MyTrueAncestry for Ancient DNA

Melanie Mohler

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MyTrueAncestry is a company that compares your DNA results to ancient DNA samples. Keep reading to learn how to use MyTrueAncestry for ancient DNA.

You’ve taken a DNA test and you’ve looked back at several generations of your ancestors, but maybe you want to look even farther back than that, by a few thousand years. MyTrueAncestry, allows you to do just that by comparing your DNA to ancient DNA samples. Jayne Ekins, one of our DNA experts, provides some additional insight on ancient DNA and what you can learn from a site like MyTrueAncestry.

MyTrueAncestry

MyTrueAncestry (sometimes styled as “My True Ancestry”) is a Swiss company started in 2019. Their mission is to help take your DNA results a step farther to discover your ancient relatives. They do this by comparing your DNA results to those of the remains of 10,000+ ancient individuals from archaeological sites of 150 ancient civilizations. The DNA samples they’re using come from high-quality raw samples of DNA from teeth, bones, or other human remains that are available to the public on online academic databases, such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). MyTrueAncestry then uses data triangulation and clustering to categorize and compare your DNA to the ancient DNA samples.

Ancient DNA

Before we dive further into MyTrueAncestry’s features, our science writer Jayne Ekins further explains ancient DNA:

Ancient DNA is an important tool in research settings. Most of what we know about the genetic characteristics of the ancient world comes from what has been inherited over thousands of generations to the genomes of living people today.

Ancient DNA is more difficult to work with in the lab than modern samples because it is degraded and easily contaminated by anyone who might touch it without careful safeguards. When an ancient specimen is found in the field and able to give clean data in the lab, scientists can often learn new details about human history that weren’t apparent from modern people. Scientists find that there are DNA lineages that have died out over time and are no longer represented in living people on earth today.

How do you use MyTrueAncestry?

MyTrueAncestry is not a testing site. You’ll have to upload your DNA file that you’ve received from a consumer DNA testing company. You can upload autosomal, YDNA, mtDNA, or whole genome results to MyTrueAncestry. Your upload to MyTrueAncestry is anonymous and encrypted, and the analysis of your DNA takes 10 minutes to complete. After your DNA results are processed, your uploaded data is immediately deleted.

MyTrueAncestry features

Once your DNA is uploaded, you can then use MyTrueAncestry’s features and generated reports. Some of these features are available for free, while others you have to pay to use or utilize to the full extent.

Ancient Sample Breakdown: This breakdown gives you a pie chart showing the percentages of relationship you have to certain ancient civilizations. You can then learn more about these civilizations with information provided on their site.

Maps: MyTrueAncestry uses your DNA results to generate maps to show where your ancient DNA matches lived. Other maps available at certain levels show the dig sites where the ancient samples you match came from, migration paths, and other historical maps that can span over 5,000 years.

Timelines: MyTrueAncestry also generates timelines to show when your ancient matches lived. This visualization is very helpful, especially when you’re dealing with years in BC and AD.

Populations: The Populations feature does not use your uploaded DNA results, but allows you to see genetic distances that have already been determined between select groups. For example, you can compare modern groups such as Czech to other contemporary populations: Austrian, East German, Hungarian, etc. (see image below). Comparisons can be accomplished by autosomal DNA, or strictly male or female lineages. Genetic distances between modern and ancient populations can also be viewed in this feature.

To use this feature, you’ll select a modern group from a drop down menu. You will then see a list of modern groups that have the closest genetic distance to the group you’ve selected. There are tabs to compare autosomal, YDNA, mtDNA, and ancient populations. This feature does not use your uploaded DNA results and is only for reference. Below is an example of selecting Czech as a modern group and the other modern populations most closely related looking at autosomal DNA.

Royalty: The ‘Royalty’ feature shows royal or other significant historic/ancient figures (e.g., Beethoven, Louis XVI, Otzi the Iceman) that share Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroup lineages with you. You’ll have to enter your Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroups to use this feature, so you will have to use a testing service that gives this information to use this feature.

How much does MyTrueAncestry cost?

MyTrueAncestry offers 11 different plans at different pricing levels for a one-time fee. The “Commoner” level is free; all you need to do is make an account and upload your DNA file. The free account allows you to upload one DNA test and compares your results to 10 ancient DNA samples and 2 outlier samples. There are also basic maps, 2-D PCA (another way of showing genetic distance of your DNA in relation to the comparison samples), 1 DNA Castle (a feature that isn’t explained at all), and 5 paleo diet foods (which also isn’t explained) included in the “Commoner” level account. You should know that if you use the “Commoner” level, your results will expire in 48 hours. You’ll need to pay to upgrade to a higher level if you want to keep your results.

The first level that requires payment, “Footman,” is $37. The highest level is “Cartographer” and is $1,848. There are also extra packages that you can purchase, such as Personal Traits, Cartographer Add-on Package, or Avatar Package.

My True Ancestry level comparison

If you decide to upgrade to a higher level, you only pay the difference between levels. For example, if you currently had a $100 “King” level and wanted to upgrade to the $844 “Enlightenment” level, you would pay the $744 difference to upgrade.

Is MyTrueAncestry legitimate?

Is MyTrueAncestry legitimate? Jayne weighs in:

MyTrueAncestry uses data from real ancient samples and tried-and-true methods to draw comparisons with your DNA. So yes, you are getting a real reading on your genetic distance between these ancient individuals and your own DNA. But as a genealogist, it’s important to understand that these ancient comparisons will not give you much resolution power for modern relationships you might be interested in.

For genealogists who want to find living relatives, MyTrueAncestry isn’t useful, since it only shows you matches with ancient DNA samples. You can’t search for or match with modern individuals on the site. But MyTrueAncestry is a fun tool to learn more about the history and archaeology of ancient civilizations which have closer genetic similarity to you.

Where else can you find your ancient DNA results?

MyTrueAncestry isn’t the only place where you can learn about the DNA you share with ancient populations. Both FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe DNA tests also provide details about your ancient history.

FamilyTreeDNA is the only testing company that offers YDNA and mtDNA tests. These tests can tell you which haplogroups you descend from, from your paternal and maternal lines, respectively. These haplogroups go thousands of years back and show migration patterns.

23andMe offers a Neanderthal Ancestry Report, which shows how much Neanderthal DNA you have. Your DNA is analyzed with over 2,000 Neanderthal genetic markers to determine how many of those markers you share and how you compare to other 23andMe testers in terms of Neanderthal DNA.

Knowing about these extinct ancient lineages can give us a more complete picture of ancient human relationships, migrations, and timeframes of civilization developments. For you as a consumer comparing your own genome to ancient DNA samples, there may be limited utility in what you might learn beyond what is already available from databases based on modern samples (like FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe). These other databases can also help you draw connections to ancient populations. Using MyTrueAncestry is more of an exercise of appreciating the novelty nature of their various reports, rather than finding out new information about your ancient connections that isn’t already available elsewhere.

Looking at MyTrueAncestry’s different ancient civilizations may have gotten you more curious about your modern ethnicities. Check out our FREE ethnicity guide to understand how your DNA can help connect you to modern (and relatively recent) places and cultures.

FREE Guide for Modern Ethnicity Estimates

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