Genetic archaeology

While doing a study of European population stratification, I came across an older but interesting study of old testament priests that compares the Levi tribe (where Moses was a member) with the Cohanim tribe (descendents of Moses’s brother Aaron who served as priests). The investigators traced patrilineal inheritance since the temple period 3,000 -2,000 years until present, and showed current levites unlike the Cohanin having a heterogeneous origin. The coalescence of of Cohanim chromosomes is dated to between Exodus and the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC.

Most current research is dedicated to between species comparisons but unfortunately the wonderful older Y and mtDNA approaches haven´t kept pace with the current SNP technology developement. There would be many intersting studies possible following the timeline of European history, yea, yea.


  1. A new book “Abrahams children: Race, identity and the DNA of the Chosen People” by Jon Etine is reviewed in nature genetics 2008; 40:127.

Comments are closed.