January 2, 2012

(Sephardi) Jews in the context of the Levant and Anatolia

In June 2010, in rapid succession, we had the opportunity of learning from two papers which studied Jewish genetics in the context of wider samples.

The first one (Atzmon 2010 - PPV, discussed by me here) showed us, even if hidden in the supplementary material only, that the main Jewish cluster was extremely close to their "Turks and Cypriots" sample, specially to some of them (Cypriots apparently):


This central or pivotal group of Jews, marked as GRK+TUR and SYR, are the so-called Sephardi, which, in spite of their name (Sepharad means Spain) do not necessarily originate in the Iberian peninsula but rather share historically a pan-Mediterranean type of ritual, distinct from that of Ashkenazim and other Jewish populations (see also this article if you wish to understand better the complexity of Jewish ethnic divisions).

Just a few days later we got Behar 2010 (also PPV, discussed here), which did not deepen enough in the component analysis, in my understanding, but determined at least that Western Jews (Sephardi, Ashkenazi and Moroccan Jews) were of West Asian origin apparently.

However how exactly they related with West Asians was mostly unresolved (excepting that Palestinians have a lot of genetic distinctiveness and this was not shared with modern Jews nor nearly any other population at any meaningful level).

So, as I began toying around with ADMIXTURE, using the very basic but functional instructions by Razib, one of the ideas I had to explore were Western Jews (other Jewish communities seem to be derived from their host populations but Western Jews appeared as West Asian in these studies).


Extreme distinctiveness of Ashkenazim and Moroccan Jews

I doubted whether to retain the Ashkenazi and Moroccan Jewish samples or just work with Sephardites. In the end I retained them... but then I had to correct and start all over. Why? Ashkenazim specially cluttered the analysis with their extreme specificity (possibly because of some extreme bottleneck in their origins and/or inbreeding, although I can't say for sure).

The results were hardly a satisfactory answer for the question I meant to ask: how do Western Jews relate with the diversity of Anatolia and the Levant, the area where they probably originated? But rather placed these two communities as extremes in the area studied, as unlikely references rather than being referred to the wider native populations. Example:



Instead Sephardi Jews showed up as less strikingly monolithic and had been found in previous studies to be, quite obviously, central to the Jewish diaspora. So I decided to start all over retaining only Sephardi Jews, which should be enough to give the key answers about Western Jewish origins.


Analysis using only Sephardites

This analysis was more productive. The whole run is as follows:


The deeper K levels are not really too informative, specially not for the matter at hand, the origin of Sephardi Jews (and by extension all Western Jews probably). Probably the greatest interest is between K=4 and K=6. I decided to retain the last one as main snapshot:





The labels of the components in the last two images (bottom and right respectively) are a mere conceptual reference. 

Kebaran (source)
Since K=2 there is an obvious distinction between Palestinians and the rest. This is coincident with what we find in Behar 2010 for example and what I have found in previous analysis: that Palestinians show a marked distinctiveness even in West Asia. My hypothesis is that they retain best a distinctiveness that may be as old as the Kebaran culture or even older. I understand that this means that, very possibly, Palestinians are the true descendants of historical Jews, Canaanites, etc.


Early PPNB (source)
However this analysis was not designed to discern Palestinian affinities but those of Jews, so I won't discuss this farther. Just to say that if the Palestinian pole is akin to Kebaran-Natufian-PPNA, then the other main detected cluster, shared abundantly by everyone in the region, could well be akin to PPNB.

In any case, the result is that, no matter how deep you go, Sephardi Jews are not clearly distinct from other West Asians, specially not from Cypriots and most often than not also not distinct from Turks. The main difference is certain very weak and slippery relation with Palestinian and other Levantines. 

Particularly, component K5 (pop4 in the Fst table, blue in the bar graph), which I labeled as Palestine1, stroke as quite interesting. This component is most common among Palestinians (15% at K=6) but second most common among Sephardi Jews (5%), being smaller among all other populations analyzed. It is possible, I speculate, that this component is a remnant of a genetic link between the Palestinian population, long ago of Jewish religion and identity most likely, and the Diaspora Jews, most of whose ancestry seems to have other origins.

It would be, in this regard, most interesting to analyze genuine Palestinian Jews, descendants of those c. 10% Palestinians of Jewish religion who existed before the Zionist colonial project began, sadly even this notion of Palestinian Jewish has vanished or been erased, even if it was once common enough.

Regardless, in almost everything else, Sephardi Jews are identical to Cypriots and Turks, what suggests that my idea of Western Jews having originated not in Palestine but in the Hellenistic Diaspora, which was largely product not of emigration but of proselytism (and in this context early Christianity was just a Jewish sect of messianic character). 

It remains to see how Ashkenazi and Moroccan Jews fit in this description. But while I had to renounce to analyze them, all the previous data strongly suggests that they are not too distinct from Sephardi Jews and should share at least partly that same origin, followed by intense bottlenecks.

_______________________________________

Update (Jan 11): before I forget, I must mention this other paper (that I did not know about) mentioned by PConroy in the discussion:

Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin, The origin of Eastern European Jews revealed by autosomal, sex chromosomal and mtDNA polymorphisms. Biology Direct 2010. Open access.

The author finds Eastern European Jews (the bulk of Ashkenazim) to be of essentially European origin mtDNA-wise, with special mention to Italy.

46 comments:

  1. This is my grandfather's axe. My father replaced the handle and I replaced the head. It is my grandfather's axe.

    I am Ethnicty X, we know we are descended from X in a longline of often told histories. My adopted father retold the histories with a furious twist, and I retold the stories just as he had, but forgetting the boring bits. I am Ethnicity X.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. "This is my grandfather's axe. My father replaced the handle and I replaced the head. It is my grandfather's axe".

    Never heard this before but it's just great and does apply.

    Note: I'm deleting a comment because it's exactly duplicated.

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  4. "Never heard this before but it's just great and does apply".

    The idea is quite common here. But usually described as 'Captain Cook's axe'.

    "It remains to see how Ashkenazi and Moroccan Jews fit in this description. But while I had to renounce to analyze them, all the previous data strongly suggests that they are not too distinct from Sephardi Jews and should share at least partly that same origin, followed by intense bottlenecks".

    Interesting, to be sure.

    "Ashkenazim specially cluttered the analysis with their extreme specificity (possibly because of some extreme bottleneck in their origins and/or inbreeding, although I can't say for sure)".

    One particularly interesting discovery I made recently was a consequence of our argument concerning mt-DNA N. Haplogroup N1b2 comprises 10% of Ashkenazi mt-DNA, and is virtually confined to that group. It is unlikely to have come into the region from outside with the Ashkenazim because it is not present in other Jewish populations. Probably indigenous. And guess what? It has a stem of 7 mutations. So it must have remained isolated for some time since coalescing from N1b. And N1b has a stem of 10 mutations from N1, so must have remained isolated for many generations after coalescing from that haplogroup. So the question is: has N1b1 remained for that whole period within the region where N1'5 originated? In all N1b2 is 19 mutations from N1'5. That indicates a long period of drift, which is unlikely to have occurred during any sort of migration.

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  5. "So the question is: has N1b1 remained for that whole period within the region where N1'5 originated?"

    Sorry, the question concerns N1b2, not N1b1.

