Haplogroup I is a descendant (subclade) of haplogroup N1e'I (Behar 2012b) and sibling of haplogroup N1e (Behar 2012b). It is believed to have arisen somewhere in Eurasia between 17,263 and 24,451 years before present (Behar 2012b). It has been suggested that its origin may be in Iran or more generally the Near East (Terreros 2011).
It is noteworthy that, with the exception of its northern neighbor Azerbaijan, Iran is the only population in which haplogroup I exhibits polymorphic levels. Also, a contour plot based on the regional phylogeographic distribution of the I haplogroup exhibits frequency clines consistent with an Iranian cradle... Moreover, when compared with other populations in the region, those from the Levant (Iraq, Syria and Palestine) and the Arabian Peninsula (Oman and UAE) exhibit signiﬁcantly lower proportions of I individuals... It should be noted that this haplogroup has been detected in European groups (Krk, a tiny island off the coast of Croatia (11.3%), and Lemko, an isolate from the Carpathian Highlands (11.3%)) at comparable frequencies to those observed in the North Iranian population. However, the higher frequencies of the haplogroup within Europe are found in geographical isolates and are likely the result of founder effects and/or drift... it is plausible that the high levels of haplogroup I present in Iran may be the result of a localized enrichment through the action of genetic drift or may signal geographical proximity to the location of origin.
Haplogroup I ... dates to ∼25 ka ago and is overall most frequent in Europe..., but the facts that it has a frequency peak in the Gulf region and that its highest diversity values are in the Gulf, Anatolia, and southeast Europe suggest that its origin is most likely in the Near East and/or Arabia...
Haplogroup I is present across West Asia, Central Asia, and at trace frequencies in South Asia. Its highest frequency is perhaps in northern Iran (9.7%). Terreros 2011 notes that it also has high diversity there and reiterates past studies that have suggested that this may be its place of origin. Found in Svan population from Georgia(Caucasus) I* 4.2%. The table below shows some of the populations where it has been detected.
In Western Europe, haplogroup I is most common in Northwestern Europe (Norway, the Isle of Skye, and the British Isles). The frequency in these areas is between 2 and 5 percent. Its highest frequency in Brittany, France where it is over 9 percent of the population in Finistere. It is uncommon and sometimes absent in other parts of Western Europe (Iberia, Sweden, South-West France, and parts of Italy).
In Eastern Europe, the frequency of haplogroup I is generally lower than in Western Europe (1 to 3 percent), but its frequency is more consistent between populations with fewer places of extreme highs or lows. There are two notable exceptions. Nikitin 2009 found that Lemkos (a sub- or co-ethnic group of Rusyns) in the Carpathian mountains have the "highest frequency of haplogroup I (11.3%) in Europe, identical to that of the population of Krk Island (Croatia) in the Adriatic Sea".[Footnote 1][Footnote 2]
Haplogroup I has so far been absent from ancient European samples found in Paleolithic and Mesolithic grave sites. However, early examples have been found in Neolithic Spain (c. 5000 cal BC in Paternanbidea) and in Corded Ware and Unetice Culture burials in Saxony (Brandt 2013). It has been noted at significant frequencies in more recent historic grave sites (Melchior 2008 and Hofreiter 2010).
We have previously observed a high frequency of Hg I's among Iron Age villagers (Bøgebjerggård) and individuals from the early Christian cemetery, Kongemarken , . This trend was also found for the additional sites reported here, Simonsborg, Galgedil and Riisby. The overall frequency of Hg I among the individuals from the Iron Age to the Medieval Age is 13% (7/53) compared to 2.5% for modern Danes . The higher frequencies of Hg I can not be ascribed to maternal kinship, since only two individuals share the same common motif (K2 and K7 at Kongemarken). Except for Skovgaarde (no Hg I's observed) frequencies range between 9% and 29% and there seems to be no trend in relation to time. No Hg I's were observed at the Neolithic Damsbo and the Bronze Age site Bredtoftegård, where all three individuals harboured Hg U4 or Hg U5a (Table 1).
The frequency of haplogroup I may have undergone a reduction in Europe following the Middle Ages. An overall frequency of 13% was found in ancient Danish samples from the Iron Age to the Medieval Age (including Vikings) from Denmark and Scandinavia compared to only 2.5% in modern samples. As haplogroup I is not observed in any ancient Italian, Spanish [contradicted by the above, "early examples have been found in Neolithic Spain (c. 5000 cal BC in Paternanbidea)"], British, central European populations, early central European farmers and Neolithic samples, according to the authors "Haplogroup I could therefore have been an ancient Southern Scandinavian type “diluted” by later immigration events" (Hofreiter 2010).
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