Are Turks acculturated Armenians?

By Razib Khan | December 30, 2010 1:25 pm

To the left you see a zoom in of a PCA which Dienekes produced for a post, Structure in West Asian Indo-European groups. The focus of the post is the peculiar genetic relationship of Kurds, an Iranian-speaking people, with Iranians proper, as well as Armenians (Indo-European) and Turks (not Indo-European). As you can see in some ways the Kurds seem to be the outgroup population, and the correspondence between linguistic and genetic affinity is difficult to interpret. For those of you interested in historical population genetics this shouldn’t be that surprising. West Asia is characterized by of endogamy, language shift, and a great deal of sub and supra-national communal identity (in fact, national identity is often perceived to be weak here). A paper from the mid-2000s already suggested that western and eastern Iran were genetically very distinctive, perhaps due to the simple fact of geography: central Iran is extremely arid and relatively unpopulated in relation to the peripheries.

But this post isn’t about Kurds, rather, observe the very close relationship between Turks and Armenians on the PCA. The _D denotes Dodecad samples, those which Dienekes himself as collected. This affinity could easily be predicted by the basic parameters of physical geography. Armenians and Anatolian Turks were neighbors for nearly 1,000 years. Below is a map which shows the expanse of the ancient kingdom of Armenia:

Historic Armenia was centered around lake Van in what is today eastern Turkey. The modern Republic of Armenia is very much a rump, and an artifact of the historic expansion of the Russian Empire in the Caucasus at the expense of the Ottomans and Persians. Were it not for the Armenian genocide there may today have been more Armenians resident in Turkey than in the modern nation-state of Armenia,* just as there are more Azeri Turks in Iran than in Azerbaijan. Many areas once occupied by Armenians are now occupied by Kurds and Turks. But a bigger question is the ethnogenesis of the Anatolian Turkish population over the past 1,000 years.

Dienekes has already shed light on this topic earlier, adding the Greek and Cypriot populations to the mix as well as Turks and Armenians. The disjunction between Kurds and the Armenian-Turk clade suggests to us that Turks did not emerge out of the milieu of Iranian tribes in the uplands of southeast Anatolia and western Persia. Like the Armenians the Kurds are an antique population, claiming descent from the Medes, and referred to as Isaurians during the Roman and Byzantine period.

Below is a reformatted K = 15 run of ADMIXTURE with Eurasian population. I’ve removed the labels for the ancestral components, but included in populations which have a high fraction of a given ancestral component. The geographical labels are for obscure populations. I’ve underlined the four populations of interest:

First, let’s get out of the way the fact that Turkish samples have non-trivial, though minor, northeast Asian ancestry. The Yakut themselves are a Turkic group situated to the north of Mongolia. The more southerly and central Asian affinities the nomadic ancestors of the Anatolia Turks may have picked up in their sojourns over the centuries between their original homeland in east-central Siberia and Mongolia and West Asia. The rest of ancestry is rather typical of northern West Asian groups. In particular, Armenians! Here is the ancestral breakdown for the four groups I want to focus on using Dienekes’ labels:


Population Greek Cypriots Turks Armenians
West Asian 37.6 54.1 47.2 56.3
Central-South Asian 5.3 8.6 18.2 18.4
North European 25.1 5.6 12 12.3
South European 27.4 20.8 9.4 8.4
Arabian 3.4 8 4.3 3.4
Altaic 0.3 0 2.6 0.1
East Asian 0.3 0.2 2.2 0
Central Siberian 0.1 0.2 1.4 0.2
Chukchi 0 0 1.1 0.2
South Indian 0 0.1 0.8 0.3
Nganasan 0.1 0 0.4 0.2
Koryak 0.1 0 0.2 0.1
East African 0 0.4 0.1 0
West African 0 0 0.1 0
Northwest African 0.3 1.9 0.1 0

And now the correlations between the populations by ancestral components:



Greek Cypriots Turks Armenians
Greek * 0.863 0.823 0.813
Cypriots * * 0.941 0.946
Turks * * * 0.997
Armenians * * * *

Let’s remove the East Eurasian and African components, and recalculate the proportions by taking what remains as the denominator:


Population Greek Cypriots Turks Armenians
West Asian 38.1 55.7 51.8 57.0
Central-South Asian 5.4 8.9 20.0 18.6
North European 25.4 5.8 13.2 12.4
South European 27.7 21.4 10.3 8.5
Arabian 3.4 8.2 4.7 3.4

And the recomputed  correlations:



Greek Cypriots Turks Armenians
Greek * 0.747 0.640 0.647
Cypriots * * 0.901 0.908
Turks * * * 0.999
Armenians * * * *

With all the ~0 ancestral components which were common across these four populations removed the correlations have gone down. Except in the case of the Armenian-Turk pair, because I’ve removed the ancestries which differentiate them.

