The GEDmatch Dodecad Project (Explained For Beginners) – Data Mining DNA (2023)

The Dodecad project on GEDmatch was one of the first admixture tools on the website. The other projects are based on the original Dodecad software.

It’s important to remember that the admixture projects aimed to research ancient populations. You may get some insight into modern ethnicity, but it largely depends on how your heritage aligns with the DNA samples used in the analysis.

This article reviews the Dodecad calculators and lists out the modern populations that may best align with the project. That should help you assess which (if any) of the Dodecad calculators are useful for you.

Table of Contents

Origins Of The Dodecad Project

From the late 2000s, a small number of bloggers were researching and writing about anthropology and genetics outside the traditional university environments.

Their independent analysis was made possible by international genome projects that put a wide variety of DNA samples into the public domain.

Some of the genetic analysis tools used by university departments also became available as open-source software. Open-source means that they are available to download and use for free (as long as proper credit is given).

One popular application allowed a DNA sample to be compared to hundreds (or thousands) of reference samples. The idea was that you carefully choose reference samples that represent a single ethnicity or geographic region.

The software would go to work on the target sample and eventually spit out a percentage breakdown of similarity with the reference samples. In other words, the admixture percentages.

Enter Dienekes

In 2010, a Greek blogger turned his attention to using open-source tools to look at ancient ethnicity patterns. This blogger writes under the psuedonym of Dienekes Pontikos.

Dienekes felt that the big academic genome studies were overly focused on west European DNA. So he set out to study other European populations.

The Original Dodecad Project

Dienekes already had a blog that focused on anthropology and population migration. He put out a call for readers to send him copies of their raw DNA files from 23andMe. This was his original goal:

To build samples of individuals for regions of the world (e.g. Greeks, Finns, Albanians, Southern Italians, etc.) currently under-represented in publicly available datasets.

Dodecad blog

Notice that he didn’t want English, Celtic, French and German samples. He felt these were already well-researched.

Nor was he looking for African samples, despite those also (still) being highly under-represented. Dienekes tried to keep a tight focus within his original project. He would expand later into other regions.

(Video) Tips For Reading Your GEDmatch Oracle & Spreadsheet Results

Dienekes also developed his own versions of the analytics tools. In a crucial move (for GEDmatch), he made the desktop software available as an open-source download. He called this the DIYDodecad.

Spawning More Projects

Dieneke’s open-source offering allowed other anthropology bloggers to use and amend his analytics software for their own interests.

Several projects quickly appeared on other anthropology blogs. These had names like MDLP, Eurogenes, and Harappa. If those monikers sound familiar, you’ll have seen them in the list of GEDmatch admixture projects.

But before they appeared on GEDmatch, they were run as part of individual blogs. This caught the eye of the renowned Nature research journal. They covered the phenomenon in late 2010 in an article titled “The Rise Of the Genome Blogger”.

I’ve mentioned that these were independent bloggers. Each tweaked the software in ways they felt produced “better” results. Some collaborated, but there was outright hostility amongst others. When you’re evaluating the different projects, it’s worth remembering that some creators felt that rival projects were very misleading! And vice-versa.

GEDmatch Dodecad – An Inauspicious Start

Around the same time as Dienekes had launched his new Dodecad blog, the GEDmatch website was launched by two co-founders.

GEDmatch had a small team of voluntary programmers. At some point, they got interested in the open-source software that Dienekes had put online for download.

Another blogger, Zack Ajmal, had already co-opted the software for his own project. Ajmal worked with the GEDmatch developers to create a web version of the desktop software. In other words, they produced a modified version that could run on the GEDmatch website.

The GEDmatch team launched a new Admixture section as part of their free tools. They loaded up several projects, including a version of Dodecad.

The problem is that they didn’t provide the appropriate credit to the original developer. Dienekes was understandably annoyed when he spotted an altered version of his work on the website.

Thankfully, the GEDmatch guys got in touch with him and addressed the attribution issues. They had briefly removed the admixture tools, but now it was full steam ahead on the website.

The Dodecad Calculators

The next sections will go thorugh the different tools within the project itself. These are the various “calculators”.

But quickly – what is a “calculator”? It’s a specific version of the software that tries to produce the best results for a set of populations. So, if your ancestors were all from Olde England, you’ll probably steer towards different calculators to those used by people of Asian descent.

