one another. Thanks for the response.

  2. I immigrated to Canada ( as a Dutch person) about 5 years ago, and my husband got me a DNA test for my birthday. To my shock it said I had 32% British DNA ( broadly) And the rest was western Europe( Netherlands/Germany) And about 4% Scandinavian. I thought it was a shocking amount, since my mothers family tree goes way back and they are all Dutch. My fathers side are mostly Germans. My husband said that something about low country reference populations etc, but it all became so technical that I hardly understood it all. I think they just do not have enough reference material from Europe. Most of these companies have customers from Canada/USA. I wish a European company would start doing the same. I Might be completely wrong here.

  3. Robina, DNA is an inexact science as far as what we currently know, but advancing. DNA passed from generation to generation is very much, however, a random result of an exact science. Much of DNA sampling is based on the number of DNA samples and associating them all with volunteered data. It is constantly changing as more samples are done. My great grandmother was Portuguese, but I show as 3.6% Portuguese. My wifes Mother was 100% Dutch, yer her dna results show significantly less French/German. (Northern European). DNA currently lives, in my opinion, in generalities. Siblings can recieve completely different DNA strands, though much of their DNA may be common. It makes us all unique. I am fascinated by it, yet not held hostage. Enjoy your journey!

  4. I am adopted and recently did the dna testing through Ancestry and also recently learned much about my biological parents. According to relatives, my mother always claimed to be Dutch so I enjoy learning more about it. I am greatly interested in Epigenetics and hope you write more about this fascinating topic. Thank you for your insight and clever humor.

  5. My family immigrated from Holland 50 years ago. Do you recommend a genetic testing site that serves internationally. I find that most available are only accurate if you family is from the US.

  6. I had my DNA research examined by “23andme”, you are correct, I am Dutch (German, French, but now classified as Netherlands) English, Irish (a big surprise) and Scandinavian. I was born in the Netherlands, have brown eyes and an olive complexion, but my brother is very blond, blue eyed and fair. If the DNA results are correct I would have to believe that some small amounts of our ancestry are not detectable, or that our results just come from mass grouping results.

  7. Anglo-Saxon from Denmark settelled the coast and along the rivers in the Netherlands (Friesland, Groningen, Noord Holland mainly but also Zuid Holland, Zeeland, West Brabant en Utrecht&Betuwe)*. So there is an overlapp with English (30% anglo-saxon DNA in england not wales, scotland etc) and Scandinavians. The South of the Netherlands is considered less Germanic (also not as fair haired) (Limburg, Noord Brabant Oost). The East is more like Germany. So the Dutch are all really different for such a small country and some are a mixed off all those influences.

    * Zie onderzoek Zonen van Adam.

  8. I think what Kenneth Hull is saying is the right answer.
    DNA result is gathering data and the more data is compared and analyzed the better insights we get.
    If you look at the different assessments the test labs provide you also see that some of them provide less and more expensive tests. If that’s the case you should be able to get a more specific insight about you heritage.
    For me the only way to do this right is to check theses facts wenn you make your passport. So you’ll exactly know who’s who.
    But that is probably not an issue at the moment

  9. I am Dutch, but my DNA has no German French at all.
    60% British Irish, Italian, Finish, Viking, Scandanavian makes up the rest with Italian and Finish the biggest part. My husband had the same British Irish 65% with the rest Iberian, Scandanavian and Viking. I always told him looking at his skincolour , your forefathers would have been Spanish. I was not surprise to learn that he had Iberian DNA.
    It is a very interesting subject . I could tracé my father family tree up till 1700 family came from Zeeland. Mums family (she had dark hair en a bit of olive skin and brown eyes) has been influenced from, France or Italy. I am blond and very fair skinned. The Finnish and Viking bit I reckon.

  10. A bit darker skin and dark hair and eyes is actually much longer in the regions of the Netherlands then fair skinned and light hair and eyes. 2 thousands years ago the people looked very much like the iberian Portuguese. But because 1000-2000 years ago the land in north western Europe was still very cold and difficult to work with not so much people lived in north western Europe.When later fair and lighter vikings/danes immigrated because of the low population density the eye colour went quick from 100 to 40% brown which is now the frequency of the white ethnically dutch people.

    The portuguese are quit dfferent from the dutch now but still over 3 times more genetically related to the dutch then greek people for example( according to sforza genetic distance)

  11. You: “Germanic cultures are ancestors to most of what is North, Central and West Europe.”

    Reality: Culture is abstraction. Only people can be ancestors of other people.

    Your sloppy misuse of words reveals an unscientific mind.

