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Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews
December 29, 2004 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews Funny, They don't look Jewish:"Research has just begun into the ancient ties between Kurds and Jews. It would be interesting to see if the various Jewish groups have as strong a family tie to Kurds in the maternal lineages as they do in the paternal lineages. Preliminary studies indicate that Jewish populations in eastern Europe and Yemen have maternal origins that contain much more non-Israelite ancestry than their paternal origins. Despite this admixture with other groups, the Jewish Judean people ultimately began their existence in an area within or nearby Kurdistan, prior to migrating southwest to Israel. This exciting research showing that Kurds and Jews may have shared common fathers several millennia ago should, hopefully, encourage both Kurds and Jews to explore each others' cultures and to maintain the friendship that Kurds and Jews enjoyed in northern Iraq in recent times (as chronicled in Michael Rubin's recent article "The Other Iraq"). As Rubin indicates, the Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani once visited Israel and met with Israeli government officials. Rubin refers to the Iraqi Kurds' "special affinity for Israel" and writes that "In the safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Jews and Israel are remembered fondly, if increasingly vaguely." Let us hope that this relationship can be renewed and strengthened."
posted by Postroad (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
From Brooks' article: "A previous study by Ariella Oppenheim and her colleagues, published in Human Genetics in December 2000, showed that about 70 percent of Jewish paternal ancestries and about 82 percent of Palestinian Arabs share the same chromosomal pool. The geneticists asserted that this might support the claim that Palestinian Arabs descend in part from Judeans who converted to Islam. With their closer relationship to Jews, the Palestinian Arabs are distinctive from other Arab groups, such as Syrians, Lebanese, Saudis, and Iraqis, who have less of a connection to Jews."

I keep wondering how many Likudists have read this paper.
posted by davy at 5:31 PM on December 29, 2004


Unfortunately, many cultures with shared heritage don't get along with each other. Consider the treatment "mizrahi" (eastern, or Sephardic) Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and others, have received within Israel.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2004


Islam and Christianity both started as splinter sects from Judaism, and we see how well that's worked out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:35 PM on December 29, 2004


Interesting link. Much more on Jewish Adiabene here.

A fascinating book: The Jews of Kurdistan. I had no idea there were such Jews until I saw the book.

Unfortunately, many cultures with shared heritage don't get along with each other.

Very true. Recent cases in point: (ex-)Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia. See also: United States, 1861-65.
posted by languagehat at 5:40 PM on December 29, 2004


Why do I have a feeling that the Kurds might be trying to keep this on the down-low? Seems like the fastest route to being mistrusted in the Middle East is to have any connection whatsoever to Israel.

Also - further proof that "anti-semitism" needs a new name since about 3/4 of that section of the world seems to be semites.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 5:49 PM on December 29, 2004


Interesting, might also tie in with a book by Arthur Koestler (yes, that Arthur Koestler) called The Thirteeenth Tribe . It's a little speculative to say the least but... well, click on the link, have a read... Perhaps someone should write a follow up claiming the Kurds to be the lost tribe :-)


Also Faint of Butt and Languagehat - I think perhaps you might be off point here as we are not talking about the Kurds being a splinter sect of the Hebrews since we are discussing racial character, not religious affiliation.

Not that it invalidates what Faint of Butt is saying - although I do think what you're saying isn't right but for different reasons: Take the long view and the history of the middle east is not Jew against Arab.
posted by fingerbang at 5:50 PM on December 29, 2004


India's lost Jews, the Benei Menashe.
posted by euphorb at 6:13 PM on December 29, 2004


I keep wondering how many Likudists have read this paper.

[raises hand] This one read it two weeks ago, when a genetic genealogy listserve I subscribe to pointed out the awesome blog Genetic Chaos, which helpfully posts the texts of a number of DNA-related papers that would otherwise cost an arm and a leg to subscribe to. The full text of the paper being referenced in this post is available in PDF form on that blog here, along with a related study.

