Specific details of the study in the second article, below.

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From: phys.org

Ashkenazic Jews’ mysterious origins unravelled by scientists thanks to ancient DNA


recent DNA analysis of Ashkenazic Jews – a Jewish ethnic group – revealed that their maternal line is European. It has also been found that their DNA only has 3% ancient ancestry which links them with the Eastern Mediterranean (also known as the Middle East) – namely Israel, Lebanon, parts of Syria, and western Jordan. …

Not one, but many tribes

…The tolerance of the Persians encouraged the Jews to … climb up the social ladder gaining a monopoly on trade. They also converted other people who were living along the Black Sea, to their Jewish faith. This helped to expand their global network.

Among these converts were the Alans (Iranian nomadic pastoral people), Greeks, and Slavs who resided along the southern shores of the Black Sea. Upon conversion, they translated the Old Testament into Greek, built synagogues, and continued expanding the Jewish trade network.

These Jews adopted the name Ashkenaz, and the DNA of Ashkenazic Jews can be traced to “Ancient Ashkenaz” – an intersection of trade routes in eastern Turkey. …

The rise of the Ashina

We now know that at the time these Jews adopted the name Ashkenaz, they also acquired unique Asian mutations on their Y chromosome. This is where another important group of people in our story come into play – and they are called the Gok-Turks.

During the sixth century, these nomadic people were ruled by a Siberian Turkic tribe called the Ashina. They were forced by the Chinese Tang Empire – who were in power in China at the time – to migrate westwards toward the Black Sea.

Thanks to their organisational and military skills, the Ashina united many tribes in this area – and a new empire called the “Khazar Khaganate” was born. Offering freedom of worship and taxing trade, these people quickly rose to power.

The Asian group of these DNA mutations, found in Ashkenazic Jews, likely originated from the Ashina elite and other Khazar clans, who converted from Shamanism to Judaism. This means that the Ashina and core Khazar clans were absorbed by the Ashkenazic Jews.

It was also around this time that the Jewish elite adopted many Slavic customs. And based on my previous research, I would suggest that Yiddish was developed as a secret language to assist in trade.

The next chapter

What happened next was that the Jewish empire began to collapse. By the tenth century, the Jews on the Black Sea migrated to Ukraine and Italy. Yiddish became the lingua franca of these Ashkenazic Jews and absorbed German words while maintaining the Slavic grammar. …

Explore further

DNA sat nav uncovers ancient Ashkenaz


Front. Genet., 21 June 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2017.00087

The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish

  • 1Manipal Centre for Natural Sciences, Manipal University, Manipal, India
  • 2Department of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
  • 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 4Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Recently, the geographical origins of Ashkenazic Jews (AJs) and their native language Yiddish were investigated by applying the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) to a cohort of exclusively Yiddish-speaking and multilingual AJs. GPS localized most AJs along major ancient trade routes in northeastern Turkey adjacent to primeval villages with names that resemble the word “Ashkenaz.” These findings were compatible with the hypothesis of an Irano-Turko-Slavic origin for AJs and a Slavic origin for Yiddish and at odds with the Rhineland hypothesis advocating a Levantine origin for AJs and German origins for Yiddish. We discuss how these findings advance three ongoing debates concerning (1) the historical meaning of the term “Ashkenaz;” (2) the genetic structure of AJs and their geographical origins as inferred from multiple studies employing both modern and ancient DNA and original ancient DNA analyses; and (3) the development of Yiddish. We provide additional validation to the non-Levantine origin of AJs using ancient DNA from the Near East and the Levant. Due to the rising popularity of geo-localization tools to address questions of origin, we briefly discuss the advantages and limitations of popular tools with focus on the GPS approach. Our results reinforce the non-Levantine origins of AJs.

