Ashkenazi Jews Are Genetically European

Surprise: Ashkenazi Jews Are Genetically European

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Surprise: Ashkenazi Jews Are Genetically European

An Orthodox Jewish man with the traditional peyos, or long sidelocks.

Credit: Kobby Dagan /

The origin of the Ashkenazi Jews, who come most recently from Europe, has largely been shrouded in mystery. But a new study suggests that at least their maternal lineage may derive largely from Europe.

Though the finding may seem intuitive, it contradicts the notion that European Jews mostly descend from people who left Israel and the Middle East around 2,000 years ago. Instead, a substantial proportion of the population originates from local Europeans who converted to Judaism, said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England.

Tangled legacy