Perhaps we should re-phrase the question: "I wonder how many people who deny that modern-day Jews still have any meaningful historical tie to Israel have read this paper." And then there are the neo-Nazi types like Stormfront who continue to insist that all modern-day Jews are really the descendants of the Khazars, and thus "fakes" and fair game for being beat up. But they probably can't read in the first place.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2004


...or perhaps we could rephrase the question "I wonder how many people who claim that the rapid spread of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa was a purely peaceful cultural phenomenon have read this (PDF) paper from the American Journal of Human Genetics?" Especially the part where the authors mention tidbits like "low diversity may be indicative of a recent founder effect" or the part where they say "Y chromosomes that may have been introduced by recurrent waves of invaders from the Arabian Peninsula".

But of course, that genetic study was undertaken by scientists from Hebrew Univeristy, so I'm sure it's all a secret Zionist plot, even though it's in a peer-reviewed journal.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:48 PM on December 29, 2004


Asparagirl

"I wonder how many people who claim that the rapid spread of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa was a purely peaceful cultural phenomenon have read this (PDF) paper from the American Journal of Human Genetics?"

Errr...not to derail this further, but who exactly is it that claims the spread of Islam was a peaceful phenomenon?
posted by greatgefilte at 6:59 PM on December 29, 2004


The ancient Hittites, who lived roughly in the area of modern Kurdistan, have some pretty significant connections with biblical Israel. They're referenced continually in Deuteronomy, Judges and Kings as among the prior, non-Israelite residents of the Eretz Yisrael. The Jebusites, who were resident in Jerusalem when David was supposed to have taken the city, were probably of Anatolian origin.

And Ezekiel 16.3 attributes the origin of Israel to a mixed Amorite/Hittite ancestry.

Most significantly, a scholar named Mendenhall noted in the late '50's that the nearest literary model for the structure of the biblical covenant was to be found in Hittite vassal treaties.

None of this proves anything, of course, but it does give a little cultural background for the genetic data.
posted by felix betachat at 7:10 PM on December 29, 2004


I keep wondering how many Likudists have read this paper.

Yeah! Oh, and also how many knee-jerk leftists have realized that this sorta blows "Zionism=racism" right out of the water.
posted by felix betachat at 7:23 PM on December 29, 2004


Also Faint of Butt and Languagehat - I think perhaps you might be off point here as we are not talking about the Kurds being a splinter sect of the Hebrews since we are discussing racial character, not religious affiliation.

What baffles me, and I did read the link although I didn't understand much of it, is that there's just no such race as "Jew." Hitler thought there was, but it doesn't exist. Judaism is a religion, completely divorced from ethnic or geographic origin. You can be a Levite or a Cohen, or you can be a direct descendent of Shaka Zulu; it doesn't matter, you can still be a Jew. Can someone please rephrase the article for me so I can wrap my head around it?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:34 PM on December 29, 2004


Unfortunately, many cultures with shared heritage don't get along with each other.

Very true. Recent cases in point: (ex-)Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia. See also: United States, 1861-65.


Let's not forget Northern Ireland.
posted by semmi at 7:41 PM on December 29, 2004


Why do I have a feeling that the Kurds might be trying to keep this on the down-low? Seems like the fastest route to being mistrusted in the Middle East is to have any connection whatsoever to Israel.

guess again
posted by felix betachat at 7:49 PM on December 29, 2004


Faint of Butt,
That's not exactly true. Yes, it is possible to convert to Judaism, but Judaism has always had a strong ethnic/tribal element to it. Unlike Christianity or Islam, it is not much of a proselytizer. Jews hold, and evidence like this shows, that they come from a group of people who all lived together long ago. History and politics have forced them to spread and mingle, but the concept of Judaism as an ethnic group is not invalid because of that. There is definitely an idea of belonging to not only a religion, but a people: the nation of Israel. Since the religion did originate with this group of people, and the religion has been historically kept within this group wherver it went for the most part, modern Jews should have at least some shared genetic characteristics, as this article refers to.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:52 PM on December 29, 2004


I suppose you're right, Sangermaine. After all, the article does specify:

But the majority of Ashkenazic Jews, who possess Eu 9 and other chromosomes, descend paternally from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago.

