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Thread: Jewish populations - a subtle distinction

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    Jewish populations - a subtle distinction

    I've run a comparative autosomal analysis of six different Jewish populations (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Tunisian, Yemeni, Iranian and Iraqi). The main distinctions are as expected - e.g. some Central European admixture within Ashkenazis and some Iberian and African admixture within Sephardis and Tunisians.

    However, the results also indicate a subtler distinction - Ashkenazis and Iranians each show a substantial LMBA Armenian component (comprising an estimated 17-24% of their non-Central European/non-Iranian aDNA), compared to the other four Jewish populations which show no LMBA Armenian at all. (Moreover, the same analysis estimates no prior Iranian admixture within Ashkenazis.)

    Any suggestions for possible explanations?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Jewish converts within Southern Europe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsnake49 View Post
    Jewish converts within Southern Europe?
    Possibly, although I can't get any close fits with Southern Europeans, other than those already taken into account as Central European.
    I am wondering whether Ashkenazis and Iranian Jews might be partly descended from a particular caste within early Judaism - perhaps a military one, including mercenaries of LMBA Armenian-like origin? I suppose these were the kind of Jews most likely to have been taken East as slaves following conflict.

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    Academic papers conclude that Ashkenazi are a Levantine/South Euro population with minor central and Eastern European ancestry
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    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    Academic papers conclude that Ashkenazi are a Levantine/South Euro population with minor central and Eastern European ancestry
    Are these papers comparing Ashkenazi to modern or historical populations? (aDNA can change substantially over time)
    And which specific types of Levantine/South Euro population? (different types have different profiles)
    How much is 'minor'?

    My query is on the nature of the Levantine, rather than any European, contributions.

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    Here are my full results for the historical non-European contributions -
    Yemeni Jews - 19% Egyptian, 60% Levantine, 0% Armenian LMBA, 20% Iranian, 1% Other
    Iraqi Jews - 0% Egyptian, 46% Levantine, 0% Armenian LMBA, 48% Iranian, 6% Other
    Iranian Jews - 3% Egyptian, 32% Levantine, 13% Armenian LMBA, 46% Iranian, 6% Other
    Ashkenazis - 46% Egyptian, 19% Levantine, 22% Armenian LMBA, 0% Iranian, 13% Other
    Sephardis - 25% Egyptian, 55% Levantine, 0% Armenian LMBA, 0% Iranian, 20% Other
    Tunisian Jews - 23% Egyptian, 56% Levantine, 0% Armenian LMBA, 0% Iranian, 21% Other

    Apart from Sephardis and Tunisian Jews (and to an extent Iraqi and Iranian Jews), it does not look to me as if Jewish populations were genetically homogeneous immediately before the diaspora into Europe. I would suggest that these populations had split away from each other some time before this point.

    The most striking distinctions are probably -
    The presence of Armenian LMBA in only Iranian Jews and Ashkenazis.
    The heavy Egyptian component in Ashkenazis.

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    From their aDNA, any question marks over Ashkenazis' ancestral roots within early Judaism look misguided. If anything, it looks like their Egyptian and early Armenian contributions provide probably the best fit of all with Jewish heritage traditions. However, why would they seem to differ from e.g. Sephardis, even once the European DNA has been stripped out? Sephardis look perhaps more generic Canaanite?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pip View Post
    I've run a comparative autosomal analysis of six different Jewish populations (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Tunisian, Yemeni, Iranian and Iraqi). The main distinctions are as expected - e.g. some Central European admixture within Ashkenazis and some Iberian and African admixture within Sephardis and Tunisians.

    However, the results also indicate a subtler distinction - Ashkenazis and Iranians each show a substantial LMBA Armenian component (comprising an estimated 17-24% of their non-Central European/non-Iranian aDNA), compared to the other four Jewish populations which show no LMBA Armenian at all. (Moreover, the same analysis estimates no prior Iranian admixture within Ashkenazis.)

    Any suggestions for possible explanations?
    Hi again, Pip!

    There was a user on here named Arame who had an interesting theory in a different thread on this site a couple of years ago. He was pretty knowledgable about Armenian genetics and ancient history. Anyway, he suggested that the Mushki people (which is actually a name given to possibly two LBA populations in eastern Asia Minor--it's unclear what their relationship was to one another) may have contributed to some Jewish populations. It's unclear what the Mushki spoke--they are usually connected to Armenians and/or Phrygians, but its possible that they were some sort of Indo-European Balkan or Colchian/Caucasus people. Or maybe one Mushki group were Indo-Euro and one was Caucasian, if the two were unrelated groups. Anyway, the Greeks called them Moschoi. The Jewish scholar connected the Moschoi to Biblical Mescheh. Mescheh, in the Bible, was called a "son of Aram". Aram is the name of an Armenian patriarch. Now Aram could also be a reference to Syria or the Arameans too. But it's possible that Syrian Aram is connected to the Armenian Aram, which is usually, but not always, etymologized as an Indo-European word.