So what’s a plausible interpretation? A straightforward one would be that the Muslim Turk population of Anatolia has a strong bias toward having been assimilated Armenians, rather than Greeks. The cultural plasticity of Armenians in late antiquity and the early medieval period was clear: individuals of ethnic Armenian to origin rose the pinnacles of the status hierarchy of the Orthodox Christian Greek Byzantine Empire. The Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantines under which the civilization reached its mature peak were descended from Armenians who had resettled in Macedonia. Just as plausible to me is that eastern Anatolia as a whole exhibited little genetic difference between Greeks and Armenians, and the former were wholly assimilated or migrated, while the Armenians remained. One way to test this thesis would be type the descendants of Greeks who left eastern Anatolia during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s. But the difference between Greeks and Cypriots also points us to another possibility: perhaps the Greeks of Greece proper (as opposed to Anatolia) were much more strongly impacted by the arrival of Slavs? One need not necessarily rely solely on the Scalveni migrations either, water tends to be a major dampener to conventional isolation-by-distance gene flow, so the Greek mainland may always have been subject to more influence from the lands to the north.

Whatever the details of ethnogenesis may be, it will be interesting to see how things shake out as we increase sample sizes and get better population coverage. These results may be due to regional selection bias. One might expect that the descendants of Rumelian Turks be more “European” than Anatolian Turks. But, these data do seem to suggest on face value that Armenians are the population which Anatolian Turks have the most genetic affinity with.

* My main hesitation would be that Armenians are a very mobile population, and their numbers within a modern Turkey may have declined simply through emigration, just as those of Christian Arabs have over the 20th century.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Genetics, Genomics
  • http://rfmcdpei.livejournal.com Randy McDonald

    There’s was a fair bit of recent Armenian assimilation–the Hemshin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemshin_peoples), Muslim Armenian-speakers, come to mind. A non-trivial number of Georgian-speakers are also at least partly assimilated, the Ajaria region of southwestern Armenia having been created as a homeland for Muslim Georgians with ethnically related Laz nearby in northeastern Turkey.

    If we’re going for counterfactuals, a Turkey that still had millions of Armenians would also be a Turkey with millions of Greeks. The ethnic cleansing of Greeks and Armenians from modern Turkey (and, I need not add, of Turks and Muslims from modern Greece and Armenia) was an inevitable product of the nationalist wars of independence that hit southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region starting with Greece and becoming worse with the various wars in the north Caucasus and Balkans in the 1860s and 1870s. Absent the various ethnic cleansings and genocides, there probably still would be very large Greek and Armenian populations in Anatolia and Istanbul.

  • http://www.forumbiodiversity.com EliasAlucard

    Cavalli-Sforza touched upon it in his HGHG:

    http://www.forumbiodiversity.com/showthread.php?t=916

    Anatolian “Turks” are basically Anatolians of Greek, Hittite, Armenian, Assyrian ancestry, and some minor (below 10%) actual Mongoloid admixture. The ethnic Turks (Seljuq Turks, Turco-Mongols etc.) were of Mongoloid stock and though they did conquer Anatolia and other parts of the Middle East, they never really colonised the regions properly and contributed very little of their genes to Anatolia. The result was that the Turkic language became dominant in Anatolia, but aside from that, not much changed.

    It’s not without reason I call them “pseudo-Turks”, because they aren’t the least genetically Turkic, and they are genetically more similar to Armenians and Assyrians than any other group. Their minor Mongoloid admixture does pull them slightly eastward on a global PCA plot (which can be seen better on deCODEme’s threedimensional PCA plot), so Anatolian “Turks” are usually positioned close to Russians on a global PCA. However, on an intra-Euro PCA plot in which only West Eurasian DNA is counted, they’re right next to Assyrians, with a minor drag toward the Balkans:

    https://www.forumbiodiversity.com/images/upload/genetics/BGA_ForumBiodiversity_Euro.png

    ^^ This plot is made out of the positions Dr. Doug McDonald positioned all members after they sent him their raw data. Notice how close Assyrians and Turks are. Polako, Dienekes and Doug McDonald have all shown that Assyrians lack admixture from East Asians and sub-Saharan Africans, so in that regard, Assyrians are a genetically and culturally better preserved Anatolian population. I say Anatolian, because the dominant Y-DNA in all Semitic-speakers, Y-DNA J1c3, according to Chiaroni et al. 2009 has been found to be a minor haplogroup in Assyrians, but with highest genetic variation, and it seems to have originated in Anatolia, and still to this day there are “Anatolian Turks” carrying Y-DNA J1c3.