My family is Ashkenazi Black Russian, and I take the most ethnic pride in being descended from the Mongol hordes who swept across the steppes, so what do I know?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:28 PM on December 29, 2004


Me: I keep wondering how many Likudists have read this paper.

Felix betachat: Yeah! Oh, and also how many knee-jerk leftists have realized that this sorta blows "Zionism=racism" right out of the water.

Just like it does with anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism, given that the Palestinian Arabs are "racially" Jews. Most likely those Jews who were living there when the Arabs conquered it, and probably converted to Islam by force and/or conceived by rape, too.

To cite greatgefilte: who exactly is it that claims the spread of Islam was a peaceful phenomenon?

What was that bit about redeeming captives again?
posted by davy at 8:41 PM on December 29, 2004


fwiw, saw this the other day: "What other citizens of Iraq fought alongside (and, in many instances, in front of) U.S. forces? What other citizens of Iraq offered security and housing to U.S. forces? We do hope that the days of the international community neglecting the Kurds are coming to a close, and we will be sure to pay close attention and provide assistance in any way we can. It’s the least we can do for those who did so much for us, and who desire to do so much more for themselves."
posted by kliuless at 8:50 PM on December 29, 2004


Faint of Butt -

One result of the fact that Judaism isn't just a religion is the phenomenon of non-religious Jews, like me. I've found that's a concept that's often confusing to people who think of it as something solely religious in nature (I don't think I've ever heard of someone call themself, say, an atheist Christian, so it sometimes doesn't translate very well.)

Of course, it's not a race, either (which many Jews are very insistent about, in the wake of the Holocaust), since you can convert to Judaism and most people would argue you can't do that with your race.

Probably the best way to think of it is as a culture or ethnicity. You're most likely born into it, but if you weren't you could become part of it if you really wanted to and worked hard at it. Which is kind of similar to how I think being queer works, now that I think of it. Hmm. Is that an ethnicity?
posted by kyrademon at 8:57 PM on December 29, 2004


felix betachat - thanks for the link! It seems like they are trying to keep it a little quiet given that Israel won't even admit that the program exists and the kurdish population is hush-hush about it. In fact, a big part of the article talks about how Kurdistan would be the next Israel (but for different reasons). Cool link, thanks!
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:57 PM on December 29, 2004


You know what would be nice? If all the people in the world stopped killing each other in fighting about whose man in the sky has the bigger cock. I think that would be spiffy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:15 PM on December 29, 2004


greatgefilte- Oh, a whole lot of people. This site, for one. Or this book. Or here. Google is your friend.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:19 PM on December 29, 2004


Asparagirl

Thank you, that was all I was asking for, although I imagine ever major religious group likes to self-soothe and believe that they never had to use violence to achieve their goals.

Reminds me of the time I was riding on the D train in Manhattan, when an itinerant preacher comes into the car and starts his spiel about accepting Jesus and how Christianity is a religion of peace and how horrible is it that Muslims and Jews are killing each other in the Middle East and if only they were Christians all would be okay.

When he came near me, I said, "If Christianity is the religion of peace, how do you explain the Crusades?" He said, "The Crusades?" and I said, "Yah, you know, bands of Christian fighters ravaging the Middle East and killing innocent Jews and Muslims."

His reply: "I'm not familiar with that."
posted by greatgefilte at 11:12 PM on December 29, 2004


Asparagirl, the capacity for people of a culture and/or religion to delude themselves and alter its history to its benefit is not at all surprising. What would be notable is if Muslims were the only people to do so.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:03 AM on December 30, 2004


You're most likely born into it, but if you weren't you could become part of it if you really wanted to and worked hard at it. Which is kind of similar to how I think being queer works, now that I think of it.

