Turkey: Not very Turkic (a genetic history of the Turkic peoples)

Ironic, isn’t it? The geographic distribution of Turkic languages is amazingly vast-yet-splotchy, extending from the eastern border of Bosnia to the far western end of Siberia, where Russia approaches Alaska: Carte_peuples_turcs (I’d really like to see this map laid atop a topographic map, because that might explain some of the splotchiness–not a lot of people speaking anything in the Taklamakan Desert, for example.) Our oldest known Turkic inscription–thus, our first known use of the Turkic language–comes from the Orkhon Valley, which is located smack dab in the middle of Mongolia. Which, you may have noticed, is not today a Turkic-language speaking place. The Mongolian Language family is, ironically, much less widespread than the Turkic-family:


Given that the Mongols recently conquered almost all of Asia, decimating local populations and leaving behind their genetic legacy (polite speak for “raping all the women,”) they’ve made remarkably little linguistic impact. If we want to get controversial, some linguists propose that the Mongolian family and the Turkic family might be related to each other within a broader “Altaic” language family, which makes plenty of geographic sense, but might not make true linguistic sense. Being me, I always root for nice fancy language family trees, but we’re going to have to call this one “just a theory some guys have and some guys oppose” for now. (The difficulty with reconstructing proto-Turkic or proto-Altaic or the like is that there aren’t a ton of old inscriptions in either family, and not many linguists are trained in them.) Languages get complicated because they can contaminate each other in unexpected ways. To use a familiar example, even though English is a Germanic language, our “do” constructions, eg, “Do you walk?” “I do walk!” and “Do walk with me,” appear to come not from Old or Proto-Germanic, but from Celtic languages. When the Anglo Saxons moved to England and conquered the Celtic peoples living there and made them start speaking Anglo-Saxon, the Celts retained some of their old grammatical structures. But Celtic and Germanic languages are not all that different; they’re both Indo-European, after all. Imagine what craziness you could get by combining peoples who originally spoke languages separated by much vaster gulfs of time.

The English example reminds us of another difficulty in attempting to use linguistics to tell us something about groups and their histories: widely disparate groups can speak the same language. Not only are the English, despite speaking a “Germanic” language, only about 10% German by ancestry (more or less;) but the US has almost 40 million African Americans who all speak English and aren’t genetically English. Even though most people learn to talk by imitating their parents, people have picked up and promulgated many languages that weren’t their ancestors’.

We have a similar situation with Turkey, where the majority of the population clearly speaks a Turkic language, but the genetics shows far more in common with their local Middle Eastern neighbors:

Click for full size
From Haak et al.

Zooming in on the relevant portion:

TurkishDNA2fromHaak ChechenDNAfromHaak

I like Turkey’s DNA because it’s always easy to spot in these charts. Turkey has some real variation in the distribution of different ancestral populations–the Japanese population, by comparison, is far more genetically homogenous.

The really anomalous guys in the Turkish sample are easily explained–they’re just Greeks, (and the anomalous guys in the Greek Sample are Turks.) Turkey ruled over Greece for quite a while, so it’s not surprising that some Greeks live in Turkey and some Turks live in Greece.

Chechens through Kumyks are all groups from the Caucus Mountains area, which is just north of the Turkish-Iranian border, so it’s not too surprising that all of these groups resemble each other. The Greeks, though, are much closer to their neighbors to the north, like the Albanians.

The Chechen and Lezgian languages are from the “Northeast Caucasian” language family (aka Caspian language family). Remarkably, this geographically tiny splotch of languages (and the similarly named but apparently not linguistically similar Northwest Caucasian language family, [aka Pontic language family,]) is considered, like Indo-European, one of the world’s distinct language groupings:

Primary_Human_Language_Families_MapThe Adygei (or Adyghe) speak a Northwest Caucasian language.

The Balkars and Kumyks speak Turkic languages, and the Ossetians speak an Indo-European language, (Indo-Iranian branch.)

Remarkably, even though these Caucasian groups speak languages from four different language families–one of which may have originated in far-off Mongolia–they are genetically quite similar to each other.

from Haak et al.

The Iranians have a small but noticeable chunk of bright green, which shows up in tiny quantities in some of the other populations in this group. The bright green is highly characteristic of India, where it is found in large quantities.

Iran speaks an Indo-European language, of the Indo-Iranian branch. (Given present politics, it is a bit of a wonder that the Aryan Nation and its ilk are actually named after the Muslim nation of Iran, but there you go, that’s history for you.) So I suspect that Iran got its language due to a small group of Indians conquering the place, imposing their language, and marrying into the local population, but this isn’t really supposed to be a post on the history of Indo-European.

What about Turkey’s neighbors to the south? How much do Turks resemble them? Here are some folks in the local vicinity (Syria and Iraq border Turkey to the south, but Iraq doesn’t seem to have made it into this dataset):


The most noticeable thing here are the big chunks of purple, which reach their maximum in the Bedouins. However, I suspect the purple is (in some manner) related to the dark blue which it replaces; if you glance up at the dataset used for the image at the top of the blog, you’ll note that it shows the same basic ancestral DNA groups for the Middle Easterners as Europeans (albeit in different proportions.) The technical differences between these two data sets aren’t worth getting into; suffice to say that I think the Haak dataset is just showing us a finer grained level of detail, which is why I am primarily leaning on it.

At any rate, the purple is distinctive. The Turks (and Iranians) have some purple, but not a lot; the Caucasians very little. The Middle Easterners also have a bit of pink (and a touch of blue) which hail from Africa. These colors, interestingly, appear not to have made it into the Turkish samples at all.

So while the Turks are similar to the Syrians and other neighbors to the south, I hold that they are genetically more similar to their neighbors in Iran and the Caucuses.

DNA from various Asian peoples

But what about the red and yellow bits? Those come from central Asia. Russia has similar levels of red, which is found all over Siberia and northern Eurasia, including the Sami; Yellow is common across far east Asia, including China, Japan, and Mongolia. Most of the countries that Americans mean when they say “Asian” have a mix of red and yellow.

