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Follow along as I post results and interpretations of various DNA tests conducted on my Palestinian Christian family members. For a condensed version, read the Summary page for key findings. For more in-depth review, the other pages & blog posts will offer detailed and specific information. Use the labels to find posts relating to the Pages above or family surnames. Feel free to contact me at holylanddna@gmail.com. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

New AncestryDNA Results

I took advantage of a recent sale at AncestryDNA to get my father tested.  My expectations were low because this is a US only test and I figured the number of matches he would have there would be very small. I was pleasantly surprised that he received 25 pages of matches (compared to my mother's 203 pages!). His top match is a 3rd cousin from the Rishmawi family in Honduras.  But, I was also impressed with how they calculated the ethnicity results, see below.


Ancestry gives a beautifully illustrated general history of each population.  Here are some highlights:





Italy/Greece is approx 20%, with a range of 13-28%.  This is substantial!  I had no idea the Greeks and Romans left such a strong genetic imprint.  I have seen Italy come up on most indicators and many people who are 1/2 Middle Eastern are fooled into thinking they are instead Italian.  This test is supposed to go back to 1000 years ago, however, I believe these genes are coming from ancient times and have just recycled over and over since then.


European Jewish is given a range of 5-13%.  This is higher than the test at 23andme shows, but going back 1000 years as opposed to only 500, this would make sense.  I am not aware of any Jewish ancestry, beyond the Jews that converted to Christianity in ancient times.  However, this again shows us that our ancestors were living in the land of Israel/Palestine for a very long time.


Middle East is given 52-65% of overall ancestry.  This is also interesting because he has 10% less than the average Middle Easterner.  I wonder if this means that the people of the Levant (northern Middle East) have more admixture or if it is the Christians or Palestine in general?  As I compare matches to look at their ancestry composition, this may become more clear.




And lastly, Caucasus with a range of 4-20%.  This region shows up often in Palestinians.  Again, it's a tie to Levant and the natives of that area.

My father showed absolutely no trace regions- so the above 4 are solid parts of his ancestry.  I was surprised to not see any Northern Africa which would include Egypt and no traces of Western Europe. However, the Crusades and the genes left behind by those Europeans were further removed than 1000 years and that is why they show up on the Gedmatch calculators, but not on the other tests. 

Overall thoughts- I think this test is a nice addition to the results of the other tests.  We see a progression from 23andme, which shows the last 500 years to this one that shows up to 1000 years, to the deep ancestry calculators of Geno 2.0 and Gedmatch which show us our ancient ancestry.  A whole lot more Italian/Greek showed up here compared to 23andme.  This might point to more contact with those people groups around 1000 years ago.  And the fact that no North African or Western Europe shows up here, tells me contact with those populations was even further back in time.  If you can get this test on sale, I recommend it.  You may even find a 3rd cousin match at the top of your list like we did!

13 comments:

Alexis C. said...

Thank you for sharing this! I am one-fourth Palestinian Christian (my grandfather was born in Haifa but the family was from Beit Jala originally) and was surprised to find that AncestryDNA said I'm 32 percent Greek/Italian (I have NO Greek or Italian), 4 percent Middle Eastern and 2 percent Caucasus. I"m hoping to have my mom take it next (she's half Palestinian) to see what her results are.

Amira Tora Lloyd said...

This was so helpful! My father was Palestinian and I was super confused by my 33% Italian/Greek result, so it's good to know I'm not the only one who experienced this, lol

HolyLandDNA said...

Amira-Yes, that is common and even more so if you are 1/2 Palestinian. It can be confusing for these calculators with people who are half like us. On several of the sites, they tell me I am over 50% Italian! So, very inaccurate sometimes. But your dad probably had up to 30% Italian/Greek genes and would pass about half of that to you. I think it's why the populations look so much alike :-).

Unknown said...

I'm a Palestinian American Muslim and I was 80% West Asian (70% Middle East 10% Caucasus) and 11% European (9% Italy/Greece 1% European Jewish 1% Iberian)

Sean Laveau said...

Many people believe that Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) have slightly different components to their DNA but most of my family has higher quantities of Italy/Greece and European Jewish than me. And one difference I noticed between Muslim and Christian Palestinians according to Genealogist is thatThe ItalyGreece component is more associated with christians. But within my family and some other Palestinian Muslims who have done the dna tests, They pretty much have similar quantities of the same regions as the DNA test above.

HolyLandDNA said...

Thank you for your comments Sean. A few comments here. First, we have to look at the subtleties in the differences, because the main components will be similar for people of the same region. Your results are quite different than my father's - You have 11% more middle east component and he has 11% more Italy/Greece than you. He also has 8% more Euro Jewish than you do. This shows that you have more "Arab" in the DNA. I have seen Palestinian Muslims with quite high Euro scores, but they usually have less Caucasus and less Jewish and more African. Secondly, many Palestinian Muslims have descendants that were Christians, and sometimes it was not that long ago. You see this more in Palestinian Muslims than Muslims from other Arab countries. A Palestinian Muslim who has very similar ancestry composition to the Christians is most likely a somewhat recent descendant of Christians. This could be the case in your family - particularly on one side if you see more Caucasus and more Jewish on one side of your family tree. In general, Muslims have married Muslims and Christians have married Christians. Anyone who converted to Islam - whether they were Roman or Greek or native Levantine or Egyptian or Bedouin could marry another Muslim. At the core of your ancestry, it is the same as my father's - the native Levantine people in Palestine. Over time the changes in religion in the area, changed the DNA of the people - strictly along religious lines. The Jews/Muslims/Christians of Palestine have the same root DNA. My ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity and married other Christians - Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Egyptians, Arabs, Turks, Syrians, etc. Yours converted from Christianity to Islam - and also have the mix of the Arabs from the south that came up to settle after the conquest. With this was some African dna from the slave trade.

