Puzzling DNA: European with Trace Amounts of Asian

It’s not uncommon for a DNA ethnicity test to come back with a surprise. However, I might have underestimated how surprising my mom’s results were.

It’s been about nine months since my mom’s Ancestry DNA test results came back. I highly recommend the test, by the way. I have found so many cousins, along with a wealth of knowledge, photos, and confirmation.

I have my mom’s family tree fleshed out except for the parents of her great-great-grandmother. Besides that, I can tell you we are European. Everything I’ve found points to England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Germany. Here are her results:


1% Asia South (India) and 2% Caucasus (Armenia, Turkey, etc.) puzzled me. I am just now diving into those results to learn more about these trace amounts. For reference, here is how much DNA you inherit from your grandparents:

YOU 100%
Parents 50%
Grandparents 25%
Great-grandparents 12.50%
Gr-Gr-Grandparents (2) 6.25%
Gr-Gr-Gr-Grandparents (3) 3.125%
Gr-Gr-Gr-Gr-Grandparents (4)  1.56%
Gr-Gr-Gr-Gr-Gr-Grandparents (5)  .78%

You don’t typically get EXACTLY 3.125% from each third great-grandparent. DNA is random, and splits randomly in each generation. You could possibly get only 1% or a different percentage. It’s tricky.

I also am not a DNA wiz by any means. My first thought was maybe this was in error…a fluke. I used GEDmatch.com, which is a free tool that you can upload your raw DNA file to. It has many different “admixture” heritage generators. While each one produced different results, one thing was clear: my mom has some Asian DNA.

What I do not understand is where this came from. Judging by the chart above, I would *guess* one of her third great-grandparents would be almost full-blooded South/West Asian. Or perhaps some great-great-greats were part Asian and passed it down. 3% seems like it would be *far* back, *thousands* of years ago, but looking at the chart above, it doesn’t seem that way.

I posted in a AncestryDNA group on Facebook to get some opinions. I got a few surprising responses. People said this could indicate “gypsy” DNA. That was one thing I had not considered. After doing some research, South Asian DNA is prominent in Romani gypsies, not Irish Travellers. The Romani gypsies (forgive me if I don’t use the right terminology here) were ran out of India, and migrated through the West Asia/Caucasus region, and into Great Britain and other parts of the world. They were even in the USA by the 1700s. (More info at this link.)

Interesting. Somehow I still feel like I am grasping at straws, as the saying goes. Like I said before, I have researched my mom’s family tree fairly well. The only person I don’t know much about is her great-great-grandmother, Becky Ann Dial, and I don’t want to assign her a false heritage. I have viewed my mother’s Dial family matches on Ancestry, and while some have Caucasus DNA, they do not have South Asian. I have also viewed other close DNA matches, but cannot seem to find a common link for the 3% Asian DNA.

Maybe the Asian DNA came from multiple sources…but considering I know the history of most of branches, I don’t see how this is possible.

If you have any tips for me in my search for our Asian DNA origins, please contact me at downhomegenealogy@gmail.com.

12 thoughts on “Puzzling DNA: European with Trace Amounts of Asian

  1. Matrin

    Hi , I also did a DNA heritage test and the results were 96.2% irish i expected this, the remaining 3.8% was broken down into 0.9% south asian and 2.9% west asian, no other european other than irish and i dont know of any asian connection, i am thinking could this be romany gypsy? Martin


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  3. Cassie

    My DNA results are pretty much exactly the same to the results you posted above!

    I thought the S. Asian might be an error but when my Dad was tested he too had Ireland as his highest (with some extra DNA that didn’t show on mine) but also matched me with 5% Iberian and 1% South Asian.

    I have researched lots and it always comes back to ‘Gypsy DNA’ or ‘Ancient Gypsy’. Iberian I was told also plays a part and could link you to a settlement of Spanish Gypsies (as they fled to European Countries).

    I just thought it was interesting that we all had Irish DNA as well as South Asian!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kane V Walker

        Hi thru Ancestry DNA i got highest Irish DNA at 30% and i dont know any living relations who are Irish except an unknown granddad who no one will tell me who he was. I have 1% south Asian too and when uploaded on Gedmatch it actually shows this abit higher. I dont think its noise as a couple of chromosomes are above 5% and its on ‘nearly’ every single one in 1% to 3% missing about 4. Thru Harrappa it shows a mixture of NE euro 49.5%, Mediterean 30.5%, Baloch 7.5 % and south Asian 5.5% rest is about 5 random places under 1% another chart says puntDNAL 15 says NE europe 56.5% Caucasion 9.5% Mediterean 29.5% South Asian 1.5%. thru paper trail i found a description ‘traveller’ in a 1700 but im only back as far as 1800 mostly.


  4. ballybroodboy

    i commented above on my DNA results, I did some research and i feel i have tried everything to locate my great grandmothers birth cert on my dads mom side, she was born in lemington in warwickshire in england circa 1860 to 1865, i am thinking this is the link to my west asian and south asian dna, i wonder does anyone know if there was many romany gypsies in this area around this time? any help would be much appreciated. Martin


  5. Appley

    Hi, I’m new to all this as well! I’ve just recieved my Ancestry results back showing: 55% Great Britain, 33% Irish. Then in the lower confidence I had 5% Europe South (highlighted Italy and Greece) 3% Finland, 3% Iberian Peninsula, then Europe West and Scandinavia less than 1%.

    I’ve uploaded my Raw data to Gedmatch and used Eurogenes EUtest V2 K15 test, these are the results:
    # Population Percent
    1 Atlantic 35.49
    2 North_Sea 31.64
    3 West_Med 8.34
    4 Baltic 7.51
    5 Eastern_Euro 7.33
    6 West_Asian 6.56
    7 South_Asian 1.53
    8 East_Med 0.71
    9 Northeast_African 0.34
    10 Red_Sea 0.31
    11 Siberian 0.26

    The Gedmatch seem to mirror my Ancestry DNA results, except for the Baltics and the West Asian and South Asian.

    I’ve gone back on my family tree to around mid 1700 and as per the results its predominantly South East England, Warwick, London and Ireland…I also have a 7th great grandfather that is French and my Grandads Mothers maiden name was Dackus which we believed to be dutch (this isn’t showing up in any results although on Ancestry Great Britain does seem to highlight Belgium, Netherlands and parts of France)

    So my question is where do these West Asia, South Asia and West Med come from?? A lot of research has suggested perhaps Romany linage? But ive not come across any of my Family names in the research (Appleby, Young, Weedon, Gauron, Higgins, Butler)

    Many thanks


    1. Daniel Anderson

      My niece did a DNA test and we were puzzled when the results came back 5.7% West Asian. Turns out I have 8th great grandfather that was born in Israel. Still 5.7% seems high does it not?


  6. Marianne Harvey

    I have also a puzzling asian dna. I know I have native american ancestry but I sort out roma or south asian on some test. Whit Iran, Turkey and Caucasus. That is not typical for native american. This part is probably Roma. It goes from 2 to 6 % so it not so far.


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