Since my original post, I have learned many things about Turkey–mostly that Turks and other Turkic peoples love their culture and heritage. Note: I will probably use “Turkey” and “Anatolia”, interchangeably in this post. Turkey is the name for the modern state located in the region; Anatolia is a more generic name for the geography. I know that “Turkey” as a state or even a people didn’t exist 8,000 years ago.
Turkey has a long and fascinating history. It is possibly the cradle of civilization, as sites like Gobekli Tepe attest, and one of the birthplaces of agriculture.
Early farmers spread out from Anatolia into Europe and Asia, contributing much of the modern European gene pool. There are many Y-DNA haplogroups in modern Turkey, which most likely means the Turkish male population hasn’t been completely replaced in recent invasions. (It’s not uncommon for an invasion to wipe out 80+% of the male population in an area.) About 24% of Turkish men carry haplogroup J2, which might not have originated in Turkey all of those centuries ago, but by 12,000 years ago it was common throughout Turkey (and today remains the most common haplogroup). This lineage spread with the Anatolian farmers into Europe around 8,000 years ago. and presumably Asia, as well.
The second most common Y-haplogroup, at 16%, is good old R1b, which was carried into Turkey around 5-6,000 years ago by the Indo-European invaders. (The Indo-European invasion in Spain apparently wiped out all of the local men, but was not nearly so bad in Turkey.) These invaders spoke the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European tree, including Hittite and Luwian.
The Anatolian languages went extinct following Anatolia’s conquest by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC (though it took several centuries for the languages to fall completely out of use.)
Haplogroup G–11%–is most common in the Caucasus, spread thinly over much of Anatolia and Iran, and even more thinly through Europe, North Africa, and central Asia. It’s probably a pretty old group–Otzi the Iceman was a member of the G clade.
Haplogroup E-M215 is found in about 10% of Turks and is most common in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, but is also quite common in Bedouin populations. It seems likely to be a very old haplogroup.
J1–9%–is common throughout the Middle East and amusingly reaches 46% among Jewish men named “Cohen.”
The rest of Turkish Y-chromosomes hail either from related haplogroups, like R1a, or represent smaller fractions of the population, like Q, 2%, commonly found in Siberia and Native Americans.
So how much Turkish DNA hails from Turkic peoples?
Modern Turks don’t speak Anatolian or Greek. They speak a Turkic language, which hails originally from an area near Mongolia. The Turkic-speaking peoples migrated into Anatolia around a thousand years ago, after a long migration/expansion through central Eurasia that culminated with the conquering of Constantinople. Today, the most notable Turkic-speaking groups are the Turks of Turkey, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmen and Kyrgyz people.
The difficulty with tracing Turkic DNA is that, unlike the Mongols, Turkic DNA isn’t terribly homogeneous. The Mongols left a definite genetic signature wherever they went, but imparted less of their language–that is, they killed, raped, and taxed, but didn’t mix much with the locals. By contrast, the Turkic peoples seem to have mixed with their neighbors as they spread, imparting their language and probably not massacring too many people.
The largest autosomal study on Turkish genetics (on 16 individuals) concluded the weight of East Asian (presumably Central Asian) migration legacy of the Turkish people is estimated at 21.7%.
Note that Turkey shares haplogroup J2 with its Turkic neighbors. This raises an interesting possibility: early Anatolian farmers spread into central Eurasia, mixed with local nomadic Turkic speakers, and then migrated back into Turkey. But 16 people isn’t much of a study.
“South Asian contribution to Turkey’s population was significantly higher than East/Central Asian contributions, suggesting that the genetic variation of medieval Central Asian populations may be more closely related to South Asian populations, or that there was continued low level migration from South Asia into Anatolia.”
“South Asian” here I assume means that Turkey looks more like Iran than Uzbekistan, which is true. The Turkic wanderers likely passed through Iran on their way to Turkey, picking up Iranian culture (such as Islam) and DNA–plus the pre-existing Anatolian population was probably closer to Iran than Uzbekistan anyway.
