Janssen/Phelan Family History
Our Cro-Magnon Heritage
In the Beginning . . .
About 45,000 years ago, my ancestors migrated northward across the Arabian peninsula and eastward through Iran. At this time they were most likely grassland hunters, killing mammoths, buffalo, and other large game for food. They continued to move east, chasing prey, until they came to the Himalayas, which certainly would be enough to make anyone stop and reconsider their route. Here the human population split up into several groups, some heading east to Asia, some south to India, or, in the case of my ancestors, heading north to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia.
At this point, around 35,000 years ago, the planet was going through an ice age. While the cold weather didn’t have much effect on them when they were chasing dinner across the southern plains, the migrating hunters required some new skills in order to adapt to the cold in the north. They learned to sew and began to wear animal skins. My branch of ancestors took a left turn at this point, and headed towards Europe. They were not the first people to settle that continent; the land was already inhabited by Neanderthals. The newcomers were smarter and better hunters than the Neanderthals, and outcompeted them for food. By about 28,000 years ago all the Neanderthals had died out. Recent scientific research has uncovered solid genetic evidence that there was some interbreeding between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals, so we all carry a little bit of them in our DNA.
Myself and other members of haplogroup R1B (M343) are the direct descendants of those Cro-Magnon hunters who moved into Europe 35,000 years ago. Evidence of their existence remains in the tools they carved out of stone and bone, and the cave paintings that survive from the Paleolithic era. Eventually, at some point in the next 35,000 years, my father’s father’s father’s father ended up in the Netherlands, and the rest, as they say, is history.