Kevin Brook - Answers Questions About the Khazars
- 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.
Author, The Jews of Khazaria (Second Edition: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)