Ashkenazi Ancestry revisited

Shai Carmi has his article out on Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.  A few comments:

First, looks like a good job, on the whole. Perhaps Carmi had special training…

Second, about dates: they assume a mutation rate of 1.44 x 10-8 per generation, and a generation length of 25 years. I think both of those are a little off.  All the directly-measured whole-genome rates are between 0.96×10−8 and 1.20×10−8: I wouldn’t go higher than 1.20 x 10-8 per generation, with what I know now.  In the course of looking at paternal age effects, I also checked out the known data on average generation lengths. In no known population is it as short as 25 years: never less than 28 for females, and almost always longer than 28 for males, usually in the 30s.  30 is a much more reasonable generation length than 25.

The date estimates are inversely related to the assumed mutation rate and directly proportional to the generation length.

In the article, they estimate an Ashkenazi bottleneck with an effective size of 250-420, 25-32 generations ago. With a mutation rate of 1.2 x 10-8 per generation, that changes to an effective size of 300-500 (not much different) 30-38.4 generations ago.

By their numbers, we’re talking 625-800 years ago.  Adjusted, 900-1150. Since we know for sure that at least some Ashkenazi Jews were in the Rhineland before the year 1000, I think that the revised estimate indicates that the original settlement was the bottleneck, which makes sense.

Third, about comparison populations: they used Flemings as a sample European population, and estimated the Ashkenazi Jews are 46-50% European. Why Flemings?  All the previous analyses have suggested that their European component is from southern Europe.  The mtDNA analysis is pretty specific: Italy and France.   I think you’d get a better estimate using Italians, and it would probably yield a slightly higher estimate of European admixture.

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113 Responses to Ashkenazi Ancestry revisited

  1. east hunter says:

    considering the present day – can we say that western societies are engaged in dysgenic population patterns?

  2. engleberg says:

    What important Jewish medieval historical group of 300-500 men had a chance to do the Golden Family Does YoMama between 900-1150? In case the original settlers went through some re-selection within 350 years.

  3. All the directly-measured whole-genome rates are between 0.96×10−8 and 1.20×10−8

    Correct.

  4. dearieme says:

    Why Flemings? … I think you’d get a better estimate using Italians, and it would probably yield a slightly higher estimate of European admixture.” Putting cynical thoughts aside, were they guessing that the Flemings approximate to the Rhinelanders of 1000 years ago? But why use the descendants of Salian Franks when you could have used the descendants of Riparian Franks?

    (I only have to mention those Frankish terms to reflect how much more the schools used to teach, you know, like, stuff.)

  5. Cplusk says:

    50-55% Italian and 93% EEF. Would they be considered more European or Middle Eastern?

  6. bobsmythe says:

    On most pca plots and such the Sephardi population overlaps significantly with the Ashkenazi. Was there significant gene flow between them? Are the Sephardi more Near Eastern or do they have admixture too? With which populations: Iberians, Maghrebi?

    • syon says:

      Yeah. Please forgive my ignorance on this point, but what is the admixture picture for the Sephardic Jews? What is their European percentage?

    • Matt says:

      It all depends on which reference populations you use. There are some calculators where Ashkenazis are best approximated Sephardis with a very low flow of East European genetics over time (like cumulatively not even 20%, not anything which would inhibit adaptations).

      • Janon says:

        For these calculators, are Sephardis are being defined in the strict historical sense? Sometimes Middle Eastern Jews are lumped into the Sephardi category in colloquial usage because they follow the Sephardic religious rites and, in Israel, recognize the Sephardic chief rabbi (currently an Iraqi Jew himself) as their senior religious authority. But based on the Atzmon and Behar studies from a few years ago, I would not expect Middle Eastern Jews to overlap with Ashkenazim so closely.

  7. Patrick L. Boyle says:

    If you take the lowest estimate of 625 years that puts the bottleneck in the second half of the fourteenth century – a time when the Ashkenazi were known historically to have been experiencing a bottleneck because they were being exterminated for being accused of causing the Black Plague.

