December 18, 2013

Near Eastern origin of R1a in Ashkenazi Levites

This paper is a nice cautionary tale. R1a is very common in eastern Europe and less so in the Near East. Ashkenazi Jews lived in Eastern Europe, and one group of them (Levites) had high frequency of R1a than the rest. It seemed that an eastern European patrilineage had inserted itself into the Ashkenazi Levite gene pool.

It turns out that this is not the case. The specific clade R-M582 to which Ashkenazi Levites (and other non-Levites) belong to is absent in eastern Europeans and present in non-Jewish Near Easterners, making it more likely that Jews did not pick it up from eastern Europeans, but rather from some Near Eastern population. A look at the table of frequencies suggests to me an Iranic source, but I doubt that modern populations will ever allow a full resolution of such questions.

Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2928 doi:10.1038/ncomms3928

Phylogenetic applications of whole Y-chromosome sequences and the Near Eastern origin of Ashkenazi Levites

Siiri Rootsi et al.

Previous Y-chromosome studies have demonstrated that Ashkenazi Levites, members of a paternally inherited Jewish priestly caste, display a distinctive founder event within R1a, the most prevalent Y-chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europe. Here we report the analysis of 16 whole R1 sequences and show that a set of 19 unique nucleotide substitutions defines the Ashkenazi R1a lineage. While our survey of one of these, M582, in 2,834 R1a samples reveals its absence in 922 Eastern Europeans, we show it is present in all sampled R1a Ashkenazi Levites, as well as in 33.8% of other R1a Ashkenazi Jewish males and 5.9% of 303 R1a Near Eastern males, where it shows considerably higher diversity. Moreover, the M582 lineage also occurs at low frequencies in non-Ashkenazi Jewish populations. In contrast to the previously suggested Eastern European origin for Ashkenazi Levites, the current data are indicative of a geographic source of the Levite founder lineage in the Near East and its likely presence among pre-Diaspora Hebrews.

Link

36 comments:

Bill Lipton said...

The paper is moving in the correct direction, but misses the point made in the book "Grandpa Was A Deity" and the assertion by the Jewish historian, Josephus, made nearly 2000 years ago in his "Histories" -- the Ashkenazi Levites are linked to the Brahmans of India and the original Aryas population.

Once that connection is made, all the related mythology falls into place.

Dienekes said...

Got a Chapter reference for that assertion? I'd like to read what he had to say.

Grognard said...

Interesting, so basically they were what they are all along. I guess that means r1a once had an even bigger extent.

About Time said...

If the Levite R1a is from ancient Hebrews, then it predates most other extant ethnic groups in the area. Persians/Achaemenids came later by several hundred years and their origins are pretty hazy. Only Iranians around were maybe the Medes, but they are hard to locate in time or space. Apparently Mede origins were not quite the same as Persian origins (despite cultural-political merging).

Which means Levite R1a might be much closer to Proto-Indo-Iranian than any later group like Persians (who were mostly Aramaic speaking except for the elite by the way).

Another wrinkle in this is that it is said many Levites left the Jewish fold during the Babylonian captivity. Would be good to have some a Jewish historians with a knowledge of the Torah and midrash to comment on some of these findings. Too much that is said on the subject is from secular people with a cursory or superficial understanding of any actual Jewish history.

Onur said...

The paper is moving in the correct direction, but misses the point made in the book "Grandpa Was A Deity" and the assertion by the Jewish historian, Josephus, made nearly 2000 years ago in his "Histories" -- the Ashkenazi Levites are linked to the Brahmans of India and the original Aryas population.

Once that connection is made, all the related mythology falls into place.


No way. From the paper:

"Among non-Jewish populations, the overall frequency of R1a-M582 was found to be 0.15% (22/15,138) and among R1a-M198 it was 0.81% (22/2,711) (Table 1). The geographic distribution of the haplogroup appears to be limited to West Eurasia, as we did not observe it in South Asia, Central Asia or Southern Siberia."

