Hitler’s DNA

If DNA analysis can be (ab)used to come up with a result like this, what significance can it possibly have?  What is this study trying to say?  What are the other DNA studies linking Vikings to West Lancashire, Jews to Scotland, and individuals to bogus bloodlines trying to say?  Sounds like dangerous, highly interpretive racialism to me. Is it the intellectual DNA of the politics of ethnic separation through illusory biological traits? 

From CBS News World Watch 25 August

DNA Tests: Hitler Descended From Jews, Africans?

The history of Adolf Hitler is well known. Apart from bringing the world to war, the Nazi leader was obsessed with the idea of a European “master race,” which served as the foundation for his hostility toward Jews and led to the tragedy of the Holocaust.

But DNA testing may provide a new twist: Hitler may have been descended from both Jews and Africans, according to a Daily Mail report.

Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulder and historian Marc Vermeeren conducted tests on 39 of the Nazi leader’s relatives earlier this year.

A Belgian news magazine reported that according to Mulder’s and Vermeeren’s study, Hitler’s relatives have a chromosome called Haplopgroup E1b1b (Y-DNA) that is rare in Germany and Western Europe. It could have its roots in Africa and the Middle East.

“It is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, in Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews,” Mr Vermeeren said in the article.

For complete article, click here:

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

The ngoma, a sacred wooden drum-- or Ark of the Covenant?


a.)  Assumed biblical historicity  

b.) DNA interpretation  

c.) Correctness of artifact identification  

c.) Essentialist ethnic identity assertions  

d.) Implied allegorical significance in contemporary Zimbabwe  

e.) Resurrection of Rider Haggardism  


Extra credit will be given for all additional problems/issues identified.  

From the Jewish Chronicle Online:  

African ‘Jewish’ tribe displays its lost ark

By Moira Schneider, April 22, 2010

Members of an African tribe are displaying a sacred object they believe to be the Ark of the Covenant in a Harare museum.  

The item is a ngoma, a sacred drum made of wood. According to oral tradition, a ngoma was carried from Israel by the Lemba, a South African tribe who believe they are descendants of Jews from the Middle East. After it burst into flame and was destroyed, another ngoma – the one currently on display – was constructed from the ruins.  

DNA research has traced the Lemba’s origins to the Middle East. More remarkably, a genetic marker largely found only in Cohanim, descendants of the ancient Jewish priesthood, is present in the same proportions among the Lemba’s own priests, known as the Buba.  

The 80,000 Lemba people, who live in Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, have many customs in common with Jewish tradition, including male circumcision, refraining from eating pork, allowing the blood to drain from an animal before they eat it, wearing skullcaps and prayer shawls during rituals and adorning some tombstones with Stars of David.  

But Alex Makotore of Harare, son of a late chief of the Lemba, says that the tribe does not claim to be Jewish. He accuses scholars of trying to impose a foreign identity on them.  

“We don’t want to look like people who are looking for an identity,” he said. “We’ve got our own African identity, we are not looking for our roots.  

“They call us black Jews, but it is them [the scientists] that call us that. If we are linked to the Jews, then fair and fine, but we cannot rightly say that it is only the Jews that [have those customs].”  

He does say he is “excited” about a possible connection to the Old Testament, but says the Lemba are unconcerned that there is little connection with the local Jewish community.  

“We don’t look for them. We don’t want to end up with a situation where we feel second-rate to another race.”  

By contrast, Perez Hamandishe, member of parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change and a pastor in the Pentecostal church, says that the Lemba believe that they are Jews.  

“We are Jews by blood,” he insists, adding that like the majority of the Lemba, he is Christian by religion, but Jewish by culture.  

“My lifestyle is Jewish, we observe everything Jewish – we only eat kosher,” he said. “If I go to a Gentile house, I don’t eat their food. When I travel, I carry my own pots and food. I don’t eat prawns, fish without scales or rabbit.”  

Sam Benatar, president of the Zimbabwe Jewish Board of Deputies, said that there were “all sorts of claims all over Africa by people purporting to be Jewish”, but the Lemba’s belief “may well be true”.  

Peter Sternberg, former president of the Board, said that the Lemba “are virtually all either Christians or Muslims – one should really leave it at that.”  

The story of the Lemba Ark was originally revealed by Tudor Parfitt, professor of Hebrew at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, in his book The Lost Ark of the Covenant.  

Hey! What is SHE doing here?

UPDATE  to post of February 14 on recent archaeological discoveries in Mongolia and Italy

Seems like people are turning up in the strangest places these days. 

This time it is the physical anthropological re-analysis of a skeleton of the Roman period dug up in the British city of York in 1901.  The results have enormous modern relevance.  But is this archaeological progress, or just a reduction of our own cultural blindness? 

This time it’s a woman.

And this time she’s African.

And this time, though the archaeologists again have to resort to an elaborate story of exotic, high status contact between distant populations, they stress that the population of Roman Britain was far more multi-ethnic than our school textbooks might suggest– and that populations in antiquity were always a lot more heterogeneous than the mythmakers of racial purity (ancient and modern) would have us believe.

Click here for more information on the University of Reading’s intriguing “Diaspora Communities in Roman Britain” archaeological project.

Hey! What is HE Doing Here?

A matched pair of recent archaeological discoveries combined with DNA studies have been similarly interpreted as the result of unique cultural interactions.   

Last month, geneticist Kyung-Yong Kim and his colleagues from Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, announced that DNA tests performed on a skeleton discovered in a 2000-year-old tomb at Duurlig Nars in eastern Mongolia showed the elderly male was “a descendant of Europeans or western Asians. Yet he still assumed a prominent position in ancient Mongolia’s Xiongnu Empire.” (Ancient Mongolian Tomb Holds Skeleton of Western Man)   

Vagnari burial, courtesy McMaster University


Also in January, a team from McMaster College in Canada announced that DNA tests on a skeleton discovered in a Roman-era cemetery at Vagnari in southern Italy showed that the man had East Asian ancestry – on his mother’s side.    

It was claimed that this was the first time that a skeleton with an East Asian ancestry had been discovered in the Roman Empire. (Ambassador or slave? East Asian skeleton discovered in Vagnari Roman Cemetery)   

But are the interpretations (in both cases!) that these are isolated oddities of transcultural slavery or diplomacy, the only possible ones?    

Or has our conventional historical assumption of basic racial/ethnic homogeneity in antiquity blinded us from recognizing that such phenomena were relatively common at every level of society?