Antonio Arnaiz-Villena is a Spanish immunologist noted for his controversial research into the genetic history of ethnic groups and fringe linguistic hypotheses.
In 2009, he worked at Hospital 12 de Octubre.
In 2010 he was invited to give a lecture in The French Academy of Sciences (College de France).
Jews and Palestinians
Arnaiz-Villena's research was internationally reported following the publication of a paper on the genetic history of Jews and Palestinians, which he co-authored in the journal Human Immunology in 2001.  This became controversial because of its assertions about the origins of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. Following strong criticism, it was withdrawn from the journal and deleted from the scientific archive. Also, academics who had already received a copy of the journal were urged to "physically remove" the article pages in a move that had no precedent in research publishing. The comments about Arab-Israeli conflicts were described as "extreme political writing", which included claims that Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon lived in "concentration camps". Arnaiz-Villena was removed from the journal's editorial board.
The decision was met with opposition from several academics. Andrew Goffey, a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University, England, observing that "it was conceded that the article had not been removed on the basis of its scientific evidence," failed to find anything offensive in the paper. Several scientists wrote to the publishers to support Arnaiz-Villena and to protest their heavy-handedness. One of them said: "If Arnaiz-Villena had found evidence that Jewish people were genetically very special, instead of ordinary, you can be sure no one would have objected to the phrases he used in his article. This is a very sad business."
Greeks and Sub-Saharans
Arnaiz-Villena et al. published five scientific articles, where, among other claims, they concluded that the Greek population originates from Sub-Saharan Africa and do not cluster with other Mediterraneans. The explanation they offered is that a large number of Sub-Saharans had migrated to Greece (but not to Crete) during Minoan times, i.e. predating both Classical and Mycenaean Greece. Those conclusions were related to the "Black Athena" debate and became embroiled in disputes between Greek and ethnic Macedonian nationalists.
They cited Dörk et al. for having found a marker on Chromosome 7 that is common to Black Africans and, among Caucasoid populations, is found only in Greeks. Dörk et al. did find an African-type of cystic fibrosis mutation in Greeks, however this mutation was extremely rare; it was detected only in three Greek families. The explanation they offered is quite different from Arnaiz-Villena's. Dörk et al. state: "Historical contacts—for example, under Alexander the Great or during the ancient Minoan civilization—may provide an explanation for the common ancestry of disease mutations in these ethnically diverse populations."
Hajjej et al. claimed to have confirmed the genetic relatedness between Greeks and Sub-Saharans. However they used the same methodology (same gene markers) and same data samples like Arnaiz-Villena et al.
Other authors contradict Arnaiz-Villena's results. In The History and Geography of Human Genes (Princeton, 1994), Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi and Piazza grouped Greeks with other European and Mediterranean populations based on 120 loci (view MDS plot). Then, Ayub et al. 2003 did the same thing using 182 loci (view dendrogram). Another study was conducted in 2004 at Skopje's University of Ss. Kiril and Metodij, using high-resolution typing of HLA-DRB1 according to Arnaiz-Villena's methodology. Contrary to Arnaiz-Villena's conclusion, no sub-Saharan admixture was detected in the Greek sample.
In a sample of 125 Greeks from Thessaloniki and Sarakatsani, 2 Asian-specific mtDNA sequences (M and D) were detected (1.6%). No sub-Saharan African genes were observed in this population, therefore, non-Caucasoid maternal ancestry in Greece is very low, as elsewhere in Europe. Additionally, in a sample of 366 Greeks from thirteen locations in continental Greece, Crete, Lesvos and Chios, a single African haplogroup A Y Chromosome was found (0.3%). This marks the only instance to date of sub-Saharan DNA being discovered in Greece. In another sample of 42 Greeks, one sequence of the Siberian Tat-C haplogroup turned up, while other studies with larger sample populations have failed to detect this paternal marker in the Greek gene pool and while its frequencies are actually much higher in Scandinavian and Slavic populations. Also, a paper has detected clades of haplogroups J and E3b that were likely not part of pre-historic migrations into Europe, but rather spread by later historical movements. Greeks possess none of the lineages denoting North African ancestry within the last 5000 years and have only 2% (3/148) of the marker J-M267, which may reflect more recent Middle Eastern admixture.