… the exact kinship between current East Asians and the medieval Oghuz Turks is uncertain. For instance, genetic pools of Central Asian Turkic peoples is particularly diverse and modern Oghuz Turkmens living in Central Asia are with higher West Eurasian genetic component than East Eurasian.
I think “West Eurasian” is a euphemism for “Caucasian.” East Eurasian (aka Asian) DNA, you can see in the map above, tends to be red+yellow, tending toward all red in Siberia and all yellow in Taiwan. Indo-European groups, including Iranians, tend to have a teal/blue/orange pattern. Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Uygurs, as you can see in the graph, have a combination of both sets of DNA. The Turks also have a small amount of east Asian DNA–but much less–while their neighbors in Iran and central Eurasia share a little Indian DNA.
Several studies have concluded that the genetic haplogroups indigenous to Western Asia have the largest share in the gene pool of the present-day Turkish population. An admixture analysis determined that the Anatolian Turks share most of their genetic ancestry with non-Turkic populations in the region and the 12th century is set as an admixture date.
Western Asia=Middle East.
So Turkish DNA is about 22% Turkic, from nomads who entered the country via Iran, and about 78% ancient Anatolian, from the people who had already lived there on the Anatolian plateau for centuries.
But as the Turkic peoples (and many of the comments on my original post) show, culture doesn’t have to be genetic, and many Turkic people feel a strong cultural connection to each other. (And many people report that various Turkic languages are pretty easy to understand if you speak one Turkic language–EG:
hello everyone I’m an Uzbek,
… 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.
Our Uzbeki friend’s full comment is very interesting, and I recommend you read the whole thing.
For that matter, many thanks to everyone who has left interesting comments sharing your family’s histories or personal perspectives on Turkish/Turkic culture and history over the years–I hope you have enjoyed this update.
I desired to read a good ethnography of Middle Eastern life in the 1800s, but not happening upon one, I settled for Our Moslem Sisters: A Cry of Need from Lands of Darkness Interpreted by Those Who Heard It, edited by Annie Van Sommer and Samuel M. Zwemer. (Published in 1907.)
Sommer, Zwemer, and the book’s other contributing authors were Christian missionaries who lived in a variety of Islamic countries or areas around the turn of the 19th century. Often these missionaries brought much-needed medical supplies (and sometimes food) into poor areas.
“We know the paucity of literature of all kinds in Turkey, where government press regulations prohibit any general output of publications; this, combined with the very general poverty of the people, makes many a home bookless, and the great majority of lives barren. …
“I have travelled on the railroad in Turkey with Moslem women, in the special compartment, where in the freedom of the day’s travel, they have thrown back their veils and silken wraps, showing their pretty French costumes and the diamonds upon their fingers, as they offered their Frank fellow-traveller cake, or possibly chocolates, and have more than once felt the embarrassment of a missionary purse too slender to allow of such luxuries, with which to return the compliment. Once a Moslem woman took from her travelling hand-basket paper and pencil, and proceeded to write, as I was doing! Page after page she wrote, though in just the reverse manner from our writing, and we soon established a feeling of comradeship.
“I have been also a deeply sympathetic witness of moving scenes in which the proverbial love of the Turkish father for his children could not be concealed. As the train awaited the signal for departure from a station, one day, the evident distress of a pretty girl opposite me, broke into crying. She had climbed into the corner by the window, and the guard had not yet closed the door. Involuntarily my eyes followed the child’s grieved gaze, until they rested upon a tall, gray-bearded Turkish officer standing by the station, who was evidently striving to control his emotion answering to the grief of the child. Finally he yielded to the heart-broken crying of the little one, and came to the car door to speak soothingly to her.”
