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The Origins of Ashkenazi Jews Near Resolution
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The Time and Place of European Admixture in the Ashkenazi Jewish History:

The Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population is important in medical genetics due to its high rate of Mendelian disorders and other unique genetic characteristics. Ashkenazi Jews have appeared in Europe in the 10th century, and their ancestry is thought to involve an admixture of European (EU) and Middle-Eastern (ME) groups. However, both the time and place of admixture in Europe are obscure and subject to intense debate. Here, we attempt to characterize the Ashkenazi admixture history using a large Ashkenazi sample and careful application of new and existing methods. Our main approach is based on local ancestry inference, assigning each Ashkenazi genomic segment as EU or ME, and comparing allele frequencies across EU segments to those of different EU populations. The contribution of each EU source was also evaluated using GLOBETROTTER and analysis of IBD sharing. The time of admixture was inferred using multiple tools, relying on statistics such as the distributions of segment lengths and the total EU ancestry per chromosome and the correlation of ancestries along the chromosome. Our simulations demonstrated that distinguishing EU vs ME ancestry is subject to considerable noise at the single segment level, but nevertheless, conclusions could be drawn based on chromosome-wide statistics. The predominant source of EU ancestry in AJ was found to be Southern European (≈60-80%), with the rest being likely Eastern European. The inferred admixture time was ≈35 generations ago, but multiple lines of evidence suggests that it represents an average over two or more admixture events, pre- and post-dating the founder event experienced by AJ in late medieval times. The time of the pre-bottleneck admixture event was bounded to 25-55 generations ago.

I think this preprint is coming close to the answer. Why does a small ethno-religious minority in Europe matter? Well, that’s a matter of historical contingency.

In any case, there were some good papers on Ashkenazi Jewish genetics which came out in the spring of 2010. They really moved the ball forward from the uniparental work. But they suffered from two major problems. First, the putative “parent” populations of Ashkenazi Jews are not that genetically distinct. Second, the hypothesized parental populations were often implausible; e.g., Northern Europeans and modern Levantines.

The likely parental populations of Ashkenazi Jews are Roman period peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly the swath of territory from Alexandria up to Anatolia, and, the peoples of the western Mediterranean. That is, Levantines and Iberians & Italians. These two groups are distinct, but they’re not that distinct.

Additionally, the more and more we learn about the Middle East, the more likely it seems that Muslim populations, who are often modeled as a parental group, are highly cosmopolitan compared to ancient groups. Recall that Neolithic farmers from the Levant resemble Sardinians more than they do locals, because of later migration from further east in Eurasia, as well as later African gene flow. Using imperfect reference populations will probably skew the results appropriately.

The major change in the past few years is the usage of more genetic information than common genotypes. This paper for example looks at haplotype information. Sequences of variants across the genome. This preserves more recent genetic variation. In other cases you can look at whole genome sequences, and focus on low frequency variants which are extremely informative of recent population differentiation.

Ultimately the only reason I’d suggest that this paper is lacking is the imperfection of Middle Eastern source populations. That’s probably increasing the European and decreasing the Middle Eastern fraction somewhat on the margins. The contemporary populations of the Near East have changed a fair amount over the past 2,000 years, though there is still some continuity.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Genomics, Jewish Genetics 
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  1. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    What’s the bottleneck? What happened?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    probably some sort of constraint within the stepping stone model of expansion?
    , @Marcus
    Period of relative endogamy before moving east?
    , @U. Ranus
    Does it have to be an external event at all?

    Before: pretty exogamous Jews.
    After: extremely endogamous Jews.

    Unless one day a Rabbi declared "enough with the mischlings!" and everybody obeyed, what we see today are the descendants of the original population's extreme-endogamy fraction – which wouldn't have been exactly everybody, considering that this population was created through exogamy.
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  2. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    If it is at the more recent end of the predicted range, the bottleneck could be the Black Plague (1346-53).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    no. population drop off needs to be very extreme for bottleneck to have an effect. it wasn't the black plague, which killed 20-90%. the jewish pop probably high enuf that even 90% wouldn't have mattered.
  3. Razib, so you didn’t think much of the recent Khazar hypothesis paper?

    Read More
  4. @Anonymous
    If it is at the more recent end of the predicted range, the bottleneck could be the Black Plague (1346-53).

    no. population drop off needs to be very extreme for bottleneck to have an effect. it wasn’t the black plague, which killed 20-90%. the jewish pop probably high enuf that even 90% wouldn’t have mattered.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Not Raul
    What if AJ of that era were particularly vulnerable to the Black Plague? Could that cause more than 90% to die?
  5. @Anonymous
    What's the bottleneck? What happened?

    probably some sort of constraint within the stepping stone model of expansion?

    Read More
    • Replies: @CupOfCanada
    Isn't it just population expansion? IE a small number of "colonists" rather than any sort of catastrophe.
  6. Not only uncertainty on the Middle Eastern end, but also on the Southern European one as well, though less there presumably. There is some circumstantial evidence that relatively recent genetic change mediated by circum-Mediterranean gene flow was substantial in all parts of the Roman Empire, such as the large increase in Greek surnames in records and funerary materials over time across Gaul and Italy, testifying to population movements from the Eastern Empire in the Common Era.