Jobling et al., in their genetics textbook "Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, Peoples & Disease", state that Arnaiz-Villena’s conclusions on the Sub-Saharan origin of Greeks, is an example of arbitrary interpretation and that the methodology used is not appropriate for this kind of research. Karatzios C. et al., made a systematic review of genetics and historical documents, showing great flaws in Arnaiz-Villena’s methodology and theory on the Greeks/Sub-Saharan genetic relationship.
Three respected geneticists, Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Alberto Piazza and Neil Risch, criticised Arnaiz-Villena's methodology. They stated that "Using results from the analysis of a single marker, particularly one likely to have undergone selection, for the purpose of reconstructing genealogies is unreliable and unacceptable practice in population genetics. The limitations are made evident by the authors’ extraordinary observations that Greeks are very similar to Ethiopians and east Africans but very distant from other south Europeans; and that the Japanese are nearly identical to west and south Africans. It is surprising that the authors were not puzzled by these anomalous results, which contradict history, geography, anthropology and all prior population-genetic studies of these groups." Arnaiz-Villena et al. countered this criticism in a response, stating "single-locus studies, whether using HLA or other markers, are common in this field and are regularly published in the specialist literature".
Arnaiz-Villena also co-authored a paper on the origins of Mesoamerican populations, which made claims concerning multi-ethnic origins of pre-Columbian populations in the area. The paper argued that the peopling of the Americas "was probably more complex than postulated by Greenberg and others (three peopling waves)", but noted that "Meso and South American Amerindians tend to remain isolated in the Neighbor-Joining, correspondence and plane genetic distance analyses."
Arnaiz-Villena et al. published two scientific articles, where, among other claims, they concluded that ethnic Macedonians are closely related to Mediterraneans, showing the closest genetic relatedness with Cretan Greeks but not with other Greeks.
Fringe linguistic theories
Arnaiz-Villena and Jorge Alonso-Garcia claim to have used Basque to decipher many of the ancient languages of the Mediterranean and Middle East which are known to be unrelated to Basque, including Egyptian, Hittite, Sumerian, Hurrian, Ugaritic, Akkadian/Babylonian, Elamite, and Phoenician, all of which they claim have been misidentified and mistranslated by the world's linguists and epigraphers for a century. They characterize mainstream research as "science fiction stories". Arnaiz-Villena's Egyptian translations, for example, include the cartouche of the bilingual Rosseta Stone in which Champollion identified the name of Ptolemy; in Arnaiz-Villena's interpretation it does not include that name, so that it is actually Arnaiz-Villena who deserves credit for deciphering the hieroglyphs. Similarly, in Arnaiz-Villena's interpretation the Code of Hammurabi contains "no hint of laws" but is a Basque funerary text, and his purported Basque material proper includes the Iruña-Veleia graffiti, which had been identified as modern forgeries by a multidisciplinary team half a year before his decipherment was published. They also claim to be able to read poorly attested languages such as Etruscan, Iberian, Tartessian, Guanche, and Minoan, which no-one else has been able to decipher with any certainty. They posit that these are all part of a "Usko-Mediterranean" branch of the speculative Dené–Caucasian language family, which they extend to include the Berber languages of North Africa. This thesis flatly contradicts basic Egyptological, Sumerian, Semitic, Indo-European, and Mesoamerican scholarship. Phoenician, Akkadian/Babylonian, Ugaritic, and Eblaite, for example, are transparently Semitic languages, and Arnaiz-Villena excludes the rest of the Semitic languages from his family; Egyptian and Berber along with Semitic have been demonstrated to be Afro-Asiatic, and generations of linguists have been unable to find a connection between Berber and Basque or Afro-Asiatic and Basque; and Hittite is widely acclaimed as a key in the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European, which Arnaiz-Villena acknowledges is completely unrelated to Basque.