“Throughout the Province, but especially among the Afghans and Brahuis, the position of woman is one of extreme degradation; she is not only a mere household drudge, but she is the slave of man in all his needs, and her life is one of continual and abject toil. No sooner is a girl fit for work than her parents send her to tend cattle and she is compelled to take her part in all the ordinary household duties. Owing to the system of walwar in vogue among the Afghans, a girl, as soon as she reaches nubile age, is, for all practical purposes, put up for auction sale to the highest bidder. The father discourses on her merits, as a beauty or as a housekeeper, in the public meeting places, and invites offers from those who are in want of a wife. Even the more wealthy and more respectable Afghans are not above this system of thus lauding the human wares which they have for sale. The betrothal of girls who are not yet born is frequent, and a promise of a girl thus made is considered particularly binding.
“It is also usual for an award of compensation for blood to be ordered to be paid in this shape of girls, some of whom are living, while others are not yet born. …
“A wife in Baluchistan must not only carry water, prepare food, and attend to all ordinary household duties, but she must take the flocks out to graze, groom her husband’s horse, and assist in the cultivation. … Hence it happens that among Afghans, polygamy is only limited by the purchasing power of a man; and a wife is looked on as a better investment than cattle, for in a country where drought and scarcity are continually present, the risk of loss of animals is great, whilst the offspring of a woman, if a girl, will assuredly fetch a high price.” …
“Regarding polygamy, the average man is unable to afford more than one wife, but the higher classes often possess from thirty to sixty women, many of them from the Hazare tribes of Afghanistan, whose women and children, during the rebellion in the late Amir’s reign, were sold over into Baluchistan and Afghanistan. In nearly every village of any size one sees the Hazare women, and the chief will talk of buying them as a farmer at home will speak of purchasing cattle.”
“Let me give you a few of my experiences with regard to Mussulman women, especially during my stay in Hyderabad. One zenana we used to visit belonged to an old man who professed to be a great reformer, but whose women were still in strict purdah. He several times told us that he would be delighted if we could persuade his wife and daughters to go out with us, but of course they would not hear of such a thing. To their minds it is only the very poor and degraded who wander about unveiled or even drive in an open carriage, and would not all the ladies of their acquaintance be horrified at the bare idea of their leaving their old habits. …
“With this lady and her daughters we one day went to a fair for women only. We had to submit to having our carriage covered with a very large sheet so that no eye could see through the closed venetians, and when, after great difficulty, the lady had been placed in the carriage we drove to the enclosure where the fair was to be held. Right into the enclosure drove the carriage, and then the ladies, carefully shrouded in sheets, were conducted through a narrow gateway into a second enclosure, and there were thousands of women and children. Not a man was to be seen anywhere. It was so strange to see them wandering about freely in their bright-colored garments and to remember the streets of the great city they had come from, where hardly a woman is ever seen. These women never crossed the threshold of their houses before perhaps, so it was like fairyland to them. …
“Still progress is being made, we feel quite sure, and one thing seems to prove this. Though the Mohammedans in South India are backward and full of things to be deplored, yet they are innocent of many things which are evidently carried on in other Mohammedan countries. We, in South India, who have for years worked amongst Moslems never heard of the customs which seem to prevail in Egypt. Divorce is rarely heard of. Possibly it is too expensive, as the husband must return the dower. A woman being married to half a dozen husbands in succession is unheard of.”
“Some fifty years ago there lived in Kashgar a man called Chodsha Burhaneddin. … He married a woman of noble descent, and for some time contented himself with his one wife. But according to Islam it is a merit to take if possible four wives, in order to increase the number of the adherents of Islam. For this reason Chodsha brought home another wife whenever he travelled on business to the Russian town of Andishan on that side of the Tienshan, until the number of four was full. The consequence was that he not only neglected his first wife, but even had her do all the housework alone, thus making her the servant of his three other wives.
“She had to serve them from early morning till late at night. Without grumbling and with great diligence the poor woman took all the work upon herself; secretly, however, she bewailed her hard lot and employed her few free hours for the education of her little daughter. However, she did not succeed in satisfying her husband. He always found fault, beat her, and bade her not show her face before him. His wife submitted patiently and silently…Four years passed.
“Meanwhile several political revolutions had taken place in Kashgar. In China the numerous Chinese Mohammedans had revolted, and the revolt had spread over the western countries. In eastern Turkestan the Chinese officials as well as the soldiers and the merchants had been killed by the Mohammedans; only a few escaped death by accepting Islam.