    • There was certainly persecution, but the notion that all but 300 or so central European Jews were slaughtered is untenable.

    • Patrick L. Boyle says:

      I don’t know. We need some serious scholarship I think – not just my guesswork. If we assume not 300 but 500 and we assume that 50% or possibly more were killed just from the plague alone, we start to get close. There were only a few thousand Jews in any one place in medieval times. The Jews in Belgium at this time were completely wiped out. So it’s not hard to imagine isolated Jewish groups dipping below 500. But does that count? Or do we need to consider the aggregate of all Jewish groups?

      At one point I figured this bottleneck was the cause of Ashkenazi exceptionalism – but no longer. There was no Jewish exceptionalism in late Roman times as we know from Vegetius, but Jews started getting smart well before the 14th century. So the Black Death bottleneck – if it indeed was as severe as seems likely – still doesn’t explain the most interesting features about the Ashkenazim.

      Historically the Black Death Jewish kill-down in the 14th century was probably the most serious. I count five:
      1. The Nazi genocide
      2. The Black Death
      3. The Second (or Third depending on numbering) Jewish War at the Time of Hadrian
      4. The First Jewish War chronicled by Josephus
      5. The Exodus from Egypt

      Real Jewish scholars may have more. I’m assuming that Ramses II drove the Moses and the Jews into the desert to exterminate them.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “Or do we need to consider the aggregate of all Jewish groups?”

        Of all the Ashkenazi Jews, sure. There’s no chance that the bottleneck happened in 1350, unless you think that the Ashkenazi Jews have their own special mutation rate and a generation length similar to that of chimpanzees.

        • Patrick L. Boyle says:

          No, I don’t think that. My comment was not a formal theory – or even a serious speculation. I have nothing much invested in the idea. I was just drawing attention to the fact that the article was about bottlenecks in the Ashkenazim and that the Black Death might fit – certainly no other known historical event fits better.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          “There’s no chance that the bottleneck happened in 1350”

          But could the plague be what have caused a potentially temporary split to turn into a permanent bottleneck?

          i.e. population A sends a segment of their population to extend a trade network to a new node – that’s the initial event but not yet a bottle neck because without a plague these mostly separate node populations might eventually have reconnected – once better transport developed for example – but because of the plague only one node survived and so all the other the nodes were re-populated from that one surviving segment?

      • syon says:

        “5. The Exodus from Egypt

        Real Jewish scholars may have more. I’m assuming that Ramses II drove the Moses and the Jews into the desert to exterminate them.”

        The Exodus is not an historical event. It is pure myth.

        • dearieme says:

          I cheerfully assume that all the Old Testament before the Babylonian captivity is myth. Is that too harsh?

          • syon says:

            “I cheerfully assume that all the Old Testament before the Babylonian captivity is myth. Is that too harsh?”

            Perhaps a tad. Certainly, everything prior to the United Monarchy (Saul, David, Solomon) is mythical in character. As for the United Monarchy itself, there might be some scraps of genuine history here and there (perhaps David as a bandit-chieftain?), but not much. Best to think of it as being akin to King Arthur. After that, things do get a bit more solid. For example, the Mesha Stele (circa 840 BC), confirms the existence of some personages and events mentioned in the Book of Kings. Hence, I think that we can view the Hebrew Bible from the 9th century BC on as being broadly accurate in terms of big events (reigning monarchs, big battles, etc).

        • Patrick L. Boyle says:

          Well sure, if you want to be literal. But it is historically true that at one point there were a lot of Jews in Egypt and sometime later they were gone. The Jews attribute the change to a hero arising who led them away. I’m just suggesting that it was more likely that they were driven out. Egypt is an easy place from which to drive away unwanted people.

          • syon says:

            “But it is historically true that at one point there were a lot of Jews in Egypt and sometime later they were gone.The Jews attribute the change to a hero arising who led them away. I’m just suggesting that it was more likely that they were driven out. Egypt is an easy place from which to drive away unwanted people.”