I highly recommend going to gedmatch.com to see what the breakdown there is in the oracles. We get Samaritan as the #1 reference population. There are many Middle Eastern categories which is helpful including Lebanese Muslim and Palestinian. I'd love to hear back what you get in these results to compare. Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

My father is Palestinian we have traced it back to the tribe of Levi.

When my sister did her own DNA we were somewhat confuse. You have to remember my mother is 1/2 Cypriot Turk and 1/2 Palestinian. Her results was.

Africa 5% (Senegal 3% and Africa North 2%).
Italy/Greece 14%
Pacific Islander 1%
Middle East 57%
Caucasus 23%

I was confuse how did Pacific Islander showed up and Africa 5% while we have more Italy/Greece?





HolyLandDNA said...

Anonymous- Those results are interesting for AncestryDNA which tends to be quite accurate and conservative in their analysis. Africa North is not too surprising, but Senegal is odd. Do you have any Muslim ancestry? In ancient times, Muslims in Arabia participated in the slave trade and with it came some mixing. Today, Muslims carry small %s of African genes. So, if you are not Muslim, then maybe you had a Muslim ancestor that had the Africa North & Senegal genes. The Pacific Islander may just be "noise" and not accurate. It's considered trace, so it may be nothing. If you test at other companies or transfer your results to Family Tree DNA (small fee) or free to gedmatch, you will be able to confirm or disregard these results. The Italy/Greece % is typical for Palestinians - my father's came in at 20%, so even higher. This is from ancient times when Romans and Greeks converted to Christianity and became part of the gene pool. Also, the Crusades. Your higher Caucasus score accounts for your mother's 1/2 Cyrpiot Turk ancestry.

Anonymous said...

We knew my dad is Palestinian and my mother is 1/2 Cypriot (Turk)and 1/2 Palestinian.

My sister took the DNA and my father to the DNA test.

My sister DNA results
Africa 5% (Senegal, 3%, Africa North 2%)
Italy & Greece 14%
Pacific Islander 1% (Melanesia)
West Asia 80% (Middle East 57%, Caucasus 23%)

When we did my father.
He was traced back to the Tribe of Levi (Palestinian Hebrew).

We are pretty sure my father family converted to Muslim but we don't know what year we understand Africa comes from my father family. What throws me off is the Pacific Islander. Don't know where it came from but I'm thinking on my mother side since her side has the changing color eyes and the blonde hair.

HolyLandDNA said...

Hi again - the Senegal at 3% is very high. Your sister shows a low Caucasus score for being part Turk. Pacific Islander would not have anything to do with light hair and eyes, they are more of an Asian people with dark hair and eyes. 1% is still possible to be an error. Another explanation might be that a slave from Melanesia was brought to the Middle East. We have to remember it was the center of civilization and all different kinds of populations passed through.

Anonymous said...

My fathers is a Palestinian Christian from both his maternal and paternal line. Originally from Acre/Akka. His myorigins results show over 70% Southeast European (Italian/Greek). It is hard to track how this can happen as Acre was conquered by many civilizations from the Hellenistic, Greek-Roman Byzantines, Crusaders, etc.. But the most interesting piece is looking at the Sea Peoples and the connection to the Philistines people. Would like to know if anyone pondered this part of possibility as some believe they "etruscans" or mycenneans, or mionians, (sorry this is still a dna mystery but these are theories for now), had roots in Greece and Italy before arriving to Canaan. Could the high frequency of Greek/Italian be from those origins?

HolyLandDNA said...

Anon- Your father's results are a bit unusual. Did he also test at one of the major DNA companies like 23andme, FTDNA, or AncestryDNA? If so, I'd be quite curious at those results as I find them more accurate. What are his gedmatch results? Before you dig into the SE Euro element, I would try to confirm that it is accurate by cross checking with other testing companies and not relying on one test. If you continue to get the same result everywhere, then you might feel more confident in those results. I agree that the Sea Peoples likely had Greek origins and/or the Greeks also have roots areas where the Sea Peoples inhabited. There is a correlation there. I think that would be hard to trace as it is so ancient. I wonder if you possibly have a more recent in time Greek ancestor that you were unaware of? In my extended family there are Greeks who have intermarried and a strong presence with the Greek Orthodox Church. That's a very good possibility for you as well.

A Grotta said...

Anon,I did a lot of researching (as a beginner) the Mycenaeans (my sister just happened to be researching their jewelry at the same time for a University paper she had to write). The reason is because my grandmother's maiden name is Messina. We always believed she was half Italian, that her dad was full blood Campanian. I was trying to figure out our Messina name, and nothing came up for it at all indicating that it is Italian in origin, or that it even had a meaningful in Italian (no root word, nothing). What I did find is that the city of Messina was named after Greek refugees the Messenians. The Messinians fled the Spartan's tyranny and were invited to establish a new home in Sicily. They had been kept by their own countrymen as warrior slaves and farmers and had unsuccessfully warred against their slave masters. The Messenians are the ancient Mycenaeans/Minoans.
Messina holds the story of my ancestral origins on one side of my family. Mycenae means "mushroom cap". Why did they name themselves after a mushroom cap?
Anyway. There is actually still a population of the Mycenaeans in Greece. I have looked them up and they are still there today.