    Armenians have always had a long history in Anatolia though. The Kingdom of Cilicia was Armenian, and Assyrians and Armenians are almost the exact same genetic group, and Assyrian demographic presence has always been part of Anatolia, until the 20th century genocides and persecutions of Assyrians and Armenians by the “tolerant Turks”.

  • onur

    These results may be due to regional selection bias. One might expect that the descendants of Rumelian Turks be more “European” than Anatolian Turks.

    Indeed, Rumelian Turks look more European and less West Asian than Anatolian Turks. I wonder how Rumelian Turks, Anatolian Greeks and Cypriot Turks would show up genetically. Also we need much more samples than these also in quantity.

  • http://www.forumbiodiversity.com EliasAlucard

    Oh and by the way, Razib, there’s no such thing as “Christian Arabs”. Seriously. It’s only a disinformation term applied on non-Arabic MENA peoples like Assyrians, Lebanese Christians, and Egyptian Christians, none of which are Arabs. Much like the “Turks” of Anatolia, they aren’t Arab either, but rather, linguistically Arabized Fertile Crescent Semites. You can compare my genome similarity with “Arabs” from the Fertile Crescent and real ethnic Arabs from the Arabian peninsula. You’ll notice that aside from a few exceptions, I score clearly below 74% @ 550k SNPs with most ethnic Arabs, whereas the the pseudo-Arabs (Mashriq and Maghreb populations), I’m above 74% with those from the Fertile Crescent whereas with Berber and Egyptian folks I’m below 74% because they have some minor SSA admix.

    So if even Muslims from the Fertile Crescent and Egypt/Berber regions aren’t genetically Arabs, it’s even less likely that Christians from these regions would be Arabs, because in the Middle East, there’s a certain religious endogamy (Christians and Muslims usually avoid marrying with each other).

    Exaggeration of Arab ancestry in the Muslim world always had a political motive, since it was a means to gain political power by claiming descent from Muhammad.

  • onur

    As to Kurds, as in previous genetic analyses of them, they show up as a relatively isolated population. Mountainousness of their region and their tribal way of life and strong endogamy should have played a significant role in their relative isolation.

  • Steven Colson

    And then there’s my maternal J2a4b1 Ashkenazi ancestry that is nearest to Armenians and not other Jewish groups. I’m thinking some Hurrian gave birth to a lot of distinct modern cultures, some of whom hate the other.

  • onur

    strong endogamy

    The endogamy of Kurds is traditionally tribal rather than “ethnic” (ethnicity traditionally has little place, if any, in West Asia). This explains their heterogeneity on the PCA map.

  • Corduene

    @Onur The used study by Dienekes is Xing et al. and about iraqi Kurds, not Kurds overall this explains why they are so strongly isolated. I bet using studies about Kurds in hole would show stronger Relations to their neighbour Population even while I think they would still be very homogenes and distinctive from their neighbors.

  • Corduene

    This sentence “Many areas once occupied by Armenians are now occupied by Kurds and Turks”

    isn´t that correct. Before the genocide yes there were many Armenians on Anatolia. But I can´t agree about the occupied thing. Cause of two facts! First before the genocide Germans and other Europeans maid ethnic maps about Anatolia. In 90% of so called Greater Armenia made by Russian generals the Armenians were not the majority not before and not after the genocide. A map of 1896 shows us this clear. Only some districts of Van were majority Armenian but the Rest not.

    This map was made in Gotha, Germany in 1896, showing the percentage of the Armenian population in Anatolia. As it is stated, Armenian were over 50% of the population in three districts. In most of the locales, the form less than 10% of the population.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Armenian_population_map_1896.jpg

    So please stay at the truth. I am not a Armenian hater and also sorry for what happened to Armenians but this is not a Reason to claim this lands for them.