            Again, no. There were no large communities of “Jews” (the term is an anachronism) during the period in question. Hence, no Jews were expelled by the Egyptians.

  8. j says:

    Interesting to guess where was the sanctuary where those 300 took refuge. Probably in Poland or Bohemia, pockets that escaped the Black Plague.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      I’ve read elsewhere that Poland escaped the Black Death. Why? It’s not obviously isolated.

      • ckp says:

        From my cursory research:

        The King issued a quarantine and people listened to him (why?)
        They didn’t share the revulsion of cats that other Euros had, so the cats would kill the rats (why?)

        Throws up more questions, really.

        • Patrick L. Boyle says:

          I have a cat and he gets fleas. The fleas on the rats in the fourteenth century found it easy to jump to humans. I understand that when the plague returned and the people understood the flea connection better, they did experiments with people held aloft with ropes to see just how high the fleas could jump.

          The fleas generally stayed on the rats then until the rats died. Then they looked for a new host. Even when the plague first appeared and the people didn’t understand the significance of fleas, they noticed that the rats all died just before a plague outbreak. Maybe those fleas could be at home on a cat or dog. The flea species around here today certainly live on my pets.

          I doubt if cats would have been an effective plague control measure. More likely just another host for infected fleas.

      • Toad says:

        It is isolated. By sea you have to go past England, Denmark, Sweden, then Poland. It’s furthest away by sea. By land you have to travel hundreds of miles and cross the Alps and the Carpathian mountain ranges. And Poland was less modern then.

        The Path of the Black Death

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “It’s not obviously isolated”

        If it spread by maritime trade routes then maybe Poland was at the time – Bohemia more so.

  9. dave chamberlin says:

    Wikipedia says “it is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed 3% of the worlds Jewish population while at their peak in 1931 they accounted for 92% of the world’s Jewish population.”
    I would love to read the history book that fleshes out this story accurately. It is quite an amazing piece of history which I would like to read more about as told by a serious historian who has “special training” in genetics. Does one yet exist?

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Just a comment from the peanut gallery. You are a gifted writer Cochran and we all know just how hard it is to make a living doing that. If you were to write a book on the history of the Ashkenazi Jews it would have a huge target market. Just sayin….You can write a wonderful paper, shit…ten of them, and it wouldn’t pay the garbage man. You don’t have to sell out, just target an audience. But then again maybe I’m the devil trying to corrupt you.

  10. Toad says:

    So… inbreeding makes you smart?

    • Joe Walker says:

      It depends what genes are being selected for. If you want to be a Bernie Madoff-type swindler then it helps to be smart. Ashkenazi Jewish men who were good at conning gentiles out of their money were probably more successful at finding fertile wives then Ashkenazi Jewish men who were not so good at such practices or found such practices morally repellent.

      • Ilya says:

        You’re either lazy or an idiot or both, Walker. Loaning money is not about swindling, just like making a profit isn’t morally equivalent to swindling. If anyone was swindling, it’s the European noblemen who would “borrow,” not infrequently under pressure, huge sums from Jews and then incite blood libel against them in order to get rid of their creditors. Secondly, if you ever read the books by Greg Clark and Cochran&Harpending, you’d realize that it’s not the sexual selection that was the primary driving force of overall selection (until Industrial Revolution, at least), but the number of surviving progeny.

        Also, there is a huge amount of posts on this blog that give a lot of information, both on Ashkenazim and IQ etc. I’m amazed that people keep bringing up the same topics over and over and over again without adding any new insight or value to the discussion.

        • newyorker says:

          Well, how did they manage to increase from a handful to millions. Or come to be 10% of the Polish population at a time when that country was rather backward and impoverished. It would be very interesting to see the increase in the gentile vs. Jewish population over the centuries there.

