Spain's Jewish, Moorish roots highlighted

NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Geneticists say DNA evidence suggests 20 percent of the population of the Iberian Peninsula has Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

Another 11 percent have Moorish ancestors, the New York Times said Friday. The findings suggest there were mass conversions to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries after Christian armies defeated Muslim control of Spain, the newspaper said.


The study, led by Mark A. Jobling of the University of Leicester in Britain and Francesc Calafell of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, was published online in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

"Despite alternative possible sources for lineages [to which] we ascribe a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion, whether voluntary or enforced, driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance that ultimately led to the integration of descendants," Jobling said in a release.

The findings were based on genetic analysis of 1140 males from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

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