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Spanish Inquisition couldn’t quash Moorish, Jewish genes

Finding suggests modern history, not just prehistory, can leave a strong mark on a region’s genetic signature

Hold the history book presses. The Moorish invasion of Spain was never completely repelled, a new genetic analysis reveals.

As many as one in 10 men from Spain and Portugal still carry genetic evidence of North African ancestry, and nearly twice that number had Sephardic Jewish ancestors, reveals a study in the Dec. 12 American Journal of Human Genetics. Those results don’t fit with expectations from the historical record.

Sephardic Jews, who were likely in the Iberian Peninsula since Roman times, were supposed to all have fled the region in the wake of pogroms and persecutions between the early eighth and 14th centuries. In the late 15th century, 160,000 Spanish Jews (Sepharadh is the Hebrew word for Spain) were expelled and then settled in other parts of the Mediterranean.

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