    Other than the aforementioned, and also very late population shifts in Britain, for which we already have aDNA evidence, there is also evidence for one in Japan as well (Japanese in the Kinki region, i.e. at the geographic centre of the historic Yamato polity and the successor Asuka-Nara) are the most shifted towards Mainland East Asians, quite surprisingly, not the populations closest to Korea in Kyushu, which seems to suggest that the extensive integration of Korean and Chinese families into the Kofun and Asuka-Nara aristocracy, more or less contemporaneous with the Anglo-Saxon movements into England, did have a genetic impact. All these make me think that substantial genetic distinctions dating to very late population movements, usually thought of as minor, are more common than I would have thought.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    This 1916 article talks about Roman-era tomb inscriptions in Italy:

    https://archive.org/stream/jstor-1835889/1835889_djvu.txt

    As you say, the number of Greek names grew with time. The Romans imported a lot of Middle Eastern slaves to Italy. Greek was then the lingua franca of the eastern Empire, so most of those slaves had Greek names.

    Rome's gradual transition from a typically European political setup (popular assemblies, elections, term limits) to a typically Middle Eastern one (the worship of a single ruler as a God) is probably related to this demographic change. Same thing for the replacement of the original Roman religion with a Middle Eastern one.

    More on this here:

    http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2056068822/2061241356/mmc3.pdf

    Early admixture involving source groups most similar to contemporary populations from in and around the Levant (which we define as the World Region containing individuals from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Yemen and Egypt) is seen at high proportions in several clusters from Italy dating to the first half of the first millennium CE, from Southern Italy (itali8: 295CE (72BCE-604CE); α = 0.34), Tuscany (tsi23: 400CE(30BCE-686); α = 0.29), and Sardinia, as well as in a large cluster from Armenia at an early date (armen27: 363BCE(1085BCE-383CE)).

    [. . .] these events loosely coincide with the formation of the pan-Mediterranean Roman Empire [S?], which may also have allowed increased gene flow from east to west Mediterranean
  7. @Razib Khan
    no. population drop off needs to be very extreme for bottleneck to have an effect. it wasn't the black plague, which killed 20-90%. the jewish pop probably high enuf that even 90% wouldn't have mattered.

    What if AJ of that era were particularly vulnerable to the Black Plague? Could that cause more than 90% to die?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    It might be based upon hearsay, but most historic accounts say that Jews were less likely to die of the Black Plague than Christians - possibly because they were socially isolated, bathed more frequently, quickly buried dead bodies, and killed rats on sight. Due to their decreased likelihood of getting sick, conspiracy theories that the plague was caused by Jews were rife, leading to a series of massacres across Europe, so it's plausible that the overall death rate of Jews and Gentiles over the period was not too different.
  8. @Not Raul
    What if AJ of that era were particularly vulnerable to the Black Plague? Could that cause more than 90% to die?

    It might be based upon hearsay, but most historic accounts say that Jews were less likely to die of the Black Plague than Christians – possibly because they were socially isolated, bathed more frequently, quickly buried dead bodies, and killed rats on sight. Due to their decreased likelihood of getting sick, conspiracy theories that the plague was caused by Jews were rife, leading to a series of massacres across Europe, so it’s plausible that the overall death rate of Jews and Gentiles over the period was not too different.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    Black Plague plus pogroms could be a one-two punch mostly in the right time frame.

    But, I don't think that even that effect was severe enough to create the right kind of bottle neck (and the historical record of pogroms in Europe is actually one of the best very long historical data sets out there). Founder effects due to numerically fairly small migrations to Europe, and huge numbers of Jews in the Levant being subsumed in Islam seems more likely.

    I continue to be struck by the shallowness of the historical record on the issue from the 5th to 10th centuries. Yes, I know, the dark ages and all, but there was some historical record being made then and this seems like a critical gap in our understanding.
  9. Priori assumptions about ME|Euro 50|50 … SW Asian in Ashkenazi is 11-13% … W-Asian in Jews 17-22% and not entirely derivative of the Levant. 252K is fine for Admixture or PCA but rather light for Alder, ChromoPainter and IBD. Ashkenazi ethnogenesis far more nuanced than presented here.

    Read More
  10. I assume that 25 to 25 generations is about 600 to 900 years. Around 1090, there severe pogroms in the Rhineland associated with the beginnings of the Crusades. There were frequent expulsions of Jews from Christian Kingdoms in that time frame as well. E.g. France in 1306. Some of the survivors moved to what was then the Kingdom of Poland Lithuania. That Kingdom occupied the areas of what are now Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine. It was multi-ethnic (Polish, Lithuanian, German, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Jewish, and others) and multi-confessional (Roman, Orthodox, Uniate, Lutheran (from 1520), and Jewish). The Jews found a niche there economically and politically. Economically, they were urbanized tradesmen and intermediaries for a widely dispersed rural population. Politically, they were allowed to regulate their own communities, although they had no say in the affairs of the nobility or the State.

    I assume that this study puts the last nail in coffin of the Khazar theory.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wally
    Proof for the "pogroms" is ... ?
    , @Anon 2
    Starting in the 19th century, or perhaps even
    earlier, there was a certain amount of genetic mixing
    between the Polish Christians and the Polish Jews,
    which is not surprising considering that until the
    20th century Poland was the center of the world
    Jewry.

    The most famous example of this phenomenon was
    Albert Michelson (1852-1931), the first (naturalized)
    American Nobel laureate in Physics, known for the
    Michelson-Morley experiment that failed to detect
    the aether. Michelson was born in Strzelno, a Polish
    town occupied at the time by Prussia, only 30 miles
    from Copernicus' birthplace. His father was Jewish,
    and his mother, Rozalia Przyłubska, was Catholic.
  11. @Razib Khan
    probably some sort of constraint within the stepping stone model of expansion?

