Haplogroup E1b1b1a2 as a Possible Indicator of Settlement in Roman Britain by Soldiers of Balkan Origin

Bird  et al 2007


The invasion of Britain by the Roman military in CE 43, and the subsequent occupation of Britain for nearly four centuries, brought thousands of soldiers from the Balkan peninsula to Britain as part of auxiliary units and as regular legionnaires.  The presence of Haplogroup E1b1ba-M78 among the male populations of present-day Wales, England and Scotland, and its nearly complete absence among the modern male population of Ireland, provide a potential genetic indicator of settlement during the 1st through 4th Centuries CE by Roman soldiers from the Balkan peninsula and their male Romano-British descendants.  Haplotype data from several major genetic surveys of Britain and Ireland are examined, analyzed and correlated with historical, epigraphic and archaeological information, with the goal of identifying any significant phylogeographic associations between E1b1b1a-M78 and those known Romano-British settlements and military posts that were associated specifically with Roman soldiers of Balkan origin.  Studies by Cruciani et al. (2007), Perečić et al. (2005), and Marjanovic et al. (2005), examining the distribution of E1b1b1a-M78 and E1b1b1a2-V13 in the Balkans, are analyzed further to provide evidence of phylogeographic associations between the E1b1b1a2 haplotypes identified within the Balkans by these studies and those regions of the Balkans occupied first by the Roman army in antiquity.  E1b1b1a2-V13 is found to be at its highest frequency worldwide in the geographic region corresponding closely to the ancient Roman province of Moesia Superior, a region that today encompasses Kosovo, southern Serbia, northern Macedonia and extreme northwestern Bulgaria.  The Balkan studies also provide evidence to support the use of E1b1b1a-M78 (in the present study) as a close proxy for the presence of E1b1b1a2-V13 (representing 85% of the parent E1b1b1a-M78 clade) in both the Balkans and in Britain.