Um, what?! What exactly does "queer" mean in your world?
posted by Hildegarde at 3:26 AM on December 30, 2004


Just like it does with anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism, given that the Palestinian Arabs are "racially" Jews. Most likely those Jews who were living there when the Arabs conquered it, and probably converted to Islam by force and/or conceived by rape, too.

Actually, that's not true. When the Arab armies first started conquering territory outside of of Arabia, they created "treaties" with the local population allowing the local population to maintain some autonomy while the Arab conquerers seperated themselves from their subjects. The cities of Basra and Cairo were originally military camps built by the Arabs to seperate their armies from the local populations.

In these treaties, the local population was allowed to keep their religion but was not allowed to practice it in public and was not allowed to seek converts. The Arabs also said that they would not seek to convert them to Islam. And you can tell that this worked for scholars have discovered large books filled with names (census reports) and have shown that until the early 1000's and beyond, the majority of the regions under Arab control were not muslim. It wasn't until after the Crusades that the population of the Middle East starts to look like present day.

Does this mean that the arab conquest was peaceful? of course not (how is invading and conquering ever peaceful?) but it does show that most of the region converted to islam during relatievely peaceful times and might be based mostly on economic reasons (such as job placement and advancement).
posted by Stynxno at 4:55 AM on December 30, 2004


Probably the best way to think of it is as a culture or ethnicity. You're most likely born into it, but if you weren't you could become part of it if you really wanted to and worked hard at it.

I'll allow that one can divorce cultural Judaism from religious Judaism, particularly in modern America. My family practices the religion and I don't, but you can still find me downing matzo ball soup and corned beef sandwiches (on rye with mustard, thank you very much) with the best of them. But ethnicity? I really don't see how being Jewish in the modern world is in any way relevant to whether or not one is descended from the ancient Judeans. The study is interesting, and it gives us some useful new anthropological information, but I think people delude themselves if they think this could have any bearing on current events.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:23 AM on December 30, 2004


This brings to mind the recent Cohen DNA study, which was really interesting. Did I hear about it here? Can't recall.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:46 AM on December 30, 2004


Stynxno: don't forget the taxes. Muslims weren't taxed, but all others were. In some places anyway.
posted by NoMich at 6:37 AM on December 30, 2004


On the issue of Islam spreading by the sword, what Stynxno said. Obviously nobody (including the sites Asparagirl linked) denies that Muslims conquered Christian areas like Syria and Egypt by force; what's at issue is what spread the religion, and the fact is that those areas remained Christian for centuries, and not at the cost of the kind of persecution that Christians had faced in the Roman Empire before Constantine, either. The worst they had to deal with was the jizya tax on non-Muslims (as NoMich mentions), and that tax is one reason the Muslim conquerors didn't want to convert them -- they wanted the revenue, and in fact discouraged and occasionally forbade conversion for a long time. People converted for all sorts of reasons, ranging from the inherent attractiveness of the ways of the ruling class to the appeal of the religion itself to commercial advantage to not having to pay the tax. To claim "Islam spread by the sword" is as simple-mindedly reductionist as to claim "Islam is a religion of peace." (And I would point out that no force was involved in the spread of Islam to what is now the world's largest Islamic nation, Indonesia, or in much of West Africa and Central Asia, where it was spread by traders and holy men.)

My family is Ashkenazi Black Russian

OK, I know about White Russians (formerly used for Belorussians and for Russians who fled the commies) and Red Russians (commies, and formerly a group from part of what's now Poland), but I've never heard of Black Russians (except as a cocktail). Can you enlighten me?
posted by languagehat at 7:39 AM on December 30, 2004


OK, I know about White Russians (formerly used for Belorussians and for Russians who fled the commies) and Red Russians (commies, and formerly a group from part of what's now Poland), but I've never heard of Black Russians (except as a cocktail). Can you enlighten me?

