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May 15, 2003

Genetic History of the Jews

Steve Sailer interviews Jon Entine who is writing a book that seems to deal with Jewish history through the prism of genetics. A good summary of the current state of knowledge.

Update: Story on Hellenized Jews in southern Italy (the Italiot Greek communities are the remnants of Magna Gracia and the Byzantine Era).

Posted by razib at 07:14 PM

Using the Bible as a historical source for the period before the Babylonian Captivity is very, very risky. The rest looks fairly reasonable.

Posted by: zizka at May 15, 2003 08:42 PM

"the racial group that is perhaps mankind's most ancient -- the Jews?"

somebody call the anthro department, we have a new theory!

1) "during the Hellenistic period after Alexander the Great's conquests, Jewish intermarriage with gentiles was rampant"

2) "During the early Christian period in the Roman Empire, Jewish males who had left the Mideast often took on Gentile wives. Their offspring probably became the core of Ashkenazi Jewry."

3) "The real end to Ashkenazi Jewish out-marrying did not come until the Middle Ages"

4) "that mixed group evolved to become the Ashkenazi Jewish core"

pretty much as i suspected all along. they're mixed with the whites.

Posted by: jody at May 15, 2003 09:52 PM

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know any reliable data on the proportion of Jews (as self-identified) in the US and Europe who have blue eyes?

It is my casual impression that in Britain the proportion is quite high - over 20%, anyway. Since blue eyes are a recessive trait, the gene proportion in the population must be higher - over 40%, by the Hardy-Weinberg rules, give or take a bit of assortative mating. Since blue eyes are not an ancestral mid-Eastern trait, there must have been substantial mixing (by marriage or otherwise) at some stage with a largely blue-eyed population.

Posted by: David B at May 16, 2003 07:15 AM

"there must have been substantial mixing (by marriage or otherwise) at some stage with a largely blue-eyed population"-well, what about poles??? also-over 1,500 there could have been preferential sexual selection for blues eyes-the peculiar genetics of ashkenazi jews indicates population bottlenecks and small founder groups....

Posted by: razib at May 16, 2003 08:57 AM

btw, i think a more plausible reason for the high % of blues eyes might be a continued intermarriage with local female populations for a few generations before the walls of endogamy went up. that would mean that the majority of jewish ancestry is non-mid-eastern but the y lineage would be preserved. and of course a non-trivial minority of middle easterners have blue eyes (or more often, green & hazel).

Posted by: razib at May 16, 2003 10:07 AM

I don't know who has the degrees in Biblical scholarship on Gene Expression, but I suggest careful comments thereupon. It is a huge, old field...

Anyway, speaking of Jewish genealogy, I thought I'd share a recent post from BadEagle.com, "Guess Who Wasn't Jewish?"

Posted by: David Yeagley at May 19, 2003 03:51 PM