Since the first written Turkic we have comes from the middle of Mongolia, it is sensible that folks in Turkey, today, might have DNA that appears to have come from the region. However, they don’t have a lot of this DNA, suggesting that the overall number of migrants or conquerors, (Turkic or Mongolian or of some other Asian origin,) was relatively low compared to the rest of the population. Today’s Turks, therefore, are probably descended primarily from the ancient Anatolian population that was there before the Turks, Mongols, Indo-Iranians, or other folks showed up.

Geographically, Turkey is located on a plateau and markedly greener than its neighbors to the south. That alone may account for differences between the Turkish people and their southern, more desert-dwelling neighbors.

What about the other Turkic peoples?

There are a lot of them:

The term Turkic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of peoples including existing societies such as the Turkish people, Azerbaijanis, Chuvashes, Kazakhs, Tatars, Kyrgyz, Turkmens, Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Bashkirs, Qashqai, Gagauz, Altai, Khakas, Tuvans, Yakuts, Crimean Karaites, Krymchaks, Karakalpaks, Karachays, Balkars, Nogais and as well as past civilizations such as Yenisei Kirghiz, Dingling, Tiele, Chuban, Pannonian Avars, Göktürks, Bulgars, Kumans, Kipchaks, Turgeshes, Khazars, Seljuk Turks, Ottoman Turks, Mamluks, Timurids, Khiljis, and possibly Huns, Xiongnu, Wusun, Tauri and the Tuoba.

And we don’t have time to run through all of them. We will mention those who are included in Haak’s dataset, though:

TurkishDNAfromHaakNogai balkar Chuvash Kumyk Kyrgyz Turkmen Altaian yakut

(Chuvash? Are you sure?)

These guys have a lot in common–most of them have, at least broadly, similar varieties of DNA–but not enough to be considered a single ethnic group. Like most groups, they tend to be more closely related to their neighbors than to folks far off, and the Turkic peoples are pretty scattered. The especially odd thing about them, though, is that none of these–at least, none of the folks in Haak’s dataset–look like the Mongols, despite the Turkic languages having probably originated somewhere near Mongolia. (And the Mongolian-like DNA they do have might be more easily explained by Mongolian expansions than by Turkic ones.)

Wikipedia comes to a similar conclusion:

The physical characteristics of populations of speakers of Turkic language stretch across a range as wide as the land they inhabit. The Turkic peoples in Europe look European – with the exception of some Crimean Tatars and Turkics in the Caucasus (Kumyks, Nogays, etc.) who look European+Northeast Asian, while Turkics in the Middle East resemble the peoples of the Middle East, those in Central Asia mostly look mixed but have mostly northeast Asian features. Turkics in northeast Asia resemble populations in that region. In trying to answer such questions as what “race” were the Proto-Turkic speakers, neither anthropometric nor genetic studies have been of much assistance to date. What few DNA analyses have been done arrive at the problem as an answer: affinity to primarily western populations in the west, eastern in the east, and a mixture on a gradient from east to west or vice versa in between.[2] These biological circumstances suggest that racial evolution over the region is earlier than can be considered in the time of the distribution of languages; i.e., the languages may have evolved among populations that were already mixed.

The extremes of the Eurasian continent–Europe, India, SE Asia–have wide zones with a fair amount of genetic homogeneity (even where there are multiple ancestral groups.) In between these zones, however, we get a mixing zone, where different groups come together and new ethnicities are born. All of the Turkic groups here have, to greater or lesser degrees, the tri-color pattern typical of Europe (orange, teal, dark blue) and the di-color pattern typical of SE Asia (red and yellow,) though this is greatly attenuated at the extremes of Turkey and the Yakut. Some groups also have the green characteristic of Indo-Iranians, probably due to bordering those zones.

The Turkic language groups may therefore represent a kind of genetic mixing zone between the large, homogenous zones to their east, west, and south. How long have the steppes (and the mountains to their south) been mixing zones? We don’t know. But the idea that the Turkic peoples were ethnically mixed and heterogenous long before they began speaking Turkic languages at all seems reasonable.

But if Turks aren’t particularly Turkic, why do they speak a Turkic language at all?

Surprisingly, the Turks didn’t even exert military dominance over Turkey until about the 1,000. Prior to this, Anatolia, as we may call the pre-Turkic area–was ruled by the Byzantines, eastern successors to the Roman Empire. The local population was Greek-speaking Christians.

The origins of the Turkic peoples are shrouded in mystery, mostly because of the lack of good written records. There is much speculation, for example, about whether or not the Huns were Turkic, but unless someone can come up with a Hunnic dictionary, we’ll probably never truly know.

The first confirmably Turkic group we know of was the aptly-named Goturks, who lived in parts of China and Mongolia, beginning around the 500s. They apparently controlled a rather large region:


We know of the Goturks because they left behind written records of themselves (beginning in the early 700s,) the Orkhon inscriptions. Interestingly, these Old Turkic inscriptions are written in an alphabet derived from Aramaic (which is, in turn, derived from Phoenician):


What were a bunch of nomadic herders doing making a bunch of monuments inscribed with a derivative form of the Aramaic alphabet up in the middle of Mongolia in the 700s? For that matter, why weren’t they using something derived from Chinese, who lived much nearer?

My best guess is that the alphabet arrived with some eastern variant of Christianity, spread by Christian missionaries through the Persian empire and beyond. (Remember, Iran wasn’t conquered by the Muslims until 651; before that, Christianity had a much larger foothold in the East.) This is not to say that the Goturks were Christians in the way that we typically practice it today, (shamanism focused on the sky god Tengri, whom they shared with the Mongols, appears to have been the dominant religion,) but that they may have had contact with Christian missionaries or religious texts.

At any rate, it looks like the Turkic peoples get on too well with the Chinese, and probably weren’t too keen on the Mongols, (no one was too keen on the Mongols,) which may have inspired them to start migrating. (Or perhaps they were always migrating. They were nomads, after all.)  Either way, by the 800s, a Turkic-speaking people called the Seljuqs had pitched their yurts north of the Caspian sea.