Gladly. As an ethnic somatype, Black Russians are the ones who look stereotypically "Jewish." We've got light skin, but black or dark brown hair that's curly or wavy, and usually bear-pelt thick. Eyes are usually brown or hazel. As I said before, we come from the Mongols who invaded westward, raping and pillaging and breeding with the fairer natives. The term isn't used much these days, since referring to someone as "black" usually implies African or Caribbean ancestry, but it's a label I wear with pride. We're good at growing beards.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:58 AM on December 30, 2004


Funny, They don't look Jewish

Ummm...what exactly is the "Jewish" look?
posted by RockCorpse at 8:02 AM on December 30, 2004


"Ummm...what exactly is the 'Jewish' look?"

Julius Streicher's caricatures are probably not far from what exists in the the Euro/N.American consciousness.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2004


Or just browse JDate.com to see for yourself! (Warning: it's not pretty.)
posted by Asparagirl at 9:13 AM on December 30, 2004


From a profile on JDate...

I'm a big fan of laughing, massages, smiling, french fries, going to the gym, my sister and brother, Crank Yankers, and Neil Diamond.
posted by euphorb at 10:05 AM on December 30, 2004


"It wasn't until after the Crusades that the population of the Middle East starts to look like present day."

In the areas where that's true, how did that "suddenly" change? Wanna guess?

Regardless of when in the millenia-plus of Arab/Muslim rule it changed, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are still minorities in the lands where these faiths sprang up. You say "'from 'carrot'", I'm saying "don't forget 'the stick', they didn't". And of course I'm not talking about Indonesia -- the thread started with a link to an article about the diffusion of "Jewish" genes, which'd be rather rare among Malays anyway.

About dhimmis and dhimmitude . Bat Ye'or has also written or edited a few books, a couple of which I've read.

I won't yet get started on the bloody spread of Christianity through the German and Slavic (i.e. outside the historically Roman/Byzantine) parts of Europe. And then there's the conquest of Canaan; I wonder which "Jewish" chromosomes come from the Jebusites?

Anyway. Kinda like naxosaxur's got a "thing" about "guideline" enforcement, I've got a "thing" against the Abrahamic religions. I'm trying not to be too obtrusive about it; you've seen I haven't let go every time the subject's come up, which thank our lucky stars happens less often than "n00bs" double-post or link to mass news articles. But still. YHBW.
posted by davy at 11:19 AM on December 30, 2004


I've got a "thing" against the Abrahamic religions.

Unlike, say, strict observance of social codes, this is called "prejudice" and is generally frowned on in polite society. We can't help where we come from, davy. Especially in this case, where we're discussing the complex interrelationship between ethnicity, religious and cultural identity.

We all start with a loaded deck and it's what we do with the cards that defines our character. I've known plenty of "Abrahamic" sorts who balance their beliefs with substantially more tolerance than you exhibit in this post. Reify the Enlightenment and you turn yourself into another breed of dogmatist.
posted by felix betachat at 11:39 AM on December 30, 2004


I've known plenty of "Abrahamic" sorts who balance their beliefs with substantially more tolerance than you exhibit in this post.

So you won't tolerate my intolerance of intolerance?

Reify the Enlightenment and you turn yourself into another breed of dogmatist.

Like a low-rent
Voltaire?
"Ecrasez l'infame!"

I'm not against the religious as much as the religions; it ain't like I'm saying "Line 'em up and shoot 'em".

And by the way, I wasn't born a godless humanist. (There IS hope! Religious people CAN change!)
posted by davy at 12:16 PM on December 30, 2004


Faint of Butt -

Call it culture, then, if you think ethnicity necessarily means genetic relationship. I don't, and the dictionary seems to back me up, but it's not important enough to press the point.

Hildegarde -

My views on that particular subject are not, er, standard. I'm generally of the opinion that sexual orientation can come from nature, nurture, choice, or necessity, depending on the person and the circumstances. But it was a throw-away off-topic sentence in the first place, so probably not worth pursuing here.
posted by kyrademon at 1:13 PM on December 30, 2004


Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews

Am I the only one wondering how the article wound up with this title? I can't find anything even remotely close in the article that would support this conclusion. The closest I can find is this:

The Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews were found to be very close to each other.

