Steve Jones 1996 In the Blood:
God, Genes and Destiny
Harper Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-255511-5

The Search for the Lost Tribes

'Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the cbildren of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make the one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel. Ezek 37:19

No nation is more explicit in making a connection between land and people than is the State of Israel. For most of their history, the majority of Jews have been exiles. Winston Churchill, in a speech in the House of Commons in May 1939, at the grimmest moment in the Jewish ordeal described them as 'that vast, unhappy mass of scattered, wandering Jews whose intense, unchanging, unconquerable desire has been for a national home'. The very idea of Israel depends on the right of a people united by blood and experience to a country of their own. Nearly all Jews claiin symbolically or otherwise, the same ancient source; the patriarch Abraham, two hundred generations ago. The long list of 'begats' in the Book of Chronicles is said to have provoked nine hundred camel loads of commentary. Two ' and a half thousand years later, the first chapter of 1994 history of Judaism claimed that: 'A person is Jewish if he or she has a Jewish mother ... Biological descent rather than religious conviction is the crucial criterion.' Judaism is the most genetic of all religions. Whether that descent is figurative or literal is at the heart of what it means to be Jewish.

In spite of early episodes of exclusiveness (as whe Ezra insisted that non-Jewish wives be banned) there is not much in ancient texts about the role of the blood-line and the primacy of descent over conviction. In its early days, Judaism was anxious to convert other and its boundaries were fairly porous. Since then, though, a history of persecution and separation has made Judaism a more exclusive faith than it once was. The idea of the Jews as an extended family has gained new meaning. A family tree can, imperceptibly, evolve into the pedigree of a nation. If being a Jew depends on descent, then genes have something to say about who does, and who does not, belong. Biological science is alive and well in Israel, and there is an active interest in human inheritance. Much of it comes from a wish to understand genetic disease, but some arises from the desire to discover what affinity there might be among the Jews of the world. It involves a search for patterns of common ancestry and shared belief tracing back to the earliest history of the nation. Israel is, more and more, having to accept that genes show a conflict between the two.

(left) A detail from the arch of Titus, in Rome, erected to celebrate the destruction o Jerusalem in AD7o. Roman soldiers are seen taking spoils (including a menorah, th seven-branched candelabrum) from the Temple. The Arch was erected by the brother of the victorious general, Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, who later became Empero and built the Colosseum.
(Right) A representation of the Ark.

The vision of dispersal, re-gathering and collective descent goes back the scattering of the people of Israel - the Lost Tribes - by their enemies The tale begins with the fall of Megiddo in 722BC. As the Assyrian gloatingly recorded on a plaque, 27,280 people were deported from th Northern Kingdom. Most were never seen again. The Souther Kingdom, Judah, survived. Within it lived the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. All the tribes descended from the twelve sons of Jacob. Thos lost from sight were the dynasties of Reuben, Simon, Issachar, Zevulun Manasseh, Ephraim, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The banishment of the Tribes was just the beginning of a history of exile. In 586 BC Judah, too, was conquered, this time by the Babylonians. Solomon's Temple was destroyed. Fifty years later, Babylon in its turn was overpowered by Cyrus of Persia. A few of the Jews returned to Palestine but most set off on a journey across the world, the Diaspore. In AD70 there was a war between the Jews of Palestine and their Roman occupiers It led to another great scattering of the Jewish people. The conflict was a disaster not matched until the unique horror of the holocaust.

A French version of the universal European myth of the Wandering Jew; supposedly Jew who had refused to allowJesus to rest his Cross at his door on the way to Calvary was condemned to wander the earth until the Second Coming. The myth became a convenient excuse for anti-Semitism and, in an irony lost to those who promoted it, the people driven from their homeland were accused of having left because of their own iniquity.

According to the census of the Emperor Claudius in AD48, there were eight million Jews in the Empire, two and half million of them in Palestine. This have been an overestimate; but a century later the number of Jews in Palestine had declined to well below a million and by AD400 there were probably no more that a million or so Jews in the whole Roman empire.

Most of the fourteen million Jews alive today claim descent from the survivors of the conflict with Rome. Their historic and genetic trail can be traced, with its many diversions, to the modern world. Only a few of the inhabitants of Israel (including many Samaritans) stayed in the native land and can claim an unequivocal link with the ancient kingdom Some of them, though, were later rejected by the exiled Jews who returned to the Promised Land. Biblical prophecy has it that the Diaspora must be complete - with Jews scattered to the ends of the earth - before the Messiah can appear. The hope of fulfilling the vision was one of the forces leading to the formation of modern Israel and, in surprising ways, to political change other parts of the world. One Israeli political group is quite explicit abo the biblical foundations of its policies: according to the Agudah religious party 'The world was created for the sake of Israel ... the raison d'etre of the world is the establishment of the Torah in the Land of Israel.' This dream is reflected in some unlikely places. Each year at the Conference of the British Labour Party, after the compulsory a somewhat sheepish singing of 'The Red Flag', there is a more fervent rendition of the hymn 'Jerusalem'. William Blake's words are glorious; Bow of Burning Gold is part of every child's memory of school. The Jerusalem seen by Blake as rising in England's green and pleasant land is to those who sing the hymn, a symbol of the new society that may so day arise from the ashes of the old. For Blake, though, his words were not a parable but a plain statement of fact. With many others of his time he saw Britain as the site of the Jerusalem at which the elect would gather at the Second Coming. The British (said by true believers to be the Brit-Ish, or Men of the Covenan were a noble race, remnants of a Lost Tribe of Israel. In his long a somewhat unreadable poem Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion Blake had a carefully planned mental geography of Britain as t promised land. Some of it has an implausible feel - 'The fields from Islington to Marybone,/ To Primrose Hill and Saint johns Wood/ We builded over with pillars of gold,/ And there Jerusalem's pillars stood but the agenda was clear. Britain was great because it was chosen by God its fate was ordained. By ruling much of the world it was doing nothing more than fulfilling prophecy. In the poem he addresses the Jews: 'Yo ancestors derived their origin from Abraham, Heber, Shem and Noah who were Druids: as the Druid Temples (which are the Patriarchal Pillars and Oak Groves) over the whole Earth witness to this day.

The High Priest of the Samaritans on his Mt. Gerizim home, just before celebrating passover.
Mt. Gerizim overlooking Nablus the site of the Ancient Samaritan temple.