“This state of matters was put an end to by Jakob Beg. He had come from Chanab Chokand, north of the Tienshan, under the pretext of helping the descendant of the old Kashgarian dynasty of the Chodshas to the throne. In due time he put the Prince aside and founded a kingdom of his own, which included the whole of eastern Turkestan. After taking hold of the government he tried to weaken the Chodshas in every way possible, some of them were assassinated, others put in prison in order to be executed. One of the latter was Chodsha Burhaneddin.
“As soon as his wife heard that her husband had been made a prisoner, she hurried to her father, who was well esteemed at Jakob Beg’s court, and besought him to make the most of his influence in order to save her husband. Then she prepared a meal, took it to her imprisoned husband, and encouraged him. At his request she roused her father still more so as to betake himself at once to Jakob Beg, and to prevail on him to set the prisoner at liberty that same night.
“Chodsha Burhaneddin returned to his house and entered the room of his wife whom he had so long neglected, in order to thank her for his delivery. Afterwards she had one more child, a boy.”
“The social condition of Mohammedan women in Kansu Province in Northwest China is not so hard as those of their sisters in the more western countries. The Mohammedans, having been in China now about a thousand years, have, save in the matter of idolatry, practically adopted the Chinese customs, even to the binding of the feet of their little girls.”
EvX: I would like to note that footbinding sounds pretty hard to me.
“Among the wealthier Mohammedans, as with the wealthier Chinese, polygamy is common, many having two or three wives, and among the middle class, when there has been no issue by the first wife, many take unto themselves a second wife. Divorces are of rare occurrence.
“There are no harems. The better-class women are not seen much on the streets, but in the country places, the farmer’s wife, daughters, and daughters-in-law go out into the fields, weed and reap the corn, carry water, gather in fuel, and wear no veil. The daughters and daughters-in-law of the better class, from the age of fifteen to thirty, often wear a black veil when going on a visit to their friends, as also do the Chinese. …
“Speaking of the Mohammedan male population in our prefecture of Si-ning, the vast majority are ignorant of the tenets of the Koran, know little of anything, save that Masheng-ren is their prophet, and that there is a Supreme Being somewhere …
“After the rebellion of 1895, when retribution fell heavily on the Mohammedans, thousands of them were reduced to the verge of starvation; women, who had been accustomed to the comforts of a good home, were deprived of their warm winter clothing and left only with thin summer tattered garments, right in the depth of winter with a thermometer registering below zero (Fahrenheit). By the help of many kind friends in different parts of China, we were enabled to open a soup-kitchen and provide hot food every day for six weeks, during the bitterest part of the winter, to an average of three hundred persons each day, and also to give away several warm garments to those in direst need.”
Welcome back to Anthropology Friday. Today we’re finishing up with Arthur Griffith’s oddly named The History and Romance of Crime: Oriental Prisons.Griffiths was a British prison administrator and inspector of the late 1800s. I am not sure when the book was published, but I believe it was sometime in the early 1900s, for Griffiths mentions events that occurred up to 1899 and died in 1908.
“The land of the Pharaohs has ever been governed by the practices and influenced by the traditions of the East. From the time of the Arab conquest, Mohammedan law has generally prevailed, and the old penal code was derived directly from the Koran. Its provisions were most severe, but followed the dictates of common sense and were never outrageously cruel. The law of talion was generally enforced, a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Murder entailed the punishment of death, but a fine might be paid to the family of the deceased if they would accept it; this was only permitted when the homicide was attended by palliating circumstances. The price of blood varied. It might be the value of a hundred camels; or if the culprit was the possessor of gold, a sum equal to £500 was demanded, but if he possessed silver only, the price asked was a sum equal to £300. …
“Compensation in the form of a fine is not now permitted. … The price of blood was incumbent upon the whole tribe or family to which the murderer belonged. A woman convicted of a capital crime was generally drowned in the Nile.
