Did you see the Levant DNA region on your Ancestry results? Whether you are first seeing this region in your updated results, or you are brand-new to DNA, you will learn how to understand this region in this post.
If you received this region on your Ancestry DNA results, you are in excellent company. There are millions of Americans and citizens of other countries around the world that had ancestors who called the Levant region home.
The Levant region on AncestryDNA is especially exciting because it is new as of of the September 2021 ethnicity estimate update. People with ancestry in this area will be happy to see a greater level of detail on their results, which will now include the Levant and possibly one or more of several available sub-regions.
Where is the Levant DNA Ethnicity Region located?
The Levant DNA region on Ancestry is located in the area surrounding the Levantine Sea, which is in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many people who live in this region have a common historical and cultural connection due to their shared relationship to the Mediterranean economy, climate, geography, and politics.
This region is often viewed as the crossroads between Asia and the Mediterranean and has always been, and continues to be, essential for the exchange of language, culture, and goods between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The Levant is home to part of the “Fertile Crescent”, and also has been nicknamed the “Cradle of Civilization“.
The map below shows the approximate location of where you are most likely to find people with deep ancestry in the Levant DNA region. You might notice that this region includes parts of what was historically ancient Syria, and extends west to Cairo, Egypt.
In which countries can you find Levant DNA?
The primary countries of the Levant DNA region are Syria, Israel, including Palestine and the West Bank, Jordan, and Lebanon. You might also find that people who live in portions of Egypt, Turkey, and even parts of Iraq, have DNA matching the Levant region.
If you have no known ancestors from the Levant DNA countries I mentioned, I will discuss ideas for how to figure out how you inherited DNA from this region further on in this article.
Which sub-regions are in the Levant DNA region on Ancestry?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, some people might find that they received a sub-region on their Levant DNA results. This sub-region can often provide some clues about which ancestor may have passed DNA matching the region down to you through your more recent ancestors.
Some of the regions include a modern country name in the title, which can help point you in the right direction. For example, if you received Lebanon, you can feel confident that you have relatively recent ancestry in the country of Lebanon.
Currently, the available sub-regions are as follows:
Eastern Mediterranean and Egpyt
- Beruit, Damascus and Sidon Triangle
- Nile Delta
- Northern Coastal Levant
- Southern Lebanon and Northern Israel/Palestine
Northern Lebanon and Mount Lebanon
- Northern Lebanon
- Mount Lebanon
- Israel/Palestine, Beruit and Damascus
- Northern Lebanon and Northwest Syria
- Southern Lebanon and Damascus
AncestryDNA consistently improves the science and technology that it uses for estimating our ethnicity, and regularly updates our DNA results. If you don’t currently have a sub-region in the Levant DNA ethnicity region, be sure to check back periodically to see if your results are updated in the future.
How did you get Levant DNA?
If you have ancestors from any of the countries that I mentioned in the previous section of this post, especially Syria, Israel, including Palestine and the West Bank, Jordan, and Lebanon, then you have very likely inherited some or all of your DNA matching the Levant region through them.
Many people reading this article might have no known ancestors from any of the countries that I have already mentioned. It is possible to have the Levant DNA region in your results, yet have no recent ancestors directly from the region.
There are two scenarios that are the most likely explanations for inheriting DNA from a region even though you have no known ancestry there:
- You may have had ancestors from a neighboring region who had ancestors from the Levant DNA region
- You may have inherited your DNA from the Levant region through ancestors that migrated from any of the Levantine countries to a country where you do have known ancestors
Below, I will expand upon these two explanations.
Your Levant DNA region may be from an ancestor from a nearby region
It is always possible that your Levant DNA was inherited through an ancestor who was from a country immediately adjacent to the Levant DNA region. For example, if you have ancestors from Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, or Greece, and all of your other ancestors have no known connection to anywhere near the Levant region, this ancestor could be a possible source of your DNA matching the Levant Region.
It is very common to inherit DNA matching regions that are nearby where we know that our ancestors lived, especially nearby regions. Humans are excellent at moving around and always have been, which is why we are sometimes surprised at our ethnicity estimate.
You may have inherited DNA from this region indirectly through ancestors who migrated away from the Levant
If you have no known ancestry from any of the Levant countries or neighboring countries, you may have inherited your DNA from more distant ancestors who migrated away from the region to a “third country”. Meaning, not the country that you and your parents live in now, or any of the countries directly located in the Levant region.
For example, it is well-known that there has been extensive migration from Lebanon to many countries in Latin America, such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico. Many of the descendants of the Lebanese diaspora in these and other countries have migrated to additional countries, such as the United States.
This is just one example of how we can indirectly inherit DNA from a region through an ancestor from a third country.
How to trace your ancestors from the Levant?
In order to trace your ancestry from the Levant DNA region on your AncestryDNA ethnicity estimate, you should first consider what you already know about your family. For example, most people know who their parents and grandparents are, where they were born.
Some lucky people know a bit more about their family, such as who their great-grandparents were, and possibly even some of their great-great grandparents.
No matter how much you already know about your family, and especially how you may have gotten Levant DNA in your results, I would recommend putting everything that you know down in a family tree. There are many great places online to build a family tree, such as on Ancestry.
Ancestry is a great place to build a simple family tree because you will get access to additional features, such as Common Ancestor Hints and Ancestry ThruLines, if you build your tree on their site and attach your DNA results to your family tree.
Fortunately, building a tree is much easier than it sounds, and it’s also a fun way to keep track of everything that you learn while you try to discover more about your ancestry in the Levant region.
Once you put everything that you already know into your family tree, you can talk to your older relatives to see what they can tell you about their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. You might even be surprised with a photograph or document belonging to an ancestor that you have never seen before.
Sometimes, we discover through talking with our parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, that someone in our family has already begun researching a line of the family tree. This is a great detail to know, since you can often share your research with relatives, since it helps both of you out.
After speaking with your older family members, you might have an idea as to which line of the family tree has an ancestor born in the Levant region. You can begin carefully researching your grandparents and great-grandparents, and even great-great grandparents, finding documents such as vital records, census records, and other genealogy documents that provide you with information about where they may have been born.
The percentage of Levant DNA showing in your results can occasionally provide us with clues as to how far back we might have to look in your family tree to find the ancestor from whom you likely inherited it. For example, if you have only 2% Levant DNA on Ancestry, you might find that your ancestry from the region is as far back as 6-8 generations (i.e. 4th-6th great-grandparents).
If you have a higher percentage of DNA matching the Levant, such as 25%, and you only have this ancestry in one line of your family tree, your ancestry in the region might be more recent. This means that you could be looking for a grandparent who was born in one of the countries listed above.
It is important to note that we can inherit DNA matching a region from both of our parents. If you think that both of your parents may have had ancestry in the region, or if you show more than 50% on your results, then you might be looking for multiple ancestors from the Levant region in your family tree.
Family tree research is going to be the key to learning more about your Levant ancestry, and I have lots of articles on this site to help you. You can also check out my book on the topic for more help.
I hope that this post has helped you understand more about the fascinating Levant DNA region on Ancestry, how you may have inherited DNA matching this part of the world, and how you can trace your Levant heritage.
If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to share the percentage of your DNA that matches this region and whether you know which ancestor you likely inherited it from, I would love to hear from you in the discussion below.
Thanks for reading today!