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  6. "So the question is: has N1b1 remained for that whole period within the region where N1'5 originated?".

    Probably not but it does not matter: you are hijacking the thread again.

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  7. Maju,

    It's a pity you didn't include Sicilians in your analysis, as they may shed light on the origins of some Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews.

    My grandmother-in-law is 3/4 Sicilian (Palermo) and 1/4 Southern Italian (Calabria), she has some Jewish matches, but "no known" Jewish ancestry, here are her K21a Oracle results - as one population:
    > DodecadOracle(c(31.48,0.00,0.00,12.79,0.64,0.19,32.25,2.91,0.00,15.66,0.00,4.08), k=30)
    [1] [,2]
    [1,] "Ashkenazi_D" "4.4431"
    [2,] "Sicilian_D" "4.5726"
    [3,] "Ashkenazy_Jews" "4.7967"
    [4,] "S_Italian_Sicilian_D" "5.0798"
    [5,] "Sephardic_Jews" "7.6739"
    [6,] "S_Italian_D" "7.9232"
    [7,] "C_Italian_D" "9.5679"
    [8,] "Greek_D" "10.1006"
    [9,] "Morocco_Jews" "10.6173"
    [10,] "O_Italian_D" "12.4939"

    and as 2 populations:
    > DodecadOracle(c(31.48,0.00,0.00,12.79,0.64,0.19,32.25,2.91,0.00,15.66,0.00,4.08), mixedmode=T, k=30)
    [,1] [,2]
    [1,] "92.9% Sicilian_D + 7.1% Bedouin" "2.216"
    [2,] "93.1% Sicilian_D + 6.9% Saudis" "2.327"
    [3,] "13.4% German_D + 86.6% Sephardic_Jews" "2.3592"
    [4,] "74.2% C_Italian_D + 25.8% Palestinian" "2.4214"
    [5,] "11.6% Norwegian_D + 88.4% Sephardic_Jews" "2.5224"
    [6,] "13.8% Mixed_Germanic_D + 86.2% Sephardic_Jews" "2.5771"
    [7,] "11.3% Swedish_D + 88.7% Sephardic_Jews" "2.5868"
    [8,] "13.3% CEU25 + 86.7% Sephardic_Jews" "2.5954"
    [9,] "12.8% British_Isles_D + 87.2% Sephardic_Jews" "2.6631"
    [10,] "13.4% Dutch_D + 86.6% Sephardic_Jews" "2.6829"


    My father-in-law - unrelated to the above - is 50% Polish (Poznan)/50% Sicilian (Palermo area), and has a lot of Jewish matches, but no known Jewish ancestry, his results as 2 populations:

    > DodecadOracle(c(27.37,0.09,0.39,34.53,0.76,0.82,21.59,4.20,0.00,6.28,0.28,3.69), mixedmode=T, k=30)
    [,1] [,2]
    [1,] "67.8% Hungarians + 32.2% Sephardic_Jews" "3.2662"
    [2,] "54% Polish_D + 46% Morocco_Jews" "3.4664"
    [3,] "68.9% Hungarians + 31.1% Morocco_Jews" "3.5707"
    [4,] "39.1% Ashkenazy_Jews + 60.9% Hungarians" "3.6327"
    [5,] "37.4% Ashkenazi_D + 62.6% Hungarians" "3.6728"
    [6,] "52.8% Polish_D + 47.2% Sephardic_Jews" "3.7384"
    [7,] "65% O_Italian_D + 35% Mordovians_Y" "3.865"
    [8,] "47.4% Polish_D + 52.6% Sicilian_D" "3.8973"
    [9,] "56.9% Swedish_D + 43.1% Cypriots" "3.9021"
    [10,] "73.2% Hungarians + 26.8% Lebanese" "3.9031"

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  8. "It's a pity you didn't include Sicilians"...

    First of all, the HGDP sample I'm using does not include any South Italians (other than Sardinians).

    Then, the comparison with Italians (I believe that including South Italians) was done in the Atzmon paper (whose supplementary material is freely available). The "S" (south) sample is all Italians and while they do approach the most the Turk and Cypriot and Jewish cluster in one extreme, they do not overlap.

    I wonder anyhow why it is suggested this South Italian alleged affinity, because historically Southern Italy does not seem to be related at all with early Diaspora Jews. Would it be North Italy... maybe but the South?

    Even the phenotypes are not really alike usually in spite of both having that generic Mediterranean tendency.

    I wonder if the matches you mention are caused by oversampling of Ashkenazim and maybe Greek-Italian ancestry (which has impacted South Italy quite a bit over the centuries). I mean that in such databases it is likely that there are thousands of Ashkenazim and maybe a dozen people from the Eastern Mediterranean, what makes it unlikely that any match among, say, Greeks or Turks or whatever shows up.

    But well, I agree that it is a possibility to explore, however it is Sephardites and not Ashkenazim who set the standard among Diaspora Jews, if we are to judge by these two papers mentioned here. Italian Jews, who should be the most Italian-like of all (if any has to be) do not tend towards Italy (or Europe in general) either, judging by Atzmon's data.

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  9. Of course, considering the Dodecad data, your grandmother could well have Jewish or otherwise West Asian ancestry (it looks more Arab than Jewish), maybe a remnant from the Crusades (exiles or whatever) or even from the Roman slavist period (many ancient Jews, = Palestinian probably, enslaved in the Roman genocide, could well have ended in Sicily, which was the plantation colony of the age).

    But consider anyhow that the Dienekes method of "finding" ancestry with "zombie" poulations may be very misleading.

    If you learn the method, you can experiment at home with all this directly with the real populations (so far I do not know where to find a Sicilian sample or how to integrate it but you could not so hardly achieve the same kind of know-how as Dienekes for your own use).

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  10. @Maju,

    Yes, I think that Sicily was the "breadbasket" of Rome before Egypt got that title, and they had a huge slave economy, and supposedly many Judean/Jewish slaves.

    Later, post-1492, many Sephardic Jews arrived, and mostly settled in Palermo and some in Calabria. Supposedly for a time the island was 1/3 Jewish. There is also a theory that Sicilian Jews were the founders of the Roman Jewish population, who later went on to found the Ashhenazi population. My grandmother-in-law even carries the Ashkenazi Jewish specific SNP/mutation associated with Gaucher Disease. While my father-in-law carries the Sephardic specific SNP/mutation associated with Familial Mediterranean Fever.

    As regards doing own analysis, the main obstacle was my 8 yo computer, but I have decided to finally upgrade!

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  11. "Supposedly for a time the island was 1/3 Jewish".

    Where does that "statistic", that totally sounds to capricious claim, come from? It's not like we have detailed statistical data from the Roman period, more like scattered info and mostly about the aristocrats (slaves only mattered when they rebelled and went on rampage, like Spartacus - but that also applied to plebeians anyhow).

    "There is also a theory that Sicilian Jews were the founders of the Roman Jewish population, who later went on to found the Ashhenazi population".

    Is that documented in any way? While I've read this Italian origins story somewhere before, I'm quite sure that no documents or historical works were used as references - just somebody had that notion, vaguely so.