“Blood-revenge was a common practice among the Egyptian people. The victim’s relations claimed the right to kill the perpetrator, and relationship was widely extended, for the blood guiltiness included the homicide, his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather, and all these were liable to retaliation from any of the relatives of the deceased, who in times past, killed with their own hands rather than appeal to the government, and often did so with disgusting cruelty, even mangling and insulting the corpse. Animosity frequently survived even after retaliation had been accomplished, and blood-revenge sometimes subsisted between neighbouring villages for several years and through many generations.
“Revengeful mutilation was allowed by the law in varying degrees. Cutting off the nose was equivalent to the whole price of blood, or of any two members,—two arms, two hands, or two legs; the removal of one was valued at half the price of blood. The fine of a man for maiming or wounding a woman was just half of that inflicted for injuring a man, if free; if a slave the fine was fixed according to the commercial value of the slave. The whole price of blood was demanded if the victim had been deprived of any of his five senses or when he had been grievously wounded or disfigured for life….
“The modern traveller in Egypt will bear witness to the admirable police system introduced under British rule, and to the security afforded to life and property in town and country by a well organised, well conducted force. In former days, under the Pashas, the whole administration of justice was corrupt from the judge in his court to the police armed with arbitrary powers of oppression….
“Until 1844 the Egyptian police was ineffective, the law was often a dead letter, and the prisons were a disgrace to humanity and civilisation. Before that date the country was covered with zaptiehs, or small district prisons, in which illegal punishment and every form of cruelty were constantly practised. It was quite easy for anyone in authority to consign a fellah to custody. One of the first of the many salutary reforms introduced by the new prison department established under British predominance was an exact registration of every individual received at the prison gate, and the enforcement of the strict rule that no one should be admitted without an order of committal duly signed by some recognised judicial authority.”
“There are few notable buildings in Turkey constructed primarily as prisons. In fact there are few buildings of any sort constructed for that purpose. But every palace had, and one may almost say, still has its prison chambers; and every fortress has its dungeons, the tragedies of which are chiefly a matter of conjecture. Few were present at the tortures, and in a country where babbling is not always safe, witnesses were likely to be discreet.
“In and around Constantinople, if walls had only tongues, strange and gruesome stories might be told. On the Asiatic side of the Bosporus still stand the ruins of a castle built by Bayezid I, known as “the Thunderbolt” when the Ottoman princes were the dread of Europe. Sigismund, King of Hungary, had been defeated, and Constantinople was the next object of attack, though not to fall for a half century. This castle was named “the Beautiful,” but so many prisoners died there of torture and ill-treatment that the name “Black Tower” took its place in common speech.”
EvX: I believe this is Bayezid’s fortress, the Anadolu hisarı, which awkwardly has an i with no dot over it:
Bayezid himself was an interesting character. According to Wikipedia:
Bayezid I … He built one of the largest armies in the known world at the time and unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople. He adopted the title of Sultan-i Rûm, Rûm being an old Islamic name for the Roman Empire. He decisively defeated the Crusaders at Nicopolis (in modern Bulgaria) in 1396, and was himself defeated and captured by Timur at the Battle of Ankara in 1402 and died in captivity in March 1403.
Back to Griffiths:
“Directly opposite, on the European side of the Bosporus, is Rumili Hissar, or the Castle of Europe, which Muhammad II, “the Conqueror,” built in 1452 when he finally reached out to transform the headquarters of Eastern Christendom into the centre of Islam. The castle was built upon the site of the state prison of the Byzantine emperors, which was destroyed to make room for it. The three towers of the castle, and the walls thirty feet thick, still stand.
“In the Tower of Oblivion which now has as an incongruous neighbour, the Protestant institution, Robert College, is a fiendish reminder of days hardly yet gone. A smooth walled stone chute reaches from the interior of the tower down into the Bosporus. Into the mouth of this the hapless victim, bound and gagged perhaps, with weights attached to his feet, was placed. Down he shot and bubbles marked for a few seconds the grave beneath the waters.
