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“52 percent of Levites of Ashkenazi origin have a particular genetic signature that originated in Central Asia, although it is also found less frequently in the Middle East,” according to a new report. “The ancestor who introduced it into the Ashkenazi Levites could perhaps have been from the Khazars, a Turkic tribe whose king converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century.”
I remember Arthur Koestler asserting this in The Thirteenth Tribe. Apparently, the potentate was trying to split the difference between the Christian west and the Moslem east, and made his kingdom jewish by fiat.

See extended entry for the full report.


  1. The Khazar thesis is controversial and last I saw was being downgraded. Maybe this evidence will upgrade it again. There’s no doubt that the Khazars’ ruling group adopted Judaism, but their importance for Ashkenazi origins is uncertain. (Koestler’s books are always interesting but very eccentric too).

    I once wandered onto a neo-Nazi site which went on at great length about the Turkish origins of the Jews, except he mistook the Khazars for the Khazaks.

  2. interesting–paul wexler’s theories may yet be proven correct, see:


  3. jah jah city jah jah town me turn it to a cowboy town

  4. this is very weird. who would have predicted that the levites & kohanim would have different genetic histories? as greg cochran pointed out-the levite effective population is so tiny that genetic drift could have done bizarro wonders with them. on the other hand-the kohanim haplotype shows up in places like india & zimbabwe as well as among traditional sephardic & ashkenazi jews….

    anyway, this is real weird.

  5. Could it be that somewhere along the line, a travelling Khazar “playa” had his way with some Levite’s wife, thereby breaking the line of succession? It might have been that the son that resulted inherited his father’s “playa” genes, and saturated the community with his own seed, so to speak. A wild-assed theory, I know, but hey, it’s a possibility, right?

  6. wexler thinks ashk jews aren’t khazars but sorbs:

    “In Wexler’s view, the Ashkenazic Jews most likely descend from a minority ethnic Palestinian Jewish emigre population that intermarried with a much larger heterogeneous population of converts to Judaism from Asia Minor, the Balkans and the Germano-Sorb lands (the Sorbs are a West Slavic population that still numbers about 70,000 in the former German Democratic Republic). Widespread conversions to Judaism that began in Asia Minor in the Christian era and ended with the institutionalization of Christianity among the Western Slavs in the beginning of the second millennium saved the tiny ethnic Palestinian Jewish population in the diaspora from total extinction. The major non-Jewish contributors to the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazic Jews were Slavs, though there was probably also a minor Turkic strain — both in the Caspian-Black Sea area (the descendants of the Khazars, a mainly Turkic group that converted to Judaism in the eighth century) and in the Balkans and Hungary. In all of these areas, the Turkic population early became submerged with the coterritorial Slavs.”

    Now how does this fit in w/the data??

    I’m having trouble ab-sorbing this :)

  7. So the two most evil groups in the history of the World are one and the same? personally i don’t believe it. genetic typing is (i suspect) a pretty tricky technology even for a country at the forefront of World like the United States. i certainly don’t trust results coming from a backward country like Israel. my own theory (supported by evidence) is that Jews are at least along the male line descendanded from a brother group of the ancient Hittites. They probably entered Palestine in the wake of the Hykso invasion and learnt to speak a bastardized version of proto-Arabic. The route of the Jews is probably: Asia Minor > Palestine > Mesopotamia > Eastern Mediterranean > Western Europe > Eastern Europe > America > Palestine

  8. I don’t think Jews and Armenians, Hittites, etc, were ever originally the same people. The only true ‘Armenoid’ element in Jews comes from autochthonous Jewish communities in the Caucasus, who may have racially influenced Ashkenazim in Southern Russia to a certain extent.

    The reasoning behind this is simple – classic Armenoids tend to have large, broad faces, while proto-typical Ashkenazic Jews have narrow faces.

  9. Melnorme,

    Unfortunately but not surprisingly most of the research done on Jews is done by Jews and therefore suspect.

    However according to the Jewish Encyclopedia article on carniometry Ashkenazi Jews are brachycelphic (fat headed).

    Arabs by the way are dolichocephalic.

  10. Incorrect. Syrians and Lebanese are brachycephalic, but not Armenoids. They are Asiatic Dinarics.

  11. Oh, and I don’t need to mention that the German Alpines that Jews mixed with are also brachycephalic. ;)

  12. Melnorme,

    on what basis do you conclude that Jews are a mixture with German “Alpines”. Germans are a very capable and intelligent people whereas Jews are not capable and intelligent at all (except in a way that no good person would want to be). more importantly the very low variation of cephalic index within the Ashkenazi population is not consistent with any mixture hypothesis except one involving two or more brachycephalic groups.

    as for Syrians being brachycephalic I would like to see some evidence for this other than your word. either way it would not change the fact that the Arabs as a whole are dolichocephalic.

  13. Acheson -

    Take a look at my e-mail address. ;) ;)

    Webpage on Syrian/Lebanese genetics and physical anthropology -


  14. So the two most evil groups in the history of the World . . . is done by Jews and therefore suspect. . . . whereas Jews are not capable and intelligent at all

    Melnorme is more forgiving than I am Acheson. Stop trying to provoke.

  15. stop this crap about “armenoids” & “alpines” and all that shit. take it Dienekes.

  16. OK, you’re the boss. I know the discussion was off the mark for GNXP, but I felt I had to touch on the subject to explain my view of the origins of Jews. And it is a crucial point – the Caucasus and the Middle East are fairly close, but their peoples are quite different from each other, culturally and physically.

  17. There is a mountain of info about the Khazar Kingdom on, but I’ve no idea how reliable it is. I think the current historical consensus is that the rulers may have converted to Judaism (after an alleged competitive pitch against Christianity and Islam) but it never trickled down. The Khazars get little attention in the voluminous “Encyclopaedia Judaica”.

    Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe”, one of his last works, is or was available in full on line. It contains a weird attempt to demonstrate that Jews don’t have hooked but “fleshy” noses. But he winds up saying that wherever the Jews hailed from should not affect their title to Israel.

  18. “Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe”, one of his last works, is or was available in full on line. It contains a weird attempt to demonstrate that Jews don’t have hooked but “fleshy” noses. But he winds up saying that wherever the Jews hailed from should not affect their title to Israel.”

    Hehe. The truth is that most Jews don’t have true hooked noses, but most have prominent noses with a tendency to convexity. There *is* a difference.