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Ashkenazi levites and R1a1

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  • Ashkenazi levites and R1a1

    I was reading the fascinating research called "multiple origins of Ashkenazi levites". The interesting question is how did the R1a1 haplogroup get there?

    1. The small genetic diversity points to one founder about 1000 yrs ago. This is a great historic case of genetic drift caused by a very small founder population. The diversity was much smaller than any specific european group.

    2. Who was this guy? we will probably never know:

    i.) It could be a european who somehow got levitic status(how?)

    ii) It might be a sad case of rape in some progrom?

    iii) The R1a1 haplogroup exists in small percentage in the middle east ( 5%-10% of Syrians and Bedouin). So it could be an original levite with R1a1 from the M.East amplified by genetic drift. There were probably very few levites in the founding community.

    Interestingly, in the research sample, R1a1 was present in 1 Ashkenazi Cohen and 4 Sephardi cohens and 1 sephardi levite.

  • #2
    levites continued

    Why are the levites so diverse genetically with respect to the Cohanim?
    Historically the levites were probably at first local priests not of hereditary. When Judaism became centralized around the temple worship the non-Aharonic priests were probably demoted to a levite status. These levites were of diverse origin. Some may have come from left over Canaanites, Egyptians and Hittites who merged with the "original" Hebrews to form the Israelite nation.

    How R1a1 came to the Middle East? It was brought probably by the indo-iranian mittani who dominated the hurrians and were the ruling class in Late Bronze Canaan.

    As for the Chazar connection. Any massive turkic altaic influence would show up including Tat+ which was neglible(0.0%) in the jews tested.
    The turkic peoples have the highest genetic diversity in eurasia pointing to there early origins.


    • #3
      Re: levites continued

      Hi Mars


      • #4
        Re: Re: levites continued

        Sorry, I somehow accidently posted the above in mid word. Heres what i was trying to say

        Hi Marson,
        Izzy and I started discussing this topic on the SNP test thread. Yes, its hard to know who this guy was - whether he was European, or middle eastern. Likewise, it is hard to know (assuming he was european) how he got Levite status, - whether it was the supposed Khazar conversion, or whether the husband of a woman whos father was a Levite took Levite status (the paper authors discuss this possability at the end of the paper).
        I think the authors of the paper thought that the man must of been of european descent because any pre-diaspora genetic heritage would show relatively evenly between Sephardic and Ashkenazi. However,........given genetic drift......perhaps he was of middle eastern origin??
        As for the higher diversity of the levites compared to that of the Cohanim, I tend to agree with you. Some scholors seem to think that the population that left Egypt wouldn't have been solely descendants of Israel. How they would have designated whos in what tribe during the stay in Egypt may not have been patriachial during that time.


        • #5
          Hi Angela,

          Thanks for answering. It would be interesting if the research continued so as to test Levites from different areas in europe and try to find some geographic pattern. Ashkenazi is a very general term considering the diverse origins of european jews.


          • #6
            Shalom Marson,

            While Angela, and others did discuss this, you put it very clearly that it can not be discounted that R1a1 may be a family of levites.

            IMHO we simply do not know enough to make such claims, one way or the other. Since I am an Ashkenaz levite w/ "undetermined" haplogroup, I would love to say that R1A1 is one of the origional three levitical families....But there is no proof for that either!

            Given "genetic drift" (random mutation) what can happen in one family of the earth, can happen in another.

            BTW the R1a, and R1a1 groups come form P, P is present in 10% of ashkenaz and sephardic there is some cross over present.


            • #7
              Hi Izzy,

              I agree with you that there is no proof of that claim.
              By genetic drift I did not claim that the mutation was new but that if for example a levite with a rare but existing haplotype Z with a 1% frequency just happened to move with his sons to Antarctica and form a new community of levites than all the descendants would be 100% Z and genetically distant ( on Y chromosome ) from the other levite groups. I personally do not believe that the original levite clans were completely hereditary but became so later on.


              • #8

                Anything is possible in Genetics/history! I mostly agree wtih you , untill that last post

                Levitical status is supposed tob heriditary even at the "birthstool" of this Hebrew nation leaving the bowels of Egypt, the Bloodline of moses and Arron is recounted in the book of Exedous to show they were levites, and even God said to moses when he worried about his speech impediment "Is their not your Brother Arron the Levite? Let him be your mouth etc.

                We have a firm tradition that the Levites of old were a Homogenous group. IF there was an infussion of other genotypes, it happned no earlier than the Second Temple Era. Untill the end of the first Temple era, the levites are well accounted for.

                It was when Ezra (the Cohain, Scribe and the Tzadik/Rightous) was given authority to return to Israel that very few Levites returned with him, and they had to appoint levites of 20 years of age and up to work in the new temple. (instead of 25)

                These Levites passed Ezras strict Family purity laws and were of known Linniage.

                What hapned After Ezra is what we should be asking.

                Especialy after the destruction of the second temple and the dispersal ( 65 years later) of the Judeans form Israel /Judea and the Ethnic Cleansing that brought us such words as "Palistine"

                What happned in the Diaspora, is a possible vector for genetic infusion...

                Then again, like you yourself stated, it is also possible that R1a1 was always a levite Character, at least for some families.
                ( You have Qhathites, Gershonites, and the Merrariites , plus their sub divisions like the Korachites ETC. So where R1a1 fits in is still up in the air.)

                Of course if the Levite was in Antartica, and there was only one woman or a lot of cold Penguins, our job of traking his decendents would be a lot easier.