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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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The Genetic Search for Founders

(p.274) Chapter Eight Source Codes
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the field of population genetics as an approach to the origin of the Jews. Most historians study the past by focusing on the period of time that can be documented by textual sources, the past 4,000 years or so. In the past few years, a new form of primordialism has emerged that uses DNA and the brain's evolutionary history to reconstruct demographic history, ancient social interaction, and other insights to shed light on where people come from and how they have evolved. The chapter first provides an overview of genetic history and biological approaches to the origin of the Jews before discussing what genetics research has revealed about the ancestry of the Jews, some of the criticisms hurdled against this research, and whether a genetic approach offers a viable alternative to the constructivist approach employed by many contemporary scholars to address the question of Jewish origins.

Keywords:   population genetics, Jews, primordialism, genetic history, ancestry, constructivist approach, Jewish origins

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