From there they migrated southward, encountering Muslims in Iran, (where they picked up Islam,) and eventually reaching Turkey around the year 1,000. (These migrations probably should not be thought of as single, organized movements of people, but of many migrations, mostly of tribes simply wandering in search of pastures for their animals, conquering neighbors, fleeing conquerors, and generally being a complicated, disorganized bunch of humans.)

At any rate, the Seljuk Empire, founded in 1037, absorbed the crumbling Persian Empire, and invaded the Byzantine Empire in 1068. By 1092, it stretched from the Bosphorus, down through Palestine, across Iran, around Oman, through several -stans, and up to the far western end of China:


This all helped inspire the Crusades, launched in 1096 to help the Byzantines repel the Seljuks, but that is a story for another day. The Mongols showed up around 1243, but by the 1400s, the Turks were in charge again. In 1453, the Ottomans took Constantinople–now Istanbul (which is really just a slight corruption of the Greek for “to the city,” “εἰς τὴν πόλιν”)–ending the last vestige of the once vast Roman Empire.

An observer described the looting:

Nothing will ever equal the horror of this harrowing and terrible spectacle. People frightened by the shouting ran out of their houses and were cut down by the sword before they knew what was happening. And some were massacred in their houses where they tried to hide, and some in churches where they sought refuge. …

Old men of venerable appearance were dragged by their white hair and piteously beaten. Priests were led into captivity in batches, as well as reverend virgins, hermits and recluses who were dedicated to God alone and lived only for Him to whom they sacrificed themselves, who were dragged from their cells and others from the churches in which they had sought refuge, in spite of their weeping and sobs and their emaciated cheeks, to be made objects of scorn before being struck down. Tender children were brutally snatched from their mothers’ breasts and girls were pitilessly given up to strange and horrible unions, and a thousand other terrible things happened. …

Temples were desecrated, ransacked and pillaged … sacred objects were scornfully flung aside, the holy icons and the holy vessels were desecrated. Ornaments were burned, broken in pieces or simply thrown into the streets. Saints’ shrines were brutally violated in order to get out the remains which were then thrown to the wind.

The Wikipedia estimates that 4,000 were killed and 30,000 deported or sold into slavery. 4,000 sounds like a low estimate to me, given the nature of warfare, not to mention reports like Barbaro’s:

Barbaro described blood flowing in the city “like rainwater in the gutters after a sudden storm”, and bodies of the Turks and Christians floating in the sea “like melons along a canal”.[50]

As I have mentioned before, I strongly recommend not getting conquered.

The Ottoman Empire continued to expand, reaching its greatest extent in 1683:


The few small Turkic-speaking communities in Europe today probably owe their genesis to the Ottoman empire, though some might have arrived on their own, via more northerly routes.

And as for the guys in Siberia? They probably just decided to try walking north instead of south.

61 thoughts on “Turkey: Not very Turkic (a genetic history of the Turkic peoples)

  1. One of the interesting theories is that the Turks who formed the Gokturks were descended from a Iranian people who adopted a Turkic language. Of course this is suggested due mainly to Iranic influence in their language which could be explained by close interactions with Sogdians who controlled the silk road.

    The Christian variant you mentioned was most likely Nestorianism or Manichaeism which is a religion that broke off from Christianity. Nestorianism founded by Nestorius in the 400s, the patriarch of Constantinople and was viewed as heretical, so ended up relocating to Persia and spread along the silk road. Manichaeism was founded by Mani in Persia in the 200s, they worshiped Buddha, Krishna, Jesus and Zoaraster. Both became popular on the silk road and spread thoughout there. The Uygher Khanate successors to the Gokturks embraced Manichaeism, various Mongols were Nestorian, namely Kitbuqa who was one of the commanders involved in the sack of Baghdad (the Christians were spared by the Mongols) and Sartaq a Khan of the Golden Horde (one of the 4 divisions of the Mongol empire).

    The Sogdians were an Iranian silkroad people who embraced many religions and due to Aramaic usage for the two religions mentioned probably influenced the Gokturks to create their alphabet.

    Mild correction Iran got its language from a bunch of proto Indo-Iranians migrating as did India, fun fact we have records of the Mittani praising Indra and other gods from the vedas way back in 1500BCE. The Mittani didn’t speak an Indo-European language so a group of Indo-Aryans probably conquered them and introduced many Indo-Aryan words


  2. Some good populations to compare to many of the Turkic populations would be Iranian populations. The Sogdians the North Eastern Iranian people I mentioned earlier have living descendants in the Yaghnobis in Tajikstan however they are not in Haak’s data, but other Eastern Iranian populations are: Ossetians, Pashtuns and Pamiris (Tajik Pomiri). The Pamiris I think would be the closest to the Sogdians and possibly pre-Turkic peoples of the area in the data, although they might have some admixture. Another interesting group in Haak’s data are the Hazara who speak Persian but are said to be descended from Turks and Mongols who mixed with Persian people, which based on the data seems pretty correct.


  3. “Our oldest known Turkic inscription–thus, our first known use of the Turkic language–comes from the Orkhon Valley, which is located smack dab in the middle of Mongolia.”

    Actually, there is a 2 lined poem in Hunnic language with Chinese script, but since 17 different Turkologists explained and translated this poem with 17 different versions, we are not sure what they wrote.

    “some linguists propose that the Mongolian family and the Turkic family might be related to each other within a broader “Altaic” language family, which makes plenty of geographic sense, but might not make true linguistic sense.”

    There are some sound change laws between the Altaic languages, but theories of people like Starostin are pure bullshit.

    “Since the first written Turkic we have comes from the middle of Mongolia”
    According the altaist theory, the urheimat of Proto-Turkic people is Western and Central Mongolia, proto-Mongolians were living on the Eastern Mongolia.

