Resurrecting the ancient Israelites from the Valley of Dry Bones

Khazar DNA Project

The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.… And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them… Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel.                                                                      

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One thought on “Resurrecting the ancient Israelites from the Valley of Dry Bones

  1. Dear Dr Eran Elhaik:

    There are few problems with your study, business project, and with this article…

    Well, obviously, the first and most important problem, is that those DNA samples that you used and use for so-called “Ancient Israelites”, are not really samples of “ancient Israelites” at all… All your samples (Gal, Issec, Sarah, Terah, Nahor, Debra, Abraham, Ashkenaz, Meshach, Hagar, Agam, Keturah, Bruriah, Adam, Hanoch, Eber, Haran, Ruth) are all from periods of between 4,200 BCE and 11,500 BCE – which is between ~3,000 years and ~10,000 years before the first Israelite ever appeared in Canaan, at the end of the Late Bronze Age (around 1,200 BCE, according to the Merneptah Stele)…

    Now, some people might be fooled to think that this “time gap” is not important, because there were no changes in the “DNA landscape” of ancient Canaan between those periods. However, I think we both know that this is not true. I think we both know that during the Early, Middle, and Late Bronze Age (between 3,200 – 1,200 BCE) there were vast waves of migrations from the north (mainly from the areas of Iran and Turkey, but also from the Caucasus and South-East Europe) to the “Levant”, and we both know that those vast waves of migrations, completely changed the DNA landscape in ancient Canaan by the time the first Israelites appeared – Not to mention that according to the Biblical record (which might be at least partly true) at least some of the ancestors of the Israelites (Abraham, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel) actually migrated to Canaan themselves from the area of Harran, which is in south Turkey…

    In fact, the original study on the samples from the Peqi’in Cave in Israel – from which you took some of your so-called “Ancient Israelite” samples (those from 4,200 BCE) – specifically mentions some of those later Bronze Age migrations, and describes the changes they made to the “DNA landscape” of ancient Levant, saying:

    “Previous genome-wide ancient DNA studies from the Near East have revealed that at the time when agriculture developed, populations from Anatolia, Iran, and the Levant were approximately as genetically differentiated from each other as present-day Europeans and East Asians are today24,25. By the Bronze Age, however, expansion of different Near Eastern agriculturalist populations—Anatolian, Iranian, and Levantine—in all directions and admixture with each other substantially homogenized populations across the region, thereby contributing to the relatively low genetic differentiation that prevails today24. Lazaridis et al.24 showed that the Levant Bronze Age population from the site of ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan (2490–2300 BCE) could be fit statistically as a mixture of around 56% ancestry from a group related to Levantine Pre-Pottery Neolithic agriculturalists (represented by ancient DNA from Motza, Israel and ‘Ain Ghazal, Jordan; 8300–6700 BCE) and 44% related to populations of the Iranian Chalcolithic (Seh Gabi, Iran; 4680–3662 calBCE). Haber et al.26 suggested that the Canaanite Levant Bronze Age population from the site of Sidon, Lebanon (~1700 BCE) could be modeled as a mixture of the same two groups albeit in different proportions (48% Levant Neolithic-related and 52% Iran Chalcolithic-related). However, the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites analyzed so far in the Levant are separated in time by more than three thousand years, making the study of samples that fill in this gap, such as those from Peqi’in, of critical importance”.

    The other study you took the rest of your samples from (Lazaridis, I., Nadel, D., Rollefson, G. et al. 2016), is also talking about those migrations which changed the “DNA landscape” of the entire ancient world, saying:

    “We report genome-wide ancient DNA from 44 ancient Near Easterners ranging in time between ~12,000-1,400 BCE, from Natufian hunter-gatherers to Bronze Age farmers. We show that the earliest populations of the Near East derived around half their ancestry from a ‘Basal Eurasian’ lineage that had little if any Neanderthal admixture and that separated from other non-African lineages prior to their separation from each other. The first farmers of the southern Levant (Israel and Jordan) and Zagros Mountains (Iran) were strongly genetically differentiated, and each descended from local hunter-gatherers. By the time of the Bronze Age, these two populations and Anatolian-related farmers had mixed with each other and with the hunter-gatherers of Europe to drastically reduce genetic differentiation. The impact of the Near Eastern farmers extended beyond the Near East: farmers related to those of Anatolia spread westward into Europe; farmers related to those of the Levant spread southward into East Africa; farmers related to those from Iran spread northward into the Eurasian steppe; and people related to both the early farmers of Iran and to the pastoralists of the Eurasian steppe spread eastward into South Asia.”

    So, to sum it all up, what we’ve seen in those studies is that during the Early & middle Bronze Age periods (roughly between 3,200 and 1,600 BCE), there were massive migrations of Iranian and Anatolian populations into the Levant (where the land of Canaan/Israel is), which completely changing the DNA pool of this area. Making it very different from what it was during the Natufian and Chalcolithic periods (roughly between 11,500 and 4,200 BCE) – from which you took your so-called “Ancient Israelites” samples..

