December 09, 2009

Jews intermediate between Middle Eastern and European populations (Kopelman et al. 2009)

Fairly interesting that at K=5 a Palestinian cluster emerges, and Jews show mixed affiliations with this cluster and the European one. This is also consistent with the idea that different Jewish populations have a Levantine element in common, and have also undergone admixture with European (or more properly European-like) populations.

A weakness of the study is that it does not look into Gentile populations in the region between Italy and Palestine.

The main issue in Jewish origins is no longer whether they are of Middle Eastern or European (or European-like) origin. It seems pretty clear by now that they are both. The main issue is to determine the origin of their Middle Eastern and European components. This study does offer some new insight by showing the affinity between Jews and Palestinians at K=5 (purple); however the origin of the European (or European-like) component remains elusive.

BMC Genetics 2009, 10:80 doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-80

Genomic microsatellites identify shared Jewish ancestry intermediate between
Middle Eastern and European populations

Naama M Kopelman et al.

Background: Genetic studies have often produced conflicting results on the
question of whether distant Jewish populations in different geographic locations
share greater genetic similarity to each other or instead, to nearby non-Jewish
populations. We perform a genome-wide population-genetic study of Jewish
populations, analyzing 678 autosomal microsatellite loci in 78 individuals from four
Jewish groups together with similar data on 321 individuals from 12 non-Jewish
Middle Eastern and European populations.
Results: We find that the Jewish populations show a high level of genetic similarity
to each other, clustering together in several types of analysis of population structure.
Further, Bayesian clustering, neighbor-joining trees, and multidimensional scaling
place the Jewish populations as intermediate between the non-Jewish Middle
Eastern and European populations.
Conclusion: These results support the view that the Jewish populations largely
share a common Middle Eastern ancestry and that over their history they have
undergone varying degrees of admixture with non-Jewish populations of European


Maju said...

A weakness of the study is that it does not look into Gentile populations in the region between Italy and Palestine.

Absolutely! It makes it, as I wrote at Leherensuge, yet another poor paper on Jewish origins. It really fails to do anything original and very specially it fails to test the hypothesis of Anatolian (Hellenistic) origin (again).

This failure is systematic of all Jewish genetic studies and must respond to an ideological bias (Zionist beliefs). However when it's not Jewish ancestry what is being studied in particular, the results sometimes are more clear, like in Bauchet'07.

Kepler said...

Yes, it is getting annoying. I wonder if some specialist writes about that in a paper: will those guys accuse him of anti-Semite?

As far as I have seen I share a similar set of markers to one of those Portuguese Jews with J2 from a recent study. But then I am not claiming to have special rights to Palestine because of that.

And I am sure there are loads of Palestineans who have stronger ties.

Seriously: I had read from an Israeli archaeologist there is now a project where ancient bones will be studied in the quest for the origins of the Jews...I wonder if they will use Palestinean samples as well.

Gioiello said...

It’s incredible!
In a revue to the book of Shlomo Sand (The Invention of the Jewish People) published on and in a thread here, I wrote: “The same happened to Ashkenazim, which are the result of a thousand years of inbreeding of not more than 25,000 individuals of different origin, mostly Italians, Germans of the Rhine Valley, East Europeans, Khazars and perhaps someone who escaped from Middle East”.
The authors write: “In several analyses, the population in the study that is most similar to the Jewish populations is the Palestinian population” (p. 15), but “Admixture of the Palestinians with groups with European origins might have maintained or augmented this shared ancestry, especially if it was paralleled with similar admixture of these groups with Jewish populations” (p. 15).

“Among the Jewish populations, the Tunisians were found to be the least variable and most distinctive, and their genotypes could be most easily distinguished from those of the three other Jewish populations. This result suggests a smaller population size and greater degree of genetic isolation for this population compared to the other Jewish groups, or a significant level of admixture with local populations(…) Some Berber admixture of Tunisian Jews may very well have taken place (…) A smaller-scale autosomal study that did not include Tunisian Jews found the neighboring Libyan Jewish population to be distinctive with respect to other Jewish populations, and our results concerning the Tunisian Jewish population might reflect a similar phenomenon (…) three of the European populations closest to the Jewish populations (Adygei, Sardinian, and Tuscan) (…) southern groups from Europe are placed closer to the Jewish populations than more northerly groups” (p. 15).

