- I just saw an abstract, not a real article, but apparently, either
Family Tree DNA or Neil Bradman's group in England (I forget which)
has presented an abstract of a paper suggesting that many Ashkenazic
Levites seem to be closely related to a western Slavonic (Slavic?)
group called the Sorbians.
Of course, the mainstream Jewish position would be that Levites are
the descendants of Levi, son of Joseph, and that the Cohanim are the
branch of Levites descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses. (Aaron
and Moses were both Levites.)
Some Y chromosome research suggests that Cohanim really are descended
from some very ancient Jewish group that originated in the Middle
East, but, if you believe the abstract I'm half remembering, Levites
are more of a mixed bag and could, in some cases, be descended from
men who married into the religion.
Kevin Brooks, the guy who's been writing a lot about the genetic,
linguistic and cultural contributions of the Khazars (Central Asians
who converted to Judaism around 800) to Judaism, loves this abstract
because he would love to find evidence that some Levites, at least,
are descended from the Khazarian nobility or the Khazarian priests.
I will try to get better bibliographic/URL info tomorrow.