A few inhabitants of Israel can trace both a biological and a religious heritage from the time of the Tribes. They do not need the Law of Return, as most of them never left. They demonstrate the difficulties of fitting into a society that depends on ancestry Not all the people of the Northern King- dom were exiled. The City of Samaria and its surrounds were spared. Its inhabitants practised their own form ofjudaism. Over the next three thousand years, their land passed to Babylo- nians, Romans, Christians and Muslims. Its occupants, the Samaritans, kept their faith. They still regard themselves as closer to the teachings of Moses than are other Jews. Most stayed in their native place and stuck to their piety in the face of endle@s attack. During the decaying years of Turkish rule, at the turn of the present century, their number dropped to a hundred and forty-six from what had been three hundred thousand. Their descendants are concentrated around Nablus (the ancient Shechem) on the West Bank with another group in Holon, a suburb of Tel-Aviv. Their shrine overlooks the town from Mount Gerizim, upon which they had been allowed to build a temple by Alexander the Great. Although the temple was destroyed long ago, there are still pilgrimages to the mountain. Some Samaritans still live in Nablus itself, but with increasing political tension a well-guarded settlement has been built on Gerizim, safe from Palestinian attack. The main festival is at Passover. In an elabo- rate ritual, prayers are said, sheep slaughtered, and the story of the Exodus recited. The Samaritans' unbroken lineage within the Holy Land gives them a less equivocal tie with the Land of Israel than anyone else. They are, they say, the direct descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Until the seventeenth century, dieir High Priest could trace his ances- try straight back in the male line to Aaron. One patriarch then failed to have a son. The Samaritans took their laws seriously, and the priesthood passed to a family of Levites. They themselves descend, through males, from the Servants of the Temple.

Genetics shows that the Samaritans retain a distinct identity. Their exclusiveness has made them the most inbred population in the world, linked by both genes and history to the People of the Book. Their adherence to strict marriage practices means that even within the Samari- tans there are genetically distinct family lines who avoided intermarriage for centuries. As in the remote villages of Finland, such isolation and shared descent means, inevitably, that harmful recessive genes are likely to manifest themselves as those with common ancestry meet and have children. Among the Samari- tans, an inherited form of deaf-blindness is relatively frequent. It was first recorded long ago, but only now has the gene been found. Although Samaritans are now prominent members of the Israeli nation, much admired for retaining their ancient settlement, their acceptance is new. Amcient theological schisms between Samaritans and Jews turned on how many commandments, how many books of the Bible and how many holy days there are. They were used for two thousand years to deny them a birthright. The Good Samaritan of the New Testament belonged to a despised minority. When, in the nineteenth century, Samaritans exiled in Cairo and Damascus began to flee to Israel in the face of persecution by Islam, they were not welcomed by most Jews. Instead, many were sheltered in Christian monasteries. Having a descent from ancient Israel was not enough: a link with a precisely defined set of religious practices was demanded as well.

The idea that Britain was Israel grew with the Empire. The Metropolitan Anglo-Israel Association was founded in 1878 wuth the Bishop of Rangoon on the council. By the 1930s it could attract thousand to its annual meetings, many of them aristocrats. Its roll contained two duchesses, a marchioness, two earls, three countesses, barons, thirteen baronesses, nine baronets and a wide selection of knights, admirals and generals. All were convinced that the Briton was a lost tribe, ordained to rule the world. Dr Price, William Blake and the British Israelites were in a tradition of claims that biblical figures had visited the British Isles. Jose Arimathea planted the sacred thorn at Glastonbury; the Stone of which sits under the throne upon which English monarchs are crowned is the pillow upon which Joseph slept at Beth-El. It was taken to carried by the exiled Children of Israel to Antrim, passed to Scotland, and thence to London in 1291 by Edward the First. In the 1950s it had a brief and ignoble trip back to Scotland when it was stolen by a group of Scottish Nationalists as a political stunt. The return of the Jews to England was itself tied to the story Lost Tribes. Two centuries before Blake, the English Puritans said the Second Coming as close at hand. It could, they thought, take place when, as the Bible promised, the Jews were reinstated in their homeland. The Puritans lived in the manner of the Old Testament as far as they were able. The Chauncy family named their children Isaac, Ichabod, Barnabas, Nathaniel and Israel. Thomas Tamy had a revelation that he was a 'Jew of the Tribe of Reuben'. He took the disclosure seriously. After circumcising himself he claimed first the throne of England then that of Rome. Denied both, he caused an affray at the House of Commons. His last recorded appearance was his departure in a home-made boat English Channel, crying 'Ho for the Holy Wars'. In 1650 Menasseh ben Israel in his pamphlet Spes Israeli asked the Jews, expelled from England four hundred years earlier, be all to return to allow the Diaspora - the dispersion of the people of Israel to be completed before the Messiah appeared.

A page from William Blake's. Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion written between 1804 and 1820. The Giant Albion looks gloomily over the sea, contemplating Jerusalem, the Lost Tribes and the Temples of the Druids.

The Bible said 'The Lord shall scatter thee among all peoples from one end of the Earth even unto the other.' Menasseh 'conceived that by "the end of the earth" might be understood this Island'. This greatly excited the Millennarians of England. Explorers in America had claimed that Indian tribes, albeit scorched by th practised Jewish rituals and might well be the Lost Tribe of Reuben England had no Jews: they must be restored if the Messiah was to as ordained. Menasseh was invited by the Council of State to come to London from his home in Amsterdam, but war between England and Holland prevented his visit. Cromwell, though, pursued the idea gradually, the Jews began their return. A violent controversy follwed. Jews, it was said, were planning to buy St Paul's Cathedral and even the Bodleian Library; perhaps Cromwell himself was a Jew. Neverttheless they were restored. At first, the revival involved Jews already secretly living in England plucking up courage to proclaim their faith, but soon the country began to attract others from overseas.