    I am more acquainted with the Khazar theory (http://www.khazaria.com/) and there seems to be some Y-DNA evidence supporting a Levite lineage being probably of Khazar origin (as the convert Turks of what was in their time the only Jewish state were co-opted to that priestly caste but not to the Kohen one). However neither Atzmon nor Behar found any affinity with Eastern Europe and even the Adigey track seems very cold now. So maybe most Khazars eventually ended up as Muslims after the Turco-Mongol invasion (in turn an indirect effect of Russian destruction and plunder, not conquest, of Khazaria).

    Whatever the case I'd like suggestions that are not just vague ideas with no clear foundation. Otherwise I struggle to believe them.

    "My grandmother-in-law even carries the Ashkenazi Jewish specific SNP/mutation associated with Gaucher Disease. While my father-in-law carries the Sephardic specific SNP/mutation associated with Familial Mediterranean Fever".

    How common are these diseases in, say, Gaza Strip? And in South Italy? One thing is knowing that Gaucher disease is 7.5 times more common among Ashkenazi Jews than among other US-Americans and another thing is that it has to be necessarily Jewish even in a Mediterranean context (most US-Americans are not of Mediterranean extraction).

    I mean that sure: it is a clue but how does it prove anything?

    And the FMF is common in all the Eastern Mediterranean area, from Greece to Arabia. So it could be Jewish but it could be from a Phoenician or Greek origin as well - more likely so IMO.

    I certainly associate Sicily much more with these peoples than with Jews. There was even a brief Muslim-Arab period of about a century (whose most important legacy is in Malta however, where an Arabic dialect is still the main and official language) but specially the island was a central part of Magna Grecia and later the Western half fell under Carthaginian domain (Palermo for example is a Phoencian city, while Syracuse and Messina are of Greek origin) and even later it was for long a Byzantine dependency.

    The options are many because individual apparent Jewish affinity may well mean some other West Asian or even Greek affinity instead.

    "As regards doing own analysis, the main obstacle was my 8 yo computer, but I have decided to finally upgrade!"

    It does not take so much memory/CPU: I can't play online games because my PC is so cheap that it sucks but I can do all this without any issues. However you do need Linux, it seems.

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  12. Matching a meme to genes is always at best a forced fit. Israeli author Shlomo Sand has taken a lot of heat for pointing this out at book length.

    http://inventionofthejewishpeople.com/

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  13. "Matching a meme to genes is always at best a forced fit".

    It depends: other peoples are more homogeneous or used to be until recently. That does not mean I'd like to base ethnicity/nationality on (always small and relative) biological differences of any king but that in some cases at least, as people have been rooted in an specific country and kept intercourse (in both meanings) mostly among themselves, they have retained or even achieved to some extent certain genetic homogeneity.

    "Israeli author Shlomo Sand has taken a lot of heat for pointing this out at book length".

    I haven't read the book yet but I know it from reference. However what I find most interesting is to find out that Ashkenazi Jews specially are not genetically European for the greatest part, while no (or almost no) Jews are Palestinian-like either (they are Turkish-like, Yemeni-like, Iranian-like...)

    This appears to place modern Western Jews as original from Asia Minor (considering the Cyprus affinity I can't stop thinking of Saul of Tarsus, later Paul, the true founder of Christianity as we know it). The Ancient Diaspora (mostly product of proselytism, which was also the basis for early Christianity) was heavily concentrated in Asia Minor (I've heard also that Syria but really the results are not supportive of this trail, maybe for Syrian Jews?). But what surprises me is that they managed to remain isolated all this time, specially considering that Jewish mtDNA lines often look European (although admittedly it's hard to discern clearly, unlike what happens with Indian or Ethiopian lineages), not even incorporating Khazars or Berber Jews (Moroccan Jews in Behar 2008 do not look North African either).

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  14. "you are hijacking the thread again".

    No Maju. It is quite relevant to some of your comments:

    "However how exactly they related with West Asians was mostly unresolved (excepting that Palestinians have a lot of genetic distinctiveness and this was not shared with modern Jews nor nearly any other population at any meaningful level)".

    Haplogroup N1b2 is found in Palestine, evidently. Connection with early Jews?

    "Palestinians show a marked distinctiveness even in West Asia. My hypothesis is that they retain best a distinctiveness that may be as old as the Kebaran culture or even older. I understand that this means that, very possibly, Palestinians are the true descendants of historical Jews, Canaanites, etc."

    Or the other way round: the Jews are at least partly descended from Canaanites and people today known as Palestinians. Even in ancient Egypt 'Syrians' were known as traders. My suspicion is that the Jewish religion arose as a means to ensure stability within trading groups based originally around the eastern Mediterranean. The Jews' genetic distinctiveness is a result of the relatively closed social groupings that evolved in various regions within that trading network.

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  15. @Maju,

    To clarify, I didn't just say Gaucher Disease or Familiar Mediterranean Fever, as both diseases have different SNP pathways causing them. In each case it was the JEWISH specific SNP that my in-laws carry - that's a critically important difference to your comments.

    Secondsly, here is a paper on the similarity of Italians to Eastern Europe Jews:
    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/5/1/57

    Enjoy!

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  16. @Terry: you know perfectly well that trying to divert this thread to the intolerably eternal "debate" on where N1'5 and its direct ancestor N coalesced, (with the hyper-obliquous pretext of a very distant descendant being found in Palestine) is hijacking the thread and very nastily so.

    For the rest, we all know more or less how the Jewish religion formed initially and it was circumscribed to warrior pastoralist tribes of Palestine. Another thing is how it evolved in the context of the empires that dominated the region since the Assyrian period and specially in Hellenistic and Roman times: then its always extant proselytism became much more important because, while they lost independence, they gained access to a host of gentile peoples.

    It really beats me how they were able to persuade them so intensely in the three variants known to us: Christianism (messianic Judaism of solar calendar and Essenian roots, reformed to fit Greco-Roman cultural preferences better and the need to submit at least formally to the imperial reality), Rabbinic Judaism (anti-messianic Judaism of lunar calendar of Malachite roots, also reformed in a long medieval re-writing process: Rabbinic scripture) and, later, Islam, that some consider more akin to original Judaism in some aspects at least (while others consider it the more distant because the original Jewish scripture is less important). But they did.

    Eventually Rabbinic Judaism, even if acknowledged as original OT Judaism by the others, was forced to renounce to proselytism nearly everywhere and hence became the self-contained community that has arrived to our time. But ironically the origins of this self-containment spring from the conditional tolerance imposed by its rival sister sects (because they were tolerated, even if under constrictive conditions, something that all other non-Judaic religions were not).

    But I fail to see how this matches with "trading networks" in the early times of Judaism. But under Christian theocratic rule, and probably not before, they could fulfill specialized roles such as banking and trading in a way that the "Roman" feudal society could not (because of prejudices and moral laws). Also, as Christian-Muslim rivalry grew, they could bridge the gap caused by that division and growing mutual (but specially Christian anti-Muslim) intolerance and benefit from being tolerated intermediaries.

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  17. @PConroy:

    Alright, that paper is very interesting and now I see your point. Thanks for the link.

    It is really striking that EEJ (the bulk of Ashkenazi Jews, it seems) appear to have an Italian genetic pool in both autosomal and X-DNA - but not in Y-DNA (Cyprus, Turkey, etc.) nor mtDNA (Palestinian-like).