          It’s claimed they filled a niche for landlords as stewsrds, bankers, managers and merchants. So how many of these professionals were needed? I doubt millions. No they did more than fill their niche, spilling over into fields done by gentiles and then some. Probably at the expense of gentile fertility. Recall the bloody uprising of the cos sacks in the 1600s where polish and Lithuanian landlords were slaughtered as well as their Jewish agents. The background of the conflict was that the peasantry was being squeezed beyond endursnce. The nobles were pressuring their agents for more profits the agents were doing the same to the gentile farmers. But that was when things seriously got out of hand. Usually the peasants put up with s*** unlimited while the jews increased their numbers at the expense of the farmers.

          • Ilya says:

            @newyorker: I need to check the information pertaining to the Cossack uprisings of that time. However, right off the bat I can tell you that there is an important nuance left out of Greg Cochran’s story regarding Jewish economic niche and its relation to the survival of the community at large.
            True, the economic niche the Ashkenazi Jews filled among their host societies in Europe involved money-lending, tax collecting, estate management. However, this fact does not translate to statement that most (or even half) of adult male Jews practicing those professions. In fact, only a small minority of Ashkenazis were in the above professions.
            Let me explain: most of Jews lived together in, essentially, communes, shtetls, with pretty much all the goods produced internally. The exception was food and, perhaps, some raw materials that were imported. But even for food, e.g. cattle, there were rabbis tasked with making sure that kashrut laws and customs regarding animal slaughter were strictly followed. There were various trades: from shoe-making to sewing to tailoring: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Shtetl
            Essentially, the communities were so tight-knit, that they constituted whole economies employing Jews only. In addition to that there was a form of welfare for the most poor members (though the poor were strongly discouraged from procreating). The scholar/rabbinic class wielded immense respect and leverage, thus yeshivas received a good amount of funding.
            Still, most Ashkenazi Jews were poor (though yes, on average, smarter than the surrounding villages’ peasants).
            Certainly, the income to buy foodstuffs from peasants had to come from somewhere: and, again this is where money-lending and tax-collecting come in. However, and again, this does not mean that the majority of the community was involved directly in those activities, which just on the face of it is pretty absurd.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      I’d have thought random inbreeding would be different to specifically breeding for a specific trait within a group. In the first case you’d just get the negative effects of inbreeding (although where people had twelve kids and only two survived to reproduce the two survivors might still be healthy by luck).. In the second I’d have thought the likely outcome would be to get improvements in the trait selected for but at a cost in other areas – a bit like certain purebred breeds of dogs having various health problems – or Africans being so strongly selected for malaria resistance even to the extent of selecting for harmful things like sickle cell.

  11. The heavy inbreeding of the Ashkenazis isn’t a surprise, even widespread jews formed a single international nation of tax farmers and merchants.

  12. Joe Walker says:

    One problem with population genetics concerning Europeans is that the researchers often seem to assume that Europe is pretty homogeneous genetically when in fact the continent can be divided up into three major groups: northern, southwestern and southeastern. The fact that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to Italians (southeastern) than they are to the Flemish (northern) illustrates this situation.

  13. Founder effects are in general more easily demonstrated than catastrophic events that wipe out 90% of a population while somehow selecting for any trait whatsoever. The earlier date, while in no way proved or even definitively evidenced, is much more plausible than the plague date.

    Besides, everyone should have known it was the Gypsies, who arrived just about then.

    Just kidding.

  14. Greying Wanderer says:

    If it was the Black Death and it spread via the long distance maritime trade routes then it would fit as Jews would have been based primarily in exactly those sort of places.

    And if it was the plague followed the long distance maritime trade routes how connected to that network was Poland at the time? Not very is my guess – though only a guess.

    It would be a strange turn of events if it was Jews expelled from Western Europe around the 1300s onwards who ended up in Poland and thus were the only ones to survive the plague.

