In the past 10 years, geneticists have investigated the genetic variation of modern Turkic populations as well as ancient
In the past 10–15 years, geneticists have traced the genetic origins of various human populations by studying their paternally inherited Y-chromosomes and maternally inherited mitochondrial
The Origins, Identity, and Physiognomy of the Early and Medieval Turkic Peoples according to Chinese Histories5
The Xiongnu were the first nomadic empire-builders in Inner Asian history. Historians have been unable to confirm whether or not the Xiongnu were a Turkic people.6 According to some fragmentary information on the Xiongnu language that can be found in the Chinese histories, the Xiongnu were Turkic and not Mongolic. The mid sixth-century work Weishu relates that the language of the Gaoche (高車), a Turkic people who established a nomadic state in modern-day Xinjiang in the late fifth century ad, and that of the Xiongnu were roughly the same with some differences.7 In addition, the mid seventh-century work Beishi recounts that the language of the Yuwen Xiongnu, a Xiongnu tribe active during the Sixteen Kingdoms Period (304–439
Sun Zhen, the chamberlain (詹事) of the crown prince, asked the minister (侍中) Cui Yue, ‘I suffer from eye diseases. What is the remedy for it?’ Yue, who had always been informal towards Zhen, teased him saying, ‘if [you] urinate in the middle [of the eye], it will be cured’. ‘How can you urinate in the eye?’ Zhen asked. ‘Your eyes are dented. You can urinate in the middle’, Yue said. Zhen harboured hatred and reported this to [Crown Prince] [Shi] Xuan (石宣). Xuan was the most ‘barbarian (hu 胡)’-looking among the princes. His eyes were deep. Hearing this, he became very angry. He killed Yue and his son. 8
The Dingling or Tiele
Unlike for the Xiongnu, historians know with certainty that the Dingling (丁零), a nomadic people who inhabited present-day northern Mongolia during the Xiongnu period, were a Turkic people. Chinese histories are unanimous in depicting them as the ancestors of the Tiele (鐵勒), a group of Turkic tribes that became one of the dominant nomadic powers in the Mongolian steppes after the disintegration of the Xiongnu empire (Weishu, 103. 2307; Beishi, 98.3270). According to the Shiji, Maodun (冒顿, r. 209–174
The Dingling outlived the Xiongnu and re-appear as the Gaoche, or Tiele, in the medieval Chinese histories. As to the origin of the Gaoche, or Tiele, the Weishu and the Beishi describe them as ‘the remnants of the ancient Chidi (古赤狄之餘種)’ (Weishu 103.2307; Beishi 98.3270.), while the Suishu (c. 630s
The Kök Türks
The nomadic people who spread the Turkic language and the name Türk beyond the Mongolian steppes were the Kök Türks (Tujue 突厥 in Chinese) led by the Ashina clan. Importantly, Chinese histories do not describe them as descending from the Dingling or as belonging to the Tiele confederation.10 The Zhoushu (c. 630s
Simo was a relative of Xieli. Because his face was like that of the ‘barbarian (huren 胡人)’ and not like that of the Tujue, Shibi [Khagan] and Chuluo [Khagan] were doubtful of his being one of the Ashina. Thus although he always held the title of Jiabi tele[i] (夾畢特勒) during Chuluo and Xieli’s time, he could not become a shad (she 設) in command of the army till the end …13
It should be noted that the seventh-century Tang historian Yan Shigu (顏師古), who added a commentary to the Hanshu (c. 80s
The Wusun have the weirdest appearance among all the Rong (戎) of the Western Region (西域). Today’s Hu (胡) people, being blue-eyed and red-bearded, and having the appearance of macaques, were originally their progeny.14
However, no comparable depiction of the Kök Türks or Tiele is found in the official Chinese histories.15
The Kök Türks became divided into Eastern Türks and Western Türks in the late sixth century (583
Interestingly, the Chinese histories refer to some obscure nomadic tribes residing beyond northern Mongolia as Tujue, i.e., Kök Türk. These include such tribes as the Muma Tujue (木馬突厥) [Wooden-horse Türk], the Xianyu Tujue (鮮于突厥) and the Niuti Tujue (牛蹄突厥) [Ox-hoof Türk], who resided to the east of the Qirghiz.19 However, not much is known about them and as to why they were designated as Tujue.20 According to the Xin Tangshu (217b.6148), the Doubo (都播), an ancestral tribe of modern Tuvinians, constituted one of the three Muma Tujue tribes, who ‘mourn their dead like the Kök Türks’.21
One of the major Tiele tribes that were subdued and ruled by the Kök Türks was the Uighur (Huihe 回紇), who allied with the Qarluq, a Western Türk tribe, and the Basmil, another Tiele tribe, and overthrew the Second Türk Khaghanate in 745
The Qirghiz, who destroyed the Uighur Khaganate in 840
The Jiankun (堅昆) [Qirghiz] tribe, [unlike the Türks], is not of wolf descent. Their ancestors were born in a cave located to the north of the Quman Mountain. They themselves say that in the ancient times there was a god who mated with a cow in that cave. The people’s hair is yellow, eyes are green, and beards are red.