    The authors conclude that this was caused by a bottleneck from a mostly Italian gene pool (they were like 4000 after they apparently migrated from Italy) but I wonder why of all possible uniparental lineages, the ones that remained by both sides are, apparently, from West Asia.

    An explanation might be in the sloppiness of shallow mtDNA analysis. I recall a paper from the Behar team (but another lead author?) which studied the mtDNA of the Western Jewish diaspora, yet it was very much arguable if many of those lineages were "founder effects" from West Asia (where they are rare) or rather absorbed lineages from Europe, where they are common. The simplicity of the PCA may help with this confusion. Just throwing a work hypothesis here.

    Anyhow it's not clear if those markers you mentioned of your relatives should be considered "Jewish" or "Italian" (with an Ashkenazi-only extension). Based on this paper at least I'd say that the second: Italian markers nearly fixated among Ashkenazim (but not Jews in general).

    In any case the extreme bottlenecking of Ashkenazi origins seems to make very difficult to compare them with anyone properly, unless forced by the sheer numbers of those they are compared with (or using "zombies" but that could be seen as "cheating").

    Still why did Behar 2010 fail to cluster Ashkenazim and Italians, and what about Atzmon 2010?

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  18. "they were like 4000 after they apparently migrated from Italy"

    It is extremely unlikely that all 4000 migrated in one group from Italy to where-ever it was they finished up and became Ashkenazim. Most likely a few individuals (males most likely) moved off and established some sort of connection with another group. Perhaps they were merchants of traders. In time they sent back for their relations and friends to join them. Many of these later may have been other than traders or merchants.

    "and hence became the self-contained community that has arrived to our time".

    The fact that they tend to be genetic isolates suggests they formed 'self-contained' communities long before they appear in history. So their isolation was voluntary.

    "But I fail to see how this matches with 'trading networks' in the early times of Judaism".

    Fits perfectly. And 'Judaism' has a long period of development before it became the religion we know today. Israel lies on the major trade route between Mesopotamia and Egypt (the Yisrael river valley) and the Jewish religion contains a synthesis of ideas from both other regions.

    "It really beats me how they were able to persuade them so intensely in the three variants known to us: Christianism (messianic Judaism of solar calendar and Essenian roots, reformed to fit Greco-Roman cultural preferences better and the need to submit at least formally to the imperial reality), Rabbinic Judaism (anti-messianic Judaism of lunar calendar of Malachite roots, also reformed in a long medieval re-writing process: Rabbinic scripture) and, later, Islam, that some consider more akin to original Judaism in some aspects at least (while others consider it the more distant because the original Jewish scripture is less important). But they did".

    Success breeds imitation. The Polynesians were generally quite willing to adopt Christianity because they though they could see some usefulness in adopting the religion.

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  19. Western Roma were some 1000 who migrated in a single episode apparently and about the same date. I see no particular reason why some Jews could not have made a similar but perpendicular migration as described by Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin. Just because you write that it is "extremely unlikely" it does not make it so.

    "Perhaps they were merchants of traders".

    Of course. Jews in those times were almost exclusively that (they are also mentioned occasionally as slaves but never as any of the main three castes that constituted the mainstream society: aristocrats, priests and peasants).

    A key hub of Eastern Jews were probably Prague and Krakow in the Middle Ages.

    Already in 970 Ibn Yakub mentions Prague as one of the largest cities of "the Northern countries" and visited for trade by Russians (Varangians), Slavs, Hungarians and Jews. He also mentions Krakow and Gniezno as centers of Poland.

    C. 1000, the Rabbi of Mainz, Hacohen, wrote about the commercial relations of the Jewish community of Krakow with Russia and Moravia, about the slave trade they practiced and the existence of an organized Jewish community in Krakow.

    In any case "Jewish" and "Syrian" merchants are known to have existed and played important role in the Merovingian empire, several centuries before they show up in Central Europe. So these may be two different origins.

    For Jan Dhont 1971 (from where I'm getting all this historical data), the origins of Ashkenazim (German or Yiddish speaking Jews) are in the Carolingian Empire and not specifically in Italy. He says:

    "These Jews first inhabited Germany, Italy and France and only later they emigrated to other countries, specially Austria, Bohemia, Poland and Lithuania".

    He then list Jews as just one of several nation of traders, including also Frisians, Anglosaxons, Danish, Swedes, "Russians" (sic) and Bohemians, as well as "those coming from Venice, the Po region and from Campania".

    "So their isolation was voluntary".

    The fact that there was ample Jewish proselytism in "frontier" zones outside of the authoritarian reach of the Roman or Byzantine Empire (which was intolerant Christian theocratic since the 4th century CE.), areas like Berber tribes, Kurdistan, Yemen, Ethiopia or the steppe Turks (Khazars), emphasizes that their non-proselytism was not voluntary but imposed by (first) the late Roman Empire (and successor Christian states) and (then) the Caliphate (and successor Muslim states). Neither allowed them anymore to proselytize, even if they were tolerated to exist, unlike adepts of non-biblical religions.

    The final blow to Jewish proselytism was surely the destruction of the Khazar Kaganate by Kievan Russia.

    ...

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  20. ...

    "Israel lies on the major trade route between Mesopotamia and Egypt (the Yisrael river valley)"...

    Can you indicate any evidence of sustained and important trade being conducted through early Jewish Palestine in the Iron Age?

    There is no such Yisrael river that I know of. You may mean the Jordan, I presume.

    "... and the Jewish religion contains a synthesis of ideas from both other regions".

    Undoubtedly so. Their bubble was only so much of a bubble, specially when it was smashed by some merciless conqueror like the Assyrian or Roman empires. This is not evidence of trade however but of being part of their West Asian (and secondarily also Egyptian-influenced) geographic and cultural context. Unavoidably so.

    "Success breeds imitation".

    The Jews were a repeatedly defeated people, don't make me laugh. Even his late vanquisher declined honors because he thought unworthy to brag about defeating "a people abandoned by their own god".

    The Hellenistic period (including most of the Roman era) was one of religious experimentation and many sects flourished, these being specially of three kinds: Persian (Zoroastrism, Mazdeism, Manicheism), Egyptian (Isianism specially) or Jewish (Rabbinic Judaism and Christianism). There were also some Greek sects, notably those related to the cult of Dyonisos, which was intermittently persecuted for being disruptive of the social stability. Most such sects were however founded on mysteries accssible only to initiates and we do not know all the details, but it's clear that they influenced the evolution of Christianism early on and maybe even Rabbinic Judaism itself.

    Why did Christianism succeed? IMO because they were the most fascist of all: when they became influential enough, the carried on a military and political coup and then banished all other religions one after the other (excepting Judaism, which was tolerated but not allowed to proselytize anymore). Then they turned to each other, facilitating the expansion of Islam, which was initially seen as a much needed help against Greek trinitarian totalitarianism by Egyptian, Jewish (Palestinian) and Syrian Christians.

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  21. "There is no such Yisrael river that I know of. You may mean the Jordan, I presume".

    Certainly not the Jordan. The Jezreel seems to be the prefered spelling these days. I have an old map that has 'Yisrael':

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezreel_Valley

    "In addition to the settlements of Jezreel and Megiddo, the valley has played host to a number of other historic places, such as Beit She'an and Shimron".