To the true believer - William Blake included - the completion of the Diaspora was not enough. The Jews, and those Lost Tribes that might still exist, must be converted to Christianity. The effort persisted two hundred years. Lord Shaftesbury, the nineteenth-century Prime Minister, acclaimed the appointment of a baptised Jew as Angliclican Bishop of Jerusalem as 'An accomplishment of the prophecy of Isaiah (even though his congregation consisted of just eight converts). favoured the idea of a Jewish homeland: 'A nation must have a count The Old Land, the Old People. This is not an artificial experiment, it nature, it is history.' A Lieutenant Kitchener (later hero of Omdurman made a map of Palestine showing, as might be expected, the territories the Tribes. The Balfour Declaration Of 1917 stated that 'His Majesty's Governmentent view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People'. It marked the beginnings of today's Israel and has its roots, in part, in the affinity felt by many Britons for the Holy Land. Lloyd George, on meeting Chaim Weizmann in December 1914 discussed the question of Palestine, commented that the place-names involved were more familiar than those of the Western Front. The end of the First World War gave a real chance to realize the prophecy of return to the homeland. The disasters of the Second led, at last, to the establishment of the State of Israel. The Law of Return was drawn up in 1950- It is the formal statement the existence of Israel as a nation based on a shared heritage. It makes unequivocal promise: that all Jews have the right to reside in Israel. 1952 it was widened to allow even the spouses of those with a single Jewish grandparent to become citizens. Not until a 1970 amendment was there an attempt to define what is meant by a Jew in this context. 'A person who was born of a Jewish mother or who has become convert to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion'. Even then there remains an unresolved question. How is that Jewish mother be defined? Israel is the only country in the world to welcome all immigrants whatever their age, health, wealth, or politics, as long as they can find place on the national pedigree. More than two million have poured in the country under the tenets of the Law of Return. It has, though, a central ambiguity. What counts when it comes claiming citizenship? Are Jewish genes enough: are they even relevannt?

The founding of Tel-Aviv, the Hill of Spring, on a sand dune north of the then Ar of Yafo in 1909; an image of the desire for a return to the Promised Land.

Perhaps religion matters, or perhaps a combination of the two. Israel embodies the problems that arise when biology conflicts with belief. Some immigrants have been accepted as citizens although they have no links of blood with the Promised Land. This is true, for example group of Black Americans who live as practising Jews in Tel Aviv. 0thers perhaps as many as a hundred thousand of the Russians who migrated there from 1985 onwards - claim (often without evidence) some Jewish ancestry, but certainly have no ties of faith. There are many more would like to enter Israel. Their request is based, more or less tenuously on descent, on piety or on both. As well as DNA, everyone inherits a culture, a common history nowhere more than in Judaism where the identity of a scattered people was defined bytheir stubborn adherence to a shared way of life today - and those who hope to return to it - shows better than an else the ambiguities of a society built on ancestry. Is it necessary to descent from the Tribes, from the Kingdom of Judah, or from a recent Jewish ancestor?

Is descent, indeed, involved at all? Where did the Lost Tribes go after the Assyrian victory, and might they now be? Initially, they were exiled, beyond the Sambatyon: 'In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria cap Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and placed th Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan and the city of Medes'; now in Syria and Iraq.

The river itself should be easy to recognise as Pliny the elder noted, it rested on the Sabbath. This prevented the Tribes from fording it to make their way back to Israel, as it was too swift to cross on six days of the week, and Jews could not travel on the holy day. In some versions, the river consisted of sand and stones rather than water. A Jewish traveller to India reported hearing its roar from two days' journey away. It was seventeen miles wide and threw rocks as high as a house. Indeed, he said if its sand was kept in a glass it was agitated on weekdays and calm on the Sabbath. In spite of these clues the Sambatyon and the land beyond have never been identified. There is, today, no sign of the Lost Tribes in Syria or Iraq. They inust, it seems obvious, have moved on. As biblical prophecy could not be achieved before the Tribes were reunited, believers in its literal truth have always been anxious to identify them. The sons of Joseph reappeared whenever they were needed.

At the time of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zevi there was talk of the Tribes' advance to fight the Turks, then threatening Europe. The rumours grew so strong that in 1665 the Muslims of Tunis cancelled their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Many hope to enter Israel under the Law of Return. The legend of the exiled tribes has inspired them; and they claim the right to live in Israel on the basis of a supposed descent from those missing ancestors. They include groups from Africa, Europe, Asia and the New World. The idea of the chosen people is so powerful that it has been appealed to by some who have - apparently - only a flimsy link with the ancient Kingdom of Israel. A few have made their way to Israel, and practise as Jews. Although many admire their devotion, other Israelis take exception to the entry of people so obviously lacking a link to the homeland. They demand a stricter congruence between genetic and intellectual descent. The Lost Tribes have, metaphorically at least, come back to haunt the land from which they were driven. Israel's second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, was among the many who have searched for the living descendants of the biblical exiles. Some claims do seem frivolous. An immigration minister of the 1990s, faced with an assertion by Indian adherents of the legend, the Bene Israel, of the right of their fellows to migrate to Israel as they were the descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, accepted that they could; but only when the Messiah was there to greet them.

Those hoping to return to Israel at the end of the war were, understandably, masters of propaganda. The Exodus (once an American riverboat) sailed, packed with jews from camps in Germany, to Palestine - despite having been forbidden to do so. The Zionists arranged to broadcast the assault by the British sailors who attempted to stop them. Once returned to a French port, the four thousand five hundred Jews aboard refused to disembark, staying aboard in what they termed a 'floating Auschwitz'. After two British sergeants had been hanged (and their bodies booby-trapped) by Zionist terrorists, the British forced the refugees on transports back to Germany. The propaganda defeat that this represented helped to persuade Britain to abandon its role in Israel.

Pathans today claim the progeny of a tribe, as do Afghans and Burmese. Even Japanese are adherents to the idea, claiming membership of the Tribe of Zebulon. Some Jewish refugees from oppression during the Nazi period fled to Japan, where, in spite of the political alliance with their persecutors, they were welcomed. The Makuyo sect still claims a relationship with Judaism. Perhaps, they say, Shinto Temples (like the one at Miyajima) are copies of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Star of David, or something uncommonly like it, is on the Ise Shrine, the most famous of all. It is even said that the Japanese Royal Regalia, never seen by the outside world, includes a mirror upon which is engraved the word Jehovah.

A particularly potent story ties the Lost Tribes to Prester John, the Christian emperor who was supposed to have ruled an African kingdom, the biblical land of Ophir, full of gold. One of the great paragraphs of mediocre fiction reads 'I, Jose da Silvestra, who am now dying of hunger in the little cave where no snow is, on the north side of the nipple of the southernmost of the mountains I have named Sheba's Breasts write this in the year 1590 with a cleft bone on the remnant of my raiment, my blood being the ink. With my own eyes I have seen the countless diamonds stored in Solomon's treasure chamber behind the White Death . . .' Rider Haggard was well aware of the beliefs of his audience when, in 1885, he wrote King Solomon's Mines, set in a mountain range in East Africa. His book drew on his experiences as a colonial administrator in the Transvaal. Its plot was suggested by an extraordinary finding, made just a few years earlier. To the astonishment of the settlers - who had seen nothing like it elsewhere in Africa - there had been discovered in what later became Rhodesia the ruins of an abandoned city, Great Zimbabwe.


