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. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Heritage DNA Results - Ancestry Composition

My Heritage DNA is offering free transfers of raw data from 23andme, FTDNA, or AncestryDNA to their site for ethnicity analysis and DNA matches.  Seeing nothing to lose, I thought I'd give it a try. The results are interesting.  See below my paternal grandfather.

What really stands out to me is the very high amount of Mizrahi Jewish.  West Asian is the same as Caucasus.  Middle Eastern here is the Levant but also parts of Arabia.  The Italian score is high, but my grandfather consistently gets high Italian on all the tests, even comparatively with other Palestinian Christians.  The North Africa here could be Egyptian or Berber.

My grandmother's results:

So, even more surprising because she not only gets Mizrahi, but 8.8% Ashkenazi!  I don't know how it is possible for her to have actual Ashkenazi ancestry seeing as how it would be too close in time to make sense.  I am unaware of any Jews in the family beyond those in ancient times pre-Christianity.  Of course, anything is possible, and this might very well be the case.  However, with strict marriage laws between religions, I feel it was not likely.

Lastly, my father's results:

Another thing to note is that My Heritage is an Israeli start up company.  It might explain why their reference populations include Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Ashkenazi Jews.   The same is true at FTDNA where my grandfather gets 20+% Sephardic Jewish ancestry (they sometimes lump Mizrahi into Sephardic which must be the case there).  I wonder if they are less conservative in assigning Jewish ancestry or have different algorithms.

The DNA matches are not available yet and are still processing.  I would be curious to see other results from this company from Middle Eastern people.  Please share and comment if you have tried the free transfer and let me know what you think of it!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Updated MyOrigins at Family Tree DNA

Recently I received this message from FTDNA:

Discover more of your story with myOrigins!

We’re excited to announce the latest updates to myOrigins, our advanced and popular mapping tool that reveals your ethnic and geographic ancestry.

To experience the latest enhancements, which include new, detailed descriptions of each population cluster, sign in to your account and from your myFTDNA dashboard click on the myOrigins button.

I was eager to check it out and see how it compared to the previous results.

Here are results for my grandfather:

Interesting observations- Asia Minor once again is the highest %, Sephardic was a big surprise coming in at a huge 22%, Southeast Europe trumps Eastern & Western Middle East.  Those Caucasus genes are strong!  And probably why my father got Georgians as his closest reference population group in Geno 2.0 over Lebanese.  I'm puzzled by the high Sephardic score!  Someone recently mentioned that the Mediterranean is just a big lake and people intermarried from all around it, on both sides of the pond. Looking at this map, it makes a lot of sense.

One of the J1 group admins at FTDNA created this ancient ancestry composition map of my grandfather:

His comments: comparing him to other populations, just based on his DNA, his looks: Iraqi_Jew + Libyan_Jew + Samaritian + Syrian_Jew.

Here are my grandmother's new MyOrgins results:

Here results are more in line with what I would expect. Still highest with Asia Minor, but West Middle East is 2x as much as East Middle East. There is some Ashkenazi in the mix, but much less Sephardic. Southeast European is high on both results.

 Cypriot + Iraqi_Jew + Samaritian + Syrian_Jew

Well, the takeaway here is that the Mediterranean is a big melting pot of cultures and my ancestors have a good mix of all of them. The Jewish genes show our roots in the Levant as the ancient Jews who converted to Christianity. There may be more recent Jewish ancestry, but I am unaware of it and really believe that people stayed within their religion for marriage. I always thought my family looks really Italian and now seeing it in the results, I understand why! I never expected there to be this much Southern European in the genes. And certainly the Caucasus/Asia Minor element has been a surprise too. But, DNA doesn't lie and there you have it! If you have had the Family Tree Finder test and would like to share your updated MyOrigins results, please share in the comments or email me at holylanddna@gmail.com