    “What were a bunch of nomadic herders doing making a bunch of monuments inscribed with a derivative form of the Aramaic alphabet up in the middle of Mongolia in the 700s?”

    Some letters of Orkhon script are like pictograms. Maybe, they have modified the Aramaic alphabet, or once upon a time, there were 2 different alphabets? And not only Orkhon monuments, there is a book called Irk Bitig (Book of Omens), there are some letters, and Kazakh archeologists exacavated some bronze mirrors with inscriptions.

    “For that matter, why weren’t they using something derived from Chinese, who lived much nearer?”

    Orkhon inscriptions is an anti-Chinese text, the writers of them were resented from the fact that they had to trade with Chinese people. There probably was an anti-Chinese movement at that time.

    Below there I put some passages from Orkhon Inscriptions:

    “The lords and people went unfair. Since they give way to Chinese people, since they were defrauded by them, younger and elder brothers became revengeful and enemy to each other. Turkish people were exiled.”

    “The kagans were exiled. Chinese people made your kind sons slave; made your beautiful daughters servant. The Turkish lords forgot their Turkish titles. Those lords held Chinese titles and obeyed the Chinese emperor for fifty years,”

    “The words of Chinese people, who give us gold, silver, alcohol and treasures in abundance, have always been sweet and silks have always been soft. Deceiving by their sweet words and soft silks, they attract people to come from remote places. After people have settled close to them, they made people be addicted to them even more. Having been deceived by their sweet words and soft silk, you Turkish people, died!”

    “They deceived so much, that led Turkish common people to death. They lied that they would give bad silk if be afar, and would give good silk if they would be close to them. Unwise people followed that words, went close and all died. ”

    “Beks (nobles) and common people were dishonest. Yielded to Chinese people, deceived fathers and children became enemies. Beks and common people rose against each other.”


  4. It seems to me that this could prove food for a life’s research so congratulations for the guts of taking this subject on. My 2 comments in your surface scratching effort:

    1. “The Turkic peoples in Europe look European – with the exception of some Crimean Tatars and Turkics in the Caucasus (Kumyks, Nogays, etc.) who look European+Northeast Asian” – there are also some small pockets of Tatars on the Balcan shores of the Black Sea which confirm this exception. (maybe because they are descendants of Crimea Tatars)

    2. History always helps. The Ottoman Empire had the “devșirme” system which constantly imported new blood into their ranks for centuries. And if you would walk on Istanbul’s streets and see a (naturally) blond turkish girl you would probably notice instantly her “european” looks with some pinches of turkish salt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This “naturally” blond Turkish girl most probably died hair, wheras his brunet brother did not. Jokes aside. Who are the black haired, dark complexioned russian, english, german, french, swedish, danish people that we see amongst the people with German, English, French,Russian, Swedish, Danish etc names? The prisoners-of-wars taken from Turkey?


  5. Hello, I am a Turkish citizen and my family members are decendants from Crimea during the Ottoman era. We are called Turkmen in our village and I personally look like our asian relatives with my slanting eyes. I am able to read and write old Turkic Alphapet (I mean Orkhon Alphabet where you mention in this article). I just wanted to make a few contributions. Let me list them as below::
    1) Turk or Turkic is a term used for people who speak a Turkic language as native whatever the race he/she belongs to.
    2) Turks were never a homogenous racial group in the history except the time they emerged as a clan in the world (a hyphotetical existence on earth, Nobody can know the origin of the Turks but my guess is that the first Turkic people were a tribe that left their ancestoral lands. those ancestors are of course should be one of chinese/japanese/corean/mongol people)
    3) Turks were a warrior nation due to their nomadic lifestyle and most of the time they were minority among the people where they invade/occupy/migrate/dwell. So it is very normal that genetically they were mixed with the locals and mostly melted away as a race in the society. For example in Turkey there were Greeks and Romans in western Anatolia but in the center there were Hittites and Frigians, in the South-west there were Lydians, in the South east mesopotamians, in the north caucasus people and in the east armenians etc. But what happened? They all became Turkic and you see many different hair, skin, eyes color ,n Turkey today… Simply, the minority Turkic people mixed with local people genetically but most of the time culturally those crowded local people were Turkified and adopted the Turkic culture …
    4) Turkic people mostly preserved the Turkic identity (this is not racial but cultural identity) and I think there is only one reason for this: the language. Admit or not, Turkic language should be somehow a powerful, dominant language wherever it goes. Even Gokturks (first ever state using the name Turk and owner of Orkhon inscriptions) were a federation with many different people from different tribes and races. Even in the Orkhon inscriptions some of these nations are given by their names. But the language was the only common factor that bring them together as a single identity. As an example fort he importance of language is the situation of Egyptians today. Think that they are descendants of the old great empire of Egypt, lands of pharoahs and builders of pyramids. Today they have almost no connection with their past except for the skin color. The reason is that they are completeley Arabized with the influence of Arabic language.
    5) The language of Turkic people was until the 20th century were highly mutually intelligible (during 1900s Soviet, Chinese, Western influences are very high among Turkic languages). Even I was in China a few years ago and talked in Uyghur restaurant with my Turkish, while they spoke in Uyghur language. Not even a single misunderstanding happened among us. Because the basic words are the same as thousands years ago… When we talked with our own accents neither they found it odd, nor I did. And we smiled when we see that we can understand each other easily. Think about thousands of miles and thousands of years between a Turkish and Uyghur and see the power of language. It is not the DNA that makes us Turkic, it is the language despite all the loan words and pronunciation differences.
    5) About the Orkhon inscriptions: I said I can read and write with this alphabet and it took only 6 hours for me to learn the rules and use of it :) because it is up to now the most Turkic thing I have ever seen in my life. I will explain but first I should examine your assumption in the article. When the Orkhon inscriptions were read for the first time, many theories also emerged for the origin of these monuments. One of them assumed that this alphabet was derived from Sogdian and there were a few similar letters. The main reason is that a nomadic tribe/people cannot have such a writing system because they don’t need it. So they should have borrowed the alphabet from some other civilized people which should be Iranians in the vicinity since obviously there is no relation with Chinese characters. I strongly oppose this assumption. Here is why:
    a) Although some characters are similar to Sogdian, the sounds of the letters are completely different
    b) The letters are artificial (I mean they are not natural shapes) based on the characacteristics of the Turkic language. The alphabet doesn’t seem that it is borrowed, rather it was created for a specific purpose. Since I am a Turkic myself I can see the differences with today’s Latin alphabet. I will try to explain you in a most effective way. As an example: there is a letter read as “ok” in Orkhon alphabet. “Ok” means “arrow” in Turkic and guess what… The letter’s shape is an arrow :) There is another letter read as “eb”. “Eb” means “house” in Turkic and guess what… The letter’s shape is a “tent”. Turks were nomadic people and lived in tents, remember? There is a letter read as “ab”. “ab” means “water” in Turkic and guess what… The letter’s shape is a “water bottle” . There is a letter read as “ay”. “Ay” means “moon” in Turkic and guess what… The letter’s shape is a half moon :) There is a letter read as “er”. “Er” means “person” in Turkic and guess what… The letter’s shape is a person with arms :) This list goes on like this. Another special thing with Orkhon alphabet is that it is very suitable for “pure Turkic word structure”. But none of the alphabets Turkic people used today has the same capabilities. What I mean by this “pure Turkic word structure”? Turkic language has two sounds for one letter, one is soft the other is thick. If a word starts with a soft letter, then all the syllabels should be soft. For instance, if the word “computer” should be Turkic, it should be written as “komputar”. I will also use just I wrote above while giving my previous examples. There are two letters like “-eb” (house) and “-ab” (water) in Orkhon. These are in fact the letter “b” in latin but for Turkic language there should be two “b”s and this is indeed valid for also other letters. Only Orkhon alphabet can satisfy such a need. So my point is that, the Orkhon alphabet was created specifically for Turkic language needs at that time rather than borrowed one from another language, Some shapes can be borrowed and modified but the alphabet is an original one.
    6) As a summary: race for Turkic nations is not important. Even though there are differences, the only thing that makes a person Turkic is the Turkic language he/she used as a native language. So Turkeyis not very Turkic in DNA but very Turkic in every other aspects.

