New blogs

Leherensuge was replaced in October 2010 by two new blogs: For what they were... we are and For what we are... they will be. Check them out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ancient Canaan city razed by Hebrews


There is a news item at Science Daily telling of the finding of a tablet with what appears to be a woman ruler, probably the "Mistress of Lioness" who asked in vain for help to her Egyptian overlords when the area was being plundered by tribes of wandering Hebrews and other peoples in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1350 BCE). In her letter she said that her city was in danger because of the threat of bands of barbarians and rebels.

The city, located west of Jerusalem, was anyhow razed and was later known as Beit Shemesh (Hebrew name) or similar variants, meaning House of Shemesh, the Canaanite Sun goddess.

What I find more interesting anyhow is not in the article though. Beit Shemesh is, following Wikipedia, the first city in the country that shows clear signs of Jewish domination, notably bones of only "kosher" animals, unlike in surrounding cities of the same time. This strongly suggests that Beit Shemesh was one of the first Jewish conquest in the country, what in turn seems to idicate that the barbarians and rebels that the Queen wrote about were no other but the Hebrews. Nearby Jerusalem is only believed to have been conquered centuries later, c. 1000 BCE, by the semi-mythical King David.

The period of the Late Bronze Age and even the very beginnings of Iron Age was one of strife and confusion through all West Eurasia, with the obscure Sea Peoples' pillages, the destruction of Troy and Ugarit, the collapse of the Hittite Empire, the expansion of the Urnfield culture peoples, the vanishment of the oldest and long-lived West European civilization, Zambujal, and also the conquest of Canaan by a bunch of sectarian warlike nomads: the Hebrews.

The Jewish domination of Canaan, later known as Palestine, lasted only about one thousand years. After the Roman conquest and genocidal quelling of revolts, the country was fully integrated into the Eastern Roman Empire, and then conquered by the Muslim Caliphate and various successors. Most of the inhabitants became Christians first and then Muslims and are now known as Palestinians (the bulk of modern Jewish ancestry seems actually to be in the diaspora converts from, especially, Asia Minor and Khazaria instead). 


Update (Nov. 2012): see this article on the Jewish and Philistine period (a bit messy, specislly wrong usage of English words like ancestors but still of some interest).
.

11 comments:

Manjunat said...

the bulk of modern Jewish ancestry seems actually to be in the diaspora converts from, especially, Asia Minor and Khazaria instead

I doubt modern Jews(Ashkenazis only) have any Khazarian ancestry (not sure about Asia Minor). In my opinion, they are basically a mix of Israelites, Persians and Europeans. Khazarian is just a good story.

Maju said...

It's more than just a good story and Askhenazi at least appear to cluster with the Aegean-Black Sea area especially (as do Druzes to a lesser extent - maybe because of their Egyptian co-founder effect). Sadly Eastern European genetic connections have not been explored much in regard with Jews. And actually even Anatolian ancestry (one of the more obvious likely ones) has only appeared kind of accidentally as nobody has directly researched it either.

By Bauchet 2007, Askhenazis are clustered with Armenians and Greeks but with greater "other European" admixture. By Need 2009, they again appear distinct from Palestinians (even if oversampled Druzes make sort of a very loose "bridge" and closer to Adigey and mainland Europeans. Placed on a map, that is somehwere like the Balcans, discarding 25% of European admixture, their main ancestral land happens to be Turkey.

MtDNA-wise (several studies) Jews in general appear very much to have local ancestry or most ambiguous, but seldom soemthing that can be defined as Palestinian or Levantine. Y-DNA-wise they have relative low levels of J1 (c. 15%), which is the main Semitic and especially Palestinian (c. 60%), which is not an Arab arrival but much older in the area, probably of Natufian-Harifian or even Kebaran times.

They look like Europeized Druzes, wo in turn are very much European-like themselves (albeit with an Egyptian component).