  15. Poland wasn’t affected by the plague because it was less urbanized and so didn’t have a rat problem.

    • ckp says:

      It spread to Russia, it spread to the northern reaches of Finland, it spread along the Baltic, it spread everywhere. Except Poland. Sure it wasn’t that urbanized, but many other places were even less so, yet still got hit. There was a major overland trade route from Kiev to the HRE that went straight through the unaffected zone, so you can hardly call it “isolated”.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        If the rats died of it themselves (?) then they would only have a limited amount of time to get from A to B so wouldn’t any stretch of the journey that exceeded that time limit act as a fire break?

        If so then it’s not isolation from trade but isolation from speedy trade which would make the difference.

        If so then another example of the same thing might be riverine trade going upstream or downstream so for example a highly lethal infectious disease like that might come down the NIle but not up it if the journey times were longer when going upstream.

        On the other hand the internet tells me it first spread from the East along the Silk Road which if correct would argue against this point as it’s hard to imagine Poland having a bigger fire break than that.

        (Although personally it’s hard to imagine rats surviving a long overland camel journey through desert or steppe – where would they hide? – so I’d be inclined to want to double check the Silk Road part.)

        • ckp says:

          Krakow was a major trade centre. It had the largest open-air marketplace in Europe. Heaven for rats. Krakow to Prague, or Krakow to Kiev, aren’t exactly formidable journeys. It’s not very far down on the Vistula, but Warsaw is, which didn’t get hit either.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            The towns themselves sure. It’s the journey between the towns that infected rats needed to survive.

            If some places were spared then there must have been a reason and time/distance fire breaks seems plausible on the face of it.

            Given that water was generally always used to transport bulky trade goods and the plague arrived at the ports then rivers are likely to have been the primary vector going inland.

            So something connected to rivers that would influence the ability of rats to survive the journey upstream might be what led to some places being spared.

            All you need is one long stretch to act as a fire break.

            Alternatively, or as well, if the rats could only successfully stow away in food shipments that the rats could live on, grain for example or sugar, then grain exporting regions a long way upstream from the ports might be doubly safe.

            Did Poland import a lot of grain back then?

  16. Greying Wanderer says:

    A split between foodstuff importing regions vs foodstuff exporting regions seems more plausible actually.

  17. STALIN says:

    so the cats would kill the rats (why?)
    It’s just the way cats are, even if they’re not hungry.

  18. Sean says:

    Wikipedia ‘Map of Eurasia showing the trade network of the Radhanites (in blue), c. 870, as reported in the account of ibn Khordadbeh in the Book of Roads and Kingdoms. Other trade routes of the period shown in purple’.

    an Evo and Proud post cites a writer called Lewicki for “Jewish trade with central and eastern Europe was from the beginning closely linked to the fact that the Western Jews, especially the Spanish, French, and Rhineland Jews, played a major role in the international trade of Western Europe with the Muslim East. This trade began in the late 8th century at the initiative of Arab and Muslim traders. Many colonies of Jewish merchants formed along the trading routes that linked Western Europe to the countries of the Abbasid Caliphate.”

    The trade is said to have been in European slaves, especially women.

    • dearieme says:

      Apart perhaps from wool, the northerners wouldn’t have much else to sell.

      • Sean says:

        “The Italians who […] were the “great initiators of Europe” […] became the promoters of trading companies, creators of credit, restorers of currency. The only major oversight [of historians]: all of that was accomplished through the trade in Slavs. It is easier to understand why almost all historians and commentators have silently observed this phenomenon. It is difficult for them to acknowledge that the economic renaissance of the West of the 10th and 11th centuries was achieved through human trafficking! (Skirda, 2010, p. 112)”

        “Slaves were the comodity in international trade.Italy was where all sorts of finance and bookeeping inovations came from. Venice and Genoa (map opf genoese trade routes were the big slave traders the slaves were often Ukrainian and the biggest slave market was Caffa. Earlier, the Khazars controlled Crimea and supplied slaves to the Ottomans. Anyway the Khazars, the rulling class at least, converted between 740 CE and 920 CE. So 800 AD there were Jews in businesses where there were Italians too, and trading in women. Being the ofspring of a slave would be a profound blot on the genealogy of a Jew, they supposedly kept records of these things. Still.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Historically the amber trade was the big northern export back all the way into prehistoric times.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      Sorry, could you clarify. Is there reason to think the Radhanites were proto-Ashkenazim? Or were the Ashkenazim a new community who showed up later?