The Enclosure at Great Zimbabwe, on the plain below the Hill Fort. Walled town, palace, temple, or slave camp; what the building was for nobody really knows.

Cecil Rhodes at once identified its builders - and they were certainly not Africans. He wrote that 'Zimbabye is an old Phoenician residence and everything points to [it] being the place from which Hiram fetched his gold; the word "peacocks" in the Bible may be read as "parrots" and among the stone ornaments from Zimbabye are green parrots, the common kind of that district, for the rest you have gold and ivory, also the fact that Zimbabye is built of hewn stone without mortar.' Rhodes was quite unable to believe in the ability of Africans to build, without help, an object so magnificent.

He turned to the Old Testament as the source of the talented adventurers who had built the great city. Excavation began in the nineteenth century. Much was destroyed by the removal of 'native' work in a fruitless search for their Semitic founda- tions. The desecration was described as 'timely preservation work . removing the filth and degradation of the Kaffir occupation'. Most of the gold was melted down as it was merely African. Some scraps of cedar-wood excited great interest as they might have been the remains of Solomon's Temple. Modern research, including radiocarbon dating of the 'cedar' fragments, dates Great Zimbabwe to the thirteenth century. It was abandoned, for unknown reasons, in about 1450-It was the centre of the empire of Mwene Mutapa - the Great Pillager - trading even with China. Lost Tribes of Israel had nothing to do with it.

Rhodes' successor, Ian Smith, himself assumed that the city could only have been built by an extinct white-skinned people. His government prevented the publication of a guide book that dared suggest anything else. There is a certain irony in the fact that the downfall of the Smith government and of white minority rule was accompanied by a change in the nation's name from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. The myth still exerts its power, but now on an African, not a European, people.

The Lemba, who are dispersed across the northern part of South Africa and the south of Zimbabwe, claim to have built Great Zimbabwe. They have another and, on the face of it, less likely belief; to be themselves a tribe of Israel. Their ancestors came, they say, from the lost city of Sena, and travelled across Africa to build a new city. On the way they followed a great wooden drum - perhaps the Ark of the Covenant itself. Because they had broken God's laws by eating unclean food, they were forced to abandon their city and to live, like jews, scattered among people who do not share their beliefs. In the early days of South Africa they were known as President Kruger's Jews. The first Jew to open a butcher's shop in the Northern Transvaal would hire only Lemba as slaughtermen - further proof, perhaps, of their origins and the purity of their faith.

That faith today has clear Jewish elements. Lemba do not eat pork (hence the name: the 'people who refuse'), are circumcised and often use biblical names such as Solomon. They lay claim to a secret language, Hiberu. The Star of David and 'elephant of Judah' are everywhere in their homes. They believe themselves to be the descendants of the Sons of Sena named in the Old Testament among the Jews who came back from Babylon. There certainly is a city in the Yemen, Sana'a, to which manyjews were exiled and which, the Lemba say, sounds remarkably like their supposed ancestral home.

Great Zimbabwe today: the myth revised. Two Lemba elders, Professor M Mathiva and the Reverend William Masala Mani, dressed in his Hebrew prayer- shawl, in front of the Tower - claimed by thein to be a sacrificial altar of the Jewish faith of their Lemba ancestors - inside the enclosure at Great Zimbabwe.

Perhaps the most fantastical of all claimants to be Lost Tribes are in the Americas. The Indians' supposed history as a lost tribe had saved them: in the early days of South American exploration there was debate as to whether they were human at all, or whether they could be killed like beasts. Only the belief in Indians as a remnant of the tribe of Reuben prevented an even more complete destruction. But how could a band of migrants from the Middle East have got there, two thousand years before Columbus? How could anyone believe anything quite so implausible? In fact, the story of the Lost Tribes is very much alive in the United States. Many Americans have pursued the belief to - or even beyond - its logical limits.

The idea goes back to the early days of their nation. In 1837 Mordechai Manuel Noah published The Evidences of the Aerican Indians being Descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. He planned to establish a Jewish State, Ararat, near Buffalo, New York. His state came to nothing, but the vision of America as the destiny of the exiles from Armageddon has gained a power that affects the lives of millions. The story is tied to the visions of Joseph Smith and the history revealed to him by the Angel Moroni. According to the Book of Nephi, after a century of captivity the ten tribes escaped to the North. They passed through the unknown region of Arsareth and were then lost to mankind. Some of the theories as to where they now live are frankly speculative. They may be on another planet (as is the City of Enoch, which 'was translated or taken away from the earth ... is now held in reserve, in some part or portion of space ... not yet revealed'). In 1842 Philo Dibble preserved a drawing made by the Prophet joseph Smith himself showing the earth l'oined by a narrow neck to another sphere, home of the Tribes. A more plausible idea had it that the earth was hollow, with the tribes within. This theory was popular in the early nineteenth century, when a Captain Symmes had applied, without success, to Congress and to the Government of Russia for funds to find the entrance. Other Mormons believe the Tribes to be scattered among the peoples of the earth, lost only in identity, not in location.

Brigham Young himself felt that 'The sons of Ephraim are wild and uncultivated, unruly, ungovernable. The spirit in them is turbulent and resolute; they are the Anglo-Saxon race'. Saxon does sound suspiciously like Isaacson and many Mormons believe themselves, because of Brigham Young's words, to belong to the Tribe of Ephraim. Wherever they are, at the Second Coming, the tribes will return to the New Jerusalem to be built in Jackson County, Missouri.

The Mormon Church studies the monuments of the Aztecs and the Maya in the hope of establishing a link with the Hebrew peoples they suppose to have built them. They have a centre for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem, where attempts are made to search for a connection of the peoples of the ancient world with today's Mormons. This led to demonstrations by the Orthodox, infuriated by what might become a base to convert jews. Only by promising to avoid all discussion of religion have the Mormons been allowed to stay. A belief in ancestry can be pursued in many ways. Occasionally, as the Mormons have realized, the records can attach an aspirant to his desired past. Genes, though, can do more: they can uncover hidden links between the peoples of today - those who strive for Jewish status included - and tribes and homelands of long ago. The Jews, with their claim of common ancestry, have a particular interest in pursuing their family tree. For some, the task is relatively easy. Rabbinical families can trace their history as one rabbi succeeds the next; an event always carefully recorded. Many of their family lines converge on one individual, Rabbi Shelomoh ben Yishaq (Rashi, as he is known), who was born in Troyes in the eleventh century. As Rashl's descent from ancient Israel is itself chronicled, they can claim a direct link through him with the sons of Jacob. Some other inhabitants of Israel, such as the Samaritans, are also proud of their long family trees and can recite a dozen or so generations with no difficulty. For most Jews, though, searching for a tie with the Tribes by probing the records is a hopeless task. Fortunately, genes have come to the rescue. The Ashkenazim (from whom the majority of European and American Jews descend) moved from the east into the Rhineland in the ninth century, and from there into much of Germany, Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Russia. The family histories of their eleven million descendants are almost impossible to find as most had the good sense to avoid registration by a state likely to use the information against them. In mediaeval Europe, Ashkenazim named themselves, as in biblical times, after their father. Surnames (those attached to a family line rather than an individual) were not used until the eighteenth century. In Poland, they did not come into use until 1844. The millions of Jews with Polish ancestors can hence use documents to take them back for only a century and a half. The name supplied depended on what the family could afford to pay. The rich bought flowers or precious metals (Rosenthal or Goldstein), those less so steel (Stahl) or iron (Eisen). For the very poor there were nonsensical names such as Ochsenswanz (Oxtail) or Wanzenknicker (Bug-Squasher). Some names had associations with the Lost Tribes.