Btw, Khazars were Turks but much like modern West Eurasian Turks are: you should not expect to find too much East Asian DNA in them. Khazars did convert en masse to Judaism (not the only case of mass conversion to Judaism in Medieval times) and after the Khaganate was destroyed by Kiev Russia, many went to increase the ranks of Eastern and Central European diaspora Jews. I agree that it is probably not the main component of Ashkenazim (which would be Anatolian and secondarily other European) but the issue anyhow requires better research - and an unbiased one (too many Jewsih DNA studies are financed and even carried by Zionists, with the subsequent partisan conclusions, even against the data itself).

Manjunat said...

I don't think clustering and matrilineage are relevant here. In fact, matrilineage may decide the clustering most of the cases. I'm only interested in Y-chromosome haplogroups.

I believe some part of J2a and R1a among them must be Persian (especially in the case of Ashkenazim). As far as I know the founding population was Persian Jewry in Eastern Europe (that went on to become Ashkenazim).

Maju said...

I don't think clustering and matrilineage are relevant here. In fact, matrilineage may decide the clustering most of the cases. I'm only interested in Y-chromosome haplogroups.Well, I am not. All ancestry is similarly important.

I would not say that "matrilineage may decide the clustering most of the cases" just that mtDNA seems more stable and trustworthy for determining overall ancestry than Y-DNA (but maybe not in all cases). That's because patrilineages tends to drift a lot more - so overall is less trustworthy and more subject to (pre-)historical accidents.

Whatever the case in Orthodox Rabbinic law, Jewishness is defined by the mother not the father. So this fact is even more relevant, as it totally crushes the myth behind modern reinvention of Jewish identity as ethnicity (instead of sect).

I believe some part of J2a and R1a among them must be Persian (especially in the case of Ashkenazim). As far as I know the founding population was Persian Jewry in Eastern Europe (that went on to become Ashkenazim). I am not knowledgeable of such founder event. Ashkenazim seem diverse enough anyhow to have many different founders.

Historically Ashkenazim appear as the "German" subgroup of global Jewry, extended by Central and Eastern Europe and practicing German rite (instead of Spanish rite, which is proper of Sephardim, including many Jews that do not have Iberian origins but mostly of Mediterranean context in any case). The origins of such "German" Jewry are extremely hard to explain without resourcing to Khazars, where the "German" rite probably originated.

Nevertheless I think that the bulk of Jewish ancestry, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, is Anatolian or otherwise Hellenistic. This does not exclude some apportion of Palestinian (i.e. genuinely Jewish background) but it's not dominant.

J2a is very frequent among Greeks and especially Turks, Armenians and other peoples of the Caucasus. It is instead compratively rare among Semitic peoples. Palestine is very very high in J1 (up to 60%), while this clade among Sephardic is like 20% (and much lower among Ashkenazim, who are generally considered more admixed - though maybe it's just that they are admixed with non-Mediterraneans, what is more obvious).

IMO, even if you just consider Y-DNA ancestry, they look more like Turks than Palestinians or even Lebanese. And I find just unbelievable the Zionist claims that the population of the Levant has changed radically (i.e. almost 100%) in the last 2000 years.

This is exactly what happens when you cluster Ashkenazim in terms of autosomal DNA: they appear mostly from the Aegean-Black Sea area, not Levantine. They certainly have some Levantine ancestry and also some non-Greek European ancestry but these two components are rather minoritary and tend to balance each other.

Manjunat said...

First of all, I don't think even if their patrilineage and matrilineage matches that of Palestinians they have any right to that land. That is not my point. I think more than Khazarian (which is a good story) they have certain amount of Persian ancestry. It's Persian Jewry that took refuge in Khazar kingdom.

Anatolian is another fantastic story by the way. That region never had a single identity. It's just that Greeks also have West Asian J2a. The Turkic J2a, that was brought as they moved from Central Asia to that region (crossing Iranian lands), might have given pseudo-continuity for Greek heritage.