De Hoz says their work "lacks the slightest value and is contrary not just to the scientific method but to common sense", and "is an unmitigated disaster which in principle should not be reviewed", but that he does so because it was published using public funds by the respected Editorial Complutense, which might give it undeserved credibility. He calls this a "crime" against legitimate research which has gone unpublished for lack of funds. Pichler likewise describes the "decipherment" of the Canary Island inscriptions as "comic", pointing out that Arnaiz-Villena "translated" an inscription of the alphabet as if it formed words (starting with "fire deceased earth prayer" in Basque), and also found it amazing that the university would publish his books. The "Basque" words he translated into are themselves dubious, including some that are modern neologisms and some that are loanwords from Romance languages, such as bake (from Latin pace "peace"), and which therefore can say nothing about ancient Basque connections. Lakarra, taking as a sample the list of 32 items entitled "Lenguaje religioso-funerario de los pueblos mediterráneos", provided by Arnaiz-Villena and Alonso as evidence for their decipherment, calculates that of the alleged Basque roots proposed by Arnaiz-Villena and Alonso, 85% are faulty or spurious, sometimes "verging on the clumsiest falsification", while even the remaining 15% is unclear.
Suspension and litigation
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In 2002, Arnaiz-Villena was suspended without pay from the Hospital 12 de Octubre after being charged with embezzlement of funds thought to exceed EUR 300,000. An audit of the section that Arnaiz directed found accounting irregularities of at least EUR 861,000. Arnaiz-Villena was also accused of the "purchase of products not used in his department's health care activities; purchase of hospital products used in health care activities but in quantities much greater than needed; falsification of statistical data apparently to justify purchases; humiliating treatment of department staff; delay in health care activities; and transfer of department products to the university." In March 2003, judges canceled his suspension, ruling it violated the presumption of innocence, and permitting him to return to his post. However, in November 2003 the Court of Administrative Litigation No. 8 of Madrid confirmed the non-criminal charges and sentenced him to 33 months of suspension from work without pay. It did not consider the charge of embezzlement, which was still pending.
Arnaiz-Villena denied all charges against him, saying he was the victim of a "public lynching". Both the hospital and the university stated that the charges had nothing to do with the Human Immunology affair. Arnaiz-Villena said he was prepared to "go to Strasbourg" to prove his innocence. Though suspended from the hospital, he continued his work at the University.
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- Arnaiz-Villena A, Elaiwa N, Silvera C, et al. (September 2001). "The origin of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations" (PDF). Hum. Immunol. 62 (9): 889–900. PMID 11543891. doi:10.1016/S0198-8859(01)00288-9.
- "The Origin of Palestinians and Their Genetic Relatedness With Other Mediterranean Populations" (PDF). Retrieved 21 February 2011.
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- Robin McKie (25 November 2001). "Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians". The Observer.
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- Andrew Goffey, Mercenary molecules: immunology and the holy war. Mediactive, 1 July 2003.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Gomez-Casado E, Martinez-Laso J (August 2002). "Population genetic relationships between Mediterranean populations determined by HLA allele distribution and a historic perspective". Tissue Antigens. 60 (2): 111–21. PMID 12392505. doi:10.1034/j.1399-0039.2002.600201.x.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Dimitroski K, Pacho A, et al. (February 2001). "HLA genes in Macedonians and the sub-Saharan origin of the Greeks". Tissue Antigens. 57 (2): 118–27. PMID 11260506. doi:10.1034/j.1399-0039.2001.057002118.x.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Martinez-Laso J, Alonso-Garciá J (September 2001). "The correlation between languages and genes: the Usko-Mediterranean peoples". Hum. Immunol. 62 (9): 1051–61. PMID 11543906. doi:10.1016/S0198-8859(01)00300-7.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Karin M, Bendikuze N, et al. (April 2001). "HLA alleles and haplotypes in the Turkish population: relatedness to Kurds, Armenians and other Mediterraneans". Tissue Antigens. 57 (4): 308–17. PMID 11380939. doi:10.1034/j.1399-0039.2001.057004308.x.
- "Diana Muir & Paul S. Apelbaum: The Gene Wars, Azure, Winter 5767, 2007, NO. 27".
- Dörk T, El-Harith EH, Stuhrmann M, et al. (August 1998). "Evidence for a common ethnic origin of cystic fibrosis mutation 3120+1G-->A in diverse populations". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 63 (2): 656–62. PMC . PMID 9683582. doi:10.1086/301950.