The DNA surname (or 'haplotype') of two torsion dystonia patients, and of the unaffected spouse of one of them. The gene itself, (mutated or normal), is shown as a circle; a series of ten variable sites near it on the DNA chain shown as vertical bars. The DNA variant present at each one is given a letter (chosen to represent a real surname here). All torsion dystonia patients share the same set of DNA variants near their damaged gene; distinct from that found in unaffected people. This suggests that there has not been enough time for this 'genetic surname' to be broken up as the generations succeed each other, so that the mutation must be quite recent.

Naphtali was, in legend, associated with a stag; hence Hirsch, Herzl, Hertz, Harzog and Harz (which, later, often became Harris). Ashkenazim though, possess another record; one which is, more and more, being used to unite Jews with their kin. They have genes almost unknown in other peoples that can be used to trace their movements across the world. About one Ashkenazi in four thousand has a genetic disease called torsion dystonia. This illness causes uncontrollable twisting movements. Occasionally these do not show themselves at all; and some- times they are so mild as to be scarcely noticeable. For a few patients, though, they are crippling. All those with the condition share exactly the same genetic damage in just the same place in the DNA. This suggests - as in the Finnish diseases discussed in a previous chapter - a single origin for the mutation. It arose only once, so that there is shared descent for all today's sufferers. The DNA around the gene also points to a common origin as it has not been disrupted by recombination. Imagine the gene to be a single letter in a family name - the letter'a', for example. The mutation changes this from, say, an 'a' to an 'e'.

The whole genetic 'surname' represents the set of DNA letters on either side of the gene itself. The surname, written in DNA, of every torsion dystonia patient is the same. This, too, suggests an ancestry stemming from a single individual. The mutated gene and the stretch of DNA surrounding it have both been preserved unchanged in all the descendants. The shared 'surnai-ne' can also be used to estii-nate when the mutation actually happened. To do so depends on the process of genetic recombi- nation that takes place when sperm and egg are formed. Unlike those in real names, letters in the genetic mes@age are reshuffled each generation. The further apart they are, the more likely they are to drift apart. Two DNA letters a long way from each other will often be inherited in a different arrangement in children compared to their parents. As each generation - each reshuffling of the cards - succeeds the last there is an increased chance that the original array is disrupted. Because there has been no change in the alliance of the torsion dystonia mutation with a lengthy set of DNA variants on either side there have been too few generations for the original order of letters to be broken up. The distance between the gene and its surrounding variants - the length of the surname - and the rate of reshuffling are both known. A simple sum dates the origin of the torsion dystonia mutation to only about a dozen generations ago. Any older, and the association would have been broken up by recombination. This dates it to about 1650. There were then about a hundred thousand Ashkenazim in Europe. Their numbers were reduced by pogroms: in Poland, for example, the Chmielnicki massacres killed a quarter of the population. In the eighteenth century, however, there was a massive growth among the jews of Central and Eastern Europe, largely because of their relatively good living conditions. In Frankfurt, Jewish life expectancy was forty-eight years, compared to thirty-seven among non-Jews. By i8oo the jews numbered two million and by igoo seven and a half million. The increase was concentrated among wealthy families, many of whom had ten surviving children. The poor left fewer progeny.

Most present-day Ashkenazim hence derive from a small proportion of the Jewish population of those days. Torsion dystonia probably became common because, by chance, the mutation arose in a family who left a large number of descendants. The mutation is now found all over the world. Wherever it is, its carriers can use their gene to retrace a journey from a single well-off household in a village somewhere in Poland or Lithuania three centuries ago. Disease genes can also help to track the history of otherjews. Cystic fibrosis is the commonest single cause of inherited illness among Europeans and is equally frequent among Ashkenazim. Both groups have cystic fibrosis mutations that reveal patterns of historic affinity. The disease is much rarer in Jews whose families originate around the Mediterranean or in the Middle East. Iraqi Jews have an incidence ten times lower than in Europe. In European non-Jews one particular mutation causes seven in ten cases of the disease. Among Jews, though, this mutation is found in only about a third of patients. Each Jewish group has its own characteristic set of cystic fibrosis mutations: among those from Tunisia one mutation - found only there and in Libya - causes half the cases. The differences point at ttie long history of separation of the groups. Ashkenazim are quite distinct from their Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern co-religionists in the incidence of the disease and in the mutations responsible. Any system of genetic variation - blood groups, enzymes, or diversity in the structure of DNA - can be used to trace the path of Jews, or any other group, across the globe.

The most obvious feature of the emerging map of the world's genes is that, in general, people are similar to their neighbours and less so to those living further away. Genetic distance and geography tell the same story. That sounds trite. It would, though, have been a shock to anthropologists of an earlier era, who saw the world as a palimpsest of ancient migrations. Hitler, no doubt, would be dis- appointed to learn that his blond Aryans (supposedly invaders from a distant land) were not very different from the jews he despised so heartily. There are, nevertheless, some subtle patterns in the genes that uncover the hidden history of those who carry them.

The genetic family tree of Jews from different parts of Europe shows that they are not a unique group, biologically distinct from other peoples around them. There is, though, evidence of common ancestry that gives Jews at least a partial identity of their own. In most places, there is overlap between the genes of the Jewish population and those of local non-Jews. There has been interchange; sometimes through recent marriage, but more often as a result of mating long ago. This is super- imposed upon the genetic affinity of Ashkenazim themselves. The effect is subtle, but the separation of European Jews from their non-Jewish neighbours - incomplete though it may be - is clear.