  • onur

    It’s not without reason I call them “pseudo-Turks”

    Actually, the “Turkish” identity of Anatolian + Rumelian (=Balkan) + Cypriot “Turks” is the result of nationalism imported from the West during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Ottoman intelligentsia, and it spread among the masses only after the establishment of the Turkish Republic and with the nationalist reforms of Kemal Ataturk. Before all these, there was no “Turkish” ethnicity or nation, Seljuqs and Ottomans were called “Turks” only by the West, but no individual or group in the Seljuq and Ottoman empires from the sultans to the lowest levels of the society applied the “Turkish” identity for themselves, the word “Turk” was just an insult and not an ethnic term (in fact, there was no concept of ethnicity or nation in the Seljuq and Ottoman empires, the Millet system was a religious system, not ethnic). Before the spread of the “Turkish” identity among the masses beginning from Ataturk, Turkish-speaking Muslims of the former Ottoman lands didn’t call themselves “Turk”, but only “Muslim”.

  • onur

    @Onur The used study by Dienekes is Xing et al. and about iraqi Kurds, not Kurds overall this explains why they are so strongly isolated. I bet using studies about Kurds in hole would show stronger Relations to their neighbour Population even while I think they would still be very homogenes and distinctive from their neighbors.

    Corduene, you may be right when it comes to Kurds of Turkey, as Kurds spread in most of their “traditional” region in what is now Turkey only after the Seljuq and Ottoman conquests and coexisted there with a significant “Turkish” and Armenian population for centuries.

  • Corduene

    @Onur I agree and disagree. We know from very old Roman, Arab and jewish sources that Kurds lived traditionally even before in most of the Regions they are living now. Strabo the Roman Emperor described the Region between Mus, Diyarbakir and Zagros as Corduene. Jewish sources say that Ararat was located in Corduene in Armenia( carduchian land conquered by Armenian Kingdom) the Arabs at least clarified that this Corduene was the ancient name of Kurdish land calling it ekrad ( meaning in Arabic as Kurdistan they still use to call kurdish land Ekrad). It is true that Kurds coexisted peaceful with Turks and Armenians but it is not true that they expanded at the Ottoman empire. It is rather so that Armenians with Artaxias and Zariadris expanded from Caucasus over East Anatolia this is also written down by Strabo.

    “According to report, Armenia, though a small country in earlier times, was enlarged by Artaxias and Zariadris, who formerly were generals of Antiochus the Great,”

    http://soltdm.com/sources/mss/strab/11.htm

    Armenians also conquered many Lands from Medes and the local Hurric-Scythian tribes of Corduene. So we can´t say this Land belonged to this people and than became conquered by other people. If we talk like that than Anatolia belongs to Hurrians Hethits and Sumerians.. We can´t try to change ethnic borders cause of Wars and genocides in early times. This early times were known for conquering but today we live in the 21 Century and people should not think in Conquering way and try to settle their own People in Regions just to make the majority like Saddam tried with Kirkuk or the former turkish Government tried with Adiyaman by settling Turks there. Also Kurds conquered Regions which doesen´t belong to them like some districts of Van. The Regions belong to the People who live there this is my opinion

  • http://rfmcdpei.livejournal.com Randy McDonald

    @ EliasAlucard: “Pseudo-Turk”? It isn’t apparent to me why they’d be “pseudo” anything, inasmuch as “Turk” is used to describe an ethnolinguistic group with a shared history, the myth of a common ancestry from central Asia exclusive of Anatolia not meaning the Turks are neo-Hittites instead. Likewise, the category “Arab” is at least as much cultural and linguistic as it is anything else; again, the myth of a completely shared ancestry doesn’t disprove the existence of that broad category.

  • onur

    The country name “Turkey” (and its other versions in other languages) was also only used by the West (for the territories ruled by “Turkish” rulers) before the spread of nationalism among “Turks”. Seljuqs of Anatolia called their own country “Rum” (=Rome) and Ottomans called their own country “Osmaniyye” (=Ottoman state). The name “Türkiye” (Turkish version of Turkey) is a late 19th century borrowing from the Italian word “Turchia” (then used for the Ottoman Empire) and was subsequently applied to the republic founded by Kemal Ataturk.

  • Maron

    @ Randy McDonald: “Likewise, the category “Arab” is at least as much cultural and linguistic as it is anything else….”

    Agreed. Which is precisely why “Christian Arab” does not apply to the culturally distinct and Aramaic-speaking Assyrian populations of northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran.

  • onur

    Randy, unlike the “Arab” identity, the “Turkish” identity was never applied by the very people designated with that identity (not even by the conquerors from Central Asia) before the spread of nationalism from the West. Before nationalism, the “Turkish” identity was an identity of the other (and often a despised other), not oneself (read my comment #10).

