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Partial Cohanim matches--what does this mean?

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  • Partial Cohanim matches--what does this mean?

    Hi All,

    Finally got back my 12 marker Y result, waiting for the 25 and 37. All my exact matches in the haplogroup database are J2; one of five is "Cohen." There are 11 one-step mutation matches and 4 of them are Cohen. Several matches in my named FTDNA match page are also Cohen. I am NOT Cohen, either by family tradition or evidently by the 12 marker criterion. On line, I have found the original 6 markers for the Cohen type, 388=16, 390=23, 391=10, 392=11, 393=12, and 394=14. I match all of those, so I am assuming that I differ at some number of the remaining markers. Question: are my exact 12-marker haplotype matches *wrong* about being Cohanim, or could this be a result of mutations over 3000 years? More generally, in the Cohen "modal" haplotype, how many people with one or two step differences would be expected still to be the descendants of Aaron, but have had mutations over that time? Is there any way to tell such people apart from people like me, who are presumably more distant collateral descendants? And finally, is there a place where I can see the complete Cohen 12 marker haplotype displayed, to see how many steps off I am (i.e., to get some idea of the distance of the relationship?)

    Thanks for the advice!

    Jeff Schweitzer

  • #2
    Cohanim Haplotype

    Hi Jeff ; I m sure if you e-mail Bennett Greenspan @ Familytree ,he will direct you to the complete set of #s. I think there was a partial list (6) on the FT web-site , but those # s you already know. KAT.


    • #3

      I might be wrong about what I am going to say, but I think that early in the history of DNA testing, a lot of Jewish males were tested to see if they matched the Cohanim haplotype. The databases are loaded with the results of these tests, so if a person comes close, they will see a lot of closes matches that are Cohanim or Ashkenazi.

      How close is close? No one knows for sure what markers the ancient Jewish patriline (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) would have had. They were supposedly of the J haplogroup. J2 is closest to them, having split off perhaps 10,000 years ago. Carriers of J2 were probably associated with the first neolithic farmers to enter Europe & can be found at a low concentration in many areas of Europe. They were probably well established in Europe by 4,000 BC & were assimilated with other groups (Celts, Romans, Germans, etc.). However, when you study the y-DNA, their origin can still be observed, and since their concentration is quite low, most matches appear to be Jewish.

      Timothy Peterman


      • #4

        Your explanation makes a great deal of statistical sense. Elsewhere in this forum I note that people have asked why they have so many Ashkenazi Jewish matches, and it has been previously pointed out that a disproportionately large number of FTDNA customers are Ashkenazim. I think that your explanation about the early Cohanim testing makes sense for similar reasons. But still, I am curious about this--"modal" haplotype means the most frequent haplotype in the population, not the *only* haplotype, and so one would expect that there are legitimate "cousins" whose descent from Aaron is equally close but some of whom have had mutations that take them one--or two--or however many steps away from the "original" (presumably the modal) haplotype. What I conclude from my data, and from looking at other web sites that list a large number of J2 subgroup types, is that I am descended from some relatively close collateral relative of the Cohanim line, and have fewer deviations from it than, say, those European descendants of the Neolithic farmers you mention. But I have already been emailed by at least one "perfect match" at the 12 marker level who has a last name usually associated with Cohanim. He seems to be pretty distressed that his DNA seems to say something else. Thus, I am curious about how the statistical likelihood of descent from, say, Aaron, decreases with increasing steps away from the "modal" line.

        Historically, in Judea prior to the diaspora, there were several large separate groups of Kohanim, all claiming descent from Aaron. One has to wonder whether the "modal haplotype" simply represents one of the more successful of those groups, and who knows how to establish the legitimacy of those ancient claims?

        I am certainly having a good time thinking through all these possibilities--it is what makes this anthrogenealogy aspect of the DNA so interesting.

        Thanks and sorry for the longwinded response!



        • #5
          Hi Jeff,
          I know what you are going through!
          My paternal Ydna has been confirmed as J2 through a SNP test.
          It came as a shock because of the Cohen modal perspective.
          My surname is Mayes, (changed from May), & I have no known Jewish ancestry. I realize it is "deep" ancestry, but I have lost the paper trail at 1802 in KY. Sooooo, there is always the lingering I decsended from Jews or neolithic farmers? I, & another participant in the May surname project, are the lone J2's in a sea of R1b's & I's. He knows less than I do about our genealogy. So I'm left to wonder. It's not predjudice, just confusion!
          Bennett has told me that soon there will be a J2 subclade test so maybe we can narrow down the area that our haplotype originated from. I'm like you, I only have J2 matches in my haplogroup page. And in my REO database, I match participants in Belarus, Switzerland, Russia & Shetland. That sure is a mixed bag!


          • #6

            You are right--the subclade test would be very informative for those of us more interested in ethnic/anthropologic origin than in close family ties. In looking at various internet sites, one problem is nomenclature; but there do appear to be many J2 subtypes. Most of these, however, would not include the 6 markers that match with the Cohen type, and which all my exact J2 matches (Cohen or not) apparently share.

            Curiouser and curiouser.

            Jeff Schweitzer