    Isn’t it just population expansion? IE a small number of “colonists” rather than any sort of catastrophe.

    Read More
  12. @Karl Zimmerman
    It might be based upon hearsay, but most historic accounts say that Jews were less likely to die of the Black Plague than Christians - possibly because they were socially isolated, bathed more frequently, quickly buried dead bodies, and killed rats on sight. Due to their decreased likelihood of getting sick, conspiracy theories that the plague was caused by Jews were rife, leading to a series of massacres across Europe, so it's plausible that the overall death rate of Jews and Gentiles over the period was not too different.

    Black Plague plus pogroms could be a one-two punch mostly in the right time frame.

    But, I don’t think that even that effect was severe enough to create the right kind of bottle neck (and the historical record of pogroms in Europe is actually one of the best very long historical data sets out there). Founder effects due to numerically fairly small migrations to Europe, and huge numbers of Jews in the Levant being subsumed in Islam seems more likely.

    I continue to be struck by the shallowness of the historical record on the issue from the 5th to 10th centuries. Yes, I know, the dark ages and all, but there was some historical record being made then and this seems like a critical gap in our understanding.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Q.
    I agree with you about the historical gap -- it frustrates many people interested in Jewish history -- the thing to remember is that the proto-Ashkenazi community was tiny both in size and in influence during this period. The centres of population and intellectual activity were much farther east.
  13. @Walter Sobchak
    I assume that 25 to 25 generations is about 600 to 900 years. Around 1090, there severe pogroms in the Rhineland associated with the beginnings of the Crusades. There were frequent expulsions of Jews from Christian Kingdoms in that time frame as well. E.g. France in 1306. Some of the survivors moved to what was then the Kingdom of Poland Lithuania. That Kingdom occupied the areas of what are now Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine. It was multi-ethnic (Polish, Lithuanian, German, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Jewish, and others) and multi-confessional (Roman, Orthodox, Uniate, Lutheran (from 1520), and Jewish). The Jews found a niche there economically and politically. Economically, they were urbanized tradesmen and intermediaries for a widely dispersed rural population. Politically, they were allowed to regulate their own communities, although they had no say in the affairs of the nobility or the State.

    I assume that this study puts the last nail in coffin of the Khazar theory.

    Proof for the “pogroms” is … ?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Walter Sobchak
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/crusades.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhineland_massacres
  14. @ohwilleke
    Black Plague plus pogroms could be a one-two punch mostly in the right time frame.

    But, I don't think that even that effect was severe enough to create the right kind of bottle neck (and the historical record of pogroms in Europe is actually one of the best very long historical data sets out there). Founder effects due to numerically fairly small migrations to Europe, and huge numbers of Jews in the Levant being subsumed in Islam seems more likely.

    I continue to be struck by the shallowness of the historical record on the issue from the 5th to 10th centuries. Yes, I know, the dark ages and all, but there was some historical record being made then and this seems like a critical gap in our understanding.

    I agree with you about the historical gap — it frustrates many people interested in Jewish history — the thing to remember is that the proto-Ashkenazi community was tiny both in size and in influence during this period. The centres of population and intellectual activity were much farther east.

    Read More
  15. @RK
    Not only uncertainty on the Middle Eastern end, but also on the Southern European one as well, though less there presumably. There is some circumstantial evidence that relatively recent genetic change mediated by circum-Mediterranean gene flow was substantial in all parts of the Roman Empire, such as the large increase in Greek surnames in records and funerary materials over time across Gaul and Italy, testifying to population movements from the Eastern Empire in the Common Era.

    Other than the aforementioned, and also very late population shifts in Britain, for which we already have aDNA evidence, there is also evidence for one in Japan as well (Japanese in the Kinki region, i.e. at the geographic centre of the historic Yamato polity and the successor Asuka-Nara) are the most shifted towards Mainland East Asians, quite surprisingly, not the populations closest to Korea in Kyushu, which seems to suggest that the extensive integration of Korean and Chinese families into the Kofun and Asuka-Nara aristocracy, more or less contemporaneous with the Anglo-Saxon movements into England, did have a genetic impact. All these make me think that substantial genetic distinctions dating to very late population movements, usually thought of as minor, are more common than I would have thought.

    This 1916 article talks about Roman-era tomb inscriptions in Italy:

    https://archive.org/stream/jstor-1835889/1835889_djvu.txt

    As you say, the number of Greek names grew with time. The Romans imported a lot of Middle Eastern slaves to Italy. Greek was then the lingua franca of the eastern Empire, so most of those slaves had Greek names.

    Rome’s gradual transition from a typically European political setup (popular assemblies, elections, term limits) to a typically Middle Eastern one (the worship of a single ruler as a God) is probably related to this demographic change. Same thing for the replacement of the original Roman religion with a Middle Eastern one.

    More on this here:

    http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2056068822/2061241356/mmc3.pdf

    Early admixture involving source groups most similar to contemporary populations from in and around the Levant (which we define as the World Region containing individuals from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Yemen and Egypt) is seen at high proportions in several clusters from Italy dating to the first half of the first millennium CE, from Southern Italy (itali8: 295CE (72BCE-604CE); α = 0.34), Tuscany (tsi23: 400CE(30BCE-686); α = 0.29), and Sardinia, as well as in a large cluster from Armenia at an early date (armen27: 363BCE(1085BCE-383CE)).

