In a study looking at the genetic diversity of Spaniards published yesterday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, scientists found that about 11 percent of Spaniards have North African ancestry while almost 20 percent, Sephardic Jewish. Analyzing Y chromosome haplotypes in 1140 males from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands, the work suggests that many more immigrants to Spain converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th and 16th centuries than was previously known or believed, say two New York Times stories. The data confronts two separate histories of Spain, writes Nicholas Wade, "one holds that Spanish civilization is Catholic and all other influences are foreign, the other that Spain has been enriched by drawing from all three of its historical cultures, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim."
Unrelated to the study but in the same vein, a first-hand commentary in Forbes from someone who had her genome analyzed as part of the Genographic Project relates how she feels about finding out that her Spanish Catholic ancestors were themselves descendants of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews. "My results from the Genographic Project didn’t quite rock my world, but they were surprising," she says.