Well, if you have so much belief in matrilineal inheritance of Jewish identity then you better believe that all their matrilineage is Palestinian.

Maju said...

First of all, I don't think even if their patrilineage and matrilineage matches that of Palestinians they have any right to that land. That is not my point.Not my point either. Just what I see in Jewish genetics.

It's Persian Jewry that took refuge in Khazar kingdom.Don't know about that but what I've read is more in the line that Khazars themselves converted en masse because it was convenient (for their slave-trading business, some claim) or because they were persuaded by wise rabbis (others claim). Whatever the case, like in other cases of proselitism the bulk of the new Jewish community had no ancestry in Palestine/Judah: they were Turks and surely Turks of mostly Eastern European ancestry anyhow.

Anatolian is another fantastic story by the way. That region never had a single identity. It's just that Greeks also have West Asian J2a. The Turkic J2a, that was brought as they moved from Central Asia to that region (crossing Iranian lands), might have given pseudo-continuity for Greek heritage.No, no. J2a in Greece is found mostly where we know there was more marked prehistoric Anatolian clonizaton, like Crete. J2a seems to have an Anatolian origin quite clearly. J2b though could well have expanded out of West Asia in Paleolithic times because it's so widespread in both Europe and South Asia but so rare in West Asia that massive drift and/or founder effects must have intervened (so pre-Neolithic, IMO).

Well, if you have so much belief in matrilineal inheritance of Jewish identity then you better believe that all their matrilineage is Palestinian.
Not a matter of belief, much less "my belief". And it's not Palestinian for the most part anyhow.

Kepler said...

Maju,

I know the thing about Abraham is a myth, but perhaps those myths have something. There is the reference Israelis came from somewhere else, they were nomads who settle down in Palestine (see Finkelstein) and their Abraham is supposed to have come from Turkish Ur. Imagine they were indeed from there (with without an Abraham).
That could explain the J2.
Perhaps something like this: people going Southwards, they took over a Semitic language (as Hebrew is said to be close to Phoenician and Canaanite languages) and progressively they invaded Palestine. They brought the J2, they mingled with the J1 and after that they went on mingling with a lot other people.

Maju said...

Abraham is supposed to have come from Turkish Ur.

Not Turkey, Iraq. Actually southern Iraq, towards the Arabian peninsula.

Ur is located near modern Nasiriya, and also near the even more ancient city of Eridu, where Sumerian civilization began. It was the most important city of post-deluge (i.e. historical) Sumer and held the "kingship" (i.e. regional hegemony) in many occasions. It was surely one of the most important cities, if not the most important one 4000 years ago, when Semitic nomads began flooding the area (that's probably the famous flood, a mythical theme that has a Sumerian origin: a flood of armed people from the desert). It's only normal that, as happens with so many other peoples, the Hebrews traced their mythical ancestry to a place of prestige in their time. Additionally it's possible that it holds some truth because Hebrew mythology has many Sumerian elements (Eve's rib, the Flood and the belief in a god that has been claimed by many to be no other than Sumerian Enki, known elsewhere as Kronos, Saturn, etc.), though these elements may well have been shared by other Semitic peoples of West Asia, influenced like them by the immense prestige of Sumer which surely spread in protohistorical times with El Ubayd culture, which was also an empire very likely).

Whatever the case, they appear historically only as Semitic pastoralist tribe or tribal coalition, many centuries later, in Palestine, within the context of the Aramean wave. They were certainly peculiar because they held a unique religious sect but their dialect is unrelated with Mesopotamian dialects and is instead closer to Arabic (and the already mentioned Aramean).

Imagine they were indeed from there (with without an Abraham).
That could explain the J2.
Hebrews admixed: once in Canaan they absorbed the Canaanites. Yet they show much lower levels of J1 than their modern descendants, the Palestinians. But they also admixed later on: Judaism was a proselytistic sect and absorbed many Hellenics and other peoples. In Roman times Jews lived mostly in Asia Minor, what explains the importance of this region in the Christian schism (at first Christian were almost only Jews). There were other areas with important Jewish communities but the big concentration was in Western Anatolia, moreso wafter the Roman genocide campaign (that spared the less rebellious Christians but was quite merciless towards orthodox Jews).