About Time said...

Some Josephus quotes (from "Against Apion") are cited at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Flavius_Josephus

'Tell the story as you please,' said Hyperochides. 'Well,' he replied, 'the man was a Jew of Coele-Syria. These people are descended from the Indian philosophers. The philosophers, they say, are in India called Calani; in Syria by the territorial name of Jews; for the district which they inhabit is known as Judaea. Their city has a remarkably odd name: they call it Hierusaleme. Now this man, who was entertained by a large circle of friends and was on his way down from the interior to the coast, not only spoke Greek, but had the soul of a Greek. During my stay in Asia, he visited the same places as I did, and came to converse with me and some other scholars, to test our learning. But as one who had been intimate with many cultivated persons, it was rather he who imparted to us something of his own."

It could be someone was hearing "Brahmana" for "Abraham."

Coele-Syria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coele-Syria

Not to be confused with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucosyri

Gary Moore said...

A previous study of Jewish Y DNA by the US National Institutes of Health showed that Jewish men clustered more closely with Armenians and Kurds. This agrees with the idenification of Jews with the historic "Hapiru", suggesting not only an Anatolian origin but also a likelihood that their ancestors spoke an Indo-European language and adopted a North Semetic language only after migrating to Mesopotamia.

Gnarlodious said...

I don’t see this new finding as refuting the view that the R1 influx came from the Khazars. If anything, it fills in some missing details.

To refresh your memory, the Khazars were a group of 2-3,000 (estimated by genetic researchers) royalty of the Khazar empire who inexplicably converted to Judaism starting around 800CE. Being the elite of their society meant they infiltrated the higher caste of Jews, the Levites, whose religious role had been in decline for centuries. This because the truly elite, the kohanim, were largely monolithic and allowed no converts into their patrilineal gene pool. But you could be a Levite by having a Jewish mother, thus the Levite status was open to the sons of converts.

Genetic evidence shows the Levite R1 gene to have originated in a very tight family, adding evidence that the Khazar royalty intentionally targeted the Levite clan. Compare that to the more variable R1 of the northern Levant, suggesting that non-royalty castes of the collapsing Khazar empire fled over the following centuries and were absorbed into the southern regions.

As a personal observation I believe that the abdication of the Khazar royalty occurred as a result of the rise of Islam. That the Khazar royalty read the writing on the wall and understood the unifying power of religion. They didn't want to be forcibly converted to Islam, so they surreptitiously converted to Judaism entering the gene pool at a high level. This is supported by evidence that the R1 gene spread through Europe rapidly by exploiting the greater mobility and social support Levites enjoyed.

Nowadays the Levite clan is almost extinct from the religious perspective. Nobody will jump up in the synagogue and claim to be a Levite. So 1,200 the same thing had happened, the Levites had abandoned their historical religious role and left a vacuum. And that vacuum was filled by the Khazars.

Some information taken from this page:
http://jogg.info/11/coffman.htm

Davidski said...

The R1a-M582 among Ashkenazi Jews represents a limited recent conversion of, most likely, Iranics of some sort from what is now Iran or surrounds. That's pretty much it.

If the person who started the Levite M582 line was indeed a Khazar rather than an Iranian, then obviously the Khazar hypothesis needs to be revised, and perhaps called the Khazar one off conversion.

The paper is open access, so you can see how little diversity there is in that lineage. And there's nothing amazing about it, because it's a fairly young subclade under the Z93 mutation. In other words, it's typical Indo-Iranian R1a.

Davidski said...

"Which means Levite R1a might be much closer to Proto-Indo-Iranian than any later group like Persians (who were mostly Aramaic speaking except for the elite by the way)."

I really doubt it. M582 is way below Z93 on the R1a phylo tree, and check out the Z93* Persian Iranian here. He's looking rather proto-Indo-Iranian IMO.

http://img854.imageshack.us/img854/9505/8q7z.png

mregdna said...