“Eastern and European populations cluster separately with the Jewish populations in the
center. A possible additional concern is ascertainment bias on the loci favoring high levels
of European polymorphism. However, no strong evidence for ascertainment bias has been
detected for the loci considered here, and in general, ascertainment effects in humans are only significant in studies of populations from distant geographic regions” (p 16).

In a response to a revuer of my revue on I wrote: “For having supported the same things (of Shlomo Sand) in these last years, I have been banned from two forums dominated by Jews or Jews likers: see ‘Genealogy-dna’ and ‘dna-forums’. Now I write on ‘Dienekes blog’ and other forums, and I have destroyed, by a genetic point of view, the papers of Doron Behar and others, generously funded by Jewish power. Ashkenazim aren’t Khazars, as Sand says, but mostly Italians, Germans from the Rhine Valley and East Europeans, and only a little bit Khazars”.

There is someone who finds something wrong in my words and thoughts?

RJ said...

Nonsense. Besides mainstream media, this too? Whats become of science?

eurologist said...


when you say:

They did not, hence, in my opinion, this is just another paper that totally misses the point of Jewish origins, which are probably more in ancient Anatolia than in Palestine

what time frame are you talking about? Y-DNA IJ obviously broke of early and before their split had a long life in many places in the near/middle East depending on climate. At one point there where identifiable Jews, who themselves likely descended from people prospering when the climate was good with more rainfall for harvesting seeds, better than today - and Anatolia and parts of Syria and northern Iraq would have hosted the largest pool. But that ended millennia before any Jewish self-identification.

Anonymous said...

Lots of energy has been put into placing European, North Africa and Turkish Jews into the Middle Eastern dna cluster. Ashkenazim are the largest group of Jews but their size does not exclude the other Jews found in other European, North African, Middle Eastern, Caucasus region, India, Burma and China because of their lower numbers. They are still Jews i.e hold the beliefs of Judaism.

All that guff about the Adygei. So they are a admixed group. Great for them but what does it mean to Jew? The fact that the Adygei live near to where the Khazars were when they were a distinct ethnicity is totally irrelevant. Otherwise all New Zealanders must be Maori Polynesians.

Those studies can be informative provided a lot more ethnic groups are studied. Compare all Jews, most types are found in Israel, with all types of Europeans, all types of North Africans, all types of Middle Easterners and so on. Of course not every ethnic group in Europe, Africa or Asia can be tested but a reasonable sample should be. The Jews are not really a suitable group to make general statements about their geographical origins. They have experienced outbreeding in their "exodus" phases, which was most likely male, followed by an intense period of Jewish indoctrination of "gentile" men and women who converted, followed by inbreeding. You could probably say the same about all ethnic groups but Jews have maintained their themselves for some thousands of years where others have assimilated into other ethnic groups and cultures: Gauls, Romans, Etruscans, Macedonians, Sicani, the list is endless. You can't do that without restrictive breeding. As a consequence their dna is been well and truly altered in ways other ethnic groups haven't experienced.

It is no surprise Italians and other Southern Europeans are closer to the Jews picked for this study. They are all from the Mediterranean Basin. That ties them genetically to each other they other Europeans have not experienced.

Jack said...

Bla, Bla bla, bla bla bla.
When I first saw Amy Winehouse I thought she was probably from the Middle East judging by her facial features and like many artists had adopted a funny (Winehouse) anglo-sounding art name. I didn't know anything at all about her and thought she probalby liked to drink.
Guess to what "ethnic" group she belongs to.
Same for quite a few other members of her group I have seen over the years.
Point is, I suspect some of you are downplaying the obvious. Their is a consistent ME, probably not Anatolian, element in the jewish population.
Then I am sure there is also a 0,2-0,5% Japanese and Inuit influence.

J said...

Scientifically speaking, what is European-like, Dienekes?

Kepler said...


I think nobody is doubting there is more ME influence among Jews than among, say, Norwegians or Dutch or even Spaniards. I am saying it as a Venezuelan with a Spanish name and traces of that so-called Y-chromosomal "Aaron", still no link to Jews, unless some ancestor really was an anusim or the like.

