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throughout the Middle East. The finding meant that the founding fathers of Jewish communities around the world were drawn from the same ancestral Middle Eastern population of 4,000 years ago from which other peoples, such as Arabs, Turks and Armenians, are also descended. These generic Middle Eastern Y chromosomes, part of the J branch of the worldwide Y chromosome family tree, are both a common link between men of different Jewish communities and proof that their communities must have remained genetically separate from their non-Middle Eastern host populations.

But genetics points to a very different story with Jewish women. A team under David Goldstein of University College, London, surveyed Jewish communities of Germany and eastern Europe, known as Ashkenazi Jews, as well as those of Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Bukhara, Yemen, Ethiopia and India. Unlike the case with the Y chromosome, they found that each Jewish community has its own pattern of mitochondrial DNA variations, evidence that Jewish women, unlike Jewish men, do not all come from the same ancestral population. Mostly, the mitochondrial DNA in each Jewish community doesn't closely resemble that of any other population, meaning that the geographic origin of the founding mothers of Jewish communities cannot be identified for certain. However, in several cases it looks as if it could come from the host community. For example, among the Bene Israel, the Jewish community of Bombay in India, the commonest pattern of mitochondrial DNA is just one mutation away from a pattern common among non-Jewish Indians.

The explanation proposed by Goldstein and his colleagues is that the founding fathers of Jewish communities came from the Middle East, the founding mothers

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