  12. Neanderthaler , Roman , Batavian , Saxon ,Celtic , Viking mix, who cares, I am Dutch and proud of it, I gues I am all of the above with a modern mind. Let’s face it, the Dutch wrote history, not for one year,but centuries, such a small nation and roamed and conquered the world, still best boat builders , still always looking to explore unknown things, stubborn as hell and proud of it all, well you are Dutch or you ain’t

  13. According to my personal research into my Y-DNA my “Dutch” ancestry is in fact mostly Celtic as many of the relatives up the tree were from what was then known as Galicia and today is known as Portugal and Spanish Galicia. Port U Gal was called Port U Cale by the Romans and was in fact a reference to the Cale people or Gal, Gaul, Gael, Galician, Galilean people and are descended from the tribes of Zevulun and Issachar which were exiled from Israel in 720 BC and spread from the then Assyrian empire into Europe populating the continent along with several other tribes of Israel. The Celts are descended from these two Israelite tribes and have traditionally settled on coastlines all across the globe. Their Haplogroup is I for Zevulun and R for Issachar, these two have settled together wherever they have gone and that is why the most common groups you see among these two is the I-M253 and R-M269. From all the seafaring nations you will see the I-haplogroup being the most prominent among the people as Zevulun was the first tribe to engage in global seafaring and trading, once ejected from Israel in the Assyrian exile they ended up running the Syro-Phoenician empire and sailing across the globe trading wherever they went. Wherever they have gone they have left their mark by calling name places some version of their Israelite area of origin which was between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee. They settled in Anatolia(modern day Turkey) in an area they called Galatia, then in Iberia(named so after Ever the forefather of the Hebrew peoples) where the other Israelite tribes also settled such as Reuven who were later known as the Franks. In Iberia they settled the Western and Northern parts of the peninsula and called the Western part Galicia with its main port from which they sailed the globe being Port u Gal. The Etruscan & Basque & Catalan people also descend from the Israelites and their original languages were all derivatives of Paleo Hebrew just as the Welsh and Irish language Gaelge and the “Scottish” Gaelic are all derived from the same. I put Scottish in quotation marks as people called Scottish are not actually Scottish a lot of the time! The Scots were a Germanic tribe that came to the British Isles in around 300 AD escaping the ever warring Anglo-Saxons as the Scots were farmers mostly. Nowadays they wrongly assume they were an amalgamation of Picts and Celts which is just not true. The Picts and Celts and Cumbrians were the original Britons occupying all the isles including Ireland and Wales. England was the land formed by the invaders of Britain so when they say Britain has never been conquered they are telling lies! The Anglo-Saxons were the invaders and are generally a people who continually will seek to make war! They still do today, still running most of the UK and the USA they seek out war wherever they go to steal another land’s riches as they are too lazy to work for what they have! They started every war they have ever been in except for where the Saxons started it also being of these same warring people! Anyway I digressed a long way(I’m passionate about accurate history, not that which was imagined by the “historians” of the conquering military forces!) Britain by the way was a name formed from the old Hebrew B’rit Am which means the covenant people(meaning Israelites). When people speak of the Dutch you are first of all speaking of an amalgamation of many different tribes made up of people who fled the Roman Catholic Church who persecuted any who followed their old Israelite ways. The Catholics and talmudic Jews worked hand in hand to maintain the vile Babylonian religion(picked up during the Babylonian exile) and guise it under the banner of Catholic “christianity” and talmudic “Judaism”. The fact is that it had nothing to do with the true history of the Israelites but these vile religions were created to be able to oppress the peoples and control them using the ever popular tactic of divide and rule. The first republic formed in the world was the Republic of the United Netherlands and was formed by those who had fled to the Netherlands away from Catholic persecution and eventually rebelled against the descendants of Charlemagne who held the title of Holy Roman Emperor and religious freedom came to the first republic to be formed at that time in 1588 when the Spanish catholics were finally kicked out. Unfortunately through deceiving large parts of the population the Orange family destroyed the republic and turned the Netherlands into a kingdom in 1809. In 1795 the Republic of the United Netherlands ceased to be and in the interim the Batavian Republic was formed lasting only 14 years before the Orange family finally got their filthy claws into the nation and have since brought it to its knees! Even the land’s national anthem is now a harsh reminder of the fact that the Germans managed to steal the country away from the original peoples of the land! Zevulun and Issachar are only ever interested in two things, seafaring/ trading and farming! The Germanic tribes were only interested in war, obtaining by way of taking by force, always seeking the military option to getting what they want! Yes the Vikings did it too for a while and yes they too are descendants of the Celts/ Gauls or I should call them what they are, Galileans. These were divided into many subclades though and some mixed with Germanic tribes and Frankish tribes. Seafaring is in the blood of each Zevuluni/ Galilean and even the great Tsar Peter came to the Netherlands to learn how to build boats and sail them. They are still the go to people to solve any marine problem you may have such as salvage work at sea of sunken vessels or rescue work, oil rig work at sea etc. Just look at wherever you find seafaring folk and boat building folk and you will find they all share the same DNA, literally!

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