The Qirghiz are distinguished from the Uighurs and other Tiele tribes in Chinese histories. The Xin Tangshu, which provides detailed information on the Qirghiz and the Tiele tribes, does not include the former among the latter (Xin Tangshu 217b.6139–6145). In addition, while the Xin Tangshu states that ‘their language and script were identical to those of the Uighurs (其文字言語，與回鶻正同)’ (Xin Tangshu 217b.6148), it also notes the peculiar physical phenotype of the Qirghiz. The Xin Tangshu relates: ‘The people are all tall and big and have red hair, white faces, and green eyes (人皆長大，赤髮、皙面、綠瞳)’ (Xin Tangshu, 217b.6147).25 According to the Xin Tangshu, their neighbouring tribe named Boma (駁馬) or Bila (弊剌) resembled the Qirghiz, although their language was different (Xin Tangshu 217b.6146). This may imply that the Qirghiz were originally a non-Turkic people26 who became Turkicized during the Kök Türk period at least partly through inter-tribal marriages. The Xin Tangshu relates that ‘the Kök Türks sent women as wives for the [Qirghiz] chiefs (突厥以女妻其酋豪)’ (Xin Tangshu, 217b.6149). In the case of Are (阿熱), the Qirghiz ruler who destroyed the Uighur Khaganate, his wife was a Qarluq woman, while his mother was a Türgesh (Xin Tangshu 217b.6149). In addition, the Xin Tangshu relates that the Qirghiz ‘intermixed with the Dingling (其種雜丁零)’ (Xin Tangshu 217b.6146–47). At any rate, the (red-haired) Qirghiz ‘found dark hair ominous (以黑髮為不祥)’ and ‘regarded those with black eyes as descending from [Li] Ling (李陵)’, a Chinese general who had defected to the Xiongnu.27
The Önggüt and the Naiman
From the collapse of the Uighur Khaganate in the mid ninth century
The Qipchaq were a Turkic group that formed the dominant nomadic confederation in the Qipchaq Steppe (Kazakh and Black Sea steppes) from the mid eleventh century to the early thirteenth century
Tuotuoha’s ancestors were originally the tribe of the Andahan Mountain, by the Zhelian River, north of Wuping. At first Quchu migrated to the north-west, to the mountain called Yüliboli, by which they named their clan, and they called their state Qincha (Qipchaq). Its territory is 30,000 li away from China. The summer nights are extremely short. The sun rises as soon as it sets. Quchu begat Suomona. Suomona begat Yinasi. They were kings of the Qincha from generation to generation.33
Concerning the physiognomy of the Qipchaq tribe, the Zizhi tongjian houbian [Later compilation to the comprehensive mirror to aid in government], a seventeenth-century continuation of Sima Guang’s Zizhi tongjian by Xu Qianxue, states that they had ‘blue eyes and red hair (青目赤髪)’.34
The Muslim Depiction of Turkic Peoples
From the eleventh century onwards, Islamic Central Asia and the Qipchaq Steppe replaced the Mongolian steppes and eastern Inner Asia as the main regions for the activities of the Turkic nomads. Unlike Chinese historians, who reserved Tujue (Türk in Turkic) for the Kök Türks, Muslim writers used the term Turk broadly to denote not only the Turkic-speaking peoples, but also other non-Turkic peoples. However, like Chinese historians, Muslim writers in general depict the ‘Turks’ as possessing East Asian physiognomy. For instance, Sharaf al-Zamān Ṭāhir Marvazī describes them as being ‘short, with small eyes, nostrils, and mouths’ (1942: 53–4, 156).35 Similarly, Ṭabarī (d. 923) depicts the ‘Turks’ as being ‘full-faced with small eyes’ (1987: 21). In his Qābūs-nāma, the eleventh-century Ziyarid ruler Kai Kāʾūs also describes the ‘Turks’ as possessing ‘a large head (sar-i buzurg), a broad face (rūy-i pahn), narrow eyes (chashmhā-i tang), and a flat nose (bīnī-i pakhch), and unpleasing lips and teeth (lab va dandān na nīkū)’ (Kai Kāʾūs ibn Iskandar 1951a: 103; 1951b: 64). The Arab historian and geographer al-Masʿūdī (896–956) writes that the Oghuz Turks36 residing in Yengi-kent, a town near the mouth of the Syr Darya, ‘are distinguished from other Turks by their valour, their slanted eyes, and the smallness of their stature’ (wa hum ashadd al-Turk ba’san wa aqṣaruhum wa aṣgharuhum a‘yunan wa fī al-Turk man huwa aqṣar min hā’ulā’) (al-Masʿūdī 1962–: Vol. 1, 212).37 However, Muslim writers later differentiated the Oghuz Turks from other Turks in terms of physiognomy. Rashīd al-Dīn writes that ‘because of the climate their features gradually changed into those of Tajiks. Since they were not Tajiks, the Tajik peoples called them turkmān, i.e. Turk-like (Turk-mānand)’ (Rashīd al-Dīn Fażlallāh Hamadānī 1988: Vol. 1, 35–6; Rashiduddin Fazlullah 1998–99: Vol. 1, 31). Ḥāfiẓ Tanīsh Mīr Muḥammad Bukhārī (d. c. 1549) also relates that after the Oghuz came to Transoxiana and Iran, their ‘Turkic face did not remain as it was’ (1983: fol. 17a (text), Vol. 1, 61 (trans.)). Abū al-Ghāzī Bahadur Khan similarly writes that ‘their chin started to become narrow, their eyes started to become large, their faces started to become small, and their noses started to become big’ after five or six generations (Abu-l-Gazi 1958: 42 (text), 57 (trans.); Ebülgazî Bahadir Han 1975: 57–8). As a matter of fact, the mixed nature of the Ottomans, belonging to the Oghuz Turkic group, is noted by the Ottoman historian Muṣṭafā ʿĀlī (1541–1600). In his Künhüʾl-aḫbār, he remarks that the Ottoman elites of the sixteenth century were of mostly of non-Turkic origin: ‘Most of the inhabitants of Rum are of confused ethnic origin. Among its notables there are few whose lineage does not go back to a convert to Islam …’ (Ekser-i sükkān-i vilāyet-i Rūm meclis-i muḫteliṭ ul-mefhūm olub ā‘yānında az kimsene bulunur ki nesebi bir müslüm-i cedīde muntehī olmaya) (Fleischer 1986: 254; Muṣṭafā ʿĀlī, Künhüʾl-aḫbār 1860–68: Vol. 1, 16).
In sum, the official Chinese histories, which provide substantial information on the origins, identity and physiognomy of the early and medieval Turkic-speaking peoples, do not describe the latter, including the Tiele, the Qirghiz, and the Kök Türks, among others, as having a single origin. Neither do they describe the early and medieval Turkic peoples as sharing a common (Turkic) identity. Furthermore, the Chinese histories depict the Turkic peoples as possessing Inner Asian phenotypic traits in general with a number of exceptions (see Table 1).
In the following section, we will discuss how genetic surveys corroborate or complement the Chinese historical records on the origins, identity, and physiognomy of the early and medieval Turkic peoples.
Genetic Surveys on the Turkic Peoples
The Genetic Variation of Modern Turkic Populations
The Y chromosome is one of the two gender-determining chromosomes that makes a person male. It is inherited from a man by his sons, who then pass it on to their sons largely intact throughout time38 until it develops a mutation. When a mutation, which is a permanent structural alteration in the
The male group or patrilineal lineage that shares a certain mutation is called a
In general, different populations show different Y-chromosome
Interestingly, the dominant
The Sakhas, formerly known as Yakuts, are the easternmost as well as northernmost Turkic people in the world. They were originally a horse-riding people from the western Baikal region.43 It is believed that the Sakhas descend from the Quriqan (Tokarev 1962: 107; Golden 1992: 143–4, 415), which was a Tiele tribe (see Jiu Tangshu 199b.5343). According to recent genetic surveys, the most typical Y-chromosome haplogroups of the Sakhas and their frequencies are as follows: N1c1 (89~94%) and C2 (2.1~3.6%) (Pakendorf et al. 2006: 346, table 6: N-TatC corresponds to N1c1; Kharkov et al. 2008: 200, table 1: N3a corresponds to N1c1). Haplogroup N1c1 is widespread among the Uralic peoples and Turkic peoples. Haplogroup N originated in East Asia and approximately 8000–10,000 years ago spread from Siberia into eastern/northern Europe (Hong Shi et al. 2013). It is present in northeastern Europe at high frequency: 70.9% and 41.3% among eastern Finns and western Finns, respectively (Lappalainen et al. 2008: table 1), and 43% and 17% in northern Russia and central Russia, respectively (Balanovsky et al. 2008: 242, table 2). C2 is the major haplogroup of the Mongols, Kazakhs, and Evenks, who belong to the proposed Altaic language family (for the Evenks, see Pakendorf et al. 2007: 1017, table 5: C-M217 and its subclades C-M48 and C-M86 correspond to C2; for the Mongols and Kazakhs, see Wells et al. 2001: 10245, table 1: M130 and M48 correspond to haplogroup C2; Zerjal et al. 2002: 474, table 3: haplogroups 10 and 36 correspond to haplogroup C2).