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  6. Yes I think, a link that explain the roots of some Orkhon letters could be useful. Here is the link that I propose (it’s up to you to use either the link or the images, because the page is completely Turkish): https://onturk.org/2011/03/01/turk-abecesi-ve-tamga-kokleri/

    And secondly I should correct a sentence in the middle of the 5th item. I wrote this–>

    What I mean by this “pure Turkic word structure”? Turkic language has two sounds for one letter, one is soft the other is thick. If a word starts with a soft letter, then all the syllabels should be soft.

    This part should be:

    What I mean by this “pure Turkic word structure”? Turkic language has two sounds for one letter, one is soft (with a front wovel) and the other is thick (with a back wovel). So if a word starts with a soft letter, then all the syllabels should also be soft.

    I think that’s all. I will try my best in your future articles. Keep up the good work…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting points indeed. As a Turk, I thank you for your detailed work. Your page is a real gem that I discovered while doing random Google searches about Finno Ugrics, just for the fun of it.

    I have few weird remarks that you might find interesting:
    There are Turks in Turkey, like my family, that still uses their Asian family names. Mine are called Aşinas, which probably is a corrupted form of Ashina Clan and Meteçanyus which is likely to refer to Moduchanyu.(My father’s maternal and paternal ancestors. My mother is from an entirely different region.) My paternal family hails from a pretty isolated town of northern Turkey, where almost everyone looks like blonde Asians and talk in a manner that rest of the Turks don’t really understand easily.

    Our general source of income is rice production, which also sounds pretty convenient.
    Another weird thing is that most of the known families there keeps their noble tughs(coat of arms) to this day, and the weird part is here, most are same with Avarian, Bolkarian/Bulgarian and old Magyar flags.
    It’s also very common here to have names like Turul, Erturul, Konrul, Attila, Mete, Chenghiz etc.(which are also not rare throughout Turkey but it still depends on the region.)

    If I wouldn’t think its crazy, I’d say a whole pack of Turkic families traveled together through northern shores of the Black Sea, carved their way into the Balkans with the nomadic horde then turned their noses to eventually settle in Central Anatolia which consists of vast steppes, favourite terrain of Turks. But this has to be at least 100 to 200 years before first of Seljuks arrived, considering how fast the Turkic clans that entered to Balkans through north assimilated into Christian culture. This weird group probably left their kinsman in Balkans before they turned Christians.

    Another interesting remark is that both Seljuks and Ottomans tried their very best to eradicate one of the clans that I belong to: The Moduçanyus.(Though some like to call themselves Madanoğlus or Modunoğlus due to the variation of the name Modu-Mada-Mete) It’s said that they saw the clan as a political threat to their claims to the throne. Which may or may not suggest the origin of the clan is someone special. Though it’s pure speculation other than the fact that my family was racist bigots who always claimed that Ottomans are not “pure.” (And they got exiled to northern Turkey for it.) So you can expect a clan so fixed on the idea of staying pure would only couple with other clans that are fixed on staying pure due to their royal origins, like Aşinas.

    I’m planning on using the Nat Geo DNA Kit to settle my doubts about the migration path of my weird little group of ancestors, I heard they’re pretty good at it. Though sending biological material to overseas from Turkey is said to be problematic.

