Why are 99% of my Ashkenazi DNA matches not in the Middle East or Central Asia?



I took DNA tests through four major services: familytreedna, 23andMe, ancestry, and NatGeo/Helix. I am identified no less than 85% Ashkenazi. I also ran my results through dnaland, gedmatch, and wegene. All identified more Euro-dna than the big-four.

My question is this. I received well over a thousand matches. If my K1a1b1a and GL1324 supposedly originated in the Near East as recently as a thousand years ago, how come 99% of my matches are in Europe, USA, and Australia? Shouldnt the frequency of matches be greater from the Middle East and Caucasious/Central Asia?


Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 213

4The Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Jews who immigrated to Germany and Central Europe thousands of years ago. They might not be as "clear cut" Middle Eastern anymore. That may explain why your tests have shown more European DNA than Mediterranean. – None – 2017-07-05T03:46:48.307

Due to my family name, history of our country (Jewish heaven several times in history) and physical traits, I do suspect I am descent from them...I live in Europe. – Rui F Ribeiro – 2017-07-05T12:12:52.810

@RuiFRibeiro. Have you ever suspected that you were a descendant of Sephardic Marrano Jews? Some people claim their families observed “mysterious” traditions such as having a special meal on Friday nights or limiting some form of activity on Saturday. – JJLL – 2017-07-06T01:11:26.947

1There are oral traditions both parts of my family came from Spain (there is doubts about the reliability of that from my father´s side). I do remember very vaguely about my mother insisting on special meals on Friday when I was a kid, and have even more remote recollections about the two facts you mention about my uncle talking about remote family. Come to think of it, that uncle should be the best person to ask. Thinks can get fuzzy though, as I suspect our great-great grandmother might have been a child born out of wedlock. – Rui F Ribeiro – 2017-07-06T08:35:55.583

1Fascinating @RuiFRibeiro. I am almost certain that your last name originates from the Iberian Peninsula meaning ‘river’ (as in Rivera). Although a loose association, I had a friend whose last name was Rivera. He had little knowledge of Judaism but told me that as a child he had mysterious dreams with images he later realized were Jewish. You never know..... – JJLL – 2017-07-06T18:46:39.260



I think the answer is simply that these DNA testing companies are all American companies and have primarily targeted the American, European, and Australian markets. I suspect they have a comparatively small number of customers in the Middle East and Caucasus.

  • 23andme only ships to 50 countries, and only two countries in the Middle East (Israel and Cyprus).
  • Ancestry DNA only ships to 35 countries, and only one country in the Middle East (Cyprus)
  • NatGeo only ships to 34 countries, and only one country in the Middle East (Cyprus)
  • FamilyTreeDNA will ship to most countries, notably not Iran

With the exception of FamilyTreeDNA, the other testing countries will have very few customers based in the Middle East or Asia. While FamilyTreeDNA does ship to other countries, most of their customers are American or European.

If everyone in the world was tested, you no doubt would have more strong matches in the Middle East and Caucasus, but until the testing companies expand their customer bases internationally you are unlikely to match with many people in that part of the world.

Harry Vervet

Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 17 763

Your answer makes sense. Interestingly, wegene is a Chinese company and they identified me 72%+ European (predominantly Balkan (36%) followed by Ashkenazi, Sardinian, and Hungarian) and 25% Middle East including 15% Egyptian and 8% Iranian. – JJLL – 2017-07-06T01:06:40.760


You could try MyHeritage DNA. They are the DNA Branch of MyHeritage based in Israel, and they have a larger portion of European and Middle East customers than the other DNA testing companies.

They just started their DNA testing about a year ago, so their number of testers is smaller than the other testing companies, but may be able to grow very large due to their 80,000,000 subscriber base for their main service.

I believe they still take transfers of raw data from another company for free, so you should take advantage of that while you can. https://www.myheritage.com/dna/upload


Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 16 148

Thank you @ikessler for the suggestion. I am having difficulty uploading my raw data to myheritage at the moment. I’ll try again later. – JJLL – 2017-07-06T00:51:29.443

Still can’t upload my raw data. Dumb question. Do I have to purchase the MyHeritage DNA kit before I can upload raw files from elsewhere? By the way, they are discounting their basic service for a limited time. – JJLL – 2017-07-09T23:19:30.150

@JJLL - Try: https://www.myheritage.com/dna/upload - You will have to create a free account if you don't have one there already.

– lkessler – 2017-07-11T04:25:38.770

Thank you. I did create an account but still can’t upload. It may have something to do with iOS 11 Beta – JJLL – 2017-07-11T15:57:19.603

@JJLL - I doubt if it is iOS. Check the instructions at: http://helpcenter.myheritage.com/DNA/DNA-Test/82928365/How-can-I-upload-a-DNA-file-to-MyHeritage.htm and also see: http://helpcenter.myheritage.com/DNA/DNA-Matching/82944328/Why-can-t-I-upload-my-DNA-data-file.htm - If that doesn't help, you should contact MyHeritage for no-charge assistance.

– lkessler – 2017-07-11T20:03:24.730

@ikessler. Success! The upload to My Heritage didn’t work using iOS File Browser (which I used for all uploads to other DNA sites). I used Dropbox instead. – JJLL – 2017-07-19T02:28:34.437

@JJLL - You were right then. It was iOS. Glad you were able to solve it. – lkessler – 2017-07-20T01:51:46.847


It's simply because the testing companies test people in the US and Europe more than anywhere else. Also, if you're looking for matches in Israel, where the most Ashkenazi Jews live in the Middle East, you're kind of out of luck since it's illegal in Israel to do a genetic genealogy test. It's for privacy reasons, and even MyHeritage, which is based in Israel, is not allowed to offer their tests in Israel itself.

Philip Trauring

Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 171

Philip Trauring. Thank you for the information. – JJLL – 2018-05-29T22:01:16.637


The first DNA test looks as if it was for a male line. Did you test for a gender other than your own? The auDNA TEST gets both genders but not every cranny. National Geographic is anthropologically oriented, not Genealogically. I took several tests before I found the auDNA test. Costly mistakes.

You can download a test's raw data through a gedcom or a gedmatch file. the ftdna.com tests can be downloaded directly and that avoids a whole unnecessary step, the gedcom.

R B Berg-Burnett

Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 75

I had full auDNA, mDNA, and yDNA testing done @rbberg-Burnett Thank you for the info – JJLL – 2017-07-11T19:17:55.110


couple that with most jews can no longer live in many of their former Sephardic countries.. significant portion have moved to US Canada Western Europe and former English colonies south Africa and australia

Shimon Rosenberg

Posted 2017-07-05T02:49:26.007

Reputation: 9