    [. . .] these events loosely coincide with the formation of the pan-Mediterranean Roman Empire [S?], which may also have allowed increased gene flow from east to west Mediterranean

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    people like to talk about the greek names on inscriptions. that's fine. but there's a problem: the vast majority of modern italian genetic heritage is almost certainly indigenous to before the roman era. there are several reasons i believe this

    1) lots of local within-italy structure. this isn't going to happen when you have something like the slavic expansion (a real partial replacement)

    2) SW europeans are very distinct from near easterners, though they are related on a continuum

    3) ancient DNA makes it pretty clear that the sardinians are the closest to indigenes. using that model sardinian-like ancestry is more common than middle eastern like ancestry everyone in italy, with some possible parity in siciliy, an exceptional case since it was the heart of magna grecia as well as under arab rule and long a cross-roads

    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    i don't know if this is true, but i've done genetic analysis of thousands of italians. there is clear gene flow from n. africa into sicily and perhaps among some southern italians, and a lesser extent the eastern med. but really not that much.

    no more discussion on this. it's retarded. i don't care what paper you cite. i actually have analyzed the raw data a lot.

    , @RK
    Just to clarify, I don't think the influence was especially large, which is why I said the uncertainty in percentages is likely to be lower for the % of Southern European ancestry than for the Middle Eastern one.

    For the 'degeneration of spirit' aspect, I really don't think this has much to do with population genetics, more likely it has to do with the effects that an environment of pervasive insecurity, intergroup competition and small group size has on the status-awarding mechanisms and social ties within a cultural group, as compared to the the effects of a centralised, pacified Empire where status can be peacefully accrued via commerce, social signalling or promotion into a political elite. The kind of 'cultural turn' found in the late stages of many Empires is so common as to be noticed by such disparate figures as Khaldun, by the Chinese authors of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and by Ferguson and Fukuyama. Their explanations for the universality of institutional and social decay all hint at being separate views of some common underlying mechanism.

  16. @Glossy
    This 1916 article talks about Roman-era tomb inscriptions in Italy:

    https://archive.org/stream/jstor-1835889/1835889_djvu.txt

    As you say, the number of Greek names grew with time. The Romans imported a lot of Middle Eastern slaves to Italy. Greek was then the lingua franca of the eastern Empire, so most of those slaves had Greek names.

    Rome's gradual transition from a typically European political setup (popular assemblies, elections, term limits) to a typically Middle Eastern one (the worship of a single ruler as a God) is probably related to this demographic change. Same thing for the replacement of the original Roman religion with a Middle Eastern one.

    More on this here:

    http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2056068822/2061241356/mmc3.pdf

    Early admixture involving source groups most similar to contemporary populations from in and around the Levant (which we define as the World Region containing individuals from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Yemen and Egypt) is seen at high proportions in several clusters from Italy dating to the first half of the first millennium CE, from Southern Italy (itali8: 295CE (72BCE-604CE); α = 0.34), Tuscany (tsi23: 400CE(30BCE-686); α = 0.29), and Sardinia, as well as in a large cluster from Armenia at an early date (armen27: 363BCE(1085BCE-383CE)).

    [. . .] these events loosely coincide with the formation of the pan-Mediterranean Roman Empire [S?], which may also have allowed increased gene flow from east to west Mediterranean

    people like to talk about the greek names on inscriptions. that’s fine. but there’s a problem: the vast majority of modern italian genetic heritage is almost certainly indigenous to before the roman era. there are several reasons i believe this

    1) lots of local within-italy structure. this isn’t going to happen when you have something like the slavic expansion (a real partial replacement)

    2) SW europeans are very distinct from near easterners, though they are related on a continuum

    3) ancient DNA makes it pretty clear that the sardinians are the closest to indigenes. using that model sardinian-like ancestry is more common than middle eastern like ancestry everyone in italy, with some possible parity in siciliy, an exceptional case since it was the heart of magna grecia as well as under arab rule and long a cross-roads

    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    i don’t know if this is true, but i’ve done genetic analysis of thousands of italians. there is clear gene flow from n. africa into sicily and perhaps among some southern italians, and a lesser extent the eastern med. but really not that much.

    no more discussion on this. it’s retarded. i don’t care what paper you cite. i actually have analyzed the raw data a lot.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    That's not a bad idea. Also, wouldn't the MENA people of 1 AD have been a bit more like Sardianians than are the MENA people of today?
    , @History Buff
    [tripe deleted]

    not a professional geneticist and you have published nothing on the subject, unlike the actual geneticists (and historians) whose work you seek to critique.

    [actually, i get paid an OK amount of money to do genetics. human and non-human. and i've had access to enormous data sets because of consulting on the former. this is pretty well known but i guess some people can't use google. -Razib]

  17. @Anonymous
    What's the bottleneck? What happened?

    Does it have to be an external event at all?

    Before: pretty exogamous Jews.
    After: extremely endogamous Jews.

    Unless one day a Rabbi declared “enough with the mischlings!” and everybody obeyed, what we see today are the descendants of the original population’s extreme-endogamy fraction – which wouldn’t have been exactly everybody, considering that this population was created through exogamy.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Q.
    It may not have been a rabbinic declaration but rather the Christianization of the Roman Empire that made Judaism as a whole (including conversion to Judaism) less tolerable. Certainly there were a lot of anti-Jewish edicts starting especially in the mid-300s AD.
  18. @Glossy
    This 1916 article talks about Roman-era tomb inscriptions in Italy:

    https://archive.org/stream/jstor-1835889/1835889_djvu.txt

    As you say, the number of Greek names grew with time. The Romans imported a lot of Middle Eastern slaves to Italy. Greek was then the lingua franca of the eastern Empire, so most of those slaves had Greek names.