- Hajjej A, Hmida S, Kaabi H, et al. (2006). "HLA genes in Southern Tunisians (Ghannouch area) and their relationship with other Mediterraneans". European Journal of Medical Genetics. 49 (1): 43–56. PMID 16473309. doi:10.1016/j.ejmg.2005.01.001.
- Hajjej A, Sellami MH, Kaabi H, et al. (March 2011). "HLA class I and class II polymorphisms in Tunisian Berbers". Ann. Hum. Biol. 38 (2): 156–64. PMID 20666704. doi:10.3109/03014460.2010.504195.
- "MDS plot". Archived from the original on 20 August 2008.
- Ayub, Q; Mansoor, A; Ismail, M; Khaliq, S; Mohyuddin, A; Hameed, A; Mazhar, K; Rehman, S; et al. (November 2003). "Reconstruction of human evolutionary tree using polymorphic autosomal microsatellites". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 122 (3): 259–68. PMID 14533184. doi:10.1002/ajpa.10234.
- Petlichkovski A, Efinska-Mladenovska O, Trajkov D, Arsov T, Strezova A, Spiroski M (October 2004). "High-resolution typing of HLA-DRB1 locus in the Macedonian population". Tissue Antigens. 64: 486–491. PMID 15361127. doi:10.1111/j.1399-0039.2004.00273.x.
- Richards, et al. (2000). "Tracing European Founder Lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA Pool". Am J Hum Genet. 67: 1251–1276. PMC . PMID 11032788. doi:10.1016/S0002-9297(07)62954-1.
- Malaspina, et al. (2000). "Patterns of male-specific inter-population divergence in Europe, West Asia and North Africa". Ann Hum Genet. 64: 395–412. doi:10.1046/j.1469-1809.2000.6450395.x.
- Weale, et al. (2001). "Armenian Y chromosome haplotypes reveal strong regional structure within a single ethno-national group" (PDF). Hum Genet. 109: 659–674. PMID 11810279. doi:10.1007/s00439-001-0627-9.[permanent dead link]
- Helgason, et al. (2000). "Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic Ancestry in the Male Settlers of Iceland". Am J Hum Genet. 67: 697–717. PMC . PMID 10931763. doi:10.1086/303046.
- Giacomo D, et al. (2003). "Clinal Patterns of Human Y chromosomal Diversity in Continental Italy and Greece Are Dominated by Drift and Founder Effects" (PDF). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 28: 387–395.
- Semino; et al. (May 2004). "Origin, Diffusion, and Differentiation of Y-Chromosome Haplogroups E and J: Inferences on the Neolithization of Europe and Later Migratory Events in the Mediterranean Area". Am J Hum Genet. 74 (5): 1023–1034. PMC . PMID 15069642. doi:10.1086/386295.
- Jobling, M.A.; Hurles, M.E.; Tyler-Smith, C. Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, Peoples and Disease. 2004. ISBN 978-0-8153-4185-7.
- Christos Karatzios; Stephen G. Miller; Costas D. Triantaphyllidis. (10 January 2011). "Genetics Studies in the Greek Population vs Pseudoscience". Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- Risch N, Piazza A, Cavalli-Sforza LL (January 2002). "Dropped genetics paper lacked scientific merit". Nature. 415 (6868): 115. PMID 11805804. doi:10.1038/415115b.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Gomez-Casado E, Martinez-Laso J (2002). "Single-locus studies". Nature. 416: 677. doi:10.1038/416677c.
- Arnaiz-Villena A, Vargas-Alarcón G, Granados J, et al. (November 2000). "HLA genes in Mexican Mazatecans, the peopling of the Americas and the uniqueness of Amerindians". Tissue Antigens. 56: 405–16. PMID 11144288. doi:10.1034/j.1399-0039.2000.560503.x.
- Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2
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- See for instance the chapter "Cuentos de ciencia ficción" in Alonso and Arnaiz Egipcios, bereberes, guanches y vascos (Madrid, 2000), where they claim that Egyptology "remains anchored in a stark esoterism feeding all sorts of science fiction stories" (sigue anclados en un esoterismo descarnado alimentando toda clase de cuentos de ciencia ficción, p. 443); they make the same claim for Assyriology and Hittitology in "Caucásicos, turcos, mesopotámicos y vascos" (Madrid 2001, p. 355).
