The Botereid

Friday, October 08, 2004

Alexander in Afghanistan

The picture by itself, so unassuming at first glance, is remarkable for one who is as ignorant about Afghanistan as I.

Then again, this whole project attempting to identify descendants of Alexander's soldiers in Afghanistan is fascinating. Research of the type that Leeming has been doing makes me want to grab my bag, get a ticket, and march about the world.

One part of particular interest (this digression is used as support for the hypothesis):

The Cohenim
The Jewish priesthood is said to be descended from Moses’ brother Aaron. The Hebrew word for priest is kahen and Jewish tradition claims that the priestly caste is preserved in men surnamed Cohen. The laboratory tested a large group of male Jews called Cohen and found that 50% have a genetic signature signifying a common male ancestor who, if a constant mutation is assumed rate, lived in 2,100 to 3,250 BP (Before Present).

The oral traditions of the Lemba
The Lemba are a black, Bantu speaking group in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Their oral tradition claims Jewish descent. This is not uncommon. The myth of the ‘lost ten tribes’ exiled from Samaria in 722 BC is a powerful one, and as a legitimating myth of origins may be compared to royal houses claiming descent from Alexander. Indeed, the nineteenth century saw the establishment of a sect of ‘British Israelites’.

However, genetic testing of the Y chromosome showed the existence of the genetic signature of Cohen and a high level of genetic types typical of Jewish populations. Therefore, the Lemba’s oral tradition has gained considerable support as reflecting a genuine historical event.

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