    Rome's gradual transition from a typically European political setup (popular assemblies, elections, term limits) to a typically Middle Eastern one (the worship of a single ruler as a God) is probably related to this demographic change. Same thing for the replacement of the original Roman religion with a Middle Eastern one.

    More on this here:

    http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2056068822/2061241356/mmc3.pdf

    Early admixture involving source groups most similar to contemporary populations from in and around the Levant (which we define as the World Region containing individuals from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Yemen and Egypt) is seen at high proportions in several clusters from Italy dating to the first half of the first millennium CE, from Southern Italy (itali8: 295CE (72BCE-604CE); α = 0.34), Tuscany (tsi23: 400CE(30BCE-686); α = 0.29), and Sardinia, as well as in a large cluster from Armenia at an early date (armen27: 363BCE(1085BCE-383CE)).

    [. . .] these events loosely coincide with the formation of the pan-Mediterranean Roman Empire [S?], which may also have allowed increased gene flow from east to west Mediterranean

    Just to clarify, I don’t think the influence was especially large, which is why I said the uncertainty in percentages is likely to be lower for the % of Southern European ancestry than for the Middle Eastern one.

    For the ‘degeneration of spirit’ aspect, I really don’t think this has much to do with population genetics, more likely it has to do with the effects that an environment of pervasive insecurity, intergroup competition and small group size has on the status-awarding mechanisms and social ties within a cultural group, as compared to the the effects of a centralised, pacified Empire where status can be peacefully accrued via commerce, social signalling or promotion into a political elite. The kind of ‘cultural turn’ found in the late stages of many Empires is so common as to be noticed by such disparate figures as Khaldun, by the Chinese authors of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and by Ferguson and Fukuyama. Their explanations for the universality of institutional and social decay all hint at being separate views of some common underlying mechanism.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    I don't understand most of your comment. Rome gradually went from the republic to the dominate. Are you saying that this was because of "an environment of pervasive insecurity" or because it was a "pacified, centralized empire"?

    Why do you think Rome went from a republican form of government with strict limits on the power of officials to one-man rule with the ruler being literally worshipped as a God?

    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?
  19. @RK
    Just to clarify, I don't think the influence was especially large, which is why I said the uncertainty in percentages is likely to be lower for the % of Southern European ancestry than for the Middle Eastern one.

    For the 'degeneration of spirit' aspect, I really don't think this has much to do with population genetics, more likely it has to do with the effects that an environment of pervasive insecurity, intergroup competition and small group size has on the status-awarding mechanisms and social ties within a cultural group, as compared to the the effects of a centralised, pacified Empire where status can be peacefully accrued via commerce, social signalling or promotion into a political elite. The kind of 'cultural turn' found in the late stages of many Empires is so common as to be noticed by such disparate figures as Khaldun, by the Chinese authors of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and by Ferguson and Fukuyama. Their explanations for the universality of institutional and social decay all hint at being separate views of some common underlying mechanism.

    I don’t understand most of your comment. Rome gradually went from the republic to the dominate. Are you saying that this was because of “an environment of pervasive insecurity” or because it was a “pacified, centralized empire”?

    Why do you think Rome went from a republican form of government with strict limits on the power of officials to one-man rule with the ruler being literally worshipped as a God?

    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?



    because britain became a post-agricultural society, which broke the malthusian trap. this is the standard explanation, and why much of peter turchin's model building is explicitly focused on pre-modern agricultural polities.
    , @RK
    To spell it out completely, the environment of pervasive insecurity, intergroup competition and small group size affected the cultural practices and group norms of Latins before the republic, resulting in a particular type of familial and institutional inheritance and status-allocation mechanism, incentivising certain behaviours and inspiring a restrained aesthetic. Once Rome became powerful, the pacified environment and peaceful establishment of status via wealth accumulation or political involvement, slowly bred another type of institutional inheritance and another type of status-allocation mechanism, creating a different set of behaviours and values and transforming every aspect of the people.

    Valerian already noticed this by the 250s AD, when the supine posture of Roman cities and provincial elites before relatively small groups of Germanic raiders, and the total dependence on the Imperial state as a means of coordination and self-defense, inspired very unfavourable comparisons to the society of the early republic.

    Gibbon would argue till the cultural turn as the causal factor, while Khaldun moves further, suggesting that the turn itself was a result of differing institutional and social incentives when a group was small and organically composed, vs when it was large and relied on inorganic political structures for coordination.

  20. @Razib Khan
    people like to talk about the greek names on inscriptions. that's fine. but there's a problem: the vast majority of modern italian genetic heritage is almost certainly indigenous to before the roman era. there are several reasons i believe this

    1) lots of local within-italy structure. this isn't going to happen when you have something like the slavic expansion (a real partial replacement)

    2) SW europeans are very distinct from near easterners, though they are related on a continuum

    3) ancient DNA makes it pretty clear that the sardinians are the closest to indigenes. using that model sardinian-like ancestry is more common than middle eastern like ancestry everyone in italy, with some possible parity in siciliy, an exceptional case since it was the heart of magna grecia as well as under arab rule and long a cross-roads

    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    i don't know if this is true, but i've done genetic analysis of thousands of italians. there is clear gene flow from n. africa into sicily and perhaps among some southern italians, and a lesser extent the eastern med. but really not that much.

    no more discussion on this. it's retarded. i don't care what paper you cite. i actually have analyzed the raw data a lot.

