The main historical Jewish diaspora events are well known:
- 722 BC: Assyrians conquered the (Northern) Kingdom of Israel/Samaria, and many Israelites were deported to Mesopotamia or other places of the Assyrian Empire.
- 586 BC: Babylonians conquered the (Southern) Kingdom of Judah and many inhabitants were deported (Babylonian captivity). A considerable amount returned to southern Levant to contribute to the Hasmonean Kingdom (140-37 BC) which forced adoption of Juwish culture to Nabateans (Zabadeans), Itureans, Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites. The remaining Babylonian Jewry is considered to be the predecessor of most Mizrahi Jews.
- Hellenistic Judaism and opportunities in the Roman Empire as well as in other empires led to voluntary emigration of Jewish communities to Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Cyrenaica, Cyprus and Rome.
- 70 CE: Jerusalems destruction ended the first Jewish-Roman war with enslavement of Jews by Romans and reported Jewish diaspora to Parthia (Persia), Babylonia (Iraq), Arabia and to Adiabene (Kurdistan). Under Roman Anti-Judaism and colonisation the Jews lost their preponderance in their own homeland at least after 135 CE.
- During the Middle Ages, due to increasing geographical dispersion and re-settlement, Jews divided into distinct groups: the Ashkenazi of Central and Eastern Europe and Sephardic Jews of Iberia (Spain and Portugal), North Africa and the Middle East which had continuous communication and population transfer among them.
- Expulsions of Jews in Europe: 1290 from England 16,000; 1306 from France 100,000; 1492 from Spain ca. 200,000; since the 2nd millenium small but frequent expulsions from Germany.
- The Jews in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Middle Age quickly formed the larger part of the European Jews. Populations size estimates in thousands for the region: 1495: 10, 1550: 55, 1700: 285, 1765: 750
Estimates and assumptions
- Jerusalem at its fall 70 CE contained ca. 600,000 persons; together with nearby settlers and defenders possibly ca. 1 million. Of those surviving, ca. 100,000 were sold as slaves. Egypt in the first century CE probably had 1/8 Jews (ca. 1 million). The same population size is estimated for Syria and for Jews in other places.
- Slave populations may have served as the basis of later European Jewish communities.
- 1170 CE Benjamin of Tudela gives estimates with 10% of the Jews attributed to Persia and India, 10% to Arabia, probably 500,000 in total in the countries he visited, and 750,000 altogether.
- Modern Jewish ancestry probably owes about as much to converts from the first millennium to the beginning of the Middle Ages as it does to the Jews of antiquity (Howard Adelman, Elazar Barkan, Gil Atzmon).
- To a larger degree, modern Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of Jews who migrated into northern France and Rhineland-Germany (“Yiddish-culture”) around 800–1000 CE, later migrating into Eastern Europe. Many Ashkenazi Jews also have mixed Sephardic origins, as a result of exiles from Spain, first during Islamic persecutions (11th-12th c.) and later during Christian reconquests (13th-15th c.) and the Spanish Inquisition (15th-16th c.).
- A series of bottlenecks is assumed/confirmed: a) Exile from Israel b) Emigration from Italy c) Persecution in Europe d) Holocaust likely terminating many of the Y-, mt, and autosomal DNA diversity.
- 2010 studies (Atzmon et al, Behar et al) show autosomally modern Ashkenazi and Sephardi share a common ancestry and have roughly 30% European ancestry with the rest being Middle Eastern with a dominant Levantic component.
- 2014 a genomes study (Carmi et al.) compared 128 Ashkenazim to 26 Flemish finding a genetic bottleneck. Cochran improved the study estimates to 300-500 ancestors 30-38 generations (ca. 900-1150 years) ago and doubted the comparison is sufficient to estimate 46-50% European ancestry in modern Ashkenazim.
- The known Y-DNA ancestors of Ashkenazi and other Jews