- In the accepted translation, the cartouche in question reads "King Ptolemy, living forever, beloved of Ptah" which, according to Arnaiz-Villena, should instead be translated as "cremation-one-if-death-prayer-fire-brotherhood-deceased-sinners-if" in Basque. Arnaiz Villena, Antonio (2007): Lectura de la lengua ibérica
- "there is no trace of laws in the so-called code. The theme is again funereal and religious. Hammurabi is transcribed in Basque AMA-UR-API ('grave in the waters of the mother')" [no hay asomo de leyes en el llamado código. La temática es también funeraria y religiosa. Hammurabi se transcribe en vasco AMA-UR-API ("tumba en las aguas de la madre")]—Caucásicos, turcos, mesopotámicos y vascos, p. 178 and section 4d "El titulado código de Hammurabi (AMA-UR-ABI) y otras 'leyes'", pp. 253–265
- Acta de la reunión de la comisión científico-asesora de Iruña/Veleia , despite some isolated attempts to vindicate the Basque words of the inscriptions made by other persons.
- Antonio Arnaiz Villena: Los graffiti en euskera de Iruña Oka y la cultura usko-mediterranea.
- "chopo.pntic.mec.es/~biolmol/publicaciones/Usko.pdf" (PDF).
- Prehistoric Iberia, Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al., 2000
- Caucásicos, turcos, mesopotámicos y vascos, Antonio Arnáiz Villena et al., 2001
- Egipcios, bereberes, guanches y vascos, Antonio Arnáiz Villena et al., 2003
- De Hoz Bravo (1999). "Viaje a ninguna parte a través del Mediterráneo. Las lenguas que no hablaron ni iberos, ni etruscos, ni cretenses". Revista de Libros. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011.
es un desastre sin paliativos que en principio no debería ser reseñado [...] carente del más mínimo valor y a contrapelo no ya de la metodología científica más elemental sino del simple sentido común.
- Pichler W (2005). "The Libyco-Berber inscriptions of the Canary Islands—misused as a playground for specialists and amateurs" (PDF). La Lettre de l’AARS. 28: 4–5.
- Michelena, L. Fonética Histórica Vasca Publicaciones del Seminario Julio de Urquijo (1961)
- Joseba Lakarra Andrinua (2001) "El vascuence en Europa", in V.M. Amado y De Pablo, S. (eds) Los vascos y Europa, Gasteiz, 75–121; (2006) "Protovasco, munda y otros: reconstrucción interna y tipología holística diacrónica", Oihenart 21 2006, 229–322. De ello se deduce que el 85% de las formas vascas (supuestos cognados) son inservibles a efectos comparativos cuando no rozan la falsificación más burda; y no se piense que al menos las comparaciones basadas en el 15% restante son oro de auténtica ley ... habría seguramente mucho que decir ... sobre la antigüedad y orígenes de varios de ellos "It follows 85% of the Basque forms (supposed cognates) are useless for comparison purposes when they don't indicate a coarser falsification; and it shouldn't be thought that at least the comparisons of the remaining 15% are genuine gold ... would certainly have much to say ... about the age and origins of several of them", page 245, footnote 29
- in excess of 50 million pesetas (El País)
- ABC 6 March 2002 Un jefe del 12 de Octubre, entre los seis detenidos por malversar fondos. The audit reached the amount of 860,000 for the first of the five years. The police estimated that the amount for the full five years could be EUR 3.91 million (El Pais 3 March 2002 Detenido el jefe de inmunología del hospital Doce de Octubre. Fuentes policiales cifran en 3,91 millones de euros el desfase en las cuentas del departamento)
- Xavier Bosch (23 March 2002). "Controversial immunologist faces court case". British Medical Journal. 324 (7339): 695. PMC . PMID 11909779. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7339.695.
- Á. DE C. (17 March 2003). "Los jueces anulan la suspensión del jefe de inmunología del Doce de Octubre". El País. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- Oriol Güell (11 November 2003). "Un juez suspende 33 meses de empleo y sueldo al jefe de inmunología del Doce de Octubre". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 July 2011.