    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    That’s not a bad idea. Also, wouldn’t the MENA people of 1 AD have been a bit more like Sardianians than are the MENA people of today?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    yes, though the data from non-muslim minorities shows vast majority of turnover had occurred by then. the very deep ancient pop structure across italy is the best evidence that massive replacement did not occur. you don't see this in the balkans, because the 30 percent or so of the ancestry which is from the slavic migrations disrupted everything. to the point of changing the greeks to be more northern european; modern sicilians tend to be shifted toward a subset of greek samples which lack this. why? my hypothesis is that these are individuals from the islands or perhaps antolian greeks that weren't touched by these migrations.
  21. @Glossy
    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    That's not a bad idea. Also, wouldn't the MENA people of 1 AD have been a bit more like Sardianians than are the MENA people of today?

    yes, though the data from non-muslim minorities shows vast majority of turnover had occurred by then. the very deep ancient pop structure across italy is the best evidence that massive replacement did not occur. you don’t see this in the balkans, because the 30 percent or so of the ancestry which is from the slavic migrations disrupted everything. to the point of changing the greeks to be more northern european; modern sicilians tend to be shifted toward a subset of greek samples which lack this. why? my hypothesis is that these are individuals from the islands or perhaps antolian greeks that weren’t touched by these migrations.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jm8
    Mainland Greeks (toward the North) were likely allways Northern shifted relatively to island Greeks(long before the middle ages). Slavic migrations may have added to this in some small degree there and in the Balkans northward. But seemingly Slavic admixture is low (perhaps lower than expected) in much of the Balkans (namely the Southern Slavic speaking area) north of Greece (suggesting even less to the south).

    http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2015/09/negligible-genetic-flow-in-slavic.html

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0135820
  22. @Glossy
    I don't understand most of your comment. Rome gradually went from the republic to the dominate. Are you saying that this was because of "an environment of pervasive insecurity" or because it was a "pacified, centralized empire"?

    Why do you think Rome went from a republican form of government with strict limits on the power of officials to one-man rule with the ruler being literally worshipped as a God?

    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?

    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?

    because britain became a post-agricultural society, which broke the malthusian trap. this is the standard explanation, and why much of peter turchin’s model building is explicitly focused on pre-modern agricultural polities.

    Read More
  23. It doesn’t matter.

    People will continue to promote the Khazar hoax and other ridiculous scenarios, for their own ideological reasons.

    Read More
  24. @U. Ranus
    Does it have to be an external event at all?

    Before: pretty exogamous Jews.
    After: extremely endogamous Jews.

    Unless one day a Rabbi declared "enough with the mischlings!" and everybody obeyed, what we see today are the descendants of the original population's extreme-endogamy fraction – which wouldn't have been exactly everybody, considering that this population was created through exogamy.

    It may not have been a rabbinic declaration but rather the Christianization of the Roman Empire that made Judaism as a whole (including conversion to Judaism) less tolerable. Certainly there were a lot of anti-Jewish edicts starting especially in the mid-300s AD.

    Read More
  25. @Glossy
    I don't understand most of your comment. Rome gradually went from the republic to the dominate. Are you saying that this was because of "an environment of pervasive insecurity" or because it was a "pacified, centralized empire"?

    Why do you think Rome went from a republican form of government with strict limits on the power of officials to one-man rule with the ruler being literally worshipped as a God?

    Size? How? Why did the British Empire move in the opposite direction as it grew in size?

    To spell it out completely, the environment of pervasive insecurity, intergroup competition and small group size affected the cultural practices and group norms of Latins before the republic, resulting in a particular type of familial and institutional inheritance and status-allocation mechanism, incentivising certain behaviours and inspiring a restrained aesthetic. Once Rome became powerful, the pacified environment and peaceful establishment of status via wealth accumulation or political involvement, slowly bred another type of institutional inheritance and another type of status-allocation mechanism, creating a different set of behaviours and values and transforming every aspect of the people.

    Valerian already noticed this by the 250s AD, when the supine posture of Roman cities and provincial elites before relatively small groups of Germanic raiders, and the total dependence on the Imperial state as a means of coordination and self-defense, inspired very unfavourable comparisons to the society of the early republic.

    Gibbon would argue till the cultural turn as the causal factor, while Khaldun moves further, suggesting that the turn itself was a result of differing institutional and social incentives when a group was small and organically composed, vs when it was large and relied on inorganic political structures for coordination.

    Read More
  26. @Walter Sobchak
    I assume that 25 to 25 generations is about 600 to 900 years. Around 1090, there severe pogroms in the Rhineland associated with the beginnings of the Crusades. There were frequent expulsions of Jews from Christian Kingdoms in that time frame as well. E.g. France in 1306. Some of the survivors moved to what was then the Kingdom of Poland Lithuania. That Kingdom occupied the areas of what are now Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine. It was multi-ethnic (Polish, Lithuanian, German, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Jewish, and others) and multi-confessional (Roman, Orthodox, Uniate, Lutheran (from 1520), and Jewish). The Jews found a niche there economically and politically. Economically, they were urbanized tradesmen and intermediaries for a widely dispersed rural population. Politically, they were allowed to regulate their own communities, although they had no say in the affairs of the nobility or the State.

    I assume that this study puts the last nail in coffin of the Khazar theory.

    Starting in the 19th century, or perhaps even
    earlier, there was a certain amount of genetic mixing
    between the Polish Christians and the Polish Jews,
    which is not surprising considering that until the
    20th century Poland was the center of the world
    Jewry.