    Megiddo was certainly on a trade route between Mesopotamia and Egypt:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Megiddo

    "Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BC to 586 BC"

    "The Hellenistic period (including most of the Roman era) was one of religious experimentation and many sects flourished, these being specially of three kinds: Persian (Zoroastrism, Mazdeism, Manicheism), Egyptian (Isianism specially) or Jewish (Rabbinic Judaism and Christianism)".

    The Judaism of that period is different for what Judaism later became. In fact it encompassed quite a variety of beliefs based on a variety of writings.

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  22. "Of course. Jews in those times were almost exclusively that [merchants or traders]"

    So why did you so vehemently deny my earlier suggestion?

    "we all know more or less how the Jewish religion formed initially and it was circumscribed to warrior pastoralist tribes of Palestine".

    That's the myth. It may have very little to do with reality.

    "In any case 'Jewish' and 'Syrian' merchants are known to have existed and played important role in the Merovingian empire, several centuries before they show up in Central Europe".

    They're also known in ancient Egypt, specifically known as 'Syrians'. The saying went that to drive a hard bargain was to talk Syrian.

    "So these may be two different origins".

    And that possibly accounts for the genetic variation between different Jewish groups.

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  23. A Zionist choice of name: in the native language it is said: Marǧ Ibn Amer, apparently. It is a modest river anyhow.

    In any case all the rest you say is very circumstantial. Nobody has denied that some trade existed, of course, what I question is to understand ancient Jews as a trader people, much as we would imagine ancient Phoenicians, medieval Venetians or modern Dutch (or Medieval Jews themselves).

    "The Judaism of that period is different for what Judaism later became".

    The OT has not changed (in spite of Mohammed's claims). If Rabbinic Judaism has changed, and it has, then it's not anymore classical Judaism, much like Christianity or Islam or Mormonism or Baha'ism or Sikhism... are not either. But we can't blame them: Judaism was evolving all the time in the thousand years or so it existed as "classical" religion, incorporating new books, probably suppressing or modifying old ones, etc.

    "In fact it encompassed quite a variety of beliefs based on a variety of writings".

    Uh? Now we begin another endless debate without any kind of clarity? No, thanks.

    "So why did you so vehemently deny my earlier suggestion?"

    Pre-Hellenistic and Hellenistic Jews are two different kinds, notably because the later are not anymore (it seems) "classical Jews" from Palestine or nearby areas but a conglomerate of Aramean- and Greek-speaking Hellenized peoples. They are not anymore a nation and are each time more a mere religious sect. You mixing pre-Hellenistic (or classical) Jews with Hellenistic Jews is confusing, so don't, please.

    "That's the myth. It may have very little to do with reality".

    Myths do not form in a vacuum: Jewish mythology is warrior-pastoralist and that is clear sign of the original group(s) being of that kind. It's surely only after the conquest of Canaan when they become more and more "normal" (farmers and such) but, much like modern Palestinian "Arabs" retain the Arabic mythology, even if most are not herders, nor surely were their ancestors, Ancient Jews (Judaized Canaanites mostly) retained the mythology imposed by their shepherd conquerors.

    "And that possibly accounts for the genetic variation between different Jewish groups".

    All them are Ashkenazim. Once we leave the Mediterranean towards the North all Jews are Ashkenazim. Do you know of any study that discusses internal genetic differences within Ashkenazim? No? Then why do you stir the pot pointlessly and without any foundation?

    (This is the kind of stuff you do that really makes me angry, man: you are not a serious intellectual debater most of the time but a pseudo-rhetoric cheater and that's a waste of time).

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  24. "what I question is to understand ancient Jews as a trader people, much as we would imagine ancient Phoenicians"

    Basically the Phoenicians were Jews, or at least Israelites. The region known anciently as Israel was much more important than was Jerusalem. The last was a backwater that only came to prominence (in its own mind) with the destruction of Israel. Israel was based along the Jezreel River valley and had extensive contacts with the region that later became known as Phoenicia.

    "Myths do not form in a vacuum: Jewish mythology is warrior-pastoralist and that is clear sign of the original group(s) being of that kind".

    It is not a 'clear sign of the original group(s) being of that kind'. Many origin myths do not closely coincide with reality. For example US citizens believe their country was established as a refuge from religious persecution. Nonsense. It was established as a business enterprise. Not originally a very successful one I admit.

    "It's surely only after the conquest of Canaan when they become more and more 'normal'"

    Conquest of Canaan? There is no evidence of any such 'conquest'. Most peoloe not overly influenced by Biblical myths now believe the Israelites were Canaanites. Tribal battles, yes.

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  25. ... "the Phoenicians were Jews, or at least Israelites".

    That is not what any historian would say. Phoenicians did not partake of the Hebrew religion and are generally considered as a major threat by the authors of the Bible (the most named competing God seems to be Baal). Nobody considers classical Jews and classical Phoenicians to be the same at all (even if their languages were clearly related).

    "Many origin myths do not closely coincide with reality".

    Not "origin myths" but the concepts in the Bible: I read daily the Blasphemer's Bible and it's all about sheep, wells and enslaving and raping women, preferably tender girls barely nubile. Farmers and city dwellers do not think that way, at last not so extremely so: it is a redneck book for redneck readers and listeners - but the pastoralist kind of redneck, mind you.

    "For example US citizens believe their country was established as a refuge from religious persecution. Nonsense. It was established as a business enterprise".

    I can agree with that but that doesn't mean that it did not act also as religious haven for some sects. So not all the myth is wrong. Of course the Bible is not going to openly unveil the agenda of the priestly caste in establishing that religion but it still holds a lot of clues about the background of both priests and flock (and the very fact that we use the terms 'shepherd' and 'flock' is most revealing indeed).

    "Conquest of Canaan? There is no evidence of any such 'conquest'".

    Arguable: there was a time when Canaan was not follower of the Hebrew religion. The Mistress of the Lioness (a local queen of Shemesh) asked for help to Egypt against the Hebrew barbarians in vain c. 1350. Soon after that (and a razing), the city is the first in Palestine to have a kosher diet. It seems to me that there was a band of Judaistic fanatic "terrorists" pillaging in the name of Yehu (Yaveh) until they took over some territory and consolidated their power, benefiting from Egyptian weakness and sea-based piracy by the Sea Peoples and such.

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  26. "Once we leave the Mediterranean towards the North all Jews are Ashkenazim. Do you know of any study that discusses internal genetic differences within Ashkenazim? No? Then why do you stir the pot pointlessly and without any foundation?"

    My comment, 'the genetic variation between different Jewish groups', did not apply to just the Ashkenazim. It was an explanation for the differences between Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Syrian and Moroccan Jews.

    "A Zionist choice of name: in the native language it is said: Marǧ Ibn Amer, apparently. It is a modest river anyhow".

    My atlas (which is Australian!) has the name "'Emeq Yizre'el" for the valley, whatever that means. 'Emeq Yisre'el seems to be the region Merenptah refers to in his stele. 'Israel' is therefore probably the region between Galilee and Samaria.

    "Nobody considers classical Jews and classical Phoenicians to be the same at all (even if their languages were clearly related)".