But the article sounds like Palestinian Arabs are even closer. Then there is this (admittedly interesting) shpiel about how some Kurds converted to Judaism, but this certanily wouldn't explain a genetic link, now would it?
I think the title of the article should be changed to this:

Palestinian Arabs are the Closest Relatives of Jews
posted by sour cream at 1:14 PM on December 30, 2004


Are jews even that closely related to eachother? Or are we talking about the "special" ashikinasi (sic) jews.

What a bunch of meaningless speculation. These lukidnicks are the biggests racests on the planet.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2004


*groans*
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2004


That's the strangest use of (sic) I've ever seen. Now if I want to make fun of delmoi I have to say "ashikinasi (sic) [sic]." Fortunately I'm above making fun of delmoi.

While I'm here, I forgot to respond to this:

Languagehat - I think perhaps you might be off point here as we are not talking about the Kurds being a splinter sect of the Hebrews since we are discussing racial character, not religious affiliation.

If you're referring to my mention of the book The Jews of Kurdistan, yeah, it was off-topic, but I thought it would be interesting to anyone interested in the topic. Having said the poster's link was interesting, I felt free to say something else. You discuss what you want, I'll discuss what I want, but I'll thank you not to say "we" when you mean "I."
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on December 30, 2004


Speaking of abuses of "[sic]", there's a TWoP recapper who insists on noting every ungrammatical usage or other mistake in directly quoted television dialog with a "[sic]". Drives me nuts.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2004


Me: I've got a "thing" against the Abrahamic religions.

Felix: Unlike, say, strict observance of social codes, this is called "prejudice" and is generally frowned on in polite society. We can't help where we come from, davy.

Of course, to judge by standard practice around here, this tolerant injunction against intolerance does not apply to hillbillies, Kentuckians, West Virginians or citizens of other southeastern states, denizens of trailer parks -- to poor American whites in general. It's so nice to belong to such a broad social group of people that it's perfectly okay to make bigoted remarks about. In the case of my people too I can easily imagine "intelligent, rational human beings" raising their hands and whining "Why do they hate us?"

Sometimes I'm even tempted to get out of the Fundies' way: it's not like I personally would be affected by prayer in public schools or by having to invoke "the Deity" to testify in court or assume public office; nor would I be all that inconvenienced by the curtailment or retraction of the freedom to practice Islam or Wicca, to get a divorce or have an abortion, to have books on certain subjects or by certain authors in public school libraries, or by the denial of gay marriage rights or many of those other rights and freedoms so many Mefites so often get so protective of. In fact, as "Election 2004" demonstrates, the "good, liberal, tolerant, rational people" are way outnumbered, so you need us more than we need you. If the common run of "nice" people keep talking like that I might decide to shrug off these "progressive" opinions, attitudes and principles I've acquired and in some cases suffered for to side with the group I can't help coming from. All I'd really have to do is cut my hair and keep my mouth shut.

(I knew I was forgetting something.)
posted by davy at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2004


Of course, to judge by standard practice around here, this tolerant injunction against intolerance does not apply to hillbillies, Kentuckians, West Virginians or citizens of other southeastern states, denizens of trailer parks -- to poor American whites in general.

This pisses me off too (Ozark family background).
posted by languagehat at 4:52 PM on December 30, 2004


These lukidnicks [sic] are the biggests [sic] racests [sic] on the planet.

*snickers*

But to actually address the questions, such that they are...

Are jews even that closely related to eachother?

Yes. Practically inbred in some communities, frankly. Even between groups that have long had geographic separation in the diaspora, such as (let us say) Ashkenazim from Lithuania and Sephardim from Greece, there is still a very strong genetic continuity, especially along the paternal lines. The paper that is the very subject of this FPP and many other similar papers, including the Cohen DNA study mentioned in this thread, bear this out.

What a bunch of meaningless speculation.

Hammer, Redd, Wood, Bonner, and the rest of the scientists whose names are on that paper are associated with the University of Arizona, Universita degli Studi di Pavia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Leicester, University of Witwatersrand, New York University Medical Center, and Sackler School of Medicine. They are publishing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

And you, delmoi?

