Taking Genealogy to
Genographic Project: Family Tree DNA
The Ashkenazi Jew Connection
Our DNA Haplogroup K status is very significant because its members
constitute three of the four major Ashkenazi Jewish founder lineages.
The term “Ashkenazi” refers to Jews of mainly central and
eastern European ancestry. Most
historical records indicate that the founding of Ashkenazi Jewry took place in
theRhine Basin where it subsequently underwent
vast population expansions. In more
recent times, the Ashkenazi population was estimated at approximately 25,000
individuals around 1300 AD, whereas that number has increased to about 8.5
million individuals by the turn of the 20th century.
Around half of all Ashkenazi Jews trace their mitochondrial
lineage back to one of four women, and our Haplogroup K represents a lineage
that gave rise to three of them. While
this lineage is found at a small frequency in non-Ashkenazi Jews, the three K
lineages that helped found the Ashkenazi population are seldom found in other
populations. While virtually absent in
Europeans, they appear at frequencies of three percent or higher in groups from
the Levant, Arabia, andEgypt. This indicates a strong genetic role in the
Ashkenazi founder event, which likely occurred in the near East.
I hope that this information is mildly of interest to the
direct female descendants of our family which includes Catherine Krider, Eliza
Ann Rangler, Carrie Catherine Dempsey, Alma Mary O’Harra, Ellen Jane Bartelle,
Dianne Bartelle Shullaw, Jennifer Ellen O’Connell, Jessica Dianne O’Connell,
and Myah Mathilda Schmitz.
This and the following material has been
excerpted from the National Geographic Genographic Project Report for
the DNA of Dianne Bartelle Shullaw,May 6, 2006.
Mitochondrial Eve: The Mother of Us All
The Human Story begins inAfrica
sometime between 150,000 and 170,000 years ago, with a woman whom
anthropologists have nicknamed “Mitochondrial Eve.” She was awarded this mythic epithet in 1987
when population geneticists discovered that all people alive on the planet
today can trace their maternal lineage back to her.
Mitochondrial Eve was not the first female human. Homo
sapiens evolved inAfrica around 200,000
years ago. Eve is exceptional because
hers is the only lineage from that distant time to survive to the present
day. A maternal line can become extinct
for a number of reasons. A woman may not
have children, or she may bear only sons (who do not pass her mtDNA to the next
generation.). She may fall victim to a
catastrophic event such as a volcanic eruption, flood, or famine, but none of
these extinction events happened to eve’s line.
Mitochondrial Eve represents the root of the human family
tree. Her descendants, moving around
withinAfrica, eventually split into two
distinct groups, characterized by a different set of mutations their members
carry. Descendants belong to Haplogroups
L1 and L0 and are found inEast Africa’s
indigenous populations. A third
Haplogroup, L2, broke off with descendants living predominantly inWest Africa.
African Americans will likely be in the L2 Haplogroup as a result of
their ancestors being brought toAmerica
fromWest Africa in the slave trade.
The next group is L3, whose common ancestor is a woman who
was born around 80,000 years ago. While
L3 individuals are found all overAfrica,
including the southern reaches of sub-Sahara, L3 is important for its movements
north. Some L3 individuals left Africa completely and current make up around
ten percent of the Middle Eastern population, giving rise to two important
haplogroups that went on to populate the rest of the world.
Out of Africa
Next came Haplogroup M.
These people left the continent across the Horn of Africa nearEthiopia, and their descendants followed a
coastal route eastward, eventually making it all the way toAustralia andPolynesia.
The next group was N. These people left the African continent across the Sinai
Peninsula, into present dayEgypt.
Early members of this group lived in the eastern Mediterranean region and
westernAsia, where they like coexisted for a
time with other hominids such as Neanderthals.
(Mount Carmel) have unearthed Neatherthal
skeletons as recent as 60,000 years old, indicating that there were both
geographic and temporal overlap of these two hominids.
After several thousand years in theNear
East, individuals belonging to a new group called Haplogroup R
began to move out and explore the surrounding areas. Some moved south, migrating back into
northernAfrica. Others went west across Anatolia (present-day
Turkey) and north across the
Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and southernRussia. Still others headed east into the Middle East
and on toCentral Asia. Our Branch of the Tree
We finally arrive at our own clan, a group of individuals
who descend from a woman in the R branch of the tree. Because of the great genetic diversity found
in Haplogroup K, it is likely that she lived around 50,000 years ago.
Her descendants gave rise to several subgroups, with wide
distribution: today they harbor specific
European, northern African, and Indian components, and are found in Arabia, the
northern Caucasus Mountains, and throughout theNear East.