Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry Confirmed European by mtDNA Tests

A recent study on mitochondrial DNA revealed that the female line of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry closely resembles that of Southern and Western Europe, rather than the ancient Near East, as many scholars proposed in the past. Ashkenazim, a Jewish group who migrated to Central and Eastern Europe, make up the majority of the world’s Jewish population today. A recent article in Nature Communications discusses the results mtDNA tests. The article, written by a team of scientists led by the University of Huddersfield’s Martin B. Richards, includes the following in its abstract:

Like Judaism, mitochondrial DNA is passed along the maternal line. Its variation in the Ashkenazim is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders … we show that all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities, and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

Earlier DNA tests performed on male chromosomes in Jewish communities generally reveal Near Eastern DNA patterns. Population migration and conversion to Judaism may have led to the growth of the Ashekenazi population. Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry may, in fact, stem from the Jewish community in the early Roman Empire. The authors write that “a substantial Jewish community was present in Rome from at least the mid-second century BCE, maintaining links to Jerusalem and numbering 30,000–50,000 by the first half of the first century C.E. By the end of the first millennium CE, Ashkenazi communities were historically visible along the Rhine valley in Germany.”

Read more in Nature Communications.


Related Content in Bible History Daily

Crete’s Minoan civilization is Europe’s first great Bronze Age society. A new DNA study suggests that the Minoans were ethnically European, rather than North African as suggested by Minoan archaeologist Arthur Evans.

A DNA study that compared the genetic makeup of Jewish populations from around the world with African populations has found that modern Jews can attribute about 3 to 5 percent of their ancestry to sub-Saharan Africans.

Posted in News.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Add Your Comments

17 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Hannu says

    The problem with these DNA studies is that the classification does not base on mutations but on something else. Mutations are rare and happen only once. In the classification system that is in use now, same mutatitons can be found in several lines (H, G, I, R,…) and that sure ain’t logical.

  2. das says

    the founders share a similar european ancestry? this is a nonsense

  3. Nebor says

    Finally a scientific convalidation of the position long held by historians like Arthur Koestler in “The Thirteenth Tribe.” Buried truth will always rise again.

  4. DALLAS says

    Actually, the study definitively lays to rest Koestler’s theory, which is also unsupported by linguistic evidence, or any other serious evidence for that matter. Now the genetic evidence refutes it completely. There’s no significant Central Asian component to Ashkenazi ancestry, or to Sephardi or Mizrachi ancestry either.

    It does point to a large component of maternal conversion for much of the European Jewish ancestry of the late-ancient and Dark Ages period. There is some literary evidence for this, although the period is poorly documented for that period of European history, in contrast to the rich Mediterranean and Near Eastern sources available. The evidence from the Middle Ages and later is that Ashkenazi communities were by later times large enough to support endogamy and conversion became less significant, as well as far more dangerous for legal-religious reasons. The evidence of European ancestry drops off sharply after about 900 years ago.

    The statistics in the sample of mutations is limited. So drawing more detailed conclusions has less foundation.

  5. Ethan says

    What are the near eastern DNA profiles they have been utilizing? Have they done any comparison with Israelite DNA from the first temple period or even earlier?

  6. Judith says

    Didn’t we all come out of Africa? Where was this “European” mtDNA before it came to Europe?

  7. JAllan says

    This would be logical in that one would not expect entire Jewish families, or couples who were starting to raise families, to leave the Holy Land for Europe (perhaps Egypt or Mesopotamis, which werecloser and had significant, and centuries old, Jewish communities). But for a single man doing business, the money was in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, so such a bachelor might well migrate there alone, then fall in love with a Gentile woman who was willing to convert. Even St. Paul’s ancestors MAY have come from such a union. And given the destruction of the Jewish state, which made the Diaspora almost complete, these families would have gradually moved further north and east, away from Rome, and eventually outside the former empire completely, to the never-Roman-occupied countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

    And yes, Judith we are all Africans, but some of our ancestors left Africa long before others. The article was referring to differences in DNA acquired AFTER leaving Africa.

  8. Ethan says


    Actually according to both Bible believers and evolutionists, we arose from Asia.