Look, Jews are, at the moment, one of the most-studied groups in all of population genetics, save for the incredibly-well-studied citizens of Iceland and some Native American tribes. The common thread here is that being an isolated population group is a highly desirable trait for geneticists to want to study you, because it's easier to see shifts and mutations over time, and to trace lineages. It's not a "Jewish thing" as much as it's an "isolated & inbred thing". For example, I even know of a couple of amateur studies going on that are looking at the DNA of the Pennsylvania Deutsch, the Amish and Mennonites, the inhabitants of the Shetland and Orkney islands, and other remote and isolated population groups.

These lukidnicks are the biggests racests on the planet.

Ahhhh, let's just hang that one out there, one more time, for full effect.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:19 PM on December 30, 2004


"one of the most-studied groups in all of population genetics, save for the incredibly-well-studied citizens of Iceland and some Native American tribes"

...and the mormons :D also have to plug the icelandic free state! (and just to bring it full circle :)

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 7:37 PM on December 30, 2004


incredibly-well-studied citizens of Iceland and some Native American tribes.

I know about the Icelanders, but which Native American tribes? The eastern (or formerly eastern) tribes went through a period of roughly 200 years where you couldn't e.g. assume a Shawnee was a full-blood Shawnee: his mother could have been a Cherokee whose father was English. The Iroquois tribes too were famous for adopting those (Delaware, Huron, Cree, French) captives they didn't torture to death, who would become say Mohawk by adoption in the same "mystical" sense a gentile becomes Jewish by conversion. It wasn't till a generation or two after the "Trail of Tears" that "full-blooded Cherokee" again meant "genetically Cherokee on both sides" (whatever mixture counted as Cherokee at that time); since the early 1800s the Shawnee have had an "ineradicable" European strain as strong as that of American Blacks, or the Slav strain in the Jews of Eastern Europe. This much I got from reading history. As for the western tribes, at least since the introduction of the horse people of different tribes have been mixing genetically, consensually or not, out there too.

Again, assuming I've read you right, which Native American tribes got studied as genetic isolates? My guess is you'd be talking deep desert (Zuñi maybe?) or somewhere in the Canadian North with that.
posted by davy at 8:42 PM on December 30, 2004


"...or somewhere in the Canadian North"

Bingo. See "Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Diversity in the Aleuts of the Commander Islands and Its Implications for the Genetic History of Beringia" (PDF). (Point of the article: there ain't much diversity there.)

Also, a number of Pacific Northwest tribes (not just Canada, but the US too) have had their data sequenced and differentiated enough that the different waves of immigration can be sorted out and you can concentrate on earlier or later arrivals when you do studies. I don't have links on hand, but I know the papers are out there. And I read recently that there are more studies planned for the Pacific Northwest groups in the US.

Also, it's interesting that you mention the Shawnee--they're also briefly mentioned in this paper (PDF) on southeastern Native American ancestry (but it concentrates on tribes a little further south than the Shawnee). The paper says that, perhaps due to population bottlenecking but maybe also due to having a more matrilineal/matrilocal culture, a number of southeastern United States tribes are (surprisingly) practically isolates themselves, even though their languages are closely related and they had contact among themselves:
"Although populations living in the same geographic region usually exhibit similar haplogroup frequency distributions (Lorenz and Smith, 1996; Malhi et al., 2001), those from the Southeast do not fit this general pattern. Despite occupying the same region, speaking closely related languages, and allegedly being highly admixed with one another, the Muskogean populations included in this study exhibit significantly different mtDNA haplogroup frequency distributions. In addition, southeastern populations exhibit significantly lower haplotype diversity (h), nucleotide diversity (), and phylogenetic dispersion () than northeastern populations for haplogroups A and C, an unexpected result given the higher linguistic diversity in the Southeast."
Lots of neat graphs and charts in that paper, too. I love looking through these sort of studies--it's like reverse engineering human history and human migrations. Very geeky. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 12:21 AM on December 31, 2004


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