Jewish DNA

In Commentary:
In a class by itself is the mitochondrial DNA of Ashkenazi women. It does not correlate closely with the DNA of non-Jewish women in Western, Central, or Eastern Europe and it has a large Middle Eastern component. Yet in their maternal lineage, Ashkenazim, too, exhibit a strong “founder effect.” Over forty percent of them, a 2005 study showed, descend from just four “founding mothers” having Middle-Eastern-profile mitochondrial DNA. Since Ashkenazi Y-chromosome DNA does not exhibit so dramatic a founder’s effect, one can assume that Ashkenazi Jewry, too, began with the migration of a preponderantly male group of Jews to new territories. Because these territories, however, were more contiguous with the old ones than were far-flung regions like Bukhara or Yemen, the men were more able to import wives from existing Jewish communities and less dependent on marrying local Gentiles.

But where did Ashkenazi Jewry, male and female alike, derive from if not from the Rhineland? One possibility that is more consistent with the linguistic data is that it entered southern Germany from northern Italy and pushed further north from there into the Slavic-speaking areas of Europe. Another is that Jews migrated to Slavic lands from the Byzantine Empire. These hypotheses, which are not mutually exclusive, can now claim a measure of scientific support, since the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi Jews have more in common with those of Italians and Greeks than with those of West Europeans.

[. . .]

As far as much of the rest of the world is concerned, biological Jewishness has always been an embarrassing anachronism—at least ever since the time of the Roman Empire and early Christianity. For the most part, Jews have nevertheless managed to go their own unembarrassed way. The genetic record shows that they have on the whole succeeded.

[Hillel Halkin, "Jews and Their DNA", September 2008]

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shhh. Don't tell Rienzi. His head will explode when he finds out that Italians might be more closely related to other Mediterranean people than to Scandinavians.

Anonymous said...

Modern Italians have a great deal of Semite in them and are not strongly related to the patrician families of Rome (who are more related to Germans). Modern Italians mostly descend from the %90 or so Plebian population/slaves of the Roman empire and then later Germanic invaders.

By Semite I mean ethnically middle eastern, not originating in Africa as many early inhabitants of the Roman peninsula were racially semetic and absorbed into the Roman empire. Others arrived for commerce etc.

Nonetheless from what I understand a good number of Italians bought their way into Judaism for economic reasons in the middle ages. I always thought the opposite was true though- Jews descend mostly from indigenous women and Semite immigrants.

Anonymous said...

"anonymous 9/4/08" speaking...

To "anonymous 9/28/08":
There is no evidence that the early Roman patricians were closely related to Germans. Most were Italic people (Latins, Sabines, etc.), and some of the patrician families were descended from the Etruscan aristocracy (which was of Near Eastern origin).

When we talk about Italians, we are talking about one of the most genetically diverse populations in Europe. There is significant differentiation by region at least in the Y chromosome data (I would be surprised if autosomal DNA doesn't show the same thing.)

I believe that northern Italians have substantial ancestry from Celts and to a lesser extent from Germanic invaders, while Southern Italians have substantial Greek ancestry (with lesser North African contributions in Sicily).
Central Italians are "in between", but people in parts of Tuscany have minor Near Eastern contributions from Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Anatolian settlers who contributed to the development of the Etruscan culture.

Even prior to Celtic and Greek colonization, there were probably north-south differences that reflected the level of Neolithic migrants' contribution to the gene pool.

To Rienzi:
I typed without thinking (the study was not exactly good evidence to refute your views).
I know that Italians are a European people, obviously, and their genetics reflect that. I am not a Nordicist who thinks only Northern Europeans are truly European.

But it is probable that many Greeks and Italians (especially Sicilians and other southerners) are more closely related to people from the northern Near East (Turks, Jews, and Armenians) than to many northern and particularly northeastern Europeans (e.g. Finns, Swedes, and Eastern Slavs).
Given prehistoric and early historic population movements, it would be odd if these Italians were significantly closer to the latter than the former.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 9/28/08:
I doubt that Italians have a "great deal" of Semitic ancestry. There is certainly Jewish and Phoenician ancestry in Italy (not to mention North African Berber in Sicily, and Anatolian Etruscan in Tuscany) but it is far smaller than the Italic, Greek, and even Celtic influence.

Anonymous said...

The mtdna haplogroups of Ashkenazi jews are: K (32%), H (21%), N1b (10%), and J1 (7%) Haplogroup K: is in Europe particularly common around the alps in non jewish people. About 12% of the non jewish population in germany belongs to the mtdna haplogroup K. 60% of the non jewish population in Ireland belongs to the haplogroup H and it's also the largest haplogroupe in Europe.

Ponto said...

I consider Jews to be a mainly European creation. Don't really accept recent, i.e CE 1, movement of inhabitants from the lands on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a religious conversion. Christianity is Middle Eastern in origin but the bulk of European Christians did not originate in the Middle East like their religion i.e 2000 years ago.

Italians, Greeks, Spanish, Portuguese are similar to Jews and Middle Easterners because that is where the farmers came from in the Neolithic Age. The farmers outbred the Mesolithic peoples in Europe. Neolithic dna especially in the female side predominates in Europe. Ten thousand years is not long enough to make sufficient dna and phenotypic differences. As for Germans or some other European people being less Middle Eastern than Italians, that may be right. Their ancestry is certainly from Asia (outside of geographic Europe), the majority of haplogroups in Europe have an Asian origin. R1b, R1a originated in the northern part of Southwest Asia. Haplogroup I originated somewhere in the northern part of the Pontic to Iranian zone. The common mtDNA haplogroup H, is of Asian origin.

It doesn't matter which haplogroup you look at in Europe, the origin points of those haplogroups is not Europe barring some subgroups of the main haplogroups.

You just have to accept your Asian origins and forget the pure European thing which is just fable and fantasy.