    “Turkmen” identity, OTOH, was used by the conquerors from Central Asia and by their descendants (not pure of course, there are apparently no pure descendants of them) for themselves, but its use has always been rather limited to a minority among the Turkish-speaking Muslims of the former Ottoman and Iranian lands.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    don’t have time to moderate. if the comments start to look too moronic, i’m closing this thread. just fair warning.

  • http://www.forumbiodiversity.com EliasAlucard

    @onur: thanks for your comment. I’m well aware “Turk” was a political ideology romanticised by the militant Young Turks group.

    @Corduene: Eastern Anatolia has always been inhabited by Armenians, long before Kurds lived there, and long before Medes invaded Assyria. It’s also not a reason of Kurds to seize Assyrian and Armenian land, but it’s done because of group competition.

    @Randy: the “Arabs” of the Fertile Crescent are descendants of Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Amorites, and also some European crusaders, and so on. They’re not really Arabs. “Arab” has always been an ethnic identity of the Arabic speaking peoples native to the Arabian peninsula, however.

  • onur

    Corduene, most of the lands in what is now “Northern Kurdistan” were Byzantine territory before the Seljuq conquests and their populations were almost totally Christian (mostly Armenians and Assyrians), the rest being Jew. No Muslim was allowed to live there except for commercial or military reasons. So Kurds must have spread there after the Seljuq conquests in those lands. So even if there had been some Kurds or proto-Kurds in those lands in more ancient times, they would assimilate to the “Armenian” or “Assyrian” identity by the Byzantine times, thus Kurds of today cannot be their descendants without being descended from Armenians and/or Assyrians.

  • Corduene

    @ Eliasalacuard it isn´t that simple to come here write this Region belonged to Armenians Assyrians without any prove or any other Sources which show my sources are wrong. And i also know you don´t try to look like a open minded person who is only interested in Genetic. I know you from Forumbiodiversity and you know me. And everybody there knows your bias against Kurds Turks and Iranians.

    http://www.forumbiodiversity.com/showthread.php?t=3197&page=28

    There are Maps made by European people showing exactly the number of Christians living in Eastanatolia. This maps are from 1896 means 23 years before any genocide against Christian so this ” Kurds and Turks are in majority in East cause of the genocide “doesen´t works. The Northeast Pontus Region was never pre dominantly Armenian but still Armenians claim this Region as Greater Armenia how?

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Armenian_population_map_1896.jpg
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/Armenian_population_in_Eastern_Anatolia_(1896).JPG

    You should stop claiming things without sorces.

  • Corduene

    @ Onur this is not a explain that this Regions were Armenian. Cause if we go in your logic than The Armenians can´t have existed before Byzantine because the muslim Conquest started 632 b.c.

    muslim conquest
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Age-of-caliphs.png

    So weren´t there any Armenians cause Arabs would have never let Christians live there? Is this a good declaration? Not really!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Age-of-caliphs.png

    And of course many Kurds had to convert to Christianity at Byzantine time.
    Even my Ancestors were first Christian this is told to me by my father. You can´t use the Religion as indicator for if there was a group of people before or not.

    I also gave you antic Sources all of them show kurdish presence in any Region what is today pre dominantly kurdish. I am not claiming this Regions were Homogene Kurdish this would be totally wrong cause there was also a Armenian presence in this Regions

  • onur

    Corduene, Christians and Jews (People of the Book) were allowed to live and preserve their faith under Muslim rules (however limited), this wasn’t the case for Muslims under Christian rules (is there any Andalusi Muslim in Iberia today?). As to Christian Kurds, there were probably some Christian Kurds in the Byzantine, but based on historical sources their numbers don’t seem to have been much.

  • George

    Fellow Julian and Gregorian calender peoples, haven’t you Turks even read Deinekes’s site before? The entire southern half of the Balkans, eastern Anatolia, Sicily and the bottom of The Pennisuala are genetically Hellenes. As are the French of Marseille and the Greeks of Nicoisa if there’s any of them left in the Muslims sections.

    Razib K truly a groud breaking couple of post’s by you and Deinekes.