If European, Caucasian and central Asia origin of all ashkenazim Y-dna is refuted, we arrived to the conclusion that Ashkanzim Y-dna is almost 100% near-east origin!
At the same time, at least 60% of the mtDNA seems to be of European origin.
Only Jewish men migrated from the near-east to Europe? Only women were converted?
And why the R1a men didn't migrate to north Africa and other non-European places?

Sgt. Gil said...

Golden {Turks and Khazars; Turkic-Iranian Contact...; Historical-Philological Inquiry...;
World of the Khazars...} and others {Dieter Ludwig} saw an East Iranian ethnogenesis to
the Ashina if not a portion of the Khazars. As far as Ashkenazi vs "non-Ashkenazi" i.e.
Sephardic Jews, run a fIBD on Ashkenazi/Sephardic-Bulgarian {Behar's data-set} and see
how close the inference is.

About Time said...

Not a shred of evidence that Ashkenazi Jewish populations have sny Turkic ancestry, unless the putative Khazar elite were themselves European or West Asian people living among Turkic nomads (Tokharians, or Alans? Which would bring us right back to Proto-Iranians).

Where is the NE Asian autosomal % in Jewish populations? It doesn't exist. The Levite R1a doesnt even show up in the Caucasus.

This study brings us to to northern Middle East. Even Mitannian origins would be much more plausible for the Levites, who in earliest times were The priestly elite. Torah mentions Levoiyim. Nothing about Cohanim in the five Books of Moses, lots and lots about Levites who were guardians of the tabernacle.

Onur said...

Which means Levite R1a might be much closer to Proto-Indo-Iranian than any later group like Persians (who were mostly Aramaic speaking except for the elite by the way).

Persians were Persian-speaking, not Aramaic-speaking. Aramaic speakers lived to the west of the Persian territories and were incorporated into the same realm as that of Persians when the Achaemenids, a Persian dynasty, and their state conquered the Aramaic-speaking lands.

I don’t see this new finding as refuting the view that the R1 influx came from the Khazars. If anything, it fills in some missing details.

Have you actually read the paper? It says:

"In contrast, among 2,164 samples from the Caucasus (211 R1a-M198), R1a-M582 was found in just one Nogay sample (Table 1)."

And:

"Among non-Jewish populations, the overall frequency of R1a-M582 was found to be 0.15% (22/15,138) and among R1a-M198 it was 0.81% (22/2,711) (Table 1). The geographic distribution of the haplogroup appears to be limited to West Eurasia, as we did not observe it in South Asia, Central Asia or Southern Siberia."

The results of this paper are a huge blow to the Khazar hypothesis. No Khazar hypothesis supporter will be taken seriously anymore.

Aaron said...

It seems likely to me that R1a, R1b and Q haplogroups all originated in the middle east. Hopefully we will get some more genetic data from ancient samples from the middle East in the near future.

Onur said...

Another objection to About Time's statements. According to the results of the paper, the R1a-M582 lineage peaks in frequency (excluding Jews) and has the highest diversity in Iran, and it is completely or almost completely absent in Europe, the Pontic-Caspian region, the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Armenian Highlands, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, South Asia, south Siberia, Arabia and Egypt (probably also North Africa as a whole). These suggest that the R1a-M582 lineage has nothing to do with Proto-Iranics and much less with Proto-Indo-Iranians and is instead an autochthonous (pre-Iranic and pre-Elamic) lineage from what is now Iran. The fact that the R1a-M582 lineage is in very low frequencies (except specific Jewish groups, whose levels are surely due to founder effect and drift) even in the populations it peaks in explains its complete or almost complete absence in almost all of West, Central, North and South Eurasia.

About Time said...

Davidski and Onur, points taken. So, the young age of the Levite R1a M582 is young relative to other R1a branches. The question is, how old are those other branches?