“The Conqueror built also the Yedi Kuleh, or the “Seven Towers,” at the edge of the old city. This imperial castle, like the Bastile or the Tower of London, was also a state prison, though its glory and its shame have both departed. The Janissaries who guarded this castle used to bring thither the sultans whom they had dethroned either to allow them to linger impotently or to cause them to lose their heads. A cavern where torture was inflicted and the rusty machines which tore muscles and cracked joints, may still be seen. The dungeons in which the prisoners lay are also shown. A small open court was the place of execution and to this day it is called the “place of heads” while a deep chasm into which the heads were thrown is the “well of blood.”
“Several sultans, (the exact number is uncertain) and innumerable officers of high degree have suffered the extreme penalty here. It was here too that foreign ambassadors were always imprisoned in former days, when Turkey declared war against the states they represented. The last confined here was the French representative in 1798.
“Another interesting survival of early days is the Seraglio, the old palace of the sultans, and its subsidiary buildings, scattered over a considerable area. In the court of the treasury is the Kafess, or cage, in which the imperial children were confined from the time of Muhammad III, lest they should aspire to the throne. Sometimes however the brothers and sons of the reigning sultan were confined, each in a separate pavilion on the grounds. A retinue of women, pages and eunuchs was assigned to each but the soldiers who guarded them were warned to be strict. The present sultan was confined by his brother Abdul Hamid within the grounds of the Yildiz Kiosk, where he had many liberties but was a prisoner nevertheless. Absolutism breeds distrust of all, no matter how closely connected by ties of blood.”
EvX: The Kafes, strange as it sounds, was real–a prison for princes. According to Wikipedia:
Thereafter, the “rule of elderness” was adopted as the rule of succession in the House of Osmanli so that all males within an older generation were exhausted before the succession of the eldest male in the next generation. …
It became common to confine brothers, cousins and nephews to the Cage, generally not later than when they left the harem (women’s quarters) at puberty. This also marked the end of their education and many sultans came to the throne ill-prepared to be rulers, without any experience of government or affairs outside the Cage. There they had only the company of servants and the women of their harems, occasionally with deposed sultans. …
At different times, it was the policy to ensure that inmates of the Cage only took barren concubines. Consequently, some sultans did not produce sons until they acceded to the throne. These sons, by virtue of their youth at the time of their fathers’ deaths, ensured that the rule of elderness became entrenched …
Confinement in the Cage had a great impact on the personalities of the captives in the Kafes and many of them developed psychological disorders. At least one deposed sultan and one heir committed suicide in the Cage. …
The last Ottoman sultan, Mehmet VI Vahidettin (1918–22) was aged 56 when he came to the throne and had been either in the harem or the Cage his whole life. He was confined to the Cage by his uncle (Abdülaziz) and had stayed there during the reigns of his three older brothers.
This system sounds like it couldn’t possibly have produced good rulers. So after the Turkish sultans condemned their posterity to prison, who actually ran things?
That’s all for today. Everyone take care, follow the law, and stay out of prison!
Pusat Sesi recently had some interesting comments on Turkic languages and culture, which I thought it a shame to leave buried on an old post that few people are likely to read, so we’re transforming it into a guest post (the pictures are my additions):
Hello, I am a Turkish citizen and my family members are descendants 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 Alphabet (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 hypothetical 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 ancestral lands. Those ancestors of course should be one of Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Mongol people.)
3) Turks were a warrior nation due to their nomadic lifestyle and most of the time they were a minority among the people where they invaded/occupied/migrated/dwelled. 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 Phrygians, 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, in 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 pharaohs and builders of pyramids. Today they have almost no connection with their past except for the skin color. The reason is that they are completely 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). 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 of 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 characteristics 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 do I mean by this “pure Turkic word structure”? Turkic language has two sounds for one letter, one is soft (with a front vowel) and the other is thick (with a back vowel). So if a word starts with a soft letter, then all the syllables should also be soft. For instance, if the word “computer” were Turkic, it should be written as “komputar”. I will also use what 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 Turkey is not very Turkic in DNA but very Turkic in every other aspects.