Still: an enormous amount of funds go into that kind of research as if they were basically implying the Israelis have the biggest rights to Palestinean territories, they are "the real thing", "the chosen ones".
The same happened with the pressumed finding of the "oldest Hebrew text" in Palestine last year.
The thing is: they choose time after time NOT to study certain groups and put everything in perspective (like how Palestineans may be more linked to ancient DNA than the AVERAGE bloke with an Israeli passport following the Jewish religion.

Maju said...

what time frame are you talking about? -

Historical from Hellenism/Roman Empire/Origins of Christianism (a Judaist offshoot). At that time Judaism was proselystist, and kept being until the 7th century or so, when, forced by Christianity and Islam, became essentially endogamous.

It has nothing to do with your Y-DNA lineages. It's recent: so recent that they must still cluster largely with their ancestral population in K-means analysis, just like people from Virginia cluster with Brits (up to a point).

Maju said...

Point is, I suspect some of you are downplaying the obvious. Their is a consistent ME, probably not Anatolian, element in the jewish population.

They don't cluster with Palestinians nor any other Levant population that I know of. They do cluster with Armenians and Greeks (Bauchet'07). Metrically, they have always been said to be closest to the Armenoid type, which is most common in and around Asia Minor. I don't reject they may have some Palestinian blood but I think it's minor and they must cluster best with the peoples of Asia Minor and surroundings, who are all the time being skipped in the analysis.

Where do modern Jews come from? Where they were concentrated in Roman times? Not exclusively but largely in Asia Minor and nearby areas (also some in the Levant, Iraq and Lower Egypt).

On what grounds do you claim that this Jewish cluster is distinct from the "Anatolian" (NE Med) cluster that shows up, for instance, in Bauchet's work? So far, Jewish ancestry studies have all been dribbling the key question.

You are right though when you question that Adygeis have anything to do with Khazars though: they are a West Caucasian people linguistically and have propbably little to do with them. South Russians instead... and certainly Eastern European Jews could. This issue is also once and again skipped in Jewish ancestry studies. Why? Because they fear to mention the beast (the beast of Zionism: that modern Jews are not of Palestinian origin essentially). It can be the only reason.

Of course all research on Jewish ancestry is done by Jews within Zionist academic institutions. So no wonder.

But this is not science: it's ideological manipulation (poor and way too obvious already) of science to serve a political purpose.

terryt said...

I think it's time I put in my pending claim to a good part of Ireland. After all, I have very good evidence demonstrating that my ancestors actually did in fact come from there. And at least some of them came via Australia, so may not have left Ireland voluntarily. Anyway they left much more recently that any postulated Jewish emmigration from Palestine, so my claim is pretty sound.

All I need now is for some economically powerful nation, or group, to support my claim. Maybe I should manufacture a few nuclear weapons to assist my cause.

eurologist said...


I still don't quite understand. Are you saying that the "Anatolian" Jews were so genetically different form the ones then living in ~Palestine that one could find that distinction via comparison of Jews with local populations, today? Or are you saying that the majority of European Jews have ancestry from Anatolian populations that were both non-Jewish (before conversion) *and* unrelated to Jewish/Arab populations?

The problem I see with the latter assumption (and that's why I brought in Y-DNA) is that (with some exceptions) the farther you go to the Caucasus, the less Y-DNA J exists in the population - which conflicts with the above unless the Jews were oppressing the local men from fathering children - for which I don't know any historic evidence.

See, e.g.,

My point is that I would suspect close relationship in much of the Levant (in the wide sense, incl. Syria and Iraq) and parts of Anatolia until perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. I don't know if the origin of European Jews was sufficiently homogeneous to pinpoint any particular region over another.

Maju said...

I still don't quite understand. Are you saying that the "Anatolian" Jews were so genetically different form the ones then living in ~Palestine that one could find that distinction via comparison of Jews with local populations, today? Or are you saying that the majority of European Jews have ancestry from Anatolian populations that were both non-Jewish (before conversion) *and* unrelated to Jewish/Arab populations? -

The latter, I think.

