Half of all Europeans 'may have Arab genes'

David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent

This significant report appeared in The Daily Telegraph, London dated 6th August, 2002. 

That there was a significant movement of people from the Middle East from earliest B.C. times has always been our case. The travel and trade routes over land and sea into Europe from the Middle East were developed from before the time of Abraham. When the later migrations took place to the West after the Captivity periods of the two Houses of Israel, there were only moving along known paths to the isles and coastlands afar off, referred to in the Scriptures. 

THE blood ties between Europeans and the Middle East are much stronger than previously thought, says a study of man's genetic family tree. Up to half the genes of indigenous Europeans may have come from immigrants who brought farming to the continent 6,000-10,000 years ago say researches.

Scientists at University College London analysed rare genetic markers on the Y-chromosomes of 1,000 modern Europeans. They show common ancestry among different populations. Dr Lounes Chikhi, a population geneticist, and colleagues estimated that ancient Middle Eastern immigrant farmers contributed about 50 per cent of the analysed genes, ranging from 15-30 per cent for north-western Europeans, to 85-100 per cent for those in Albania, Macedonia and Greece.

The findings could resolve a long debate over the origins of indigenous Europeans and the spread of farming. Agriculture is thought to have begun in the Near East at the end of the last ice age about 13,000 years ago. Farming gradually spread westwards across Europe over the next millennia, reaching the British Isles about 6,000 years ago.
Previous studies of the spread of Middle Eastern genes produced contradictory results. Some suggested a significant genetic heritage from the Near East; others that Middle Eastern populations played a minor role in the making of Europeans.

Dr Chikhi, who reports the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said it had not been clear before whether people colonised areas or whether the neighbouring hunter-gatherers integrated farming techniques through cultural contacts. "Our findings indicate that cultural transmission of farming is extremely unlikely. There was a significant movement of people."

The University College team used a new statistical technique to study rare Y-chromosome mutations -- which are not thought to have occurred more than once in recent human history. Y-chromosomes pass only from fathers to sons.
 

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