To give some historical dates:

Mitanni 1400's BC
Medes 900's BC (anything earlier is a guess)
Achaemenids 500'c BC

Israel/Judah 800's BC

These dates mean that if the Levite R1a is Hebrew (dating to Israel/Judah) as the authors conclude, its origins would be closer to ancient Medes or Proto-Iranians.

"Persia" was a big empire with a small ruling elite that spoke an Iranian language. The very large main population (i.e., ancestors of today's "Persians") originally spoke Elamite and later Aramaic. In fact, the Persian Empire was the vehicle for the standardization of Official Aramaic. So we need to distinguish today's Persians from the Achaemenid elite 2500 years ago.

I should have said Proto-Iranian, not Indo-Iranian -- but still closer than the much later Persians. Looking for Proto-Iranians or even Achaemenids in Greater Iran is kind of like looking for Pilgrims in the USA, fast forward 2500 years. They might be there, but are hard to distinguish from everyone else.

M582 shows up in Algerian Jews by the way. It means this is not just Ashkenazic and other possibilities should not be ruled out. Spain received a lot of refugees from Khorasan (eastern Iranian areas) during the Mongol conquests, by the way.

I also noticed on the phylogeny, Ashkenazi Levite and Jewish (I guess non-Levite) R1a is part of a clade with Iberian and Assyrian M582.

vooruit said...

Bill Lipton: "the Ashkenazi Levites are linked to the Brahmans of India and the original Aryas population"

Reality might have been a bit different and still partly similar.

The Mitanni kingdom's Indo-aryan words and gods are known from around 1,400 BCE and interestingly, we know of a governor of a city near Jerusalem (Qiltu) around 1,300 BCE with an Indo-aryan name, svardata ("gift from the sun").

Maybe he arrived there with a group and some of their descendants (or the very descendants of this powerful man) entered the Jewish gene pool afterwards.
This lineage is well downstream of Z93, the (probably) "proto-indo-iranian" lineage, so it's plausible.


Onur: "we did not observe it in South Asia, Central Asia or Southern Siberia"

So what? It's a derived Z93 lineage. It doesn't sound completely impossible, if this lineage left from an early proto-indo-iranian population living in their ancestral homeland (then "evolved" in this little community to what it is now).

Bus said...

I seem to lack any information on R1a-M582, and google and other of my regular sources are shrugging their shoulders back at me. I'm trying to visualize the placement of R1a-M582 on a tree in my mind, but not knowing anything about M582 is leaving me effectively clueless ("R1a", by itself, is far too broad for me).

Is there an alternate name for M582, or does anyone know which SNP this refers to? An rs id and change would be helpful (such as, eg., M207 is equivalent to a G at ). Also, what is ancestral to R-M582? It seems, from the text, that R-M198 is ancestral, but are there any between?

Grey said...

"who inexplicably converted to Judaism starting around 800CE."

It's not remotely inexplicable. Slaver tribes like the Khazars have often taken the religion of the merchants they traded with e.g. the Luo and Hausa in Africa becoming Muslim, so as Jewish merchants dominated the slave trade in the Crimea it's entirely explicable and in fact completely normal.

Onur said...

"Persia" was a big empire with a small ruling elite that spoke an Iranian language. The very large main population (i.e., ancestors of today's "Persians") originally spoke Elamite and later Aramaic. In fact, the Persian Empire was the vehicle for the standardization of Official Aramaic. So we need to distinguish today's Persians from the Achaemenid elite 2500 years ago.

Elamites switched directly from the Elamite language to Persian with no Aramaic interlude. Aramaic was spoken in more western areas such as Mesopotamia and the Levant. Aramaic became one of the official languages of the Achaemenid Empire only after the incorporation of Mesopotamia and the Levant into the Achaemenid Empire, and those regions have never switched to Persian. So there was clearly a distinction between the Elamite/Persian-speaking territories and the Aramaic-speaking territories of the Achaemenid Empire, whose effects can still be seen in those territories.