  19. Kate says:

    “It’s the journey between the towns that infected rats needed to survive.”

    The infection had to survive too. Don’t epidemics have a life cycle, with the disease organism becoming less virulent over time?

    In which case, the time it took to get inland to Poland the disease organism could have attenuated by the time it got there. Maybe there was some sickness in Poland but not so many deaths.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      dunno, just thinking aloud – but if some places, like Poland and Bohemia were spared then there must be a reason

    • athEIst says:

      The plague came back in 1365 and carried off another 10% of the population. It recurred every 10 to 15 years until 1600(1660 in England). It reduced the population and kept it down. Isn’t this a major theme of Gregory Clark’s “Alms”.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        If over time sugar production for Europe shifted north and west away from the source of the rats then that would be a possible explanation.

        For example
        1) The growing of sugar beet as a substitute in some regions

        or

        2) a change in how imported sugar was refined and transported. For example if there was a change from transporting sugar cane to be refined in Europe to refining it in situ and then transporting the refined sugar.

        (for example if rats could live on sugar cane on a long journey but refined sugar as their sole food killed them with liver failure?)

  20. Gioiello Tognoni says:

    I am reading only now your blog because quoted on Rootsweb. I thank you for what you say:

    “Third, about comparison populations: they used Flemings as a sample European population, and estimated the Ashkenazi Jews are 46-50% European. Why Flemings? All the previous analyses have suggested that their European component is from southern Europe. The mtDNA analysis is pretty specific: Italy and France. I think you’d get a better estimate using Italians, and it would probably yield a slightly higher estimate of European admixture”.

    It is just what I thought as soon as I read the paper. But if I’d have said this in some forum they have banned me again.
    Thank you.

  21. Philip Neal says:

    The Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd ed 2007) has an article Population by Salo Baron. He estimates the Jewish population of the Holy Roman Empire at 100,000 in 1300 and 80,000 in 1490 (total population 14m and 20m) and of Poland at 5,000 and 30,000 in those years (total 0.5m and 1m) with other countries of Europe on the same order of magnitude.

    There are two main sources of information from which Jewish population levels in the middle ages can be estimated, massacres and taxation. For instance, 628 Jews were martyred in Nuremberg in 1298 and 570 in the same town in 1349. There were 17 Jewish taxpayers in Augsburg in 1401 and 21 in 1437 and 300 Jews were expelled in 1458. It seems to be quite untrue that Jews did not succumb to the Black Death, as there are contemporary statments that they did.

    From this it would seem that a bottleneck in the Rhineland before AD 1000 is far more likely.

  22. Sean says:

    When did the selection for IQ that came with a majority of the population being bankers and estate managers come to an end. As I read it 10,000 YE says the selection ended around 1700.

    One Tay Sachs.mutation is 80% of cases in Ashkenazim Isn’t it possible to date a particular mutations for Tay Sachs?

  23. Greying Wanderer says:

    I like to blame sugar for everything so it would be fun if it was sugar – either way the rats would have to live off something on the journey so i doubt they’d spread far on ships or river boats carrying marble or swords.

  24. Kate says:

    I like the sugar theory, if not the plague then there must be other ‘shifts’ connected with the sugar shift. fascinating thought.

    Then I found this blog, which I suppose could still fit with the sugar-pothesis but begs the question, wtf is a human ectoparasite? mosquitoes?