Dodecad V3

The original Dodecad calculator was aimed at what Dienekes called “Eurasia”. What’s that, you ask?

Always bear in mind that these labels were assigned by the project creators. They may not correspond to academic or lay usage.

So, I’ll take the list straight from the source:

  • People of Greeks, Cypriots, and Turkish descent
  • People from the Anatolia, Balkans, and the Caucasus
  • Armenians, Iranians, Assyrians, and Arabs
  • Jews from Italy, the Balkans, or Anatolia
  • Non-Indo-European speakers from Europe (e.g., Finns, Hungarians, Basques)
  • Scandinavians and Icelanders
  • Italians

Dienekes tweaked the calculator a few times, and the last version is up on GEDmatch as Dodecad V3. If your heritage is in the list above, you may want to take this calculator for a spin.

(Video) GEDMatch Oracle Spreadsheets

However, Dienekes created other calculators as he worked to improve his findings. Read on.

Dodecad World9

The next Dodecad calculator on GEDmatch has the misleading name of “World9”. That may sound like it represents all populations of the world. But spot the “9” at the end.

This was an amendment to a project (not on GEDmatch) that targeted seven of his “Eurasia” populations.

World9 was an attempt to add indigenous Americans (Amerindians) and Australians (Australasians). In other words, an extra two populations from other parts of the world. Hence…World9.

This is a link to the blog page.

It’s important to take note of Dienekes cautious note about Americans researching their native lines. As a general rule, these projects aren’t great for people with mixed heritage.

Dodecad K12b and K7b

More and more people were sending their DNA results to Dienekes. As he continued to expand his work, he produced the K12 and K7 calculators.

The numbers refer to how many regions or communities are considered within the calculations. One has 12 regions and the other has seven.

And why “b”? Well, these are the second iteration of the calculators.

Both K12 and K7 are based on the same reference data set. It’s just that K12 breaks them down into more specific regions.

Don’t be mistaken that more is better. The higher the number of regions, the fewer samples are in each region. And therefore, the confidence levels (accuracy) go down.

These are the twelve regions that Dienekes identified and labeled:

  • Caucasus
  • Siberian
  • Atlantic_Med
  • North_European
  • East_Asian
  • South_Asian
  • Southwest_Asian
  • Southeast_Asian
  • Northwest_African
  • East_African
  • Sub_Saharan
  • Gedrosia (explained in the next section)

Remember that these labels (as in every project) are assigned by the project creator. For example, North_European may not mean what you think it means. If you want to dig deeper, then this spreadsheet matches the reference samples to the project’s labels.

Dodecad Gedrosia

Never heard of Gedrosia? It’s a historic region of Asia that was invaded by Alexander the Great. You’ll find a map at this link.

Remember, the Dodecad project isn’t a peer-reviewed academic study. It’s a project developed by one individual pursuing personal areas of interest. And if you dive into Dienekes’ pursuits, you may find a rather Hellenic perspective of the world. And that’s fine. Other projects have different slants.

If you decide to take a closer look at the Gedrosia breakdown, you may have similar questions as someone posed on the Dodecad blog.

Do you have any theories as to why the Gedrosia component is relatively high in the Irish sample compared to other European populations?

(Video) Turkish DNA modellings

Blog comment

And this was the answer from the project creator:

My guess is that Central Asia has something to do with it, and there is a latent element that is beyond our reach using modern populations, because Central Asia has been much changed due to the arrival of Turkic peoples.

Dienekes reply

So, now we’re getting into speculative anthropology. Which is pretty much what these projects were invented for. I chuckled when I first read the answer, as it seemed to be the perfect piece of hand-waving. Those latent elements are always useful when an anomaly cannot be explained. But to be fair, it’s a clear acknowledgment of the limitations of using modern DNA samples to predict ancient heritage.

Alternative Gedrosia Calculators

The Dodecad projects date back to 2011/2012, and haven’t been more recently updated on GEDmatch. However, there have been some major finds of ancient human remains since that date.

The GedrosiaDNA project has calculators that were uploaded in 2016/2017. These calculators target heritage from the Gedrosian region, and uses a selection of more recent archaic DNA discoveries. We have a full article on the GEDmatch Gedrosia project here.