M582 shows up in Algerian Jews by the way. It means this is not just Ashkenazic and other possibilities should not be ruled out.

It shows up only in Levites among Algerian Jews. It may well have come from Ashkenazi Levite migrants, as Levites were historically a quite migratory community of Jews.

I also noticed on the phylogeny, Ashkenazi Levite and Jewish (I guess non-Levite) R1a is part of a clade with Iberian and Assyrian M582.

No Assyrians carry the R1a-M582 lineage according to the results of this paper. One Assyrian carries the R1a-Z2122(xM582), which means he carries the R1a-Z2122 lineage but not its M582 branch (x means "excluding" in haplogroup nomenclature, thus R1a-Z2122(xM582) means any branch of R1a-Z2122 excluding the M582 branch). As for the R1a-M582 in the Iberian individual, it is probably a remnant of a medieval Jewish (Levite?) or Iranian Muslim migrant in Iberia.

So what? It's a derived Z93 lineage. It doesn't sound completely impossible, if this lineage left from an early proto-indo-iranian population living in their ancestral homeland (then "evolved" in this little community to what it is now).

Your scenario is not impossible but highly unlikely. The Z93 lineage probably originated in an area streching from what is now Iran to the southern parts of Central Asia (including what is now Afghanistan) well before the Proto-Indo-Iranian times.

apostateimpressions said...

Was Abraham R1a M582?

I have seen no evidence that this R1a M582 is intrusive into the gene pool of the original Jews.

The recent paper on Ashkenazi mtDNA, which showed that up to 95% of female AN lines are not from the Middle East, should warn us against any assumption that the majority of lines represent the original Jews. It may be that even less of the Y lines represent them.

Indeed for all that we know this R1a M582 may be all that remains of the original Jewish population. All other Y lines (and possibly all mt lines) in modern Jews are intrusive, with admixture in the ME and elsewhere over thousands of years.

The mythical Abraham may have been R1a M582. Of course that would imply that hardly any Jews are descended from him but that is what we would expect anyway after thousands of years of admixture and drift. Abraham probably drifted out long ago and left no living descendants.

No Y line in Jews represents more than a small proportion of modern Jewish Y lines, let alone the various subclades. I see no reason why any other subclade than R1a M582 should represent Abraham and the original Jews.

Indeed that theory would fit with the otherwise counter-intuitive ancient narratives that cast the original Jews as Iranic or Indo.

I am not sure that we will ever get ancient DNA evidence sufficient to rule out that the Jewish male line is as admixed or even more admixed than the Jewish mt lines. The myth of the single male founder would imply that it is very highly admixed, given the multiplicity of Y lines.

It is statistically very unlikely that Abraham has any living descendants. Modern Jews have few if any (probably no) genes that came from Abraham.

Even if they did get a gene or two from him, which is highly unlikely, other people in the Middle East would likely also have those same genes. He was not an alien.

Jeff Wexler said...

Earlier this week, I went live with www.levitedna.org, a website devoted to R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites.

The findings of Rootsi & Behar are consistent with Michal Milewski's hypothesis that R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites may be descended from a lineage of Nethinims of Iranian descent who arrived in Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile and were gradually incorporated into the Levite community. https://sites.google.com/site/levitedna/origins-of-r1a1a-ashkenazi-levites/theory-re-nethinim-origins

About Time said...

Elamites switched directly from the Elamite language to Persian with no Aramaic interlude. Aramaic was spoken in more western areas such as Mesopotamia and the Levant. Aramaic became one of the official languages of the Achaemenid Empire only after the incorporation of Mesopotamia and the Levant into the Achaemenid Empire, and those regions have never switched to Persian. So there was clearly a distinction between the Elamite/Persian-speaking territories and the Aramaic-speaking territories of the Achaemenid Empire, whose effects can still be seen in those territories.

Not an expert here, would need an Assyriologist or Middle Eastern specialist to comment. AdygheChabadi, help?

