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Kevin Brook - Answers Questions About the Khazars

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  • Dave Howard
    Earlier today I sent a note to Keven Brook the author of the acclaimed book, The Jews of Khazaria (Second Edition: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 18, 2008
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      Earlier today I sent a note to Keven Brook the author of  the acclaimed book,
      The Jews of Khazaria (Second Edition: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)

      Here were the questions I asked him:

      1. As far as you know has there been a DNA study to determine the
      genetic makeup of the Khazars?

      2. What did Khazars look like?

      3. Could the Khazars be the source of our Haplogroup-Q yDNA?

      I asked his permission to share his reply with our group.

      Here is his kind response:------------------------------------------


      To answer your questions:

      1. To my knowledge, no DNA tests have been performed on Khazar bones. This
      is complicated by the distance between the usual DNA labs and the
      archaeological sites and museums that may hold these bones. It is also
      complicated by the need for financial backing of the studies, and the
      problem of distinguishing between Khazars from non-Khazars in a diverse
      empire. Burials in Khazaria reportedly contained Slavic, Mediterranean,
      and Mongolian types but which of those are Khazars beyond all doubt?

      Maybe if the Khazar king's burial chamber was located, or burials of other
      Khazar notables, we could get some hard data. Archaeologists working at
      the Samosdelka site believe they've found the remains of the city of Atil,
      including the king's palace, in the layer below the remains of Saqsin. But
      Atil was inhabited by diverse peoples.

      Carl-Johan Bilkenroth and Bengt Jonsson wrote an article about Atil called
      "Återfunnen judisk huvudstad grävs ut". It was in the May 18, 2008 issue
      of Svenska Dagbladet on pages 24-25 and it's archived at
      http://www.svd.se/nyheter/vetenskap/artikel_1260483.svd  They wrote,
      "Lergodsstilen antyder att bulgariska turkar och oghuzer var två
      nyckelgrupper i befolkningen." That means "The stoneware suggests that
      Bulgar Turks and Oghuz were two key components in the city."

      This reminds me of a recurring question: Are the Khazars a type of Bulgar?
      After all, they supposedly spoke similar languages, and may have

      We can guess the Khazars had Q, R1a1, and other Y-DNA types from their
      region. (And likewise for mtDNA.) Many useful articles about DNA
      frequencies are posted to Dienekes' Anthropology Blog at
      http://dienekes.blogspot.com/  on a regular basis so I encourage everybody
      to read them.

      Among the Balkar people, who may be partly descendants of the Bulgars and
      maybe also from the Khazars, Y-DNA haplogroup J2 is said to be found among

      Among the Kumyks of the northern Caucasus, who may also be Khazar
      descendants, haplogroup J1 is found among about 20% and J2 among about
      25%. That's according to a 2006 study conducted by B.B. Yunusbaev at
      http://www.anrb.ru/molgen/YunusbaevBB.pdf  which also reports finding J1
      and J2 among other Daghestani groups like Lezgins and Avars.

      If the Khazars truly intermarried with Jews, as documents say happened, we
      would find common Jewish haplogroups such as J1, J2, and E1b1b.

      We can't prove that any particular person alive today has descent from the
      Khazars in a particular family line stretching back hundreds of years, so
      we can't prove what haplogroups were found among them. Even if we could,
      we would need a pure paternal line. There is speculation that Prince
      Charles of the UK descends from Khazars of Transylvania through his
      mother, Queen Elizabeth II, but that isn't a direct paternal line that
      could be tested by Y-DNA.

      2. We don't know for sure what Khazars looked like. This is again
      complicated by the question "Who is a Khazar?" vs. "Who is a Bulgar /
      Pecheneg / Oghuz / other tribe?".

      Red hair and light eyes is a good guess for at least some of the Khazars.
      As I wrote in chapter 1 of my book _The Jews of Khazaria_, "The Khazars
      were described by ibn-Said al-Maghribi as having blue eyes, light skin,
      and reddish hair."

      But I also wrote, "On the other hand, al-Istakhri said that Khazars had
      black hair. Al-Istakhri added that there were 'Black Khazars' and 'White
      Khazars,' alleging that the latter were light-skinned and handsome while
      the former were dark-skinned. However, scholars agree that this was not a
      racial distinction, but rather a social one. The Black (Kara) Khazars were
      the lower classes, while the White (Ak) Khazars were the nobility and

      3. I agree that it is likely that the presence of haplogroup Q among
      Ashkenazic Jews could come from descent from the Khazars.

      Feel free to copy and paste this message.

      Best wishes,
      Kevin Brook
      Author, The Jews of Khazaria (Second Edition: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)

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