According to a DNA analysis, Persian Jews converted Turks to Judaism to establish the foundation of what would eventually become the majority of Jews in the modern world. The interesting discovery—that the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Turks—was once made possible by combining cutting-edge genetic and computer modeling techniques.
Iskenaz, Eskenaz, and Ashanaz are three Turkish villages on a historic Silk Road path that still exists today as a part of the unique Ashkenazi homeland, according to the study, which was directed by Israeli-born Dr. Eran Elhaik.
The majority of today's population is thought to be descended from Greeks, Iranians, and other people who colonized what is now northern Turkey more than 2,000 years ago, according to the largest Germanic analysis ever conducted on Ashkenazi Jews.
According to Elhaik, they converted locals to Judaism by using Jews from Persia, whose empire at the time housed the biggest Jewish population in the world. He said that the word "Ashkenaz" likely originated from Ashguza, the historical name for the Scythian people who lived in the Iron Age on the Eurasian steppes during the Assyrian and Babylonian periods.
Yiddish's simultaneous analysis reveals that it was once a Slavic language, and the experts believe that Jewish traders traveling along the Silk Road, which connected China and Europe 1,200 years ago, developed the language. The Jewish converts only traveled west, into central Europe, and came into contact with German-speaking peoples when the Khazar Empire collapsed some 1,000 years ago.
The University of Sheffield's Elhaik and his team published their research in the peer-reviewed journal Genome Biology and Evolution, claiming that their work resolves a long-standing controversy regarding the Yiddish language's beginnings, which dates back 1,000 years.
They assert that "the opposing view suggests a Slavic basis with strong Iranian and vulnerable Turkic substrata, whereas the common view claims Yiddish has a German origin."
In contrast, their analysis "demonstrates that Greeks, Romans, Iranians, and Turks show off the very fine genetic similarity with Ashkenazi Jews," they write. "One of the most important difficulties in discovering out used to be the unknown geographical origin of Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jews."