I do know that Imperial/Official Aramaic was widespread enough that in Afghanistan, the Edicts of Ashoka were written in Aramaic (and Greek by the way) according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AsokaKandahar.jpg

The Persian Empire was the sort of main progressive imperium at the time. The Achaemenids made a big deal out of uniting many nations into one big state (depicted at Persepolis etc.) Just before the adoption of Official Aramaic, Darius' Behistun Inscription was in Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian. All either outdated or too cliquey as languages, so Old Aramaic became the "Business English" of the day.

By the way, Azeris and Kurds are both Iranian speaking ethnic minorities, so the M582 in these populations again points to Proto-Iranian.

Following that line of thought, the Achaemenid Cyrus the Great was called the Jewish annointed/moshiach, which is kind of interesting since it would halachically imply the Achaemenids were related to the Davidic line. Unless the Jewish understanding at the time was that Cyrus was the ben Joseph.

The Abraham-Brahmin idea looks like a stretch, unless there was some kind of Mede or Azeri link (old name: Arran with many mangled alternate pronunciations). On any other merits not worth considering, but the M582 line came from somewhere around here.

Gnarlodious said...

Interesting, the previous comment referred me to site that also suggests a Khazar origin of the Levite R1a gene:
https://sites.google.com/site/levitedna/origins-of-r1a1a-ashkenazi-levites/significance-of-the-bottleneck-in-the-r1a1a-ashkenazi-levite-population

Onur said...

Not an expert here, would need an Assyriologist or Middle Eastern specialist to comment. AdygheChabadi, help?

Adyghe Chabadi is not an expert either. Anyway, one does not need to be an expert in order to make reliable statements on such a simple matter.

I do know that Imperial/Official Aramaic was widespread enough that in Afghanistan, the Edicts of Ashoka were written in Aramaic (and Greek by the way) according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AsokaKandahar.jpg

Official use of a language in a region in no way necessitates the existence of that language as a spoken language or as a mother tongue in that region. There are numerous examples in history to this phenomenon.

The Persian Empire was the sort of main progressive imperium at the time. The Achaemenids made a big deal out of uniting many nations into one big state (depicted at Persepolis etc.) Just before the adoption of Official Aramaic, Darius' Behistun Inscription was in Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian. All either outdated or too cliquey as languages, so Old Aramaic became the "Business English" of the day.

Now you are beginning to make sense.

By the way, Azeris and Kurds are both Iranian speaking ethnic minorities, so the M582 in these populations again points to Proto-Iranian.

No, Azeris are Turkic speakers, not Iranic speakers. But their present-day language has very little to do with their genetic origins (just as in Anatolian and Balkan Turks).

Then again, all the evidence indicates that the M582 lineage originated in what is now Iran or somewhere very close-by. What is open to dispute is when it originated. If it originated before the Indo-Iranian migrations to what is now Iran, then it probably originated in a non-Indo-European-speaking community of what is now Iran. If it originated after the Indo-Iranian migrations to what is now Iran, then chances are high that it originated among Indo-Iranian speakers of what is now Iran. In both scenarios the place of origin is what is now Iran or somewhere very close-by. I favor the first (non-IE) scenario since Indo-Iranian languages are relatively new comers to what is now Iran.

Following that line of thought, the Achaemenid Cyrus the Great was called the Jewish annointed/moshiach, which is kind of interesting since it would halachically imply the Achaemenids were related to the Davidic line. Unless the Jewish understanding at the time was that Cyrus was the ben Joseph.

The original meaning of the royal/religious term mashiach has nothing to do with the Davidic line or Jewishness, and its Bible usage for Cyrus is in the original meaning and thus has nothing to do with the Davidic line or any Jewish descent.

The Abraham-Brahmin idea looks like a stretch, unless there was some kind of Mede or Azeri link (old name: Arran with many mangled alternate pronunciations). On any other merits not worth considering, but the M582 line came from somewhere around here.