What I'm hypothesizing is that Diaspora Jews only had that much Canaanite blood, that it got more and more diluted as they recruited new gentiles. Hence they should have most ancestry from the regions they had been recruited into the sect. That happened with very special intensity in the Roman province of Asia (modern West Turkey) and nearby areas.

The genesis of Medieval and Modern Judaism is surely not too different than that of other Judaic sects, specially Christianity and Islam. All were proselytistic at the beginning but they forbade their competitors to proselytize in their domains. Eventually no Judaistic state remained (Khazaria and Yemen were the last ones, I think) and Judaism became (by force) a tolerated sect that could not proselytize anywhere.

So, roughly by the rise of the Caliphate and the destruction of Khazaria by Kiev, Jews became a more or less endogamic population. But only then.

European and largely North African Jews descend mostly from those Hellenistic Diaspora Jews who were not really Canaanites anymore. They do not come from Palestine directly and they must have loads of ancestry from around the Aegean.

The problem I see with the latter assumption (and that's why I brought in Y-DNA) is that (with some exceptions) the farther you go to the Caucasus, the less Y-DNA J exists in the population - which conflicts with the above unless the Jews were oppressing the local men from fathering children - for which I don't know any historic evidence.

I don't understand this objection well. We're talking autosomal DNA here, right? For what we know of Jewish haploid ancestry, there is a gender bias in a Patriarchal sense (in contradiction with the modern orthodox rule that demands a Jewish mother to be born Jewish). So sure: Jewish men in many cases took gentile wifes it seems. But it's not odd that Jews have so much Y-DNA J2? That would make little sense if they would be original from Palestine, one of the regions highest and most diverse in J1, but rather low in J2, which has a more northernly "highlander" distribution.

My point is that I would suspect close relationship in much of the Levant (in the wide sense, incl. Syria and Iraq) and parts of Anatolia until perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Iraq and Anatolia are not considered "the Levant". Anyhow, among these locations, Anatolia, specifically West Anatolia, has all the time the biggest chances to have provided a good deal of modern Jewish ancestry. This regardless of a more varied fan of sources.

eurologist said...

Maju, thanks for responding. I know this discussion is predominantly autosomal, but my worry was that at least today, populations of the Caucasus and Turkey tend to have much less than 50% J and E combined, whereas to my knowledge, Ashkenazi Jews have something like 65%, although that surely was diluted in the past ~1,500 years in countries with no J, E to speak of - so it must have been really dominant, perhaps close to 80-90%. In other words, I would be looking at a founder population with that characteristic, and Eastern Anatolia or anything close to the Caucasus (Armenia, Kurdish regions) certainly does not look likely for that. I agree that (South) Eastern Anatolia and Syria make more sense.

Kepler said...

OK, there is another possibility.
Imagine there is something in the story as told in Genesis that holds a piece of history.
Abraham was said to be from
Ur Kasdim

What we do know is that Ancient Hebrew was very very close to Phoenician and other canaanite languages. Imagine there is an over-represented element of big honchos coming from the North, who merged with the cananite element (as they obviously did, see Israel Finkelstein's work) plus some others and after the Diaspora the descendants of the Northern honchos kept having a son or two more than the rest (they were, after all, preserving their privileges as Kohanim, blabla).
Even though they obviously interbred a lot initially, they keep showing this "Abraham" trait (in a very general way).
OK, that was a wild guess.

Maju said...

Now that you mention Syria, I have been checking around and Syria, notably Damascus and Antioch (now Turkey), was another major Jewish diaspora area. However the population of Asia Minor was probably as large or more (est. 45,000 Jewish homes by the amount of Jewish-only tax they paid). Other early diaspora was in Alexandria and of course in Mesopotamia.

They might have some combined ancestry from all these regions but Syria and Turkey (Cilicia, Asia Minor) would be the centers after the Roman genocidal suppression of Judean nationalism.

However Jews are almost never compared to these regions of historical diaspora. This capricious choice of populations (or maybe even self-censorship of real findings never published) has an ideological reason and it's a shame.

Kepler said...