    The most famous example of this phenomenon was
    Albert Michelson (1852-1931), the first (naturalized)
    American Nobel laureate in Physics, known for the
    Michelson-Morley experiment that failed to detect
    the aether. Michelson was born in Strzelno, a Polish
    town occupied at the time by Prussia, only 30 miles
    from Copernicus’ birthplace. His father was Jewish,
    and his mother, Rozalia Przyłubska, was Catholic.

    Read More
  27. @Razib Khan
    yes, though the data from non-muslim minorities shows vast majority of turnover had occurred by then. the very deep ancient pop structure across italy is the best evidence that massive replacement did not occur. you don't see this in the balkans, because the 30 percent or so of the ancestry which is from the slavic migrations disrupted everything. to the point of changing the greeks to be more northern european; modern sicilians tend to be shifted toward a subset of greek samples which lack this. why? my hypothesis is that these are individuals from the islands or perhaps antolian greeks that weren't touched by these migrations.

    Mainland Greeks (toward the North) were likely allways Northern shifted relatively to island Greeks(long before the middle ages). Slavic migrations may have added to this in some small degree there and in the Balkans northward. But seemingly Slavic admixture is low (perhaps lower than expected) in much of the Balkans (namely the Southern Slavic speaking area) north of Greece (suggesting even less to the south).

    http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2015/09/negligible-genetic-flow-in-slavic.html

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0135820

    Read More
  28. @Razib Khan
    people like to talk about the greek names on inscriptions. that's fine. but there's a problem: the vast majority of modern italian genetic heritage is almost certainly indigenous to before the roman era. there are several reasons i believe this

    1) lots of local within-italy structure. this isn't going to happen when you have something like the slavic expansion (a real partial replacement)

    2) SW europeans are very distinct from near easterners, though they are related on a continuum

    3) ancient DNA makes it pretty clear that the sardinians are the closest to indigenes. using that model sardinian-like ancestry is more common than middle eastern like ancestry everyone in italy, with some possible parity in siciliy, an exceptional case since it was the heart of magna grecia as well as under arab rule and long a cross-roads

    greg cochran has an idea that perhaps the cosmopolitan cities were not self-supporting demographically. when the empire collapsed, the cities disappeared, and modern italians descend from the indigenous country folk.

    i don't know if this is true, but i've done genetic analysis of thousands of italians. there is clear gene flow from n. africa into sicily and perhaps among some southern italians, and a lesser extent the eastern med. but really not that much.

    no more discussion on this. it's retarded. i don't care what paper you cite. i actually have analyzed the raw data a lot.

    [tripe deleted]

    not a professional geneticist and you have published nothing on the subject, unlike the actual geneticists (and historians) whose work you seek to critique.

    [actually, i get paid an OK amount of money to do genetics. human and non-human. and i've had access to enormous data sets because of consulting on the former. this is pretty well known but i guess some people can't use google. -Razib]

    Read More
  29. 1503590

    (When I posted at first this comment it did not show up and I was not sure it had registered, so I have posted it again. Hopefully it is not duplicate)

    There aren’t really that many light haired Ashkenazim. (Those well known light haired individials may/sometimes have recent non-Jewish European ancestry, and such intermarriage was rare historically but has become more common in some places in the last few decades-half century or so in some places, ie in the US and Russia.) Most are dark haired—sometimes brown-haired. They (in coloring and facial features)—though of course there asre exceptions—tend to resemble the lighter skinned middle eastern types(and Eastern Mediterranean) from the Levant/Eastern Med. area.; Lebanon, Syria, parts of Turkey, Palestine, Armenia, or Greeks and Central-S. Italians. All of these peoples also have among themselves a non-trivial, sometime significant, minority of lighter haired/even blue eyed types and are significantly paler on average than the Middle Eastern peoples toward the south (eg toward Arabia). What minority light haired/blue eyed tendencies that there are in Ashkenazim may be slightly enhanced by the small Eastern/Central European element in them (as in the visual model).

    Italian(Italkic), and Sephardic Jews are closest to Ashkenazim genetically(Moroccan and Syrian Jews are also still pretty close to Euro. Jews.), but lack the small C. and E. Euro. Element (Sephardim have a small Iberian contribution).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Genetic_origins

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Female_lineages:_Mitochon

    Read More
    • Replies: @ben-canaan
    Here's the rub (my intuition here might or might not be right): There's a wide spectrum of Ashkenazi pigmentation/facial phenotypes, which might be associated with differential shares of Northern European ancestry. But you're really just describing the dark end of the spectrum — I think when most people imagine an Ashkenazi Jew, they might think of some wonky Levantinish facial features, but they'd definitely place them as much paler and light-eyed than the average Iberian, Greek, or Italian. This, despite the fact that Ashkenazim are on average more "southern" than any other European population, with the exception of Sephardim, and possibly Maltese and Calabrians [and meanwhile, these populations have much less Central European ancestry than Ashkenazim within the last 1,000-2,000 years, which obviously suggests an extra-European source for a large part of Ashkenazi ancestry, rather than an overwhelmingly Euro-Mediterranean origin].