Dodecad Africa9

Dienekes expanded the Dodecad project to include a calculator for African heritage.

Below are the nine populations in the breakdown. These labels are defined by the project creator, and may not represent modern usage.

  • Biaka
  • Mbuti
  • San
  • North West Africa
  • East Africa
  • Southern Africa
  • West Africa
  • South West Asia
  • Europe

The reference samples were gathered from public genome projects and supplemented with volunteer DNA samples sent to the project blog. You can see how the project samples fall within the populations in this spreadsheet.

Dienekes has a very specific warning about who this project is and isn’t useful for.

It should be used only by Africans and African-West Eurasian admixed individuals. It is not meant for people with additional admixture (e.g., South/East Asian or Native American).

To be clear, this means that your heritage should preferably be entirely African. If you are of mixed heritage, the non-African side should be “West Eurasian”.

So, what the heck is West Eurasian?

It’s not always easy to tell whether the population labels in these projects refer to the academic consensus on these terms. Bear in mind that some of Dienekes views on anthropology and population migration go against the mainstream.

West Eurasian broadly covers northern and western Europe and extends through the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire. If you want to dive into it, you can use the search box on the blog.

If you’re looking for alternatives, I have a roundup of the best GEDmatch calculators for African heritage.

Dodecad Vs Eurogenes

The creators of the Dodecad and Eurogenes projects had a prickly relationship. The genome bloggers weren’t constrained by academic niceties. Their arguments sometimes descended into flame wars that spilled out of their blogs and onto other anthropology forums.

You can get a feel for this from Dienekes’ rather provocatively titled article: Eurogenes is upset.

(Video) GEDmatch Oracle (and TEOTW’s “Autosomal Israelites”)

Dienekes describes Eurogenes as rude, ungrateful, and mean-spirited. Eurogenes (Davidski) makes a few choice comments underneath the article, including calling Dienekes a prat.

The entire exchange is embarrassing. This particular dispute revolves around which of Ukrainians or Poles are more Western European (I’m paraphrasing). That’s a quite specific issue.

But both men have a more serious dispute about the credibility of each others’ calculators. The issue revolves around whether the calculators can be accurate for people who weren’t part of the original project. Yes, that’s you and me.

If you want to read the arguments and rebuttals, here’s Eurogenes and here’s Dienekes.

If you don’t have the time or the energy, I’ll summarize here. Both guys agreed there was a problem. Both guys say the issue is fixed in their own projects but is present in the other. Hope that explains everything.

But if you want a pictorial representation, then the double-spiderman meme never fails.

The GEDmatch Dodecad Project (Explained For Beginners) – Data Mining DNA (1)

How To Use The GEDmatch Dodecad Calculators

Do you need a step-by-step guide to using the Dodecad calculators?

We have a separate tutorial that covers interpreting your admixture display using the GEDmatch Oracle utility and spreadsheets. The guide specifically uses the Dodecad project as an example, although it applies to all other projects.

Other GEDmatch Admixture Projects

We have a detailed run through of several other GEDmatch projects:

  • Using the Eurogenes project
  • The GEDmatch MDLP project
  • The PuntDNAL Project
  • HarappaWorld project for South Asian heritage
  • The EthioHelix project for African heritage
  • Gedrosia DNA project for Eurasian heritage

Alternative Ways To Research Ethnicity

If you’re interested in researching your recent ethnic heritage, then you should look at alternatives to the GEDmatch projects. If you’ve tested with Ancestry, then we have an article on interpreting Ancestry ethnicity estimates.

But aside from that, you could check out the new genetic groups on MyHeritage. This shows geographic regions based on your DNA matches. I found it remarkably accurate for my Irish lines.

Although you can transfer your DNA for free to MyHeritage, the ethnicity features require an unlock fee of about 30 bucks.

More Articles And Tutorials?

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The GEDmatch Dodecad Project (Explained For Beginners) – Data Mining DNA (2)


How do you use GEDmatch for ethnicity? ›

To use GEDmatch, users must first register on the website and then download their raw DNA data from DNA testing companies like AncestryDNA. They then upload this data to their GEDmatch account and wait a few hours for their results to be processed.

