DNA Consultants’ blog

Read reviews of science articles, new research and news reports on ancestry testing, ancient DNA and popular genetics

Jewish Marker II Statistical Notes

Jewish II is characterized as the “strongest” marker, correlating very often with Ashkenazi Jewish parentage, especially in its double allele form (two checks under parents’ columns on an 18 Marker Ethnic Panel or Jewish DNA Ancestry report). This description is validated by ENFSI results for 22 countries of Europe, where its strongest showings are in Czechoslovakia, Croatia and Slovenia (all Central European Slavic populations).

Rounding Up the Usual Suspects

Book Review:  Abraham’s Children. Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People, by Jon Entine (New York:  Grand Central, 2007).

Jewish DNA is full of controversies and the journalist Jon Entine shies away from none of them in this bestselling compendium. Interesting for our readers may be to note where he falls out on some of the more vexed issues after taking the trouble to interview genetic news makers such as Karl Skorecki (“Genes of Old Testament Priests”) and Father William Sanchez, the cause celebre for New Mexico crypto-Jews.

Neanderthals Out of Anthropological Doghouse?

We predicted as much:  anthropologists are beginning to have a more positive attitude toward the role of Neanderthals in human prehistory. According to an article in today’s Washington Post, “Scientists are broadly rethinking the nature, skills and demise of the Neanderthals of Europe and Asia, steadily finding more ways that they were substantially like us and different from the limited, unchanging and ultimately doomed inferiors most commonly described in the past.”

DNA Surrounds You

DNA Found to Extend in a Radius of 50 Miles around You

According to an Anishnabe elder, DNA has a well-known non-physical or spiritual dimension. George Starr-Bresette sent us recently the following three write-ups on some experiments measuring the effect of DNA in the environment.

Melungeon Riddle Solved by Autosomal DNA Project

After many years in development, the results of a DNA ancestry project enrolling 40 Melungeons were published and made public, marking the end of an attempt to solve the mystery of a Southern U.S. ethnic group with autosomal DNA.

Abraham Lincoln’s Jewish Roots

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is interested in their namesake’s Jewish ancestry. Do a Google Search and you’ll get numerous hits under “Abraham Lincoln Jewish Ancestry.” They can all be traced back to the work of Rutgers University professor Elizabeth C. Hirschman, who published her findings in The Melungeons:  The Last Lost Tribe in America in 2005 (Mercer University Press). Melungeons.com immediately reported the news in an article on Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, in March 2005.

Do You Have Gypsy Matches?

Customs and Beliefs of the Roma and Sinti

Some of our customers have been surprised to get Gypsy/Romani population matches in their results for the DNA Fingerprint Test. Typically, these are combined with Middle Eastern and Indian matches due to the Gypsies’ historical migrations. Other customers were not surprised at all and called to tell us about the fortuneteller great-grandmother or mysterious ancestor who traveled with the circus. Gypsy heritage is not unheard of among Melungeons. So for those who think they may have Roma/Sinti or Romechal (the term used in the British Isles), we have compiled the following list of customs and beliefs taken from an excellent authority.

Heretical History

Ashkenazi Jews May Have Founded Israel

But Hebrew-Speaking Khazars Created Ashkenaz

Yes, the Khazars spoke Hebrew. It was the official language of the medieval kingdom, just as it is today in Israel. That is one of the surprising revelations of a book titled The Invention of the Jewish People, by Tel Aviv history professor Shlomo Sand, who devotes half a chapter to the “strange empire in the East” (London:  Verso, 2009).

Does He or Doesn’t He?

Only His Geneticist Knows for Sure 

A visit to the temple by a Canadian doctor and one-page letter to the journal Nature in 1997 started it all, a frenzied hunt for the multi-study, double-blind, placebo-controlled proof that Jewish men of the surname Cohen carried the same genes as the biblical patriarch Aaron, the mystical Cohen Modal Haplotype (Skorecki et al., 1997).

Abraham’s Children: A Review

This blog posting attempts to summarize this important article and translate its technical results into layman’s language for the sake of our customers. From the genetic evidence, we hope to glean some useful information about Jewish history and genealogy, especially for those who find they have “some” Jewish ancestry in their family tree but who are non-Jewish in the way they identify.