Thursday, March 7, 2024

The genetic profile of eastern Jews.

Most of You have probably noticed that some subgroups of Jews usually plot close to modern Armenians and to ancient samples from historic Armenia. The reason of this was not clear until now. But thanks to ancient DNA from Bahrain, we can now propose an explanation of this genetic puzzle
Asian Jews are usually known as Mizrahi Jews. But given that the groups of Jews that we will discuss in this post are only a subset of Oriental (Mizrahi) Jews, I will use for them the term Eastern Jews. The groups that usually appear genetically close to Armenians are from Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Kurdish, Mountainous Jews from eastern Caucasus and Uzbekistan.
In the Central farmer calculator, their genetic profile shows common features. They have relatively high level of "Central farmer" and more or less equal number of Levant and Zagros Neolithic ancestry. We don't have ancient DNA from pre-Islamic Mesopotamia but using the samples from ancient Bahrain we can deduce that this type of genetic ancestry was widespread in ancient Mesopotamia. You can see that modern Iraqi people are quite different from Iraqi Jews. Modern Iraqi Arabs have much higher Levantine ancestry and even some African ancestry which Jews and ancient Bahraini lacks. This is due to medieval Arabic migration from south.
This genetic pattern fits well with the historic events that triggered the formation of Eastern Jews. In 536 BCE Persians conquered Babylon. And the Jews from Babylon settled in Persia. From there they dispersed to various corners of Iranian empires. I am not big expert of Jewish history but based on overall understanding of the history I assume that Mountain and Uzbekistan Jewish diasporas formed in Sassanian empire period. While the Georgian Jewish community could have formed little bit earlier in Arsacid period.
It seems that all this Jewish communities derive their ancestry from the same Babylonian Jewish community which had a Mesopotamian genetic profile.
As for the reason of the Mesopotamian genetic profile plotting close to Armenians, it is due to the fact that both have a Central position on the genetic map relative to eastern Iran-Caucasus and western Levant-Anatolia. It's also possible that ancient middle and lower Mesopotamia was settled by migrants from the north which created a genetic connection between Mesopotamia and historic Armenia. With more ancient samples this puzzle will be solved.
PS the charts below show the closest populations to ancient Bahraini samples.

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