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Newbie Haplotype Question

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  • Newbie Haplotype Question


    I’ve recently ordered a 25-Marker Y-DNA test as part of our AARON surname project. We’re just getting started (only one persons results in so far), and while waiting for my results, I decided to start reading up on genetic genealogy to familiarize myself. Initially the project was just intended to see which AARON lines might connect with eachother, but after reading a little about haplogroups and haplotypes, I began to wonder if it might tell us a little more…

    One of the often discussed topics on the AARON list/message boards is Jewish ancestry. Although people with the AARON surname are often assumed to be Jewish, a great many (in fact most of the AARON researchers on the message boards, myself included) are not Jewish. One train of thought is that these non-Jewish AARONs probably were Jewish many generations ago. Another train of thought is that many of these AARONs transitioned into this surname from something that sounded similar, but didn’t refer to “Aaron” from the old testament at all. For example, in my case (a line that traces back to the mid-1700’s in Catholic church records), the name started as ARENT/AREND/ARENDT then transitioned to ARON, and finally to AARON. AREND didn’t refer to “Aaron”, but rather was of Germanic origin from the elements “arn” (eagle) and “wald (rule)…at least by definition from “Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University” (incidently, this same book also notes that the surname AARON isn’t always a Jewish surname).

    Will haplotype information be able to tell contributors to our surname project, “Yes, you almost certainly descend from a Jewish line of AARONs” or “No, your AARONs were almost certainly not Jewish”…or will we not be able to definitively ascertain that one way or another because non-Jewish people also belonged to the same haplotype?

    As a side note, I noticed there IS one definition of the name ARENDT that says, in a Jewish form, it was an Ashkenazic name. I thought I saw Ashkenazic listed in connection with some haplotypes, but again, if one of our submitters shows up in one of those haplotypes, does that mean he was almost certainly a Jewish AARON, or is that quite a leap to make from there?



  • #2
    You will not be able to get a definitive answer to your question about Jewish ancestry but you might get some leads. Certain haplogroups are relatively common among Jews (e.g. Ydna J and R1a). However they are not at all unique to those with Jewish ancestry and many Jews are from other haplogroups. The Ftdna library contains a number of relevant papers.


    • #3
      P.S. Other haplogroups with some frequency among Jews are E3b, I, R1b and Q. Haplogroup J includes J1 and J2.


      • #4
        Thanks Josh...

        I'll hold tight and see what results I get. Thanks again for the response.



        • #5
          "P.S. Other haplogroups with some frequency among Jews are E3b, I, R1b and Q. Haplogroup J includes J1 and J2."

          I just noticed (after looking at the site's demo users) that R1b is listed as the most common haplotype for those of western european descent. If so, and I happened to show up in that haplotype, I'm guessing that would be one of those instances where you'd go "That doesn't mean you likely descend from a Jewish line, simply because its the most common haplotype from the area, where many non-Jewish people fall as well." ???



          • #6
            Scott, you have pretty well summed it up. With R1b the most that could be said is that Jewish ancestry was not ruled out. For Jewish ancestry the most likely haplogroups are J, E3b and R1a.


            • #7
              Results are in...Haplogroup I (I1a)???

              Well, my results came in predicted as haplogroup I, and I noticed on Whitley's haplogroup predictor that I come in as a strong "I1a" (93 on his scale). Researching that haplotype a bit, I see no mention of Jewish ancestry connected with it (I appear to fall in either I1a-N (Norse) or I1a-AS (Anglo Saxon) based on the modal examples I've seen listed).

              As it pertains to Jewish ancestry, I'm guessing this simply suggests that if there was Jewish ancestry, there is nothing in my Y-DNA results to suggest it? Of course, there are surely some Jewish people that are I1a, but its not a probably haplotype for most with Jewish ancestry?....and that its more probable (from my explanation in the first post of this thread) that my surname transitioned from a variant spelling that had nothing to do with Aaron from the Old Testament, and rather was from an "Arend/t" of Germanic origin from the elements “arn” (eagle) and “wald (rule)…or something of the sort?

              Comments/feedback welcomed. Thanks!



              • #8

                Scott, you did not state the location of the early Catholic church family records of your surname. Other variants could be Aran, Arran, Eirann, or Erin on the Norse-Keltic coasts.


                • #9
                  Jewish Genetic Origens

                  Hi Scott,

                  I also thought that I was possibly of jewish descent and also turned out to be I1a.

                  Based on an expected haplogroup of I1a, your direct paternal ancestor was clearly not genetically jewish. If your last name was arend(t), you likely are of germanic descent rather than nordic descent. Of course that does not mean some of your ancestors could not have followed the jewish faith.

                  There is a very good article available by Ellen Levy-Coffman titled: "A MOSAIC OF PEOPLE: THE JEWISH STORY AND A REASSESSMENT OF THE DNA EVIDENCE."

                  The abstract reads as follows:

                  "The Jewish community has been the focus of extensive genetic study over the past decade in an attempt to better understand the origins of this group. In particular, those descended from Northwestern and Eastern European Jewish groups, known as “Ashkenazim,” have been the subject of numerous DNA studies examining both the Y chromosome and mitochondrial genetic evidence.

                  The focus of the present study is to analyze and reassess Ashkenazi results obtained by DNA researchers and synthesize them into a coherent picture of Jewish genetics, interweaving historical evidence in order to obtain a more accurate depiction of the complex genetic history of this group. Many of the DNA studies on Ashkenazim fail to adequately address the complexity of the genetic evidence, in particular, the significant genetic contribution of European and Central Asian peoples in the makeup of the contemporary Ashkenazi population. One important contribution to Ashkenazi DNA appears to have originated with the Khazars, an ancient people of probable Central Asian stock that lived in southern Russia during the 8th-12th centuries CE. Significant inflow of genes from European host populations over the centuries is also supported by the DNA evidence. The present study analyzes not only the Middle Eastern component of Ashkenazi ancestry, but also the genetic contribution from European and Central Asian sources that appear to have had an important impact on Ashkenazi ancestry."

                  This article can be found at:

                  According to the article, only the J1 Cohen Modal Haplotype is currently widely recognized as a "jewish haplotype." However, because of the levels of admixture in modern jewish populations it is difficult to make any definitive conclusions about other haplotypes.

                  As Levy-Coffman states in her article:

                  "... Jewish DNA presents a picture that is far more complex than just the Cohanim results. This picture is also far more diverse than what many genetic studies on Ashkenazi Jews would suggest. Instead, many of those studies have focused heavily on the Israelite DNA results, often downplaying the significant contribution of European and Khazarian ancestors. The examination of only a single component of Jewish ancestry has resulted in an incomplete and, to a certain extent, distorted presentation of the Jewish genetic picture.

                  Diversity was present from Jewish beginnings, when various Semitic and Mediterranean peoples came together to form the Israelites of long ago. The genetic picture was clearly enriched during the Diaspora, when Jews spread far and wide across Europe, attracting converts and intermarrying over time with their European hosts."

                  I hope this article will be of some assistance.



                  • #10
                    Thanks John,

                    I'd wondered myself if the focus was a little narrow in determining possible jewish ancestry, and thought there was still a chance I could be descended from jewish ancestors, just that there wasn't much showing it from my results give the I1a grouping.

                    To derinos,

                    The early records were from Hungary. The family migrated from the Luxembourg area and came to Hungary in the mid-1700's with many other ethnic Germans. They became known as Danube Swabians or "Donauschwaben", so as far back as the paper-trail goes, they appear to be ethnic German, but who knows beyond that.