The Genetic Structure of Ashkenazic Jews

AJs were localized to modern-day Turkey and found to be genetically closest to Turkic, southern Caucasian, and Iranian populations, suggesting a common origin in Iranian “Ashkenaz” lands (Das et al., 2016). These findings were more compatible with an Irano-Turko-Slavic origin for AJs and a Slavic origin for Yiddish than with the Rhineland hypothesis, which lacks historical, genetic, and linguistic support (Table 1) (van Straten, 2004Elhaik, 2013). …

The non-Levantine origin of AJs is further supported by an ancient DNA analysis of six Natufians and a Levantine Neolithic (Lazaridis et al., 2016), some of the most likely Judaean progenitors (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002Frendo, 2004). In a principle component analysis (PCA), the ancient Levantines clustered predominantly with modern-day Palestinians and Bedouins and marginally overlapped with Arabian Jews, whereas AJs clustered away from Levantine individuals and adjacent to Neolithic Anatolians and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europeans. To evaluate these findings, we inferred the ancient ancestries of AJs using the admixture analysis described in Marshall et al. (2016). Briefly, we analyzed 18,757 autosomal SNPs genotyped in 46 Palestinians, 45 Bedouins, 16 Syrians, and eight Lebanese (Li et al., 2008) alongside 467 AJs [367 AJs previously analyzed and 100 individuals with AJ mother) (Das et al., 2016) that overlapped with both the GenoChip (Elhaik et al., 2013) and ancient DNA data (Lazaridis et al., 2016). We then carried out a supervised ADMIXTURE analysis (Alexander and Lange, 2011) using three East European Hunter Gatherers from Russia (EHGs) alongside six Epipaleolithic Levantines, 24 Neolithic Anatolians, and six Neolithic Iranians as reference populations (Table S0). Remarkably, AJs exhibit a dominant Iranian (88%) and residual Levantine (3%) ancestries, as opposed to Bedouins (14% and 68%, respectively) and Palestinians (18% and 58%, respectively). [Palestinians are Semitic; Ashkenazis are not – ed.]

The Linguistic Debate Concerning Formation of Yiddish

The historical evidence in favor of an Irano-Turko-Slavic origin for Yiddish is paramount (e.g., Wexler, 19932010).


The meaning of the term “Ashkenaz” and the geographical origins of AJs and Yiddish are some of the longest standing questions in history, genetics, and linguistics. In our previous work we have identified “ancient Ashkenaz,” a region in northeastern Turkey that harbors four primeval villages whose names resemble Ashkenaz. Here, we elaborate on the meaning of this term and argue that it acquired its modern meaning only after a critical mass of Ashkenazic Jews arrived in Germany. We show that all bio-localization analyses have localized AJs to Turkey and that the non-Levantine origins of AJs are supported by ancient genome analyses. Overall, these findings are compatible with the hypothesis of an Irano-Turko-Slavic origin for AJs and a Slavic origin for Yiddish and contradict the predictions of Rhineland hypothesis that lacks historical, genetic, and linguistic support (Table 1). …

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fgene.2017.00087/full#supplementary-material


How does the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) work?

Apr 19, 2016

Eran Elhaik

Biogeography deals with questions such as where mutation has happened that created a unique haplogroup or unique genomic signature of autosomal DNA. The DNA changes in every generation. However, some changes are large and some are small. The Geographic Population Structure or GPS infers the most recent geographic origin of human DNA sequence from their DNA. Due to the frequent population movements, Y and mtDNA haplogroups can only be used to infer broad geographical origins and only for the past 200,000-20,000 years. By contrast, GPS uses autosomal data, which is highly accurate to the recent past, but loses information as we move along. GPS is designed for individuals with four grandparents of the same geographical origins, for everyone else, it would return the average of their ancestral origins. Therefore, GPS is best suited for regions that have a stable geographic history.

For more details see:


Das R, et al. 2016. Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to primeval villages in the ancient Iranian lands of Ashkenaz. Genome Biol. Evol.

Elhaik E, et al. 2014. Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins. Nat. Commun. 5.

GPS was also used by:


Das R, et al. 2016. Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to primeval villages in the ancient Iranian lands of Ashkenaz. Genome Biol. Evol.


Johns Hopkins DNA Study: Most Israeli “Jews” not Semitic – originate from Khazaria, not Israel

Many Palestinians are descendants of Judaics who converted to Islam after the Muslims invaded – Scott Horton

E Michael Jones: “The Turks were known as Orcs in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

The Philistines “went extinct centuries ago” — Palestinians not Philistines