I am not discussing patrilineage either, this cohen thing cannot even refer to one individual as there are the J1 and the J2 with it. I am just saying the Abraham story may have some element of some Northern group intermingling with the canaanites. That group became more important with Juda and Israel emerging, then during the Roman times, but still was not so widespread. After the fall and diaspora it was families with this group that went out first to Europe. Imagine those who kept the tradition of being the real ones, the cohanim, had a higher status in their groups and begot more children, so that plus the new merges with Italian, Greek, Spanish populations made them further apart from the cananite (and Jewish) people who had always constituted the bulk of the Palestiniean population

Maju said...

No, Kepler: I can't and don't want to imagine that. There are maybe 2000 years of proto-history/Biblical "history" between the legend of Abraham and the maybe more historical Moses and his brother Aaron. And there is still at least another millennium until the Jesus and the Roman repression that eventually pushed most Jews to become Christians and then Muslims. As I see it, it's simply impossible to keep such genealogical continuity when you're moving from here to there all the time.

It's mythological, not real.

terryt said...

I agree with Maju here, believe it or not. Although the legends concerning Abraham, Moses and Aaron may have originally been based on real people the stories have grown considerably, like fishermen's yarns.

There's no way the Jews descend, in the remotest sense, from a single individual. Or that a substantial proportion of the Jews' ancestors spent any time in Egypt, except possibly as members of the Hyksos.

Kepler said...

No, no, no. I am not saying it was one bloke who came from Turkey. What I am saying is that that story about Ur Kasdim may have derived from something like this: imagine a group of merchants or herders - 30 men with their families, 50, 300 - who came from the North and settled down in the cananite cities. Imagine somehow their stories (with one "Abraham" or whatever) mingled with those of the canaanites and some Hyksos (who may have been canaanites who just migrated to Egypt much earlier and went back after the Kyksos period).
Imagine somehow someone developed a myth where those descendants of the Turkish ones played a central role. As soon as a greater community believed they were somehow chosen ones, they had a comparative advantage to spread their sperm, bluntly said.
Once Israel was dispered (Titus, etc) that advantage was kept only outside Palestine.

terryt said...

You could be onto something there. Y-hap J2 is prominent in the upper castes in India, as well as being associated with a priestly class amoung Jews. Perhaps a group of J2 got together way back and foisted religion on everybody in a wide swathe of territory during the Neolithic (sort of joking, but not entirely).

Unknown said...

"Once Israel was dispersed (Titus, etc) that advantage was kept only outside Palestine."

I am not sure that the consensus any longer is that "Israel," in the sense of the population, was dispersed with Titus.

The more likely scenario is that those people survived and stayed. The Roman Empire created some mobility but not that much. The real effect of Titus and the failure of the uprising was the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple based orthodoxies. It is more about the Jews, and people converting to Judaism, who thrived and grew in the Greek and Hellenistic and then Roman city states all around the Med being separated from Jerusalem centric orthodoxy. This is important in that it allowed the Synagogue and community based Judaism(s) to develop (essentially a completely different religion than that of Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel) and also facilitated the growth of the Jesus sect.

In essence the evidence is that "Israel in Israel" remained there and simply were the most likely to covert to Christianity and later Islam. The Jews today are simply fractional partial decedents of a minority who left, yet who now look on those who stayed as "other" -- and therefore alien to the land where they have lived for millenia.

The data to date doesn't contradict at all that obvious conclusion. Those who were away from Jerusalem and the few who left see it as a cataclysm. That view from a distance, as well as the ethnic needs of this marginally Hebraic population created a myth disenfranchising those who stayed

Dienekes said...

The more interesting thing (to me) about recent Jewish demography is how Ashkenazi Jews (who were a very small minority of the Jewish population) grew to become a great demographic component of that population.

How did this growth occur? the AJ found new living space in Europe, where they could grow in numbers. By contrast, Jews elsewhere had already experienced their growth phase and faced decline due to conversion. Thus the AJ component of the total Jewish group increased.

Drawing a parallel, Jews in Palestine in the Hellenistic-Roman era were plentiful (locally) but they were demographically constrained by the limited available space. But, their Diaspora had much more available space to grow in. So, I would guess that the major part of extant Jews' ancestry is from Roman-era Diaspora Jews rather than Roman-era Palestine Jews.