  • Corduene

    @Onur I don´t really believe that Muslim Conquerers at the beginning let Christians and Jews stay as they are when they even forced Sassanids to become Muslims. Also if it was like you are saying the Region known as Eastanatolia changed many times the Hand from Byzantine to Parthian and Sassanid. i think you heared about the Roman-Parthian and Sassanid- Byzantine wars. So I don´t think the Byzantinians had not better things to do than forcing people to Christianity while a big Empire like theParthian- Sassanid was waiting as neighbor. And we know even After the Sassanids gone down still this Region doesen´t fall in Byzantine but Muslim hand! The Sassanid Empire was destroyed by Muslims not Byzantines. So there wasn´t really any bigger Period where Christians had the overhand in Eastanatolia. Only at the period of Greater Armenia with Tigran as King this Region was ruled by Christians and we know that a Empire isn´t equal to settlements and we also know that Tigran killed native people and settled his People there like he dead in Silvan.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    two points

    - the arguments about what is, or isn’t, arab, is of particular interest to people in the region. but for outsiders those who speak arabic as their first language today (e.g., lebanese christians, copts) are arabs (and i know plenty of arab christians personally who identify as arabs). no more discussion of this point, or i’ll ban the discussants.

    - kurds in byzantine lands. two byzantine emperors were isaurian, zeno and leo iii. leo may have been ethnic syrian, but zeno probably came from an iranic tribe. presumably the kurds were religiously diverse before islam, and some of this surely remained after islam. i don’t know the details of the areas inhabited by kurds then and now, but i don’t think the byzantine exclusion of muslims would be dispositive in the early period.

    also, i’m having a hard time understanding some of the conversion. tighten it up for outsiders, and corduene, your english is sometimes hard to follow. please be as explicit as possible.

  • onur

    I don´t really believe that Muslim Conquerers at the beginning let Christians and Jews stay as they are when they even forced Sassanids to become Muslims.

    There was difference between the treatments of Muslims towards Christians and Jews and towards Zoroastrians because of the Islamic doctrine of the People of the Book. So, yes, Christians and Jews were tolerated more than Zoroastrians by Muslims.

    BTW, I don’t deny that some of the regions of what is now southeastern Turkey south of Lake Van have been uninterruptedly populated by Kurds since ancient times, so I don’t understand what we are discussing.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    There was difference between the treatments of Muslims towards Christians and Jews and towards Zoroastrians because of the Islamic doctrine of the People of the Book. So, yes, Christians and Jews were tolerated more than Zoroastrians by Muslims.

    as a practical matter muslims accommodated zoroastrians as people of the book. they did the same in sindh to buddhist monks and brahmins, allowing these groups to retain special tax privileges because of their role in the pre-islamic state. it is assumed that islam did not become the dominant religion in modern iran numerically until the 9th century at the earliest, and some scholars give the 10th century as more likely. the pagans of haran simply identified themselves with the sabians, probably on false pretense.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i just checked my email account associated with this blog, and EliasAlucard left a demanding comment asking why i was not approving his comments. the reason i was not approving his comments is that new commenters go into the moderation queue. i was doing errands, having dinner, spending time with people who have little to do with my “online life.” i approved EliasAlucard’s comments when i saw them even though i perceived them to be a touch self-important.

    but there is no right to have your comment published immediately on a weblog. i, as the moderator and poster do have some responsibilities, but that does not eliminate the need for me to have other things which i might have to attend to. i also don’t like being contacted by email about these petty administrative issues. doing so is liable to get your banned and your email labeled span unless i know you.

    i have banned EliasAlucard for his presumptuousness.

    thank you. don’t waste my time. have patience or be silent.

  • onur

    as a practical matter muslims accommodated zoroastrians as people of the book. they did the same in sindh to buddhist monks and brahmins, allowing these groups to retain special tax privileges because of their role in the pre-islamic state.

    Razib, I’ve already read about those accomodations, but I don’t know whether they were equal to the treatment towards Christians and Jews. Also was their People of the Book status constant or flexible?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Razib, I’ve already read about those accomodations, but I don’t know whether they were equal to the treatment towards Christians and Jews. Also was their People of the Book status constant or flexible?

    context matters. from what i have read zoroastrians were a peg below christians. some of this may simply be due to power politics: there were still christian states around. after the fall of persia there were no zoroastrian states (unless you count minor principalities which survived in tabaristan down to the 9th century). the zoroastrian religious leaders were given due deference, until their constituency became a minority. at which point they disappear from the records and removed themselves to isolated areas of iran (where they were ‘re-discovered’). the same happened to christians like the patriarch of the church of the east, but much more slowly. so clearly flexible, but conditional.

    in india aside from the christians and jews of kerala there were no official people of the book. so the non-muslims were treated as dhimmis as if they were, despite their manifest non-abrahamic tradition. in fact, because muslims remained a minority in south asia the elites were often deferential and respectful to non-muslim sensibilities ub a manner which stopped being the case in the core muslim lands by the late 9th century. many south asian muslims were ‘orthodox’ in a conventional way, but many were also rather syncretistic, and some adopted practices like vegetarianism or an aversion to consuming beef, to maintain their status in the eyes of indian elites who remained non-muslim.