    In fact, it was so different that even the veteran population of an old Canaanite settlement like Sidon, already had about 52% of Iranian related ancestry, and only 48% of Levant Neolithic/Natufian-related ancestry, at around 1,700 BCE – some 500 years before the first Israelites appeared (~1,200 BCE)..

    Furthermore, if you studied a bit about the the history of Canaan at the Late Bronze Age, you probably know by now that during the time between 1,700 BCE and 1,500 BCE there was yet another wave of migration from the North into Canaan, which changed the DNA landscape of Canaan furthermore. This was the influx of many of the “Nations of Canaan” mentioned in the Bible, such as Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, Girgashites, and, mainly the Hurrians – as described by Edward Lipinski in his paper: “Hurrians and Their Gods in Canaan”:

    “The first appearance of Hurrians and of personages bearing Indo-Aryan names in citystates of ancient Canaan can be dated to the late 16th century B.C. and be related to the expansive influence of the Mittannian empire. Information is provided mainly by written material from Shechem, by the tablets from Taanach, and by the Amarna letters, thus by sources dating from a period when Canaan was dominated by Egypt. Traces of this Hurrian presence are recognizable in Jerusalem until the 10th century B.C. and the Hurrian goddess Šuwala, the Queen of the netherworld, continued her career through centuries in the Hebrew literature in which she appears under the name of Sheol. Also a vague souvenir of the Hurrians persisted, called Horites in the Bible and regarded as a pre-Israelite population of Canaan. A particular attention is paid in the article to some personal names, like Šuwardata, Abdi-Ḫeba or Pora-Ḫeba, the name of a ruler of Jerusalem in the 14th century, further to Ḫutiya and to Bat-Tešub, also in Jerusalem.The very name used by the Egyptians for Canaan since the early 15th century B.C. was the Land of Ḫor (Ḫ3r)1, a word which at first had an ethnic connotation, designating the Hurrians, but was later used geographically and survived in the “Horites” of the Bible..

    The Hurrian expansion as far as southern Canaan took place not long before the early 15th century B.C. and it should very likely be linked to the rising power of the Mittannian empire, with which the sources suddenly confront us in the same period. This important state emerged in the 16th century in the area of the Habur triangle; it united the whole of Northern Mesopotamia and started extending its influence southwards. Wherever Hurrian personal names appear, quite distinct from the Semitic or Hittite-Luwian ones, the presence of this people must be assumed”..

    The conclusion of all this is that those “Flintstones” which you call “Ancient Israelites” (Gal, Issec, Sarah, Terah, Nahor, Debra, Abraham, Ashkenaz, Meshach, Hagar, Agam, Keturah, Bruriah, Adam, Hanoch, Eber, Haran, Ruth) – which are all from periods of between 4,200 BCE and 11,500 BCE – are completely irrelevant and have a completely different DNA from the DNA of the population which lived in Canaan at the times when the REAL Ancient Israelites have lived there – between 1,200 BCE and 100 AD (By the way, why didn’t you use the more relevant DNA samples of Jews from ~50 AD Jerusalem, out of the study of Matheson et al. 2009 which you mentioned in this article?)… This might be a bit problematic since you’re charging money from people, promising them a comparison of their DNA with the DNA of real “Ancient Israelites”, don’t you think?…

    Finally, your claim that “Unsurprisingly, not a single skeleton matches the alleged four Ashkenazic Jewish mothers, whose origin is in prehistoric Europe (Costa et al. 2013)”, seems to ignore a well known study by Eva Fernández, Alejandro Pérez-Pérez, Cristina Gamba, et al, from 2014, about the DNA of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB = ~8,000 BCE) populations in Israel and the levant, which specifically says that:

    “Another interesting case are the Ashkenazi Jews, who display a frequency of haplogroup K similar to the PPNB sample together with low non-significant pairwise Fst values, which taken together suggests an ancient Near Eastern origin. This observation clearly contradicts the results of a recent study, where a detailed phylogeographical analysis of mtDNA lineages has suggested a predominantly European origin for the Ashkenazi communities [48]. According to that work the majority of the Ashkenazi mtDNA lineages can be assigned to three major founders within haplogroup K (31% of their total lineages): K1a1b1a, K1a9 and K2a2. The absence of characteristic mutations within the control region in the PPNB K-haplotypes allow discarding them as members of either sub-clades K1a1b1a or K2a2, both representing a 79% of total Ashkenazi K lineages. However, without a high-resolution typing of the mtDNA coding region it cannot be excluded that the PPNB K lineages belong to the third sub-cluster K1a9 (20% of Askhenazi K lineages). Moreover, in the light of the evidence presented here of a loss of lineages in the Near East since Neolithic times, the absence of Ashkenazi mtDNA founder clades in the Near East should not be taken as a definitive argument for its absence in the past”


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