    Their languages were almost exactly the same 3000 years ago. The valley provides an obvious crossover point between Mesopotamia and Egypt, by land or sea. Phoenicia lies to the north as far as Ugarit, and the five Philistine cities lie to south as far as Gaza. All three regions had a great deal of peaceful contact and trade, with each other and with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

    "That is not what any historian would say. Phoenicians did not partake of the Hebrew religion and are generally considered as a major threat by the authors of the Bible"

    That's difficult to reconcile with the legend that Solomon got them to build his temple. Mind you, I'm reasonably convinced that Solomon is not an historical character. But archeology shows clearly that the people in the Biblical land of Israel had plenty of contact with people along the coast during Omri and Ahab's time. Even the religion was much the same, in spite of what the Bible writers insist. The religion in the region today known as Israel was not monotheism. Perhaps the religion of Judah was, but that's debatable.

    "Of course the Bible is not going to openly unveil the agenda of the priestly caste in establishing that religion"

    Exactly. And the mysterious find of the priestly scroll in Jerusalem at a convenient time is a dead giveaway as to the actual time of the coalescence of the religion as it exists today.

    "there was a time when Canaan was not follower of the Hebrew religion".

    It basically never was a follower of the Hebrew religion. Even the Bible contains an endless stream of complaints mentioning that fact.

    "The Mistress of the Lioness (a local queen of Shemesh) asked for help to Egypt against the Hebrew barbarians in vain c. 1350".

    We don't know that the 'Habiru' are 'Hebrews'. And even if they were we do not know their religion. Besides which standard biblical chronology would not have the Israelites in Canaan as early as that.

    "It seems to me that there was a band of Judaistic fanatic 'terrorists' pillaging in the name of Yehu (Yaveh) until they took over some territory and consolidated their power, benefiting from Egyptian weakness and sea-based piracy by the Sea Peoples and such".

    You may be correct. But they were not invaders. They were an indigenous development. And the Bible claims that Israel and Judah were a united kingdom for a period. Archeology shows that 'Israel' was far mere developed then 'Judau'. But in time refugees from Israel swelled the population of Jerusalem and enable King Josiah and his priests to concoct a story about the Jerusalem temple being the 'real' one. Judah may at last then have become monotheistic.

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  27. "Solomon got them to build his temple"...

    Phoenicians made jobs for others. Egyptians got them to circumnavigate Africa (look up the "Journey of the Eritrean Sea"). Solomon was an obvious pro-foreigner monarch anyhow, at least according to the Bible.

    "We don't know that the 'Habiru' are 'Hebrews'".

    The letter does not even say "Habiru" or anything. She just asked for help against "bands of rough people and rebels". The key evidence however is that her city, not far from Jerusalem, was the first one known in Canaan to become 'kosher' in diet (no pork anymore).

    "But they were not invaders. They were an indigenous development".

    They probably arrived from the southern deserts if we are to trust any of what the Bible says, even what it says implicitly about their pastoralist habits. The Bible, at least in that early period, talks a lot about Jerico and Jerusalem but very little of the cities further North... for a reason.

    Now, if you consider Sinai, Negev and Idumea to be "a local development"... up to you. Arguing that would be like discussing if the turquoise color is green or blue.

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  28. "The Bible, at least in that early period, talks a lot about Jerico and Jerusalem but very little of the cities further North... for a reason".

    One liner, sorry: so what happened to the combined kingcom? Never existed?

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  29. "... what happened to the combined kingcom? Never existed?"

    I don't know what you're talking about.

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  30. "I don't know what you're talking about".

    The Bible claims that both David and Solomon ruled over a kingdom that included the southern Judah and the northern Israel. It claims an close connection but the two later split. Archeology shows that Israel was a much more important region than was Judah. In fact it is doubtful if there ever was a 'combined kingdom', or if Solomon was actually a real person. However we do have a claim regarding the 'lost tribes of Israel'. Such tribes could hardly be claimed as having 'arrived from the southern deserts'.

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  31. No idea how that matters at all. The conquest of Jerusalem and, allegedly, Jericho happened much earlier (several centuries?) than David, who should be from the early Iron Age (c. 1000?) according to what the OT says (the Hebrews had no iron but the Philistines did). By that time I presume that the farmers had been assimilated by pacts and/or wars. Most biblical Jewish tribes (such as Dan, Benjamin and the rest) probably had nothing to do with the original horde of fanatics led my Moses (Tutmoses? Rameses? - what a name!) and his alleged brother (in law?, in legend?) Aaron.

    But I'm not too concerned with Biblical history nor I know enough to discern who is who in the transition from the pastoralist semi-mythical origins to the mostly farmer and urban reality. I know enough however to realized that this nomads' invasion was not the first one that the area had suffered but at least the third one, so the pre-existent oligarchies probably felt comfortable with pastoralist mythologies, which may even be intertwined with their own tribal legends at some points.

    "... a claim regarding the 'lost tribes of Israel'".

    A claim indeed. Little more: they just vanished in a new socio-political reality: tribes are nothing but primitive polities and we know many well studied cases (Athens, Rome, Tenochtitlan...) in which tribal organization has yielded to post-tribal one. At some point of the Athenian political evolution for example tribes became only geographical districts and then they finally vanished altogether. There you probably have your "lost tribes": they vanished as generic Galileans and Samaritans, then as generic Palestinians, first Christian, the Muslim, etc.

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  32. "Most biblical Jewish tribes (such as Dan, Benjamin and the rest) probably had nothing to do with the original horde of fanatics led my Moses (Tutmoses? Rameses? - what a name!) and his alleged brother (in law?, in legend?) Aaron".

    I seriously doubt that there was any 'original horde of fanatics led my Moses'. That part is almost certainly myth, although possibly it contains a memory of the Hyksos expulsion. As you suggest, it is extremely interestingn that the name 'Moses' is Egyptian. But the significance escapes me.

    "But I'm not too concerned with Biblical history nor I know enough to discern who is who in the transition from the pastoralist semi-mythical origins to the mostly farmer and urban reality".

    Israel Finkelstein has written a couple of great books concerning the prehistory of the region, which I'm sure you'd find interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Finkelstein

    Quote:

    "Finkelstein earned a reputation for being a 'lightning rod' for controversy. In particular, his description of 10th century BCE Jerusalem, the period associated with the biblical kings David and Solomon, as a mere 'village' or tribal center,[3][4] has been the subject of considerable discussion and criticism.[5][6]"

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  33. And this rather long account, written some time ago, concerning the first of the two books:

    http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/grounds.htm

    Quote:

    "Prof. Israel Finkelstein sees no contradiction between holding a proper Pesach seder and telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, and the fact that, in his opinion, the exodus never occurred".

    "In addition to the periods of the patriarchs and the exodus, about which most scholars agree that there is only the most tenuous connection between the stories in the Bible and the historical reality, Finkelstein and Silberman place a large question mark over the period up to and including the time of the United Monarchy".

    "He deconstructs this foundation only in order to reconstruct it according to the logic that guided the ancient authors, and arrives at the conclusion that the stories about the conquest of the Land of Israel, the settlement period, the United Kingdom and the attempt to enhance the prestige of the Kingdom of Judah at the expense of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) are part of an ideological - religious and political - manifesto, a master stroke by a creative copywriter".