Arran is the traditional name of the territory of what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan and is separate from the traditional Azerbaijan region, which largely corresponds to the territory of the Azerbaijan region of what is now the Republic of Iran. So the Republic of Azerbaijan should have been named as "the Republic of Arran" rather than as "the Republic of Azerbaijan".

Kurti said...

Palisto from KurdishDNA Blog had this theory long time ago. According to him the Ashkenazi Jews are originally from somewhere in Kurdistan and likely the name Ashkenaz derives from the word Ashkan which was the Iranian term for Parthians.
http://kurdishdna.blogspot.nl/2013/12/ashkenazi-levite-jews-and-their-iranian.html#comment-form

Kurti said...

@AboutTime

Medes are under the Northwest Iranian category like Kurds.

From what I have observed from ancient Iranian texts they were often put into one category with Gutians.

Parthians were basically Medes (Northwest Iranian) with more Scythian admixture.

Kurti said...

On a side note. I see that according to this study the frequency of R1a* is around ~10% From all the other studies I have seen so far the frequency is always above, between 13-25%. The frequency likely was distorted by bad sampling.

By the way not all R1a* among Kurds falls into the m17(m198) cluster.

There seems to be some clades which predate the Indo-Iranian split.

http://kurdishdna.blogspot.nl/2013/10/r1a-discovered-among-yezidi-kurd.html

Sorry for triple post.

Rafs said...

The presence among European Jews of an Iranian R1a-clade is more evidence of Kazhar origins than Levantine ones. Hence why the marker is but absent among non-European Jews (and Algerian and Turkish Jews do have European origins). A bit too conveniently, no non-Jewish Levantine population was investigated for the presence of M582.

Rafs said...

The results of this paper are a huge blow to the Khazar hypothesis. No Khazar hypothesis supporter will be taken seriously anymore.

So it must also be a huge blow to the Levantine hypothesis for Ashkenazi and Sephardi origins, as the authors acknowledge the clade was not found among Near Easterners to the West of Iran, Palestinians included.

Onur said...

The presence among European Jews of an Iranian R1a-clade is more evidence of Kazhar origins than Levantine ones.

European Jews' West Asian genes are in no way restricted to the Levant. I am not a supporter of exclusively or mostly Levantine origin. Iran is surely one of the regions of West Asia that likely contributed genes to European Jews, but certainly not the only one. The Khazar hypothesis is discarded because of the reasons I mentioned in my previous comments in this thread.

A bit too conveniently, no non-Jewish Levantine population was investigated for the presence of M582.

That is not true. They investigated Palestinians and the Druze, two more or less opposite poles of Levantine genetics, so I think that they are pretty much representative of the Levant as a whole.

So it must also be a huge blow to the Levantine hypothesis for Ashkenazi and Sephardi origins, as the authors acknowledge the clade was not found among Near Easterners to the West of Iran, Palestinians included.

I repeat: European Jews' West Asian genes are in no way restricted to the Levant. I am not a supporter of exclusively or mostly Levantine origin. Iran is surely one of the regions of West Asia that likely contributed genes to European Jews, but certainly not the only one.

Gary Moore said...

But is it found in Armenians as well as Kurds? I think that an Anatolian origin is a safer bet.

Davidski said...

Kurti, the reason R1a* keeps falling in academic studies is because newly discovered SNPs downstream of M417 are being added.

BTW, the problem with an expansion of R1a from West Asia into Eastern Europe is that the two main clades of R1a obviously split in Europe: Northwest European CTS4385 and Eurasian Z645 (which includes the European Z283 and Eurasian Z93).

Onur said...

But is it found in Armenians as well as Kurds? I think that an Anatolian origin is a safer bet.

Armenians, Turks and Greeks do not carry M582 according to the results of the paper. So an Anatolian origin of M582 is very unlikely.

Avram Cohen said...

Some might find this interesting http://peopleofar.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/the-six-pointed-star-of-armenia/