Who are the Anatolian Turks? Reappraisal of the Anthropological Genetic Evidence

TitleWho are the Anatolian Turks? Reappraisal of the Anthropological Genetic Evidence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsYardumian, Aram, and Theodore G. Schurr
JournalAnthropology & Archeology of Eurasia
AbstractDue to its long-term geographic position as gateway between Europe and Asia, the genetic constitution of Anatolia is highly complex. In spite of its overwhelming diversity, most citizens of the Republic of Turkey are firstlanguage Turkish-speakers and consider themselves ethnic Turks. This was not the case during the early Middle Ages and the time of the Byzantine Empire. Although we are able to identify four successive Turkic empires, Islamicization, and post-World War I nationalization as the essential steps toward ethnic homogenization, from historical texts alone we cannot determine to what extent mass migration from Central Asia and Siberia is responsible for Turkish dominance in Anatolia today. To assess the extent of gene flow from lands east of the Caspian, we examined the patterns of genetic variation in Turkic-speaking populations from Anatolia to Siberia. This analysis allows us to build the case for incommensurable, long-term, and continuing genetic signatures in both Anatolia and Siberia, and for significant mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome divergence between the regions, with minimal admixture. We supplement the case against mass migration with correlative archeological, historical, and linguistic data, and suggest that it was irregular punctuated migration events that engendered large-scale shifts in language and culture among Anatolia's diverse autochthonous inhabitants.