    And in Finkelstein's own words:

    "Egypt was a mighty empire that ruled here with an iron fist. In the 14th century BCE there are stories about local kings who ask Pharaoh for help against one another, asking him to send 50 soldiers - in other words, that was the number that was sufficient to impose order here. So how did a few foot soldiers from the desert conquer the land? There was certainly no orderly military conquest. According to the archaeological findings, the Israelites came from the local stock: they were actually Canaanites who became Israelites in a socio-economic process."

    And:

    "Finkelstein did not always hold these views. 'I remember that when I was writing my doctoral thesis about the Israelite settlement in the hill region, I was convinced of the accuracy of the theory propounded by the German scholars - which was then dominant in the field - holding that this population came from outside in a quiet infiltration and settled here,' he says. 'And I remember well that in the course of the surveys I did in Samaria, at Shiloh and in the areas between Ramallah and Nablus, I began to be aware that this was not a population that had infiltrated here but groups of a local population that moved around the land in circular processes. That it was not a pool of desert nomads who then moved rapidly west, but rather a lengthy process, of hundreds of years, which had already taken place in the past, at the beginning of the Early Bronze Age and in the Middle Bronze Age. For me this was something entirely new. It led me to the thought that the settlement processes in the Land of Israel were circular: in periods of crisis the tribes became nomadic shepherds, and in periods of abundance they had permanent settlements. From this I understood that these were processes that were undergone by the local population and not by a population that marched in a procession and entered the Land of Israel by means of war or peace.'"

    So he claims the Jews were locals, Canaanites, who adopted a new religion at the time of King Josiah. The book 'David and Solomon' is also extremely interesting.

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  34. I personally don't see any possibility that the book of Exodus is all false in its earthly endeavors, even if much is without doubt embellished and altered by the course of oral transmission. I have very little doubt that there was some sort of fanatic jihadist sect at the root of Judaism and that Moses and Aaron and such have at least in most cases some real life models. Myths do not grow on trees: they are built on oral traditions which often have at least a seed of truth.

    I imagine them much like modern Mormons in Utah: freaky fanatic outliers but at the same time part of the broader cultural context from which they stem. That was also surely the case of Mohamed, a historical figure of the same nature who managed to conquer all Arabia and set on a much larger conquest of huge parts of the World.

    I can however agree that this sect may have stemmed from the Hyksos and indeed one would think that the narration of Joshua (the Pharaoh's vizier) surely took place (with all the changes you want to make) under a Hykso pharaoh. Only a Hykso would consider Semitic pastoralists in such favorable light.

    "So he claims the Jews were locals, Canaanites, who adopted a new religion at the time of King Josiah".

    Why would they adopt such religion? How did the sect coalesce and evolve? It's like saying that Christians were romans who adopted a new religion in the time of Constantine's successors. True... but you have missed all the formation period of Christianity, how it became an influential sect within the Roman Empire up to the point of being able to take full power almost overnight and banish very old local traditions. Religions are not something designed in palaces, at least normally not - and much less a religion with such emphasis on the role of the priestly caste - up to the point of removing all allusions to the Heart-Sun in their version of the creation by Ptah (which is the first part of Genesis) and keeping only the relevance of the Tongue-Moon, the priestly attributes of "magical" verbal manipulation of reality.

    At the beginning was the Word. What does that mean when we compare with Ptah's creation original in which the mummy god creates not with words but with the heart (Sun, executive or royal power, willpower, self), only naming his creations later (Moon, tongue, priestly power of guarding the tradition, praying and presumably incantation). Yaveh is a verbal god, a god of priests and not kings and was created by them for their purposes.

    Finkelstein is obviously missing something.

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  35. "Why would they adopt such religion? How did the sect coalesce and evolve?"

    You will ahve to read his books.

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  36. I'm asking YOU. AFAIK, Israel Finkelstein is not a reader of this blog and certainly has not taken part in this conversation. It is YOU who is holding that opinion (without enough knowledge nor meditation, obviously).

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  37. "It is YOU who is holding that opinion (without enough knowledge nor meditation, obviously)".

    It's a while since I read his books but basically I understand his idea is that until Josiah worship was carried out in a number of places, usually on the top of 'mountains'. The relgion in the region was diverse, with several common elements. Hence the Samaritans can maintain they are the original 'Jews'. They claim they were left behind when Sargon deported the people of Israel. The Jews, of course, claim this is not correct. They claim the Samaritans came in with Assyrians, although obviously Sargon did not deport the whole population of Israel. The Samaritans' sacred mountain was Mount Gerizim.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan

    Quote:

    "According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan and the tribes of Israel settled the land".

    And:

    "After Joshua's death, Eli the priest left the tabernacle which Moses erected in the desert and established on Mount Gerizim, and built another one under his own rule in the hills of Shiloh. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship".

    And:

    "Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile. It is commonly, though inaccurately, accepted that Samaritans are mainstream Jews".

    So elements of what became Judaism were widespread although not necessarily widely accepted. And there were several places of worship.

    Finkelstein's claim is that when Israel fell large numbers of refugees entered Judah from the north. The Temple scroll was miraculously discovered which gave precedence to the temple of Jerusalem as the only place of worship. As you are probably aware, when people are afraid they will believe anything. Even the Saddam Hussein had 'weapons of mass destruction'. This he sees as the answer to your questions, 'Why would they adopt such religion? How did the sect coalesce and evolve?'. I'd still advise you to read his two main books, 'The Bible Unearthed' and 'David and Solomon'.

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  38. Well, the story of Eli sounds like the guy was doing synchretism for the sake of expansion of the religion towards the farming "civilization" they had conquered or were conquering or whatever was happening at that point (what's the alleged chronology of Eli?, how were the proto-Samaritans annexed to the sects' domains?)

    "I'd still advise you to read his two main books"...

    Sure, some day...

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  39. Maju,
    Thanks for this post. This is exciting reading. Now, I wonder if you have considered something else: that the link between Jews and Turks-Cypriots-Northern-Levantines is from earlier times still.
    A couple of remarks: classical Hebrew was extremely close to Phoenician and even Ugarite was probably intelligible with it. Although one cannot use the Bible as historical references, there may be some clues there that at least part of the Cananites were influenced by migrations from northern cities in what is now Syria and Turkey.
    Another thing: think of the Sea People, Cyprus and what they did to all those cities in Canaan.

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  40. Classical Jews were from Palestine and, unless something very radical happened, Palestinians should retain those genetics (and if modern Jews are descendants from Classical Jews they should show a relation with modern Palestinians with preference to any other population).

    Clearly that is not the case. So either modern Palestinians or modern Jews have a different origin.

    So then some, specially people with Zionist or Jewish nationalist ideas of some sort, would argue that the whole population of Palestine has been replaced. Oddly enough they usually argue that happened with the Muslim invasion even if there is zero evidence of any meaningful demographic change. I would if anything consider replacement after the Roman genocide, whose extent is unclear but which in any case spared Christian Jews.

    In each case, we would see Palestinians as akin to the replacing population, very much akin and undifferentiated because instead of being a very old distinct population it'd be an offshoot of a neighbor one, for example Arabs (in the Muslim hypothesis) or maybe Syrians (in the Roman hypothesis).

    I do not investigate this matter here because it was already addressed in Behar 2010: Palestinians are more akin to peninsular Arabs but not too akin in fact, soon forming their own marked distinctive cluster. Palestinians have genetic personality (something that Western Jews in Behar and Separdites here do not).