The interesting question (to me) is how much European ancestry did the Jews receive in the Hellenistic-Roman period, and how much in the medieval-Roman one. I believe that both elements are present, but I would wager that the European element in AJs consists of a fairly uniform Italian-Balkan-Anatolian "old" stratum, and a very variable German-Slavic "new" stratum.

Gioiello said...

I agree completely with you, Dienekes. I pointed on the Italian component for personal reasons, being my R1b1b2a, very close to many AJ, thought by Jews as Jewish and by me as Italian. But the Anatolian and Balkan and Greek component I think it is of the same importance.

Leslie Schwartz said...

Is there anything definitive about the primary haplotypes in the original ancient Jewish populations?

I mean going beck to the origins, with Abram assumed to be Sumerian, and presuming his armed escort of 380 men, formed the basis of a future Hebrew population, who were likely not Canaanite, and that as some Sumerian researches asset, Abram may not have been Semitic, given that the founders of Sumeria, were from the east, perhaps from a civilization in decline such as from the Harapian or Indus Valley, of from regions of the Indian continent flooded at the end of the last ice age?

edrnch said...

Every time there is a Jewish DNA study the Jewish-obsessed commenters come out of their corners to make the expected political remarks. Their comments say a lot about them, and more about their psychological projections than they do about Jews and scientific studies on DNA. The obsession with Jews continues as a worldwide phenomenon; and it is an obsession that the Jewish community can never ignore. The obsessed cannot be reasoned with. They work within many themes, are always on the attack, and are powered by irrational anger, which on the Internet finds the form of compulsive writing on the subjects of Jews and Israel. You know who you are. I have nothing to say to you except the words written at the Oracle of Delphi: KNOW THYSELF

LouieJ said...

Um Maju, actually, I do cluster with Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese and Druze, sorry to inform you :( I can post my test if you want...Again, you are trying to act like genetics has some solution to the current political situation and you keep claiming others have ulterior, so would you say, you do not?

Onur Dincer said...

Anyhow, you Druze and Palestinian cluster differently, that's because Druze seem to be a recent amalgamation of Aegean, Egyptian and Levant peoples. Syrians/Lebanese and Palestinians also cluster differently: Syrian/Lebanese are more "Turk-like", "Roman" Jews are even more so.

There is little difference between the Druze and Lebanese Christians, so I do not know where you see genetic evidence that the Druze are a recent amalgamation of Aegean, Egyptian and Levant peoples.

Maju said...

Druzes are a highly endogamic religious community that was born only 1000 years ago. Some of their traditions point to mixed Anatolian and Egyptian origins, although local origins are also probable. This is more clear in the mtDNA The presence of mtDNA X1 in this community and only them (nobody else in West Asia has it AFAIK) clearly supports the Egyptian origin part, other matrilineages also seem to support the Anatolian part. In any case they are irrelevant and only bring confusion to debates.

Also I don't see any significant difference between Christian and Muslim Lebanese, nor among them and Syrians in general. The North Levant is a cluster, even if somehow transitional between Anatolia and Palestine, it is still more "southern" looking than Roman Jews, whose more direct relatives appear to be Cypriots, although some unresearched Anatolian population could also be a direct relative (hard to say after the genocides of the early 20th century in Turkey and the lack of diverse regional autosomal samples for this state).

IF (and it's a big if, totally uncertain here) Roman Jews (Sephardi, Ashkenazi...) would only be related to Cypriots (other than lesser European admixture), then it becomes possible to speculate that the whole or at least the main core of Roman Jews comes from the Cypriot Jewish community, which was wholly expelled after a brutal ethnic war (ref. This is a very radical interpretation that I'm not sure at all if it could be correct, so treat with due caution.

Onur Dincer said...

Druze X mtDNA haplogroups are way too diverse and frequent to be explained by migration from Egypt. X1 is present in many regions of West Asia but at very low frequencies. I even have an Armenian friend with X1.

Lebanese religious groups are genetically close to each other, but Druze and Lebanese Christians are genetically closer to each other than either one of them to Lebanese Muslims.

European Jews (e.g., Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Italian Jews), especially Ashkenazi Jews, genetically cluster more with South Italians (including Sicilians) than with Cypriots, Anatolians or Aegeans: