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. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School estimate that the exchange of genes occurred approximately 72 generations ago (or about 2,000 years). Lawrence Schiffman, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at Yeshiva University, believes the intermixing may have occurred during the Hellenistic period (c. 320–30 B.C.E.), when Jewish communities were resident in many North African coastal cities, or during the First Temple period (c. 950–600 B.C.E.), when the Israelite kings, including Solomon, had trade relationships with Africa.
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. Read more.