Genes link most of them together into a diffuse family. Sometimes genes confirm the details of history. Jews from Turkey have genetic ties with non-Jewish Spaniards, rather than with the local Turks. After a century of persecution, including the typical blood-libels and claims that Jewish sorcerers were brewing up poisons from spiders (earnestly proclaimed by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella) many Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Some twenty-five thousand found their way to Constantinople and the surrounding country. Their descendants in Turkey today retain the genetic links with non-Jews made before they were forced to move. Genes also hint at the nature of the interaction between Jews and others.

The Y chromosomes of Jews are - unsurprisingly - not all the same; the idea of the sons of Abraham is a symbolic one. They do show that many males, some only distantly related to each other, have contributed to the genes of European Jewry. On the average, most Jewish populations contain more diversity for male lineages than for female (whose history is recorded in mitochondrial DNA). This means that there has been more invasion of the Jewish gene pool by the genes of non-Jewish men than of women. The Y chromosomes of Jewish men from the Balkans are rather unlike those of other European Jews, perhaps because there was more admixture in this unstable part of the world.

Judaism itself is inherited down the female line - to be Jewish one's mother must be a Jew. The practice arose because in biblical times (and in Mesopotamia into the middle ages) some Jewish men had a Gentile wife (or concubine) in a polygamous family. Descent of faith hence had to be through the jewish mother. Later, in times of turmoil, whoever the father might have been (and it might be difficult to tell) the mother knew her children and could pass her heritage on to them. The extensive penetration of foreign Y chromosomes into the Jewish gene pool shows the value of this tradition.

Yemenite Jews, none of whom had ever flown before, en route froin exile on a return to
Israel in 1950; as prophesied, 'on eagles' wings'.

A history of conversion has also blurred the biological boundaries of Judaism. People change identities more quickly than they do genes, a fact noticed long ago. The Roman historian Tacitus lamented the disappearance of many of the Germanic peoples described by Caesar only a hundred years earlier. In the same way, nearly half the Indian tribes named by Lewis and Clark during their explorations of North America at the beginning of the nineteenth century had vanished by its end. The Germans and the Indians did not evaporate; they simply changed their allegiance. just the same can happen with religion. A whole people can switch its spiritual identity within a single generation. In general, Christianity is keener on accepting converts than is Judaism. In earlier times, though, Judaism too was a proselytizing religion. In AD 740, no doubt to general astonishment, the king of the Khazars (who had conquered the Crimea as his new Empire) embraced the Jewish faith. His kingdom and Israel are the only nations to have adopted it as a state religion. The Khazars stayed jewish for several centuries. Some claim that as Khazars moved to the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania they - rather than the people of Judaea - may be the ancestors of modern Ashkenazim.

There were also waves of conversion in the other direction. Before the Jews were finally driven from Iberia, many had been forced to profess Christianity. Those remaining were expelled because of concem by the Inquisition that they might contaminate the new Catholics. There are still some Catholic families in Spain and Portugal who retain vestiges of Jewish practice; and one-third of the modern Spanish nobility is descended from Jewish converts.

Movement of people between faiths confuses the biological frontiers as, whatever their religion, their descendants will preserve the genes of their unconverted ancestors. Sometimes, a conversion long ago has genetic and political resonances today. Between 1948 and 1951 a whole community of devout Jews was air-lifted from the Yemen to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. It was one of the first and most dramatic statements of the Law of Return. The Yemenites saw themselves as a prototype of the Diaspore, driven from their native land and keeping separate from the Islamic people around them. Their dialect and religious customs are subtly different from those of other Jews. They are, in some ways, a living fossil of ancient Judaic practice.

While other Jews have changed, those in the Yemen have stayed the same, holding steadfastly to their beliefs. They trace their origin to the days of King Solomon, a thousand years before Christ, to a small group of Jews who arrived at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula - in fact to the city of Sana'a much later claimed as a homeland by the Lemba. Jews certainly did migrate there more than two thousand years ago. Soon, though, there were some remarkable developments. From the fourth century onwards, the paganism of the locals began to give way to a religion in which one God was elevated above others. By AD 500 most of the state was Jewish. However, this brief flowering of Judaism in a foreign land did not last. In one of the forgotten religious conflicts of history, the Yemen was, in AD 525, defeated by Christian invaders from Ethiopia.

Some Jews remained. Who they were, history does not say. Perhaps they were - as modern Yemenite Jews believe - the original group who had moved to the Yemen centuries before. Perhaps, though, they retained no direct connection with those migrants from Israel. There was, no doubt, plenty of mixing with the locals when the state had taken up Judaism. What is more, some of those who retained a Jewish identity when the Yemen fell to militant Christianity may themselves have been converts, with no biological descent from Israel at all. The Christian Kingdom was defeated by Muslims in AD 628. In a Writ of Protection, Mohammed gave instructions not to convert the remaining Jews. By so doing, he set the agenda of tolerance for other religions which characterized Islam for much of its history.

From the eighth century onwards, the Jews of the Yemen began to live separate lives. More and more, they were confined to humble trades; smiths, weavers, and collectors of human waste. Perhaps in rejection of their Islamic neigh- bours (who avoid alcohol) Yemenite Jews are almost unique among their co-religionists in their acceptance of it. Their community persisted through the dismal years of the Ottoman empire. By 1948, the Yemen was in uproar. To save them, the Jewish Agency flew the whole community - as predicted in Exodus 'on eagles' wings' - to Israel. Many of the Yemenites are still in their original settlement of Rosh Ha'ayin, near Tel-Aviv, once a British air-base. Scholars see them as practising a pure and undiluted form of Judaism that has persisted since the Diaspore. Their own vision of history is one of separation and a refusal to mix with members of other faiths, giving them a unique and unbroken link with the earliest days of Israel. The genes tell a more equivocal story. The Yemenites are, in fact, biologically distinct from other Jews. None of the cystic fibrosis muta- tions found among Yemenites is present in other members of their faith; and none of the screening tests for the disease effective in nine-tenths of world jewry can be used in those of Yemenite origin. What is more, some genes for blood groups and enzymes common in Yemenites are not found in other Jewish groups, but are frequent in Arabs. Some genes link them to Ethiopians; and some are found only among the Yemenites themselves. Their biological heritage reflects, not unbroken descent from the people of Israel at the time of Solomon, but intermixture, due partly to inter- marriage and partly to conversion at the moment when their state briefly took up the Jewish faith. Many of those returning on eagles' wings to what they saw as their ancient home were in fact being exiled from the land of their ancestors. This discovery caused a certain embarrassment to those who made it and has still not been widely advertised in the Yemenite community.

