Bloody hell

In Turkey, a controversy erupted because Ancestry.com revealed that many Turks have more Greek DNA than Turkish. The Turkish DNA Project, a “community project” that researches Oghuz Turks, forerunners of the Ottoman Turks that conquered Anatolia from the Greek Byzantine Empire, called for boycotts of Ancestry.com, and Ahval, an online news site reporting on Turkey but based in the United Arab Emirates, reports that revelations about Turkish DNA have “shaken Turkish beliefs in their “Turkishness.”

The Turks originated in northeastern, Asia before migrating across southwest Asia in the medieval period, leaving significant pockets of Turks in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Persia, among others. Anatolia had long been a crossroad between Europe and Asia, and had been the home of Hittites, Lydians, Celts, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and more. Classical Greece famously colonized much of Anatolia, establishing settlements along the Aegean coast and in Pontus on the Black Sea, and Istanbul itself began as a Greek colony called Byzantium. Alexander the Great spread Greek culture even further across Anatolia into Persia and India, and the Pontic King Mithridates the Great claimed descent from Alexander and from the Persian King Xerxes

In 1071, the Turks under defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, and the conquest of Anatolia began. Constantinople was conquered by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453 after a 53-day siege, and the Turks continued to advance across the Balkans and into Greece itself, taking Greece’s Peloponnesian Peninsula by 1459, Bosnia in 1463, and the Greek island of Rhodes in 1529. It was in Wallachia, in the Balkans, that Mehmed II, in 1462, faced Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Vlad impaled 23,000 Turks before Mehmed II was able to take Wallachia, too. In 1683, the Turks were finally defeated by the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the Battle of Vienna, and the Turks never threatened Europe again. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was broken up, and Turkey’s borders have remained relatively the same since.

All of this history just goes to show what a mix Anatolians are. Even Turkish President Erdogan hails from a formerly Greek town that’s since been Turkified, and though would never admit it, likely has significant Greek heritage. A funny little joke the Greeks played, submitting to the Ottomans only to turn them all at least partly Greek.

Which just goes to show how little blood has to do with culture, despite what the race essentialists claim. I touched on this a little bit on Twitter with Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel (no relation) and Australian writer Gray Connolly. Culture is far more about common languages and beliefs than about ancestry, so whether the Turks have Greek or Turkic blood doesn’t matter. The Turks are tied by Islam and by the Turkish language. Both Connolly and Gabriel made the point that under the Roman Empire, a Roman was anyone who swore allegiance to Rome. Blood mattered little.

I remember when the U.S. seemed headed that way. Seems so long ago.

One thought on “Bloody hell

  1. Every so often 23-and-Me revises my ancestry composition as more and more people get tested. The latest revamp indicates that I have about half a percent Anatolian ancestry. Where that might come from I have no idea. I expect the next revision to have it go away.

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