    I know all the points and history remarks may make no sense to non-Turks but explaining everything would just really consume more space and time, both for me and for you. You may Google the names if you are really curious. Also, I’m sorry that my points are all over the place through this text.(If even have any.) Writing from a tablet makes me lose focus.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. hallo, thank you for your work about us :)
    in turkish, the old Anatolian term was ”RUM ELİ” this was used also for Balkans , Eastern Europe in Ottoman empire.
    Rum Eli means ”Rome Empire Territory”
    I’m from İzmir,the west of Turkish Republic, greeks were highly populated here before ,and as a result my grandparents have blue eyes,blond hair, white skin relativly to others. It’s obvious that we carry greek blood in our veins.
    I sometimes listen to uyghur songs,ozbek songs i can understand them, even if the race changes , it seems that the language is still multi-intellegible.
    plus,we are muslims, and it removes all of the racial differences.
    because,once you accepted islam, you are accepted in society, and never exposed to racisim or discrimination
    conclusion,the culture , the religion that you belong to is more important than where you are from or who you are ethnicly… for Turks of course.


    • the exchange of populations in 1922 was based on religion , not on ethinicity.. hundreds of thousands of muslim greeks (some say millions) stayed on the turkish side. Same thing happend with Cretan Turks when the island was liberated and joinded greece. Many greek cretans went to turkey cause they where muslims. Greeks and Turks lived together for 1000 years in anatolia after the seljuks conquered it , and almost 400 years in mainland greece , after the ottomans conquered the balkans and constantinople. There is a LOT of greek DNA in modern turks and vice versa. You can see it if you visit both countries. Most foreigners cannot tell who is greek or turkish. We look alike. There are ofcourse many turks that still have asiatic/mongolic/tartar looks. But most dont look asian anymore after 1000 years of mixing with greeks armenians kurds arabs persians serbs etc

      Liked by 1 person

  9. First, it’d be good if you cited the genetic data. Not that I disagree with them but it’s proper to do so.

    I’d ask the same about your historical claims but it’s better if you don’t deal with history. No offense but that’s clearly not your domain. And that’s okay, since historians shouldn’t be dealing with evolutionary biology or genetics. For one you’re quoting Wikipedia. And the historical reason for doubting 4000 deaths is “warfare was bad” is poor reasoning. Not all battles were the same. The Byzantines had already outspent their military capabilities before Constantinople fell. Barbaro’s account are obviously sensationalized in a way to make his writing seem more fantastic than reality. Historians are very careful when it comes to such ways of describing events. If you want turkic bloodshed, Ottomans weren’t really the guys at that time, the seljuks before them are better candidates.


  10. “However, they don’t have a lot of this DNA, suggesting that the overall number of migrants or conquerors, (Turkic or Mongolian or of some other Asian origin,) was relatively low compared to the rest of the population. Today’s Turks, therefore, are probably descended primarily from the ancient Anatolian population that was there before the Turks, Mongols, Indo-Iranians, or other folks showed up.”

    What makes you think that Turks who conquered the peninsula were 100% Asian genetically? Not even the proto-Turks were 100% Asian. Have you tried reading the history of the Oghuz people? Yellow color alone doesn’t represent Turkic input, Turks were already mixed when they conquered Anatolia, they were 1/3 Asian at most. So Central Asian (not East Asian) genetic input in Turkey must be around 30-40%.

    Take a look at this Turk’s autosomal DNA result. He gets modelled as 1/2 Central Asian (Turkmen) and 1/2 Greek/Sicilian/Maltese etc (represents pre-Turkic Anatolian natives).

    here –> http://i.hizliresim.com/ldR6al.png

    Get your facts straight and stop misleading people. Turks didn’t come to Anatolia as a bunch of Eskimo looking people. They were already mixed with Iranic natives of Central Asia (Khwarezm, Soghd etc).


  11. You have some good points.. When you talk on genetics it is much better to mention about the genetics of some pure turkic peoples who still live in asia. Then you will have a correct point to start. You may know about R and Q haplogroups and the father of both (P-M45).. It is extremely interesting when we check who has P haplogroup most. Surprise! These Turkic people who have mongolid faces. Check http://www.wikizero.org/wiki/en/Haplogroup_P_(Y-DNA)

    See who has this haplogroup most,…. Turkic people.. So those turkic peoples are genetically father of europeans (R) and native indians (Q)..

    I accept the presence of genetic admixure in Turkic people.. But first you need to map of the world. Turkic people lives at the cross of the races. Think about Cypus Greeks who has J haplogroup over the ratio of 60%.. J haplogroup is mainly associated with Semitic people.. So these peoples are really indoeuropean:). No of course. Same for Iran.. Do you think south slavs are really related with russians??.. Genetically No.. Are todays Iranians are related with anglo-saxons? No, of course.. Simply you cannot have pure race if you live here at the bridge of the continents…


  12. Genes change over time. If we had the chance to to compare the genetic composition of english people in the 12th century with the modern english people, we could have found significant differences. That is what genes are about they change and evolve over time. Culture and language is what creates national identities not genes in my opinion.


  13. If your mother tongue is Turkish you are Turkish no need to check your genes. If your mother tongue is English than you are English. IMO that is all that matters. We must be careful about looking at national identities from the gene point of view which has the potential to lead to racist ideologies.


    • My “mother tongue” is English but I’m definitely not English. I live in the US, my ancestors have been here since the 1700s, and the majority of my ancestors didn’t hail from England.

      People were racist long before genes were discovered.


      • I agree with you that national identities are very different if you are coming from the new world(north and south america). My assumptions were for the people who live in nation states where a distinct cultural or ethnic group inhabits a territory(which is not true for the USA) since the topic was about Turkey and Turkish people. But I do believe that if you live in England and your mother tongue is English you could be considered English even if your roots go back to Africa.


  14. It struck me when you went into little details of historical happenings but suddenly became very keen to describe the “massacre” in Istanbul upon the conquest.

    I don’t see any good faith here, apart from the disputable data the “observer” presents (or fabricates).

    Actually you don’t need to look for pages in the history if the Ottomans massacred the conquered nations or destroyed their artefacts. Come and see it for yourself. See Agia Sophia, even though it was converted to a mosque they did not even remove the icons but covered them instead.

    As for the people, after hundreds of years of strong dominion over weak and conquered Romans (Greeks), you still had them after the collapse of Ottomans. You still have a Greek nation with Greek language and Christianity after 4 centuries of Ottoman rule.