It's not just J2: it's autosomal DNA too, and mtDNA. Israeli geneticists like D. Behar and his pupils have a most difficult time "demonstrating" the Levantine origin of modern Jews. They typically resort to compare with Druzes (an hyper-inbreeding Gnostic community that arrived to the area from Byzantium and Egypt some 1000 years ago) and argue hat Druzes are the original Levantines and that all the rest arrived (rather misteriously) with Islam (very much against historical evidence but when you're brainwashed by ethnic nationalist docrines as happens in Israel since childhood you confuse apples and oranges easily).

Perhaps something like this: people going Southwards, they took over a Semitic language (as Hebrew is said to be close to Phoenician and Canaanite languages) and progressively they invaded Palestine. They brought the J2, they mingled with the J1 and after that they went on mingling with a lot other people. Or probably not. Palestinians, while open to admixture with their neighbours are obviously descendants for the largest part of whoever lived there in Roman times, whom we know were Traditional Jews and Christian Jews basically. Jews not only admixed while travelling but also converted at their homeland (and elsewhere): when Christianism (a Jewish religion) became the official religion of Rome, that surely appealed to many Jews who had remained indecissive in the sectarian differences of their community: they could then be 100% Jewish and 100% Roman at the same time, with all the advantages it provided. When Islam arrived, many centuries later, it also offered interesting options: it was derived from Judaism and Christianity and it even was a "return" to more traditional Judaistic (Semitic probably) values like circumcission and pork taboo. In the end most Palestinians became anything but Jews, while remaining Jews were scattered and only a handful of realms had converted to their religion in orthodox version (notably Khazaria and Yemen, but there were others).

There is a myth of ancestry in any ethnic nationalism and Judaism is one of the oldest (mixing religious exclussivity with ethnic natonalism) but myth and reality hardly ever coincide, except maybe in anecdotical elements.

Kepler said...

Thanks.
I agree most Palestinians are descendants of people who were there before Islam.
But now:
What do you think of the tradition that the Ur meant was
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ur_Kasdim
?

As far as I know Hebrew belongs to the North-Western branch of Semitic languages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_languages
Anyway, sad thing what is happening there.

Maju said...

What do you think of the tradition that the Ur meant was
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ur_Kasdim ?
New to me. The cognate words ur, uru, uri, iri, ili, uli, etc. seems to be a very ancient term to mean town or city that spread through the Mediterranean at least as far as the Basque Country (modernly hiri means town/city in Basque but uli, uri, ili, etc. are also found in toponomy - and also among ancient Iberians). So guess that it might mean anything. Still the most logical correlation is with the well known prestigious city of Ur. But who knows?

As far as I know Hebrew belongs to the North-Western branch of Semitic languages.Yes, of course. My bad. I was writing from memory and got it wrong.

What I meant anyhow, or part of what I meant at least, is that it is not directly related to Akkadian (incl. Assyrian and Babylonian dialects), which would be logical if they were original from Mesopotamia.

Btw, check my latest post, which is about an Israeli historian on the origins of modern Jews. He is stuck on the East European origin theory, like others, though I am pretty sure that this can only account for a modest apportion of Ashkenazi ancestry and nearly none of Sephardic and others.

I still think that the Anatolian model is much better. Sadly no genetic studies I know of have directly compared Jews with Eastern Europeans and other candidate original peoples. Only in Bauchet 2007 Ashkenazim appeared clearly as very close to Greeks and Armenians but the overall sample was European to the exclussion of Eastern Europeans, so the results can't be all the conclusive we would like.

Maju said...

Btw for posting links the best way is to embed them in text using the following HTML code:

[a href=ADRESS /]TEXT [/a]

But replace "[" and "]" with "<" and ">"