What is the MDLP project on GEDmatch? ›

The MDLP Project on Gedmatch is a free calculator that can provide additional insight into your ancestry by giving you an admixture, or ethnicity, estimate. In this post, learn the basics about this tool and how to learn more about it. The MDLP tool is one of my favorite calculators on Gedmatch.

Which Eurogenes is best for GEDmatch? ›

Best GEDmatch Admixture Calculator For European Ancestry

The best project and calculator combo for those whose ancestry is largely European is the Eurogenes K36 calculator. Try the Eurogenes Jtest model if you have European ancestry as well as Ashkenazi Jewish background.

What does mixed mode population sharing mean? ›

“Mixed Mode Population Sharing” takes the top two highest populations you match with and displays it much the same as the Single Population Sharing. However, it takes into account multiple populations thus it won't skew the data.

Why do people use GEDmatch? ›

There are traditionally three reasons people use GEDmatch: to find new matches, to use the tools, and to see segment data. In the early days of autosomal DNA testing we had only three companies in play: AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe.

Does GEDmatch sell your DNA? ›

It is our policy to never provide your Genealogy Data, Raw DNA, personal information, or email address to third parties, except as noted herein. You have the right to access the personal information that GEDmatch has collected about you.

What is GEDmatch and how does it work? ›

Gedmatch is a database that you can submit to your raw DNA files to and be able to match with the 1.2 million other people who have submitted their files already. GEDMatch is not a testing company. You can't buy a DNA kit from them. All you can do is upload the data from the other testing companies.

Can you delete your DNA from GEDmatch? ›

So once you upload your data you can compare your DNA with other people who have also uploaded and use a variety of different tools. And this uploading is not a permanent situation. You can delete your data from GEDmatch at any time.

How do you read DNA results on GEDmatch? ›

Simply click on the link provided in the Analyze Your Data section and enter your GEDmatch kit number (or select it from the dropdown list.) Leave the other settings alone and select “Display Results.” You will then be brought to a page with your matches, sorted by most DNA shared.

Is GEDmatch really free? ›

GEDmatch is a free website for sharing and collaborating with DNA testers from multiple companies and for analyzing your DNA with their special tools.

Is GEDmatch a good idea? ›

Because many users upload their DNA file from other sites, GEDmatch is a good place to find DNA matches. Compared to companies like MyHeritage and Ancestry, GEDmatch offers users a completely customizable experience, if you are willing to learn how to use the GEDmatch site.

Does GEDmatch cost money? ›

How much does GEDMatch analysis cost? GEDmatch is predominantly free, with an option to pay for access to more advanced tools. Three basic genealogy analysis tools (one-to-one, one-to-many, and admixture), along with 45+ other genealogic analysis tools, are available for free on your account.

Which project to choose on GEDmatch? ›

Best Gedmatch admixture calculator for European ancestry

If you have primarily European ancestry, the recommended project/calculator combination is Eurogenes K36 calculator. If you have European ancestry along with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, you might try the Eurogenes Jtest model.

How far back does GEDmatch go? ›

The total cM of shared DNA runs from 10 to 32 cM. The most common chromosome of all the matches and me is chromosome 15 and all the matches' connections' go back from 4 to 7 generations.

What is AmerIndian on GEDmatch? ›

AmerIndian. GEDmatch can tell you if you have DNA from this population, which includes Native Americans from what is now the US, Canada, Mexico, and other central or northern American populations.

What are the risks of GEDmatch? ›

Researchers at the University of Washington have found that GEDmatch is vulnerable to multiple kinds of security risks. An adversary can use only a small number of comparisons to extract someone's sensitive genetic markers. A malicious user could also construct a fake genetic profile to impersonate someone's relative.

Do police use GEDmatch? ›

After decades of traditional police investigative methods turned up few leads, law enforcement got their first break after comparing DNA collected from the crime scenes with matches in GEDmatch, which helped them narrow down the field of suspects.

Does GEDmatch tell you your ethnicity? ›

GEDmatch is set up just like your testing company in that it provides two kinds of reports: ethnicity results and a match list. Remember that ethnicity results, meaning those pie charts that report you are 15% Italian and 32% Irish, are based on two factors: a reference population and fancy math.