    Even if the Mushki weren't the Proto-Armenians (as Diakonoff suggested) or an Armenian tribe (as Arame suggests in the other tribe), they still lived in the Armenia region during the Urartian-era, and I believed lent their name to the city of Mush. So it's extremely likely that they contributed to the Armenian ethnogenesis.

    Anyway, this is just an interesting theory that I read that I thought might answer your question. These words/names might only sound similar and not be related to one another, but the Mushki/Moschoi lived during the right time period (1200 BCE-700 BCE or so), so I think that Arame could have been onto something.

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    If they're on the earlier end of the MBA, they could be from Hittites or Hurrians, neither of whom were not Armenian (obviously) but could have been genetically similar to Armenians, regardless of language/culture.

    Abraham may have been from Haran (Edessa, Urfa) which was a Hurrian city. This area was also called Aram Naharaim/Paddan Aram.

    But I'm not sure if this would explain why these Armenian genes only appear in Ashkenazi and Iranian Jews.

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    Do we know the ultimate point of dispersal of the ancestors of Ashkenazis after the emigration from Judea, but before their consolidated settlement in Europe? Or did they simply jump right to Europe (maybe South Italy considering their genetics)? If they in fact migrated first to other part of the Near East, establishing there for some time, and only much later, due to other circumstances that I don't know, migrated to Europe, they might simply have been with the forebears of Iranian Jews the only Jewish groups that was exposed to a LMBA Armenia-like (even if not directly descended from it, but similar enough to be picked up as a close enough source by a genetic ancestry modelling software), which might have happened somewhere between Southern Anatolia, Transcaucasia and North Iran. By that hypothesis, Iranian Jews and Ashkenazis would not have had a common origin or lived close necessarily. They just were subject to similar external influences for some time.

    Have you tried some model with Anatolia_BA (unfortunately the Anatolia_IA sample I know of is not that useful, because it very clearly belongs to an outsider with a genetic makeup that makes me pretty convinced that he was a Pontic-Caspian steppe migrant, maybe Cimmerian or Scythian).

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    Thanks for all the above suggestions. I did try adding Anatolian BA to the model.
    If Ashkenazis mushroomed from a small community of Jewish refugees mixing with a distinctive Mushki-like people somewhere like Cappadocia (?), for example, I think this would be feasible. The other possible explanation would be that they principally arose from a largely separate (Levite?) caste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pip View Post
    Thanks for all the above suggestions. I did try adding Anatolian BA to the model.
    If Ashkenazis mushroomed from a small community of Jewish refugees mixing with a distinctive Mushki-like people somewhere like Cappadocia (?), for example, I think this would be feasible. The other possible explanation would be that they principally arose from a largely separate (Levite?) caste.
    Interesting idea. The Mushki were in Cappodocia and also apparently in Cilicia and the general region of Lake Van (potentially giving their name to the city of Mush).

    A couple other ideas--there was a Medieval Armenian Jewish population that disappeared. It's theorized that they were originally from Iran. I don't know when they are supposed to have arrived in the Armenia region. According to tradition, in the 2nd-1st century BCE, Tigranes the Great moved 10,000 Jews from the Middle East into the Lake Van region. I'm assuming that they were not connected to the Medieval Armenian Jewish population, which was of potential Iranian Jewish origins.

    These might be way too late to explain BA mixing of Armenians and Jews though.

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    What's the % of Armenian ancestry in modern Ashkenazi Jews? Is it still detectable or is it too diluted now due to 3000 years passing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyuiopman View Post
    Interesting idea. The Mushki were in Cappodocia and also apparently in Cilicia and the general region of Lake Van (potentially giving their name to the city of Mush).

    A couple other ideas--there was a Medieval Armenian Jewish population that disappeared. It's theorized that they were originally from Iran. I don't know when they are supposed to have arrived in the Armenia region. According to tradition, in the 2nd-1st century BCE, Tigranes the Great moved 10,000 Jews from the Middle East into the Lake Van region. I'm assuming that they were not connected to the Medieval Armenian Jewish population, which was of potential Iranian Jewish origins.