The first six civilizations–Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley (Harappa), Andes, China, and Mesoamerica– are supposed to have arisen independently of each other approximately 6,000 to 3,500 years ago.
Of course, we can’t be absolutely sure they arose completely independently of each other–people from the Andes could have traveled to Mesoamerica and influenced people there, or people from Mesopotamia could have been in contact with people from the Indus Valley or Egypt. But these civilizations are thought to have probably arisen fairly independently of each other, as mostly spontaneous responses to local conditions.
I set out to research the big six because I realized that I know approximately nothing about the Indus Valley civilization, despite it actually being significantly older than the Chinese–for that matter, it turns out that Andean civilization is also older than China’s.
(Sorry this map is too small to be really useful, but the next one one is better:)
Interestingly, while Mesoamerica has corn and the Andes have beans, potatoes and peanuts, Egypt and Mesopotamia have… not a lot of locally domesticated crops.
It’s understandable how Chinese civilization, which got started much later, might have originally imported rice from further south. But if Egypt and Mesopotamia are the world’s first centers of agriculture, where did they get their wheat from?
Anyway, I have been reading about Gobekli Tepe, an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey, about 7 miles from Şanlıurfa, which radiocarbon dating suggests was constructed by 11,000 years ago:
[The site] includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th – 8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and a weight of up to 20 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. …
All statements about the site must be considered preliminary, as less than 5% of the site has been excavated, … While the site formally belongs to the earliest Neolithic (PPNA), up to now no traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found. The inhabitants are assumed to have been hunters and gatherers who nevertheless lived in villages for at least part of the year. …
Hewing enormous monoliths out of the rock and then hauling them uphill to form some sort of mysterious structure that doesn’t even appear to be a house takes a tremendous amount of work:
But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies. Archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries and move them 100–500 meters (330–1,640 ft) to the site. The pillars weigh 10–20 metric tons (10–20 long tons; 11–22 short tons), with one still in the quarry weighing 50 tons. It has been suggested that an elite class of religious leaders supervised the work and later controlled whatever ceremonies took place. If so, this would be the oldest known evidence for a priestly caste—much earlier than such social distinctions developed elsewhere in the Near East.
Eastern Turkey (modern Kurdistan): the first civilization?
There are several other sites in the area, though not as old as Gobekli Tepe, such as Nevalı Çori.
So where did domesticated wheat come from? Einkorn wheat’s closest wild relatives have been found in Karaca Dag, Turkey, about 20 miles away. Wild emmer wheat appears to be a hybrid between a wild Einkorn variety and a not-quite identified species and grows from Israel to Iran, though our first evidence of domestication come from Israel and Syria. (Of course, we may have excavated more archaeological sites in Israel than, say, Iraq or Turkey, for obvious recent geopolitical and religious reasons.)
Regardless, we know that these first Anatolian farmers made a huge impact on the European genetic landscape:
The guys on the left, the ones with “blue” DNA, are European hunter-gatherers who occupied the continent before farmers arrived. The guys in the middle, “orange,” are farmers. The farmers appear to have arrived initially in Europe around Starcevo (in the Balkans) and spread out from there, eventually conquering, overwheliming, or otherwise displacing the hunter-gatherers. (The teal-blue group is “Indo-Europeans” who lived out on the Asian steppe and so did not get conquered by farmers.) From Europedia.com:
Of course, people have been referring to the region from the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates to the Nile valley as the “Fertile Crescent” for a hundred years, though the major differences of Egyptian and Sumerian civilization make it sensible to speak of them separately. But it looks to me that they may both owe their origins (at least their crops) to some highly-organized Turkish hunter-gatherers.
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: (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:
Zooming in on the relevant portion:
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:
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.
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.
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.
And we don’t have time to run through all of them. We will mention those who are included in Haak’s dataset, though:
(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.)
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. 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.
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”.
As I have mentioned before, I strongly recommend not getting conquered.