    These are solid evidence of not assimilating or exterminating the nations under Ottoman rule.

    Armenian issue is a whole other thing if anyone wonders about it.

    I just wanted to point out these.

    Good day.


    • greek population in asia minor and the balkans was reduced by 75% mainly by massive massacring, slavery, forced islamization. During the 4000 years of greek history the turkopersian era was the most monstrous in terms of violence and greek civilization destruction. In fact, although the persoturks had in hands the same civilization the romans had when they conquered greece, they used it completely differently. The romans expand it and evolve it even further and the whole western world is based on this civilization, the persoturks the best thing they thought to do about it,it was to paint with asbestos the brilliant paintings of Agia Sophia, it is like hiding for ever from the eyes of the people Michelangelo and Da Vinci paintings. They did exactly the same thing with schools, academies, culture, sciences and art. They just shut it down for 400 years.


  15. Hello, it seems very comprehensive research regarding modern Turkey and the population on academic base. Thanks for audience who englighted us deeply. That’s an interesting topic but it doesn’t convince me enough although I notice some facts mentioned here were collected from some online open sources. Another question here is about citation of DNA samples, which I could not figure out the source and legal base of how these samples are collected from people living in Turkey while you are saying that you have never been in Turkey before.

    Can you explain also what scientific motivation behind Gene research versus ethnicity under this provocative title is? I want to link this research to certain scientific motivation, e.g. blood cells DNA formation distribution vs location while cutural/religion/cuisinary and political aspects seem missing here to identify the relation between Genes and language…

    Actually, you need to understand that you are referring multiple Turkish/Turkmen/Turkic/ Türk/Turk Empires where marriages or other interactions happened in the community with minorities or Zeit Arbeiters during their sovereignty so next generations spoke or understood the language of the ruler. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that number of native speakers have only been in actual Empire’s ruling or domination area less than one generation, it shouldn’t surprise us if they may have been there before the ruler as part of other majorities. If it were the case, we should be surprised how people of North, Middle and South Africa can speak French and English fluently which overwrites their mother language in most cases. Although there is strong domination of French or English languages in the region, Afrikans are still living in their habitat for ages and new generations learn their mother language too. You may want to visit Africa one day to observe this behavior pattern too.

    Focusing to point, as you also stated, there are still unknown root causes which we will likely never learn in the future as well because they happened all the way back from modern people’s timeline so we will always speculate the things to dominate/control/rule the other people today or tomorrow referring to limited legal or illegal data sets or weak analysises excludes other data dimensions which were actually vital to topic.

    Regarding the immigration of peoples/tribes or expansion of languages back in the time, we have to be open the facts that history books may not reflect everything objective because of physical/language limitations and individuals’ perceptions so the events may happened differently. Because it was the same human kind who created fantastic ancient stories while navigating in the oceans, starring at the stars, standing in the darkness. :)

    Since your Gene research may only present momentarily view of humankind falsely because of limited data samples, I am not sure it should be considered objective and scientific enough. I still feel you may need to focus on more dimensions to analyze before publishing the results.



  16. hello everyone I’m an Uzbek,

    Turkic people appeared the first time in nort east of china, south east of mongolia, north west of korea. after they seperated to clans like uygurs, uzbeks, kyrgyz, and they went to different places and drow their ways.

    for example uygurs went to north china and nowadays mongolia. after they founded a great empire inculudes mongolia and north china. they were neighboors with koreans. after their empire destroyed, they went to west of china (of course only tribes, clans made migrations and creating new state and finally you convert native people of the lands you migrated and we say all of them uygurs)

    when you look at %70 uygurs you may think that its middle eastern. because turks were in north korea (korea has a tv serie about their wars against turks) nowadays turkic republic lands were belonged to persians. tajik, afgan etc. after uygurs went to west of china from south east mongolia, they settled to lands of iranic people and they converted them to turki.

    tatars and turks decided to invade and to make yurt (home) west lands. turki people settled to south west and tatar-turki people settled to north west. thats why there is a tataristan in north of kazakhstan. probably kazakhstan people were tatar, but they turkfied by uzbeks and turkmens. already mongols define kazakhs as a mongolian nation who are speaking turkic. and thats why all tatars are in north. tatars played a great role in Genghis’s empire and they had an empire after dividing the empire called Golden Horde, it was mongol state but after it became to turki with a time. and their sons are kazakh and kirgiz. Thats why we uzbeks can understand turkish easly more than our neighboors kazakhs. and we uzbeks are not mongoloid like kazakhs.because uzbek language has oghuz and karluk dialect. uzbek-uygur are like turkish-azerbaijani or turkish-crimean tatar. thats why uzbek dialect is most understandable language for every turkic people. but we can understand %95 uygur, %85 turkish-turkmen, %70 azerbaijani %50 kazakh.

    and another interesting point that, turkic migrating is still countinue to anatolia. because turkey gives more quality life to people. and there are more ethnic turkmen in turkey than turkmenistan. turkish national tennis player Marsel İlhan is an Uzbek and he migrated to turkey with his family, and turkish basketball player ersan ilyasova is crimean tatar, turkish historian ilber ortaylı and halil inalcık are crimean tatar. there are most famous turkics in anatolia and unkown people in anatolia is more than famous.