    These might be way too late to explain BA mixing of Armenians and Jews though.
    Possibly, but still a feasibility worth considering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyuiopman View Post
    What's the % of Armenian ancestry in modern Ashkenazi Jews? Is it still detectable or is it too diluted now due to 3000 years passing?
    My calculations have so far estimated an Armenian LMBA contribution in four populations - 18% in later Armenian populations, 13% in modern Iranian Jews, 12% in modern Ashkenazi Jews and 6% in modern Punjabis (I don't know how the latter arose, it's just how the figures come out). Others might have different calculations.

    The main yDNA of the LMBA Armenian samples used in the calculations is E-M84. This also links to Ashkenazis, which are heavily represented in FTDNA's E-M84 database. There appears to be two main strands of Ashkenazi M84 - Y14899 and PF6747. Y14899 is almost exclusively Ashkenazi, with the exception of two basal samples (a Sephardi and a Palestinian) deriving from a recent bottleneck, circumstantially indicating that the M84 was Levantine in origin, rather than being picked up by proto-Ashkenazi refugees admixing with M84 individuals in Anatolia. PF6747 is more complex and wide-ranging, with some modern Armenian representation. I would say it is reasonably likely that both strands directly link back to bearers of M84 in LMBA Armenia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    Do we know the ultimate point of dispersal of the ancestors of Ashkenazis after the emigration from Judea, but before their consolidated settlement in Europe? Or did they simply jump right to Europe (maybe South Italy considering their genetics)? If they in fact migrated first to other part of the Near East, establishing there for some time, and only much later, due to other circumstances that I don't know, migrated to Europe, they might simply have been with the forebears of Iranian Jews the only Jewish groups that was exposed to a LMBA Armenia-like (even if not directly descended from it, but similar enough to be picked up as a close enough source by a genetic ancestry modelling software), which might have happened somewhere between Southern Anatolia, Transcaucasia and North Iran. By that hypothesis, Iranian Jews and Ashkenazis would not have had a common origin or lived close necessarily. They just were subject to similar external influences for some time.

    Have you tried some model with Anatolia_BA (unfortunately the Anatolia_IA sample I know of is not that useful, because it very clearly belongs to an outsider with a genetic makeup that makes me pretty convinced that he was a Pontic-Caspian steppe migrant, maybe Cimmerian or Scythian).
    What i found interesting and that i noticed by reading medieval things about eastern european cities, is that it looks like in Poland, Lithuania or Belarus, were there was a Jewish minority, there was also an Armenian minority. Wich makes me believe that they might have migrate somehow together from specific reasons. Probably at the time of the Khazars, both minority would have been tolerated by the power in plance and expand in different places of eastern europe.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    The Armenian component could possible come from the historical kingdom of Adiabene in northern Mesopotamia. The Adiabenian ruling family converted to Judaism in the first century CE. Josephus mentioned that there was a substantial Jewish population in the kingdom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    What i found interesting and that i noticed by reading medieval things about eastern european cities, is that it looks like in Poland, Lithuania or Belarus, were there was a Jewish minority, there was also an Armenian minority. Wich makes me believe that they might have migrate somehow together from specific reasons. Probably at the time of the Khazars, both minority would have been tolerated by the power in plance and expand in different places of eastern europe.
    There was a migration of Armenians into eastern Europe (the Carpathian region, Poland, and the Baltic states) when the city of Ani fell to, and much of the population was killed by, the Seljuk Turks in the 1060s CE. The Kingdom of Armenia had already fallen about 15 years earlier after it was conquered by the Byzantine Empire--so the 11th century was not really a good time to be in Armenia. I believe a Polish prince invited them to Poland at that time. In Eastern Europe they worked as merchants and miners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pip View Post
    My calculations have so far estimated an Armenian LMBA contribution in four populations - 18% in later Armenian populations, 13% in modern Iranian Jews, 12% in modern Ashkenazi Jews and 6% in modern Punjabis (I don't know how the latter arose, it's just how the figures come out). Others might have different calculations.

    The main yDNA of the LMBA Armenian samples used in the calculations is E-M84. This also links to Ashkenazis, which are heavily represented in FTDNA's E-M84 database. There appears to be two main strands of Ashkenazi M84 - Y14899 and PF6747. Y14899 is almost exclusively Ashkenazi, with the exception of two basal samples (a Sephardi and a Palestinian) deriving from a recent bottleneck, circumstantially indicating that the M84 was Levantine in origin, rather than being picked up by proto-Ashkenazi refugees admixing with M84 individuals in Anatolia. PF6747 is more complex and wide-ranging, with some modern Armenian representation. I would say it is reasonably likely that both strands directly link back to bearers of M84 in LMBA Armenia.
    Are these LMBA Armenians the potential "Satem" Armenians you and I were talking about some weeks ago?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sami Abugharbieh View Post
    The Armenian component could possible come from the historical kingdom of Adiabene in northern Mesopotamia. The Adiabenian ruling family converted to Judaism in the first century CE. Josephus mentioned that there was a substantial Jewish population in the kingdom.
    Wasnt they Zoroastrian before converting ? Maybe Zoroastrian is the bridge your looking for ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyuiopman View Post
    Are these LMBA Armenians the potential "Satem" Armenians you and I were talking about some weeks ago?
    Pip is saying the ydna of the LMBA armenian samples were majority ydna hg E-M84 this hg is more in Palestine\Jews so it could be Canaanite mixture in LMBA armenians don't you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tyuiopman View Post
    Are these LMBA Armenians the potential "Satem" Armenians you and I were talking about some weeks ago?
    I think it might have been slightly later Armenians, but I can't remember.