    If you go according to the Bible, everyone alive today is a descendent of Noah whose famous Ark landed in the mountains of Ararat which are either in Turkey or Iran, both Asian countries. All of the human race then spread out from Asia.
    According to evolutionists, the first primates came from Asia and then made the trip to Africa 40 million years ago before again spreading out from there to the rest of the world.

  9. da says

    this lays it out… the white jews of today are converts, and not the jews of antiquity and thus the bible. all this fighting
    in Israel over “history” is naught, because they are European, and not those folk.. who looked like the egyptians,
    that we see on the walls of the pyramids

  10. Jordan says

    i think the person above me has it about right

  11. J.J. says

    Actually this article diverges from Koestler’s theory. It suggests support for the theory that the Ashkenazi community was primarily originated in the Rhineland since most Ashekenazi mitochondrial DNA is of southern and western European origin not central Asian or Caucasian. To provide support for Koestler’s theory (which was probably politically motivated) most of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA would originate not from southern and western Europe but from central Asia or the Caucuses.

  12. Sean says

    The title of the article is misleading. It seems some who posted comments didn’t read the full article and missed this:
    “Earlier DNA tests performed on male chromosomes in Jewish communities generally reveal Near Eastern DNA patterns.”

  13. Tristan says

    Here I a thought I was wondering of the different haplogroups, H K M and N, but I was wondering this a person I know has a question if he has any askenazic origin …. he is Haplogroup J1b1a1 and has a migration connection to North Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, and Europe what could it mean for my friend? Could he be possibly somewhat askkenazic giving that middle east migration connection ?

  14. Bulan says

    These so called Jews of Khazaria had jumped on the gravy wagon by falsifying their race from Turkic/Mongol origin of Khazaria to the Middle Eastern race, why? Why not? Free land, homes, farms and free Western money pouring from governments and these guilt ridden American morons and fools of Judea-Christians hooligans and collaborators. They have been killing the real Semites in Palestine for over 70 years now to replace them with these fake Jews. There are decent and god fearing Jews (like the Jews of the Middle East or the Neturei Karta) but all of them disagree with these lunatics Ashkenazis that comprise 92% of Palestine now. This is science and is not my word against yours. We all go by the father lineage to trace our ancestry as Noah past by Shem, past by Ebrahim, past by Isaac and then by Jacob. AshkeNazis, to hide the origin of their ancestry, follow the mother side, why? To deceive us that’s why! But they never thought Science will put the last nail in their coffin at the end! There is a god after all. Now, all of the supporters of this racist state of Khazaria, you all have to compensate the Palestinians that’s if there is a dollar figure that can be found!

  15. kohen says

    You really are a fool bulan, Jews always traced paternally for tribes but after Ezra Jewishness was traced by the mother. What you failed to read is most ashkenazi have paternal semitic markers. My mothers a German convert to Judaism my dad is a kohen and we have the j1c3 middle eastern haplogroup my chromosomes come to 53 percent middle eastern. Ashkenazi is a made up term to define Jews that migrated from the middle east to Italy and settled in the Rhine. Historically Jews were traveling merchants like greeks and Armenians yet no one doubts Armenian ancestry despite many living in Europe for centuries. Also the ashkenazi were in Europe before the khazars existed. Furthermore explain to me why ashkenazi overlap and share IBd values with the sephardic Jews? They cluster together. Furthermore all kohens are related. I relate to kohens from Russia, Syria, Egypt, morocco etc. We don’t owe Palestinians anything. We are indigenous to the Levant and mesopotamia.

  16. Jill says

    I always ask myself ” What does the Word say” when listening to such discussions as these. And this discussion reminds me of Genesis 9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; The descendants of Japheth, the oldest son of Noah, settled in the Northern European territories and now they indeed dwell in the tents of Shem (Israel) making up what, 92% of the Jews living there. Fascinating!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. The Case FOR Marriage Equality - Page 4 linked to this post on May 3, 2015

    […] Your ignorance is beyond pathetic. They test for race right now. Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry Confirmed European by mtDNA Tests ? Biblical Archaeology Society Its amazing you can be this pathetically cluesless about basic science. Now what @Kontrary? Gonna […]

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Send this to friend

Hello! You friend thought you might be interested in reading this post from
Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry Confirmed European by mtDNA Tests!
Here is the link:
Enter Your Log In Credentials

Change Password