Friday, December 5, 2008

Jewish and Moorish ancestry among Spaniards

The medieval reconquest of Spain from the Moors left a genetic legacy that can be detected today in the DNA of men from the Iberian Peninsula, scientists have discovered.

A high proportion of Spanish and Portuguese males have a genetic profile indicative of North African or Jewish ancestry, according to research that sheds light on the region’s history. As many as one in five has a Y chromosome of apparently Jewish origin, while one in ten has a Y chromosome showing a North African heritage.

“These proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion, whether voluntary or enforced, driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance, that ultimately led to the integration of descendants,” said Professor Mark Jobling, of the University of Leicester, who led the research.

After the Fall of the Roman Empire, Spain was ruled from the 5th to the 8th century by the Visigoths, who established a Christian kingdom. In 711, however, an Arab army crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, beginning several centuries of Muslim rule.

The Moors tolerated both Christianity and Judaism, but Christians nevertheless progressively sought to reconquer the peninsula over a period of several centuries known as the Reconquista. When the Christian kingdoms of Aragon and Castile were united in the 1470s under Ferdinand and Isabella, they began the final phase of the Reconquista. The last Moors were expelled from Granada in 1492 by the “Catholic monarchs”, who began to enforce Christian orthodoxy.

Jews and Muslims were forced to convert, and the Inquisition was established to persecute as heretics those who maintained their old religions. Many converted Jews, or conversos, and converted Muslims, or moriscos, were expelled.

However, as well as their contributions to architecture, food and culture, they left behind their DNA, the study in the American Journal of Human Genetics reports. It examined the male Y chromosome to chart patrilineal descent. While women have two X chromosomes, men have one X and one Y, and the Y is always inherited from their fathers, remaining intact in the male line from generation to generation.

While the majority of modern Spanish men have a Y chromosome type that is common throughout Europe, a high proportion have profiles that correspond with a converso or morisco background.

Professor Jobling added: “In the long term, Jews and moriscos were either kicked out or were forced to integrate. That’s what we see the effect of now, the integration of their descendants.”

The results also show the extent to which it is possible to trace the impact of historical events through modern DNA.

Similar research has recently shown that the Crusaders may have left a genetic mark on modern Lebanon, where a high proportion of Christian men today have a Y chromosome of European origin.


Anonymous said...

Genetic flow from north africa in spain is very little,not much more than french and less than italians.we are tired of same history ever.Many studies contradict "Jewish and Moorish ancestry among Spaniards"This assertion is false.Even sprending the black Legend with "scientific arguments" is a shame.Spanish people are NOT half-moors or something way

Anonymous said...

Judaism is a religion, not a race!. Spain is the scapegoat of multiculturalism!. Arabs and jews and christians living peacefully...That was NEVER like that!. They tolerated each other, but they hated each other too!.

I understand that it is very difficult to fight against ethnic clich├ęs and racial prejudices, and Spain is one of those countries that has suffered more intensively all kind of false stereotypes, but against all that "moronic thinking" there is nothing as objective as science:

"Two subclades of North African Y-chromosome haplogroup E3b and Middle Eastern haplogroup J (labeled E-M81 and J-M267) are considered unrelated to the Neolithic migrations into Europe, making them useful in detecting historical admixture from Berbers and Arabs or earlier Semitic peoples. These markers exist at combined frequencies of 3% in Catalans of Northern Spain and 6.4% in Andalusians of Southern Spain (for a total of between 1.5% and 3.2% admixture), confirming that gene flow from Phoenicians/Carthaginians and Islamic Moors was minimal."(Semino et al. 2004)

"A European wide study including Spaniards states: No significant correlation is apparent between North African admixture and geography. Genetic exchanges across the Mediterranean Sea, and especially in its western-most part where the geographic distance between continents is smallest (Spain), seem to have been limited or very limited, establishing the North African contribution at between 2.5% and 3.4%. Haplogroup composition of the ancient Iberians was very similar to that found in modern Iberian Peninsula populations, suggesting a long-term genetic continuity since pre-Roman times."

So SCIENCE says all phoenician, carthaginian and islamic Moors/arabs genetic contribution in Spain is at about a 3% of total population, a totally negligible figure from a genetic point of view.

CONCLUSION: the moor/arabic contribution in Spain is a part of that 3%, that is, even less than negligible!