Judaism has gained much of its resilience in the face of two thousand years of persecution through its vision of being an extended family. The new insights into genetic exchange between Jews and others contain a dilemma. How is the family to be defined? By strict laws of descent, or by accepting that there is more to Judaism than genes? There are inevitable differences between a heritage based on faith and on Mendel. Many people have an ambiguous relationship to Judaism but lay claim to a place in the Holy Land. For most, their declaration of Jewish ancestry is just illusion. The Lemba doctrine that they came from the North and were the builders of Zimbabwe seems to be little more than this. The Star of David, their favoured symbol, did not come into wide-spread use as a symbol of Judaism until the middle ages and could not have been brought to Africa two thousand years earlier. Hiberu is, in spite of its name, closer to the African language Shona than to any middle eastern tongue. There is indeed a city called Sana'a in the Yemen, but there are also candidates for the mythic Sena much closer to home. The Lemba have been accused of merely incorporating the nineteenth- century European obsession with Judaic builders of Great Zimbabwe into their own myths and defining themselves as the Lost Tribe who built it; a noble past based on wishful thinking.

All this might appear to dispose of any claims of descent from Semitic ancestors; but in the pedigree of the Lemba there is a surprise. Most of their genes - blood groups, enzymes and the like - unite them with the African peoples around them. However, those on the Lemba Y chromosome (passed, of course, down the male line) have a different origin. On a family tree of the world's male lineages the Lemba are linked, not with Africans, but with the Middle East. The Lemba legend of their origin contains a hidden truth. Some of their heritage is indeed shared with the people of the Bible. The tale of how those genes reached Africa is more prosaic than that of a band of exiles fighting their way across the continent to build a great temple. The town of Sayuna in Mozambique was a centre for Arab traders (many setting out from Sana'a) for hundreds of years. Africans - including the ancestors of today's Lemba - traded there and learned Moorish customs, circumcision and ritual slaughter included. The Arabs took wives from the coastal tribes. Their children were brought up in Islam. In the sixteenth century, Sayuna was destroyed by the Portuguese, and its A-rabic culture disappeared. The Lemba, though, retained memories of Solomon and Moses, both of whom are as important in Islamic as in Judaic belief Rather like the Falasha of Ethiopia (whose Judaism may derive from an attenuated form of early Christianity stripped of its New Testament elements) Lemba Jewishness stems in part from a diluted and almost forgotten Islam. Compared to the Falasha, indeed, they have a closer tie to Israel. The genes (Y chromosomes included) of the Falasha unite them, not with the Middle East, but with other Africans. Both the beliefs and the genes of the Lemba contain an important message for those who depend on ancestry to define nationhood.

Cultures and genes can both be transmitted without the need for one people to supplant another. The Lemba have no direct intellectual connection with Judaism, but picked up its elements from a related source. No member of the tribe has had uninterrupted genetic contact with the Middle East: they are not a Lost Tribe, but, manifestly, black Africans. However, some of their genes came from middle-easterners who once took mates on the coast of Africa. Since then, those alien Y chromosomes have diffused for a thousand miles inland from the point of contact. The Arabs did not replace the Lemba and the coastal peoples did not dislodge those living in the interior. Instead, genes were passed down the generations and across the landscape by mating. One population absorbed part of the genetic heritage of another, but had no sense of being supplanted by it: genes moved far further than any individual did.

This disengagement of the fate of genes from that of their carriers is central to population genetics. Anthropology could, in its early days, see only one way for genes or cultures to travel: with a marauding band of invaders. It had an oddly Puritan view of the past that disregarded the simple truth that conquest is a less powerful force than sex. In the same way as religions spread more by conversion than by the sword, genes travel across the globe with the more or less willing participation of those who transmit them. History is a story of love as much as war. Mass movement - of Lost Tribes or anyone else - is not needed. Dr William Price, Thor Heyerdahl, and their successors saw the spread of genes as a journey with no breaks. They are brought by their carriers, like an express train, from source to destination, without a stop, replacing the genes of its original inhabitants. The truth is more mundane. The voyage of a piece of DNA from its origin is a slow and tortuous process involving many delays and changes. The vehicle - the individual - within which a gene starts its journey never reaches the final stop; but the gene itself, accompanied by others whose voyage started long after those boarding on the first leg of the journey, does. Genes move through people, not just with them. Most maps of the geography of genes do not reconstruct mass migrations, or lost tribes, but 'ust the exchange of DNA between men and women over many years.

This leakage of genes between peoples and over vast distances can be seen in Jews today. There has already been exchange between them and their neighbours. Now, it is speeding up. In many places, Jews are merging with local non- ewish populations by intermarriage. In 1950, more than eight marriages in ten of Jews was to a person of their own faith. Forty years later, the United States census estimated that fifty-two per cent of Jews who married did so to a non-Jew. In Germany, the proportion of mixed marriages was nine in ten. As a result, the numbers identifying themselves as Jewish has, outside Israel, dropped by around three million from the eleven million or so who claimed this status in 1948- In Europe in 193 9 there were ten million Jews. After the war there were four million. In i996, there are fewer than half that number. In Britain, the Chief Rabbi has written a book entitled Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? With nearly half of all British Jews marrying outside the faith he has reason to be concerned.

What were once specifically Jewish genes (such as torsion dystonia) are, as a result, seeping into other groups. The same is true, of course, of genes coming the other way. Jews have a low incidence of phenyl-ketonuria (an inborn inability to break down a food substance which can lead to mental impairment); but, in time, as intermarriage goes on, the descendants Qf today's Jews will begin to show its effects. The centre of gravity ofjudaism in terms of population density moved out of Israel long ago. Ever since the Diaspora, there have been more Jews living outside the Promised Land than within it. By 1880, around three-quarters of world Jewry lived in Europe and Russia. By 1939 a third had migrated onwards to the United States, shifting the hub even further west. The Holocaust reduced the number of European Jews by almost two-thirds. This, the greatest of all Jewish catastrophes, continued the move of the Jewish pivot westwards, further from the ancestral home. Migration was accompanied by increased assimilation of Jewish genes by others. In the nineteenth century, absorption was much further advanced in western Europe than in Poland.