    Perhaps rat fleas originally brought the plague to the region, but then the main vectors were human ectoparasites?
    http://parasiteecology.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/did-rats-spread-the-black-death/

    tl;dr

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      From that post

      “In the paper, Hufthammer and Walloe (2013) argue that archaeological evidence suggests that the black rat was not widespread or abundant in Northern Europe at the time of the Black Death, so fleas from rats couldn’t be the main vector of plague.”

      If black rats were the cause and some parts of Europe were spared at certain times and it eventually stopped happening then wouldn’t black rats have to be non-native – so when what was bringing them to Europe stopped, the plague stopped?

      • gcochran9 says:

        There’s a school that has tried to argue that the traditional ideas about the black plague were wrong: either it was caused by some other organism, or the ideas abut how it was spread are substantially wrong.

        Ancient DNA pretty well proves that it was caused by Yersinia pestis, just like everyone originally thought. Not anthrax, not hemorrhagic plague.

        As for details about the spread – rats& fleas versus pneumonic transmission – there’s probably some room for alternate explanations.

        Black rats in Europe were replaced by brown rats in recent historical times. Please check before you comment.

        • Anonymous says:

          @Greg,
          “Black rats in Europe were replaced by brown rats in recent historical times.”

          I remember as a young boy in Ireland, my father pointing out a fight between a black rat and a brown rat outside an old stable in the farmyard. The brown rat was maybe 10-20% bigger and killed the black rat. About a year or two later, there were no more black rats to be seen anywhere around – that was in the early 1970’s

  25. dearieme says:

    “For example if there was a change from transporting sugar cane to be refined in Europe”: eh? In the Middle Ages? Where from? Where to?

  26. dave chamberlin says:

    I would love to read the actual history of the Ashkenazi Jews from their founding population up to the start of World War Two. It is an amazing story of a very isolated sub population pushed and persecuted to such an extent they had to evacuate various countries at various times yet at the same time incredibly successful in their growth through the centuries. All I know and all that any of the commentators here know is tiny little snippets of the whole story.

    There are a number of reasons why this 1100 year long story needs to be addressed in a scholarly book, but I shall briefly emphasize only one of them. This saga when laid out would push forth via direct evidence one of the primary themes of this blog. Specifically the story of the Ashkenazim further supports the ongoing evolution of humanity by a many centuries long process that gives a slight edge each generation to specific traits. Just as Gregory Clark’s book “Farewell to Alms” left the reader drawing conclusions beyond the scope of his book regarding human evolution as a work in progress, so would the scholarly treatment of the history of the Ashkenazim.

  27. Something I learned by reading what the classical writers (Tacitus, Cicero, Suetonius, Strabo) said about jews is that the jewish Modus Operandi remained the same for more than 2.000 years.

    Cicero wrote that there was a jewish lobby already active in 50s BC Rome, they exported gold from the Roman provinces to Jerusalem like they still do today, not even Cicero could confront them, jews supported Julius Caesar and later the first Emperor Augustus, the men who ruined the Roman Republic and made it a Dictatorship.

    When the Jerusalem Temple was finally destroyed in 70 AD ther Romans found so much gold that it financed the construction of the Colosseum!

  28. Greying Wanderer says:

    “You’re hopeless, really. Polite, but hopeless.”

    On the actual topic probably. I admit I got distracted by the separate topic of how the plague may have been spread. On that separate topic though i think i’m right that the sugar trade was involved – certainly seems more likely than cats.

  29. Pingback: Indizien Genetischer Flaschenhals Aschkenasim und die Meldung in Massenmedien | PopGen.at

  30. Hanibalas Lekteris says:

    “Third, about comparison populations: they used Flemings as a sample European population, and estimated the Ashkenazi Jews are 46-50% European. Why Flemings? All the previous analyses have suggested that their European component is from southern Europe. The mtDNA analysis is pretty specific: Italy and France. I think you’d get a better estimate using Italians, and it would probably yield a slightly higher estimate of European admixture.”

    That wouldn’t work either way since Ashkenazi Jews can be modeled as 0% WHG, so there’s a big discrepancy here which cannot be explained by Italian ancestry.
    Moreover, the paucity of IBD segments between Ashkenazim & Italians doesn’t make this theory look any better.