  • onur

    Thanks.

  • chris y

    On the question of how far modern Turks are “acculturated Armenians”, I don’t see how this can be answered without seeing how far, if at all, genetic variation within the Anatolian Turkish population maps onto the ethnic map of pre-conquest Anatolian peoples. It’s all very well for Cavalli-Sforza to make hand wavey remarks about Hittites, but Anatolia in antiquity was very complex ethnically, and, except on its eastern and western margins, that complexity is no longer visible.

    Since we have no idea how close genetically the Cilicians and Bythinians (for example) were to the Armenians – even most of the languages concerned are entirely unknown, we can’t tell a priori whether the genetic match between Turks and Armenians actually represents a large Armenian contribution to the Turkish population or whether it represents an Anatolian substrate which is similar because adjacent to the Armenians.

    If a pattern of variation could be established which might represent such a substrate, then the erxtent that distances from the mean in the Armenian cluster vary within such a pattern might suggest how far the apparent Armenian input is real and how far it reflects similarities between ancient populations across Anatolia and the rest of western Asia. If no such pattern can be established, at least it would suggest something about the impact of the Turkish occupation of the region.

  • onur

    I also gave you antic Sources all of them show kurdish presence in any Region what is today pre dominantly kurdish.

    AFAIK, there was no recorded Kurdish presence north of Lake Van before the Islamization of those lands in the last thousand years. Ottomans helped a great deal in the spread of Kurds in what is now eastern Turkey (and lately in some other parts of what is now Turkey). Kurds in what is now Turkey seem to have been pretty limited to the area south of Lake Van and east of Euphrates (I am not saying Kurds could be found in every part of that area) before the Seljuq conquests.

  • onur

    Extent of the Byzantine Empire right before the arrival of the Seljuqs and Turkmens:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Map_Byzantine_Empire_1025-en.svg

    Note that only the part of what is now Turkey south of Lake Van and east of Euphrates (except Edessa – what is now Urfa) is in Muslim control (there were Kurdish emirates).

  • onur

    Corduene, you may be right when it comes to Kurds of Turkey, as Kurds spread in most of their “traditional” region in what is now Turkey only after the Seljuq and Ottoman conquests and coexisted there with a significant “Turkish” and Armenian population for centuries.

    Corduene, most of the lands in what is now “Northern Kurdistan” were Byzantine territory before the Seljuq conquests and their populations were almost totally Christian (mostly Armenians and Assyrians), the rest being Jew.

    Here, by “Kurdish “traditional” region” and “”Northern Kurdistan”", I meant the parts of Turkey with a Kurdish majority today and not necessarily before the Armenian Genocide, the Ottoman conquests, the Seljuq conquests or anything else in the past. That is why I put the words “traditional” and “Northern Kurdistan” in quotation marks.

  • onur

    The entire southern half of the Balkans, eastern Anatolia, Sicily and the bottom of The Pennisuala are genetically Hellenes.

    George, you must have meant western Anatolia, not eastern.

  • onur

    George, you must have meant western Anatolia, not eastern.

    This DNA Tribes genetic map (the map right below the title “A Detailed World Map of Genetic Territories”) supports that conclusion:

    http://www.dnatribes.com/populations.html

  • http://www..regionalkinetics.com Davidian

    I would suggest notable differences between Kurds themselves. Iraqi Kurds (as noted in the study) and, for example, the people of Dersim (in today’s eastern Turkey, referred to as Zazas or Kurds of Dersim) are not only linguistically different but probably genetically different as well. The former being in the mountains from Mosul, Kirkuk, to Urmia and the latter probably indigenous Anatolian.

    A J2a4b1 Armenian from Dersim…

  • onur

    You may be right, Davidian. Similarly to “Turks”, Kurds may have assimilated lots of Armenians and Assyrians in their last one thousand-year expansion in the east of what is now Turkey.