Many French Jews were shocked by the Dreyfus case Of 1894 (in which the false conviction of a Jewish soldier on a charge of treason unleashed a storm of anti-Semitism) as they thought themselves well integrated. Already, there had been extensive intermarriage between Jew and non-Jew in France. In Britain, the process had gone even further. Many Jews had become fully absorbed: Benjamin Disraeli (who himself wrote a novel based on the theme of the Return of the Lost Tribes) was baptised a Christian by virtue of his father's quarrel with the elders of his own synagogue. In the United States intermixture is well advanced. The process is self-generating: three-quarters of the children of couples from the two different faiths are themselves brought up as non-Jews and are hence likely to marry someone from outside Judaism.

The history of European Jews over the past two centuries is one of the migration and dilution of genes away from an ancient centre. Population growth led to movement, those who moved exchanged genes with their neighbours, and as the process went on, generation after generation, integration became more and more complete. The process is known as 'demic diffusion', the genetic absorption of one population by another. Who assimilates whom depends on numbers. Inevitably, in Europe and America, Jews are being absorbed into the more numerous peoples who surround them. The genetic identity of European Jews was stronger fifty years ago than it is today. It will be weaker yet fifty years from now; but even if cultural homogenization goes so far as to reinove any clues as to which populations were once Jewish, the record of their genes will remain.

Genes can trace a nation's history further into the past than can any record, even one as venerable as the Old Testament. The new map of the world's genes hints at a surprising truth: there may indeed have been a lost tribe, millions strong, emerging from the Middle East to lose its cultural, if not its biological, identity as it moved across the globe. The peoples bound together by this common genetic history range from the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal and from the North Cape to Ceylon. The first clue came from language. Shared words can make a family tree of the languages of the world. Some are close relatives - English and German, say; others less so. English and Sanskrit - an extinct tongue once spoken in the East - seem quite distinct but, 'father' in English is 'pitah' in Sanskrit, showing their shared ancestry. Both are members of a larger family known as Indo-European, which includes tongues as different as Bengali, Albanian and Welsh. Other languages, too, can be grouped into families. Altaic, for ex- ample, includes Turkish and Mongolian, while the Uratic group includes Finnish, Hungarian and the Samoyedic languages of Siberia. This shows that languages, like genes, evolve. Although the mechanisms of change are different, both retain vestiges of a history that can be used to trace relationships among them.

Humans are obviously kin to chimps, less so to lizards, and scarcely at all to yeasts. A few yeast genes, though, are identical to our own. They show how, long ago, men and yeast shared an ancestor. In the same way, certain words evolve slowly and their ancient origins can be traced. One vast group of languages - the Nostratic group - unites Welsh with Samoyed, Mongolian with French, Tibetan and Berber.

At the beginnings of farming: a skull covered with plaster, with cowrie shells as eyes. From Jericho, before the appearance of pottery, nine thousand years ago.

How did people now living thousands of miles apart come to speak languages descending from the same source? The answer lies in the family tree written in the genes. It suggests an intriguing truth in the legend of the Lost Tribes of Israel and puts the idea of an ancestral homeland around the Jordan into a new light. Peoples separated by great distances naturally diverge. Isolation itself promotes change: in genes - just as in languages - there are chance fluctu- ations that cause populations to drift apart. In many places the geography of words and of genes lacks any common pattern. In Africa there is not much consistency in the word for 'dog' or 'fire' between Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya, and an equivalent lack of shared geography for, say, different blood groups. Each population has evolved without contact and changes in language or in genes have taken place independently. Superimposed on the speakers of Nostratic tongues, though, are genetic trends that accompany those of language. Both radiate from the Middle East to the north, west and east. They are consistent for fifty or more genes and for hundreds of words, suggesting that a common force produced them all.

The effect is strongest among speakers of Indo- European languages, but exists in the Altaic group as well. Only the peoples of the African shore of the Mediterranean seem not to fit: although they once spoke Nostratic, they do not share in the trend. Why do lines of shared biological and cultural descent point towards a common centre for such distinct peoples? One theory turns on an exodus, seven thousand years before the Lost Tribes. Farming began in the Middle East, around the valleys of the Jordan and the Euphrates, about ten thousand years ago. From there it spread, reaching the western edge of Europe around five thousand years later and the Far East at about the saine time. just as in the Jewish population of Central Europe, the economic success of the first farmers led to a population explosion. Soon, they began to move away from their crowded homeland into the lands of their hunting neigh6ours. Some of the hunters, no doubt, mated with the incomers; others moved from hunting to farming. The newly mixed population, and their offspring, moved step by step across the globe. Slowly, one population became integrated into the other, the farmers soaking up the genes of the hunters into whose lands they moved. The process is at work today. African fertility is four times that of Europe. In Rwanda, the average couple has 8.5 children; while in Italy the figure is 1.3- Migration has already begun. Whatever politicians might wish, there will be mass movement from South to North and, sooner or later, an absorption of European genes into a population of partly African ancestry.

As the genes of the farmers travelled further from their source, they were diluted by those of the hunters already there. Perhaps, thousands of miles away from where the farmers began their Journey - on the shores of the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic - their distant descendants possessed (as do the Lemba) 'ust a few lineages linking them to their distant homeland. The radiation of bloodlines from a centre is due to an ancient emigration from the Middle East and its peoples' assimilation of their neighbours' genes. It contains the solution to the mystery of the Lost Tribes. In fact, they never were lost: instead they live on in the inheritance of a thousand million people alive today. The Tribes can never ret-urn as their heritage has been diffused among their innumerable descendants, who know nothing about a historic link with the Middle East.

In Israel itself, though, there is a new genetic return that is the mirror of the ancient diffusion from the farmers' homeland. The social changes - intermarriage and small families - affecting Jews outside Israel apply to a smaller extent in the Holy Land itself. The numbers identifying themselves as Jewish are increasing there as they decline everywhere else.

Israel is beginning to contain proportionately more of world Jewry than it has for many years. This is due in part to the disaster of the Holocaust which destroyed the Jewish population of Europe; but it arises mainly from changes in demography, the persistence of an older pattern of life in Israel while for Jews elsewhere the modern world has taken over. The reinstatement of Jews to their ancient home is by population growth rather than immigration. Jewish genes are returning in just the same way as they left ten thousand years ago: not contained in a wandering band of exiles, but on a journey throught time and space directed by changes in the societies (most notably the rate of population growth) of those who bear them. What, then, of the ashes of Dr Price, the visionary of the Welsh as a people banished from that Promised Land? To him, Wales was a special place: the site of the New jerusalem. Now there is evidence that, in quite a different way, it is indeed unique. Patterns of mitochondrial genes across Europe do not follow the trends found in those passing through both sexes. This suggests that - as in the Lemba or in European Jewry - most of the transfer of genes from the East was from invading males to local females. Women moved less, and their own genes stayed where they were.