    What this suggests to me is that either 1) There's been selection for lighter features among Ashkenazim over the past 2,000 years, and that on average they look more "northern" than they actually are, OR 2) We've been underestimating the Central/Northern European (and likely, the Franco-Germanic) component in Ashkenazi ancestry, and in turn, overestimating the Italian share [and in turn, underestimating the Levantine share?].
  30. @Jm8
    (When I posted at first this comment it did not show up and I was not sure it had registered, so I have posted it again. Hopefully it is not duplicate)

    There aren’t really that many light haired Ashkenazim. (Those well known light haired individials may/sometimes have recent non-Jewish European ancestry, and such intermarriage was rare historically but has become more common in some places in the last few decades-half century or so in some places, ie in the US and Russia.) Most are dark haired—sometimes brown-haired. They (in coloring and facial features)—though of course there asre exceptions—tend to resemble the lighter skinned middle eastern types(and Eastern Mediterranean) from the Levant/Eastern Med. area.; Lebanon, Syria, parts of Turkey, Palestine, Armenia, or Greeks and Central-S. Italians. All of these peoples also have among themselves a non-trivial, sometime significant, minority of lighter haired/even blue eyed types and are significantly paler on average than the Middle Eastern peoples toward the south (eg toward Arabia). What minority light haired/blue eyed tendencies that there are in Ashkenazim may be slightly enhanced by the small Eastern/Central European element in them (as in the visual model).

    Italian(Italkic), and Sephardic Jews are closest to Ashkenazim genetically(Moroccan and Syrian Jews are also still pretty close to Euro. Jews.), but lack the small C. and E. Euro. Element (Sephardim have a small Iberian contribution).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Genetic_origins
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Female_lineages:_Mitochon

    Here’s the rub (my intuition here might or might not be right): There’s a wide spectrum of Ashkenazi pigmentation/facial phenotypes, which might be associated with differential shares of Northern European ancestry. But you’re really just describing the dark end of the spectrum — I think when most people imagine an Ashkenazi Jew, they might think of some wonky Levantinish facial features, but they’d definitely place them as much paler and light-eyed than the average Iberian, Greek, or Italian. This, despite the fact that Ashkenazim are on average more “southern” than any other European population, with the exception of Sephardim, and possibly Maltese and Calabrians [and meanwhile, these populations have much less Central European ancestry than Ashkenazim within the last 1,000-2,000 years, which obviously suggests an extra-European source for a large part of Ashkenazi ancestry, rather than an overwhelmingly Euro-Mediterranean origin].

    What this suggests to me is that either 1) There’s been selection for lighter features among Ashkenazim over the past 2,000 years, and that on average they look more “northern” than they actually are, OR 2) We’ve been underestimating the Central/Northern European (and likely, the Franco-Germanic) component in Ashkenazi ancestry, and in turn, overestimating the Italian share [and in turn, underestimating the Levantine share?].

    Read More
    • Replies: @Shaikorth
    What this suggests to me is that either 1) There’s been selection for lighter features among Ashkenazim over the past 2,000 years, and that on average they look more “northern” than they actually are, OR 2) We’ve been underestimating the Central/Northern European (and likely, the Franco-Germanic) component in Ashkenazi ancestry, and in turn, overestimating the Italian share [and in turn, underestimating the Levantine share?].

    Northwest European ancestry is detectable using the methods of recent studies about Ashkenazi, and to give an example Afram euro ancestry doesn't get confused with Italian.

    So could be selection or caused by the Eastern European ancestry, functionally they are northerners. West-East differentiation in Europe is less significant than North-South unless you include Tatars etc.

    http://i.imgur.com/xBV90aP.png

  31. It seems to me that the best model for the expansion of Ashkenazi Jewry is this: A small number of people discovered an extraordinarily successful way of life, e.g. banking and commerce, that led to a huge population expansion. This is similar to the expansion of the first farmers, and (I’m sure) many other groups before and since. The same forces of culture and genetics that preserved the integrity of those groups, preserved the integrity of this one.

    This scenario easily explains the bottleneck: not all Jews participated in this discovery, just as not all hunter-gatherers discovered agriculture. I also think it challenges (but can coexist with) the Cochran/Harpending scenario of in situ evolution. The unique characteristics of the population might have existed from the beginning, a prerequisite for this successful way of life.

    Read More
  32. @ben-canaan
    Here's the rub (my intuition here might or might not be right): There's a wide spectrum of Ashkenazi pigmentation/facial phenotypes, which might be associated with differential shares of Northern European ancestry. But you're really just describing the dark end of the spectrum — I think when most people imagine an Ashkenazi Jew, they might think of some wonky Levantinish facial features, but they'd definitely place them as much paler and light-eyed than the average Iberian, Greek, or Italian. This, despite the fact that Ashkenazim are on average more "southern" than any other European population, with the exception of Sephardim, and possibly Maltese and Calabrians [and meanwhile, these populations have much less Central European ancestry than Ashkenazim within the last 1,000-2,000 years, which obviously suggests an extra-European source for a large part of Ashkenazi ancestry, rather than an overwhelmingly Euro-Mediterranean origin].

    What this suggests to me is that either 1) There's been selection for lighter features among Ashkenazim over the past 2,000 years, and that on average they look more "northern" than they actually are, OR 2) We've been underestimating the Central/Northern European (and likely, the Franco-Germanic) component in Ashkenazi ancestry, and in turn, overestimating the Italian share [and in turn, underestimating the Levantine share?].

    What this suggests to me is that either 1) There’s been selection for lighter features among Ashkenazim over the past 2,000 years, and that on average they look more “northern” than they actually are, OR 2) We’ve been underestimating the Central/Northern European (and likely, the Franco-Germanic) component in Ashkenazi ancestry, and in turn, overestimating the Italian share [and in turn, underestimating the Levantine share?].

    Northwest European ancestry is detectable using the methods of recent studies about Ashkenazi, and to give an example Afram euro ancestry doesn’t get confused with Italian.

    So could be selection or caused by the Eastern European ancestry, functionally they are northerners. West-East differentiation in Europe is less significant than North-South unless you include Tatars etc.

    View post on imgur.com

    Read More

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