Re: Culture's effect on Genetics (was: RE: Cartoon meme)

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Wed 15 Feb 2006 - 09:06:46 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: Culture's effect on Genetics"

    Okay, wearing my geneticist hat here.....

    It's immensely complicated and no single paper gives the whole story. Generally, Jewish Y-chromosomes (meaning the Ys of men living in any part of the world who self-identify as Jewish) are more similar as a population to Palestinian Ys than they are to European Ys. The admixture of European Ys in the Ashkenazi Jewish population is between 10% and 30% depending on whose data you look at. This is rather lower than a lot of cultural anthropologists would have suggested in the pre-genetic era. So basically the Ashkenazi Jews are more typically Middle Eastern than previously thought. Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews are also more similar than previously thought, suggesting that there was more pan-Jewish communication and gene exchange around Europe and the Mediterranean basin than the historical record might suggest.

    One of the major complications is that there is evidence for founder effect among Askenazi Jews, with the Cohenic haplotype being perhaps only in the order of 1000 years old - so unlike their Arab cousins, many (but nevertheless a minority) of Jews have a fairly recent common ancestor.

    For a common ancestor of all the Ys within both Jewish and Palestinian populations (which would be the "Y-chromosomal Abraham" by analogy with the "Y-chromosomal Adam"), the date is probably something like 8000-11000 BC (so the story in Genesis about Abraham cannot be true if one goes with the historians who guess that Abraham was ~2000 BC. If a historical figure, Abraham could have been the common ancestor of many current Jews and Palestinians but nevertheless only a minority in both populations as he is too recent)

    > but I think the Romans didn't empty out palestine when they kicked
    out the Jews. They expelled the ruling class of Jews, not all of them.

    That's a historical matter. Any evidence or just the way you'd like it to have been? A "ruling class only" hypothesis is difficult to justify genetically as the current Y diversity would then (probably, but not certainly) be smaller.

    >Those who remained were still Jews, who later turned to Islam, But
    they still are Jews. Maybe the Ten Lost Tribes...

    again historical evidence needed. The genetic picture is compatible with either a total expulsion or a partial one, since what seems to have happened is that a large cohort of Middle Eastern Ys entered Europe at about 2000 years ago, and that cohort is still genetically visible and associated with a religion. More than that is difficult to say.

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