UCL Division of Biosciences


UGI External Seminar - Professor Shai Carmi - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

29 June 2022, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Title: 'The Genomes of Ashkenazi Jews from 14th-century Erfurt, Germany'

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UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Leo Speidel



Abstract: We generated genome-wide data for 33 Ashkenazi Jews (AJ) whose skeletons were recovered in a salvage excavation at the medieval Jewish cemetery of Erfurt, Germany, and were dated to the 14th century. The Erfurt individuals are genetically similar to modern AJ and have substantial Southern European ancestry. However, as opposed to modern AJ, the Erfurt Jews show genetic and isotopic evidence of stratification, likely reflecting origins along a West to East geographic cline. A third of the Erfurt individuals carried the same AJ-specific mitochondrial haplogroup and eight carried pathogenic variants known to affect AJ today. Together with high levels of runs of homozygosity, these observations suggest that the Erfurt community had already experienced the major reduction in size that affected modern AJ. However, the Erfurt bottleneck was more severe, implying substructure in medieval AJ. Together, our results suggest that the AJ founder event and the acquisition of the main sources of ancestry pre-dated the 14th century, while highlighting late medieval genetic heterogeneity no longer present in modern AJ.

About the Speaker

Professor Shai Carmi

Associate Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

We develop methods and theory in statistical and population genetics, with applications to medicine, biology, and history, in particular in the context of the Israeli population.​​
The lab is part of the Braun School of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine

More about Professor Shai Carmi