Is GEDmatch safe now? ›

GEDmatch does not store raw DNA files on the site. In today's digital age, your privacy and security are paramount. Here at GEDmatch, we have taken steps to protect user privacy, and data security, including offering the option to opt-out of law enforcement searches.

Do DNA companies keep your DNA? ›

First, note that all DNA testing companies also keep the physical DNA they extracted from your saliva sample or cheek swab.

How many people are on GEDmatch? ›

1.45 million

What does a 50% match on DNA mean? ›

For example, if you share 50% of your DNA with someone in your generation, that means you are full siblings, i.e., descended from the same parents. If you share 12.5%, that likely means you are first cousins, i.e., you share one pair of grandparents.

What happens if your DNA is wiped out? ›

DNA damage in non-replicating cells, if not repaired and accumulated can lead to aging. DNA damage in replicating cells, if not repaired can lead to either apoptosis or to cancer.

Does 23andMe use GEDmatch? ›

When you test through 23andMe and upload your DNA file on GEDmatch, you automatically double-check the results of your tests on the GEDmatch database which has more than 1.4 million members and continues to grow.

Can I hide my ancestry DNA results? ›

If you'd like to receive an ethnicity estimate without being listed as a match to potential relatives, you can choose not to see your DNA matches or appear to them as their match. The option to hide DNA matches provides you with more control over your own data and privacy.

How do I read my DNA test results? ›

The DNA test report you will receive shows numbers (in the first column) that indicate each of the 21 loci involved in the DNA testing process. The columns marked “allele” on the DNA test report contain numbers indicating the two alleles found at each locus (or one number if they are the same size).

How do you read the DNA code? ›

When we look at a sequence of DNA, we read it in the 5′-3′ direction. The relative positions of genes or other sites along a DNA strand can be described as upstream (towards the 5′ end) or downstream (towards the 3′ end).

What does my DNA percentage mean? ›

You get half of your DNA from your mom, and half from your dad. That means you have about 25 percent of your grandparents' DNA, and about 12.5 percent of your great-grandparents' DNA, and so on.

Can GEDmatch tell me my ethnicity? ›

GEDmatch is set up just like your testing company in that it provides two kinds of reports: ethnicity results and a match list. Remember that ethnicity results, meaning those pie charts that report you are 15% Italian and 32% Irish, are based on two factors: a reference population and fancy math.

Is GEDmatch ethnicity accurate? ›

Is Gedmatch more accurate than 23andMe or Ancestry? Gedmatch is not more or less accurate than 23andMe or Ancestry. It is simply different than those other websites because it does not perform DNA tests.

How do you do a DNA test for ethnicity? ›

To take an AncestryDNA test, all you have to do is fill the test tube that comes in your DNA test kit with your saliva and mail it in with the pre-paid mailer. You'll then receive your DNA test results online (typically in 6-8 weeks), via the free Ancestry® account you create when you activate your test. 3.

Which DNA test will tell me my ethnicity? ›

Autosomal DNA testing can tell you about your ethnicity and find matches to living relatives within the past five generations. This is useful because it can tell you about the ancestry on both sides of your family, as opposed to the next two common types of testing.

How far back does ancestry ethnicity go? ›

Precision of Your Ethnicity Estimate

It can reflect the family history where your ancestors lived hundreds of years ago, and even as far back as 1,000 years ago.

Can you find relatives on GEDmatch? ›

GEDmatch is a free access genetic genealogy platform where you can do a relative search by using its database (1.1 million individuals). This platform belongs to Verogen, a California forensic genomics company that collaborates with law enforcement by allowing them to access its database to solve crimes.

Can siblings have different DNA? ›

Because of recombination, siblings only share about 50 percent of the same DNA, on average, Dennis says. So while biological siblings have the same family tree, their genetic code might be different in at least one of the areas looked at in a given test. That's true even for fraternal twins.

How do you tell if a DNA match is maternal or paternal? ›

A Y-DNA test examines the genetic code located on the Y chromosome, which is only found in biological males. Since this chromosome is inherited exclusively from the father and never from the mother, the DNA analyzed on this type of test will give you information that is specific to the paternal line in your family.

How many DNA markers need to match? ›

Matching with someone at 14 out of 24 markers seems like a lot, but these tests are designed so that a father and child should completely match. To figure out why all of the markers should match between a father and child, let's break down how paternity tests work.


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