    All in all, contemporary populations shouldn’t be used as proxies when trying to address past demographic events… At least that’s what we should’ve learned from the surprises we stumbled upon after all the genome-wide sampling of prehistoric europeans was made public, yet some are still unable to learn from the data.
    Go figure.

  31. Gioiello Tognoni says:

    Which IBD should we find between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians if the link is 1000, 1500 or 2000 years ago? Better to compare the Y or the mt, I have done many times in many forums and about the mt there is now the paper of Costa et al.
    Or to compare rare mutations responsible of diseases or others, like the mutation which resists AIDS (taken from North-East Europe), a form of breast cancer (taken in the same places), or even Familial Hyperinsulinism (ABCC8-related), diffused at a low level in North-West Tuscany, etc.

  32. Pingback: Ashkenazi Jews descend from 350 people, study finds | BlazingCatFur

  33. Hanibalas Lekteris says:

    “Which IBD should we find between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians if the link is 1000, 1500 or 2000 years ago?”

    The kind of IBD which led Ashkenazim to have a noticeable amount of IBD sharing with Mizrahim for example.
    Heck, most Ashkenazim I’ve have more IBD segments in common with Greeks rather than Italians.

    Moreover, the Costa et al. data pretty much contradicts the paper’s conclusion… The authors themselves admit this in the sup data.

    Last but not least, there isn’t much to support this model going by uniparental lineages (especially MtDNA lineages), save the few Jewish-specific R1b-S28 clades here & there (on par with Ashkenazi R1a-L1029) this theory doesn’t make much sense to me.

  34. Gioiello Tognoni says:

    I think that the paper of Costa et al. is risolutive about the argument: they did deeply what I am saying sparsely from years. We’ll see in the future. I am mtDNA K1a1b1e, born certainly in Italy and better in Tuscany, as all the other subclades of K1a1b1 are European, and also K1a1b1a is in European people as Costa et al. demonstrated, in spite that the Jewish FTDNA is hiding and falsifying many data. It seems to me that the previous researches about Jewish communities have demonstrated that every community is linked to the host people where it lives (see Falashà, Bnei Israel, etc.). That there could be some link within these communities is due only to the fact that Jews mixed also amongst themselves in these last 2000 years: Ashkenazim have some link with Sephardim, etc.
    If religious convictions permitted it, there would be the solution: to test some bones of Ancient Jews before the Diaspora, but I don’t know if we’ll ever get it, and, if done, if the results will be published. See Tut’s case.

  35. Gongora says:

    In the Spanish Empire Sephardic Jews and conversos were overrepresented in the elite. Why then and not today?

  36. anon says:

    is the reason for Jewish exceptionalism. Your don’t have ongoing polygamy in a ruthlessly cognitively competitive economic climate + a closed breeding environment anywhere else in human history other than medieval Askenazi Europe. Rabbinical dynasties boiled down to 140+ IQ having 5-20 children for dozens of generations and ruthless selection against sub 100 IQ Jews.

    Mr. Taleb is incorrect on two counts. Polygamy helps societal stability by preventing a dysgenic culture that naturally evolves in a stable and wealthy monogamous culture. Further, the numerous children of the elite eventually become a middle class. It is easier to build a middle class from an exploding population of aristocrats with an excellent genetic profile rather than lifting the dysgenic poor to the middle class.

  37. Horse says:

    I am convinced that the reason why K1a1b1a has been such a successful & prolific mtdna subclade amongst the ashkenazi is largely due to its very deep roots in Italy & France as reported by Costa et al. In other words, because the mtdna genetics are strongly European it has ensured that offspring produced did not appear different enough to draw too much negative attention amongst host populations. Especially when appearing too different from the locals could get you killed. This would have ensured survival of at least some individuals via intermarriage and pogroms etc to carry on the genetics to today.

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