Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

European Women Among Ashkenazi Ancestors

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND—A new analysis of the entire mitochondrial genomes of people from Europe and the Near East suggests that European women were the principal female founders of the Ashkenazim of Central and Eastern Europe. It had been thought that the four major lineages of mitochondrial DNA among the Ashkenazi originated in the Near East, and that communities of Jewish men and women migrated to Europe together. But now it appears that Jewish men traveled from the Near East to Europe and took local wives who then converted to Judaism. “Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed,” concluded the team led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Huddersfield.