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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Haplogroup J2 in the Maronites of Lebanon

A recent paper by the genographic consortium, Influences of History, Geography and Religion on Genetic Structure: The Maronites of Lebanon, demonstrates again the ancient and deep link between Haplogroup J2 and Lebanon. M172, Haplogroup J2 was the most frequent haplogroup found in all 3 Lebanese groups-Lebanese Muslims, Orthodox and Maronites. The frequency of Haplogroup J2 in the Lebanese Maronite community was 34.74%, one of the highest frequencies of M172 published to date. The study also showed however that Haplogroup J2 was found in 26.23% of Lebanese Muslims and 25.85% of Lebanese Greek Orthodox also being the most frequent haplogroup in these respective communities. The aim of the study was to describe the genetic structure of Lebanon and the effect of how social history may have contributed to genetic differentiation between these Lebanese religious groups. While the study did show some minor variance between the communities genetic structure, it revealed no significant distinction of major haplogroups. Supplemental data however did show that J2-M172 with DYS 391=9, often a characteristic of the L70 subclade of YCC Haplogroup J2a4h was almost completely limited to the Lebanese Christian population.

The Maronite community in Lebanon dates back to the 5th Century and is among the first Christian communities in the Near East. The liturgical language of the Maronite Church is Aramaic (Syriac). Their initial settlements were in the Mountains of Lebanon where they remained relatively isolated until the time of the Crusades. They are one of the largest Christian sects in Lebanon. The very high presence of Haplogroup J2-M172 among Maronites strongly suggests J2 was among the founding lineages of the community.