  • http://www..regionalkinetics.com Davidian

    Hi Corduene… in response:

    1) If it makes a difference to you, there were enough Armenians the eastern provinces for their political autonomy, if not outright secession.

    2) Land claims and other demands are not fully based on population percentages but rather are reparations for the genocide and for the survival of what remains of Armenia.

    3) It is best not to open this topic in this forum. I respectfully suggest you review http://www.regionalkinetics.com. You will find a contact email where this can be discussed more appropriately.

  • http://www.regionalkinetics.com Davidian

    Steven Colson,

    A common J2a4b1 between us is indeed astonishing. The advent of DNA analysis will force a lot of history to be re-examined!

  • ZooKeeper

    -”Just as plausible to me is that eastern Anatolia as a whole exhibited little genetic difference between Greeks and Armenians, and the former were wholly assimilated or migrated”

    The Greek-speaking Chalcedonian Christians inhabiting the area from the Aegean to Cappadocia and the Pontus (the easternmost and northeasternmost locations where they could have been found in high numbers in the early 11th century, the local languages having gradually disappeared in a process beginning in the 4th century BC and where they were still found in smaller numbers – though barely in Cappadocia – in the 20th century) would have been mostly native in ancestry (despite the important colonization of Asia Minor from mainland Greece in Hellenistic times, it was obviously a very slow process of acculturation that eliminated the native languages) rather than mainland Greek so this must be the case. In other words, Turks are mostly acculturated Anatolians who were mostly Christian (of various “denominations”) and spoke a variety of languages, most importantly Greek, Armenian and Aramaic. Are genetic data offering us something that history doesn’t, so far?

    -”the Greek mainland may always have been subject to more influence from the lands to the north”

    That’s true from pre-historic ancient times, achaeology attests to that and quite likely that’s where the first IE-to-be-Greek speakers came from, after all, but Anatolian – Balkan contacts might have been somewhat important in historical times as well (you already mentioned the Greco-Turkish population exchange). For example, Slavs were settled in Bithynia, Anatolian Paulicians in Thrace etc. Also, some of the exchanged Balkan Muslims were, in part, Anatolian populations that had been transferred in the Balkans some centuries ago (e.g. Turkish-speaking Muslims in certain areas of Macedonia) so genetically speaking, those were essentially returning, at least in part.

    We also need to remember that modern Turkey is a vast country, with an important west-east axis, so the place of origin of the samples is important too.

    I’m wondering why you made the Isaurian = Kurdish connection, though. Taking into account the Isaurians’ location, isn’t it much more likely that they were an IE-Anatolian-speaking population or something like that?

    Considering the nature of this discussion and some rather rude posts (oh Elias!) I have to commend Onur on his attitude and replies!

  • ZooKeeper

    Some corrections: “pre-historic times”, “transferred to the Balkans”. Pardon.

  • onur

    I’m wondering why you made the Isaurian = Kurdish connection, though. Taking into account the Isaurians’ location, isn’t it much more likely that they were an IE-Anatolian-speaking population or something like that?

    I agree with you, ZooKeeper. I am too waiting for an answer from Razib on this matter.

  • onur

    Like the Armenians the Kurds are an antique population, claiming descent from the Medes, and referred to as Isaurians during the Roman and Byzantine period.

    kurds in byzantine lands. two byzantine emperors were isaurian, zeno and leo iii. leo may have been ethnic syrian, but zeno probably came from an iranic tribe. presumably the kurds were religiously diverse before islam, and some of this surely remained after islam. i don’t know the details of the areas inhabited by kurds then and now, but i don’t think the byzantine exclusion of muslims would be dispositive in the early period.

    Razib, what is your evidence for Isaurians being Kurds, Medes or any other Iranic-speaking people? As ZooKeeper states, they are much more likely to have been an Anatolian IE-speaking people. In any case, Isaurians had centuries ago totally switched to Greek language – probably also completely losing all their ethnic identity – by the time the Seljuqs and Turkmens arrived Asia Minor and today’s Kurds’ (including Zazas) “traditional” region has absolutely no intersection with that of historical Isaurians, who, we know, lived around the Taurus Mountains; so today’s Kurds shouldn’t be expected to have any descent from historical Isaurians.

  • razib

    I am not feeling well today and have no time to check the veracity of my claim. do not repeat the question. i will do the research when i have time, energy, and inclination. otherwise, you might be right. i don’t really care too much.

  • David

    [comment removed. i believe the commenter made some good points, but there was a lot of political stuff thrown in. not acceptable. i'm not an editor]

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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