Sociologists, linguists, ad historians have been fascinated by the origins of the Druze for over 1000 years. The Druze, who are concentrated in the mountainous regions of southern Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, is a sect of Islam with Hindu, Jewish, and Christian influences. The religion was actually started in Egypt during the reign of the sixth Fatimid Caliph named Al-Haki bi Amr Allah, who reigned from 996-1021.
After the Caliph’s disappearance in the mountains around Cairo, the Druze moved north, where Jewish explorer Benjamin of Tudela found them during his travels in the 12th century.
Geneticists recently began to trace the genetic roots of the sect, and discovered in 2013 that the genes of many Druze show that they originate in Turkey.
However, in a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Israeli researcher Dr. Eran Elhaik from the Department of Animal and Plant Life at the University of Sheffield in the UK discovered that the genetic roots of the community come from north eastern Turkey, Armenia, and Northern Iraq.
The research team took DNA samples from 400 Israeli-Druze and from over 1000 other Eurasians over the course of two years.
What they discovered was shocking; The Druze are genetically closer to people in the Caucuses, Turkey, and Ashkenazi Jews then they are to any other ethnic group in the Middle East.
Dr. Elhaik says that the DNA origins of Ashkenazi Jews and Druze come from a mountainous area where several ancient villages whose names derive from the word “Ashkenaz” were found.
It is well known that Ashkenazi Jews lived in villages in what is now north eastern Turkey during the Middle Ages in an area called “Ancient Ashkenaz.” While the two communities would have coexisted during that time, it seems that at some point, the Jews moved north into the Khazar kingdom and onwards into Europe, while the Druze moved south into what is now Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.
“The two peoples – the Jews and the Druze – share a common origin. Benjamin of Teluda even commented on the affection the two communities had for each other. Its logical to assume that there were conversions and intermarriage in both directions between the communities.”