    turkmani people who invaded anatolia were already mixed with persians before they invaded anatolia, anatolian invading was not normal. seljuks tried to make home syria and iraq too. they founded syrian seljuks, anatolian seljuks and iraq seljuks. but no one migrated to middle east and when iraq and syrian seljuks destroyed there was no any turkoman to build new turki empire. turks were poor in asia thats why they migrated to khazars region from mongolia. and they understand they were still poor after 500 years. seljuks seperated from tengriist oghuz yabgu and they killed tengriist turkmanis, seljuks never let another things to live in their lands. they killed anatolian people and they faced against mongols. they were killing muslims. turkmani people migrated to anatolia, thats why seljuks could not make home iraq and syria but anatolia.because they had population in anatolia. after destroying of seljuks. there are many turkic states in anatolia. even uygurs founded one called eretna state.and another turkfied mongol tribe kayi founded ataman beklig, they became to state and empire. after ottomans took all of turkic beyliks in anatolia. you cant convert a nation without killing, kurds are still know who are they. zaza, greeks in turkey, armenians and many of them. seljuks tried to make home middle east but they were unsuccessful in iraq and syria. because in these times race was not important, important thing was religion and seljuks didnt kill arabs in middle east and maybe thats why they could not make home iraq and syria. and they made ethnic cleansing on christians in anatolia. and it helps to seljuks to make home anatolia. in first migration turkic people tried to migrate to rich anatolia from turkistan area and settled rich empty anatolian cities. because sultan was encouraging people for migrating to anatolia. thats why sultan gave lands to tribe leaders including Ertugrul’s tribe, and even uygurs were not ruled by seljuks but uygurs joined the migration to anatolia and take lands from sultan in anatolia as a gift. and then anatolian population was not 80 millions like now. even it was 14m in 1920’s

    but second migration was more crowded, it was made to save their life from genghis’s empire. it was more effective more than first one. but mixing of anatolia started after with starting empire of ottomans about 1460’s

    jews, greeks, armenians and arabs were accepted by the government specially in constantinople. they lived together in istanbul. and russian exiles accepted by ottomans, Circassian migrations was accepted but nevertheless anatolia took significant turkic migration from russian exile. crimean tatars, nogais, kumuks, akcays like this. after republic era, they accepted kurdish migration from saddam and now arabs from syria.when we look at this this result is normal. just i disagree about anatolians were converted to islam, i just think anatolia was turkmani but the mixing started after 1460’s


  17. we are very turkic in anatolia but because of the ottomans who took in many people from other nations by marriages some of us may have been genetically varied but that does not change that they now have become turks.these genetic studies do not show anything because dna haplogroups may have beeen formed by geographical and other factors.once a nation leaves the close relatives for centuries new variations of haplogroups come into being to adapt to the new environment.because we set up many empires all across asia and europe and even in northern africa it is normal that we may have married other nationality women.but there are still many of us in anatolia who have the siberian and altayan dna forms and we infulenced eurpean and asian and even african genetics and they also bear the turkic genes be them dominant or recessive


  18. Very detailed descriptions about the conquest of Istanbul. You show your political motivation citing an unrelated story to a genetic research. I hope you one day you visit Cordoba city in Spain and see the Cordoba Church-Mosque. Inside there are a few paintings and reliefs that show the massacre of muslims during the Conquistada. Prada museum in Madrid also have many paintings that show the massacre of muslims in Spain. And these accounts have the quality of “confession” while the account that you cited above has the quality of “claim” at best. When you have free time from genetic research, try to read about the massacre stories of the Crusaders as well. This can add some balanced thinking to your mind.

    Genetic research in different parts of Turkey gives different results. Agean Region (with the exception of İzmir), Central Anatolian and Mediterenean Regions can give more similiarity to Central Asia. While Black sea region should be genetically more similiar to Caucasus. And Eastern Anatolia and South easter Anatolia have more genetic similarities to Syria and Middle East.


  19. Hi,
    You were good in your narrative up to “An observer described the looting …”. I noticed this in every other scholarly text on the Turks written by Orientalists. On one page they praise or simply unbiasedly inform about Turks, on the page accross denigrate them as if to redeem. Typical! Since every study on the Turks made in West need to defame the Turks at some point otherwise its author risks to be marginalised in his/her circle. You do scientificaly a good job in popularising knowledge on Turks, I hope in addition yo this you can cease a bad habit one day in the future.
    Ali U. Peker


  20. “Turkey is not Turkey.” it would be nonsense to say.
    Because the Anatolian Turks are the spearhead of the Turkish race.
    Respectively, migration began from northern China.
    Some remained there.
    The migration continued until the Caspian Sea.
    There are also genetic traces where it passes.
    After the Caspian, the group split into two.
    Some of them advanced from the north of the Caspian.
    The other part is from the south of the Caspian.
    After various interactions, Turks from the south of the Caspian became Muslim. This is the period of Abbasi.
    The majority of the Turks who went from the north became Christians.
    In this case, it is forbidden to marry someone of another race, which is the ancient law of Turks. the law has changed.
    Therefore, there were many genetic interactions until they came to Anatolia.
    It is now called Turkish because it carries the genes of its ancestors.
    This does not happen in everyone. It is a sequence of y-haploid genes in certain proportions.
    In other words, the gene that connects the Turks with their ancestors in northern China.
    According to this map, Anatolian people can be called Turkish.
    After all, the culture still lives.
    Such as using weapons, farming, horse care, use,
    The spirit of fighting is still the same.
    Turks in the north advanced into Russia and Europe.
    Some of them are Muslim, some are Christian, and some have the sky tengri belief.
    Therefore, the faces of those who carry this gene may be different.


  21. >(And the Mongolian-like DNA they do have might be more easily explained by Mongolian expansions than by Turkic ones.)

    You’re acting like the DNA analysis conducted on the skeletal remains of Köktürks, Karakhanids, early Kypchaks, early Oghuzes, medieval Yakuts don’t exist? Besides, people like you have always claimed that Tuvans and other Turkic-speaking peoples in Siberia are closest to the original Turks in terms of genetics and phenotype? [ignoring the fact that they are literally Turco-Mongol hybrids] What happened? I guess the fact that even Siberian Turkics have much lower percentages of O3 and C2 than Mongolians did isn’t convenient for your “Turkic Mongoloids” fantasy. You have to explain how today’s most Mongoloid-looking Turkic peoples (the Siberian ones plus Kazakhs and Kyrgyzes) could drastically lost the high frequencies of O3 and C2 if the hypothetical 100% Mongoloid ancestral Turkics were genetically similar to Naimans. Even 100% Mongoloid Yugurs have less O3 and less C2 than Naimans. lol


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