JEWS OF RHODES PROJECT - Results

INTERIM REPORT: JEWS OF RHODES PROJECT
Robert RUBIN MAYO, M.D., M.A.
November 7, 2008

The purpose of the Jews of Rhodes Project is to try to identify the original 50 families who were Iberian, Italian, and Romaniote Jews that existed in Rhodes in 1522. This will be done by studying the paternal lines (using Y DNA testing) and the maternal lines (using mitochondrial DNA testing) of Jews whose families had lived on the Island of Rhodes.

The Jews of Rhodes Project has had an incredible start. Over the past year, 46 people have enrolled. Thirty-one people have completed Y-DNA tests to ascertain more about their paternal lineages (father´s father´s father ... etc.). Twenty-one people have performed the mitochondrial DNA tests to discern more about their maternal lineages (mother´s mother´s mother ... etc.).

Of those people evaluated to date were several participants having the same surname: 2 ALHADEFFs, 2 BENVENISTEs, 2 HANANs, 2 HAZANs, 2 ISRAELs, 4 De MAYO / MAYOs, 3 MENASHEs, 2 PIZANTEs, and 3 RUSSOs. Each group of people listed above, who have the same surname, were found to descend from a common male ancestor, that is, they were from the same family, generations ago. Please note that the same Rhodesli surnames often have different spellings, even for the same family (such as MENASCE, MENASHE, MENASCHE, etc.) - so spelling differences do not typically point to a different origin or family.

There are 5 groups of people who have mitochondrial DNA matches. Each group descends from a distinct female ancestor along the maternal lines. One group was composed of 4 individuals. The oldest female ancestors along the maternal lines in that group were Reina ISRAEL, Behora Miriam NAHMIAS (daughter of Behora Tamar), and Mazaltov PIHA. Each of these women, who lived 150 to 250 years ago, are connected to a common female ancestor going back in time along the maternal branches of their families. The outcome of this group suggests that their common maternal ancestor likely lived in Rhodes before the year 1700.

Of the men tested, ancestors along the paternal lines of their families tended to have originated a few thousand years ago from Northern Africa and the Ottoman Empire. Along the maternal lines of the individuals (men and women), their ancestors originated from Europe, Western Asia, Northeastern Africa, and the Mediterranean area.

Surnames of Participants in the Y DNA Study:

ALHADEFF, ALTABET, BENON, BENVENISTE, BERRO, CODRON, COEN / COHEN, De MAYO, FRANCO, HANAN, HASSON, HAZAN / JAZAN, ISRAEL, LEVI / LEVY, MAYO, MENASHE, NOTRICA, PALOMBO, PISANTE / PIZANTI, ROUSSO / RUSSO, SURMANI, TARANTO, TREVES.

Additional Surnames of Participants in the Mitochondrial DNA Study:

ALMELEH, AMATO, CAPELLUTO, GALANTE, HAGIEZ, HALFON, MIZRAHI, NAHMIAS, NAVARRO, PIHA, ROZANES, TARICA, TOURIEL / TURIEL

By means of this investigation, many people have discovered new cousins and have been able to trace their ancestors back many more generations. If you are not already a participant, you can become involved in this project by e-mailing me at bob_rubin@hotmail.com .