    When I argued this back in the day, Dienekes contended that he believed that this Palestinian genetic personality was caused by inbreeding because Arabs tend to marry their cousins and blah blah (slanderous and unproven). So far I have seen no evidence that Palestinians are particularly inbred (it'd be at the level of some Negev Bedouins or the Galilean Druze but these are much smaller populations, hardly comparable at all and at least the Druze do have a known history of extreme inbreeding).

    So my conclusion stands: unless you can prove otherwise, the distinctiveness of Palestinians appears as signature of their peculiar history, which only makes sense if they are the Jews of old (more or less).

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  41. Another thing to consider is, at an earlier date, the Minoans on Crete, who also settled Cyprus. This later group outlasted the Mycenean/Greek take-over of Crete. The Minoans, on what little evidence has been worked out from Linear A may well have spoken a language from Anatolia, perhaps similar to Luwian apparently.


    I'm not suggesting a Minoan source for the population in the lower Levant, but that the source for all these settler/trading groups in the eastern Mediteranean was quite complex, and that this complexity continued on and on until people forgot their genetic backgrounds and cultural identities took over as much as their local economic and political contexts allow. Certainly the rebel monotheist Egyptian Pharoh Akhenaton cannot be forgotten as a subcultural source for other groups. And as some of the oldest Semitic writing has been found scratched into rocks on backroads in Egypt by traders, or economic refugees perhaps, Egyptian hieroglyphs are big influence by example and shape on many later Levantine alphabets.

    Cultural fashions have their own emotional motivations which have as their defining drive, often, the undoubting belief that they never ever change. This is my grandfather's axe to grind.

    Yes I am also of Jewish descent (and Irish, Polish, German, English, Scottish and New Zealand and all mixed in Australia).

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  42. The settlement of Cyprus has nothing to do with the Minoans, unless it is the other way around of what you say if anything. Cyprus was settled first in the Mesolithic by huntergatherers and then in Neolithic (or just the huntergatherers changed profession by influence from their mainland cousins, or both). The origin is surely in the nearby coasts of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey and that genetic proximity stands even today.

    Later there was Greek (beginning at the Mycenaean period) and Phoenician conquest but settlement is less clear. Notably for all the Greek linguistic and ethnic and historical affinity of Cyprus, Cypriots are quite different genetically from Greeks (and AFAIK that includes Cretans, who however may have another mainland Anatolia origin, I think based on archaeology and genetics).

    I guess it's possible that Minoans had an outpost or so in Cyprus but never heard of it before, so it's your responsibility to provide the evidence.

    "perhaps similar to Luwian apparently".

    I doubt that Indoeuropean was so widespread in the region so early. I'd rather think in Hattic or Tyrsenian/Pelasgian as early Anatolian languages. Luwian is derived from IE languages spoken by the Hittites but, even if Hittite presence may be relatively old, they are not aboriginal enough to the region and their expansion happened mostly later, after 2000 BCE, when Minoan Crete had been already consolidated (my opinion anyhow).

    I don't think that there were IE languages anywhere in the Mediterranean basin before that period of Mycenae and the Hittite Empire. We know of too many pre-IE language families in the area (including surely Eteocretan and Eteocypriot but they remain mysterious enough) and we also know of a consistent archaeological and linguistic model for IE expansion from what is now SE European Russia, between the rivers Volga and Ural.

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  43. "Clearly that is not the case. So either modern Palestinians or modern Jews have a different origin".

    It's not completely 'not the case' though. In regard to Y-DNA aren't similar subgroups of both E1b1b1 and J1/J2 common to both? It seems mt-DNA is the big shifter because Jewish men seem often to have had children with local women.

    "I'm not suggesting a Minoan source for the population in the lower Levant, but that the source for all these settler/trading groups in the eastern Mediteranean was quite complex, and that this complexity continued on and on until people forgot their genetic backgrounds and cultural identities took over as much as their local economic and political contexts allow".

    Very likely.

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  44. I'm talking of autosomal DNA.

    If you think that Palestinians have as much J2 and G as Sephardites do, please tell me of your source. To me Sephardi Y-DNA pool looks Highland West Asian but Palestinians are not well enough researched.

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  45. "If you think that Palestinians have as much J2 and G as Sephardites do, please tell me of your source".

    I doubt very much that Palestinians have very much G at all. I'm by no means denying that Jews have picked up other genes as they moved around. I find it interesting that you're more than happy to accept the part of Jewish legend that claims they originally formed from an immigrant population yet are totally opposed to a much more recent legend that they are emmigrants from the Levant. Why the difference?

    "To me Sephardi Y-DNA pool looks Highland West Asian but Palestinians are not well enough researched".

    You may find this old Hammer et. al. paper on Jewish and middle eastern Non-Jewish Y-DNA interesting, if you're not already familiar with it. You will have to interpret the haplogroup nomenclature but it seems to be J2 and E being most common. I agree that it is difficult to tease out the Anatolian and Levantine Y-DNA J2 unless we know the particular clades, but surely it's reasonable to suppose that at least some element of the modern Jewish population has its origin in the Levant:

    http://www.familytreedna.com/pdf/HammerPNAS_2000.pdf

    And this paper, with the same problems:

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tcga/tcgapdf/Nebel-HG-00-IPArabs.pdf

    The map of J2's distribution here certainly includes the Levant:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_J2_(Y-DNA)

    And J1c3 looks to be shared by Palestinians and Jews:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_J1_(Y-DNA)

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  46. "you're more than happy to accept the part of Jewish legend that claims they originally formed from an immigrant population"

    I have not said that. I said that I do think that the historical Jewish theocracy originated in the semideserts south of Palestine, at least somewhat resembling what is told in the founding legend of Exodus (which would not exist otherwise, not with that content).

    But naturally they assimilated, by force or grade, the Cannaneans, making the founder Mosaic group a drop in the sea, if not the ocean. If Mormons today would conquer the USA and establish a Mormon theocracy, that would not change the genetic makeup of the country, would it?

    Why do you need to be so thick?

    "but surely it's reasonable to suppose that at least some element of the modern Jewish population has its origin in the Levant"...

    "The Levant" is such a loose term that it's pointless for what we are trying to discern: we need to discern at the level of Palestine and nope: modern Jews don't seem to originate in Palestine, the land where the historical pre-Hellenistic Jews are known to have lived in.

    That does not mean that they may not share the occasional Y-DNA lineage. I would be surprised if they did not. However the J1c3 is alleged to originate in Kurdistan, what is not really helpful.

    The two lineages most common in Israel withing J1c3 (fig. 2 of Chiaroni 2010) are shared with

    (1) mostly African populations such as Egyptians or Sudanese (no Palestinians) - this is the most important one

    (2) mostly Arab populations (Qataris, Yemenis, Saudis, Iraqis) and also Palestinians (other Palestinian lineages are not "Israel"-related but Jordan-related, Syria-related, etc.)

    A third smaller "Israeli" J1c3 lineage is again not related to Palestinians.

    There may still be some Y-DNA connection, some Jews (I'm imagining people like Cohanim maybe) may effectively have their paternal lineages originating in ancient Palestine but there does not seem to be much a particular connection, really.

    ReplyDelete

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