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    Thanks for these suggestions, everyone, which I think all look possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nornosh View Post
    Pip is saying the ydna of the LMBA armenian samples were majority ydna hg E-M84 this hg is more in Palestine\Jews so it could be Canaanite mixture in LMBA armenians don't you think?
    Yes, I've been looking more closely at the LMBA Armenian yDNA haplogroup E-M84, of which there are very many Ashkenazi samples. These Ashkenazis samples appear to fall into two main groups - Y14899 and PF6747.

    I had already noticed that Y14899 is almost exclusively Ashkenazi, with the exception of two basal samples (a Sephardi and a Palestinian) - all deriving from a recent bottleneck (meaning it tells us little about more distant origins).

    PF6747 looks similar, with an Ashkenazi-heavy branch (Z21018) and including some Sephardis and a Yemeni - but each with a substantially more distant (Bronze Age) TMRCA than Y14899 (per both yfull's estimates and my own).

    I would suggest this swings the balance towards the proto-Ashkenazi E-M84 being of a Southern Levant/Red Sea/generic Jewish origin, rather than Anatolian, which might also explain the relatively heavy Egyptian-like aDNA in Ashkenazis. Interestingly, the closest related PF6747 I can find to Z21018 (in terms of STRs) is a modern Armenian.

    I am tentatively leaning towards Armenian E-M84 making a more ancient (Bronze Age?) contribution to the Jewish gene pool, which thrived in individuals who were ancestral to proto-Ashkenazis, but was heavily diluted (or not heavily admixed in the first place) into individuals who were ancestral to other Jewish groups. However, I suppose this would be dependent on there being some kind of caste system within early Jewish populations that severely limited admixture between the ancestors of the different groups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pip View Post
    Yes, I've been looking more closely at the LMBA Armenian yDNA haplogroup E-M84, of which there are very many Ashkenazi samples. These Ashkenazis samples appear to fall into two main groups - Y14899 and PF6747.

    I had already noticed that Y14899 is almost exclusively Ashkenazi, with the exception of two basal samples (a Sephardi and a Palestinian) - all deriving from a recent bottleneck (meaning it tells us little about more distant origins).

    PF6747 looks similar, with an Ashkenazi-heavy branch (Z21018) and including some Sephardis and a Yemeni - but each with a substantially more distant (Bronze Age) TMRCA than Y14899 (per both yfull's estimates and my own).

    I would suggest this swings the balance towards the proto-Ashkenazi E-M84 being of a Southern Levant/Red Sea/generic Jewish origin, rather than Anatolian, which might also explain the relatively heavy Egyptian-like aDNA in Ashkenazis. Interestingly, the closest related PF6747 I can find to Z21018 (in terms of STRs) is a modern Armenian.

    I am tentatively leaning towards Armenian E-M84 making a more ancient (Bronze Age?) contribution to the Jewish gene pool, which thrived in individuals who were ancestral to proto-Ashkenazis, but was heavily diluted (or not heavily admixed in the first place) into individuals who were ancestral to other Jewish groups. However, I suppose this would be dependent on there being some kind of caste system within early Jewish populations that severely limited admixture between the ancestors of the different groups.
    Isn't there some evidence of separation between "the priestly class" (Cohens and Levines?) and others? But if I'm not wrong, Cohen genes appear in different Eastern Mediterranean populations outside of Jews.

    I wonder if these LBA Armenians weren't really Armenians but (possibly assimilated) Assyrians living in Armenia? Modern Assyrians are genetically similar to Armenians anyhow, but veer a bit more toward Palestinians whereas Armenians cluster a bit more toward European.

    I also wonder if it could alternately be from a Hurrian population from Syria/the Levant (maybe Urkesh)? If Proto-Hurrians were the Kura-Araxes culture but then became their own distinct culture at Urkesh in Syria they could be a genetic bridge between South Caucasians and Levantines. This could be possible if it was the earlier part of the LBA.

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