In northwestern Mongolia and the Sayan Mountains region, now reside the Tuvinians. Perhaps, they are the descendants of the Tiele and/or Muma Tujue (Türks), one of whose three tribes was Doubo (Tuva). The major Y-chromosome haplogroups of the Tuvinians and their frequencies are as follows: N subclades N1c1 and N1b (42.2~45.1%), C2 (16.1~26.5%), Q (4.9~13.9%), and R1a1 (7.8~12.3%) (Gubina et al. 2013: 339, table 3; see Kharkov et al. 2013: 1239. C3 in this article corresponds to C2). The frequencies of each haplogroup may vary depending on the surveys with different samples, but the above two recent surveys show that haplogroups N and C2 are the most prevalent paternal lineages among the Tuvinians. Haplogroups N and C2 are also the main paternal clans among the Buryats (see Kharkov et al. 2014: 183, table 1), who are the neighbouring Mongolic people of the Tuvinians. 44 Haplogroup Q, which is found across Eurasia, is present at significant frequency among the Turkmens, two Siberian peoples (Yeniseinan Kets and Uralic Selkups at 93.7% and 66.4%, respectively) (Tambets et al. 2004: 667, table 3), and the Native Americans (at over 90%).45 Haplogroup R1a1, more specifically, its subclade R1a1a1b2 (defined by mutation Z93), is the genetic marker of the Indo-European pastoralists, who migrated from modern-day Ukraine to modern-day Iran, India, the Kazakh steppes, the Tarim Basin, the Altai Mountains region, the Yenisei River region, and western Mongolia during the Bronze Age.46
Naturally, R1a1, more specifically, its subclade R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93), occurs at high frequency among the Turkic peoples now residing in the Yenisei River and the Altai Mountains regions in Russia. Compared to the Tuvinians, the Khakass (whose name was created by the Soviets from Xiajiasi (黠戛斯), a Chinese name for Qirghiz, since they were regarded as descending from the Qirghiz) have noticeably higher percentages of R1a1 (35.2%) and much lower percentages of haplogroups C (1.1%) and Q (4%). However, N is also the most prevalent haplogroup (50%) of the Khakass (Gubina et al. 2013: 339, table 3; Shi et al. 2013: table 3). As for the Altaians, the Altai-Kizhi (southern Altaians)47 are characterised by a high percentage of R1a1 (50%) and low to moderate percentages of C2 (20%), Q (16.7%) and N (4.2%) (Dulik et al. 2012: 234, table 2). The major differences between the Khakass and the southern Altaians are the lower frequency of haplogroup N (in another study, haplogroup N is found at high frequency (32%) among the Altaians in general: see Gubina et al. 2013: 329, 339) and the higher frequencies of haplogroups C2 and Q among the latter.
The descent of the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) of the Tien Shan Mountains region (Kyrgyzstan) from the Yenisei Qirghiz is debated among historians.48 However, among the modern Turkic peoples, the former have the highest percentage of R1a1 (over 60%). Since the West Eurasian physiognomy of the Yenisei Qirghiz recorded in the Xin Tangshu was in all likelihood a reflection of their Eurasian Indo-European marker R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93), one may conjecture that the Tien Shan Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) received their R1a1 marker from the Yenisei Qirghiz.49 That is, the former are descended from the latter. The other Y-chromosome haplogroups found among the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) are C2 (12~20%), O (0~15%) and N (0~4.5%).50 The lack of haplogroup Q among the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) mostly distinguishes them from the Altaians.
The Western Yugurs residing in Gansu Province, China, are descended from the remnants of the ancient Uighurs (Golden 1992: 409). Their major Y-chromosome haplogroups are C2 (21.2~30%), D (19.2%), O3 (34.6%), and Q (15%).51 Haplogroup D is the genetic marker of the Tibetans (Shi et al. 2008: 5, table 2), while haplogroup O3 is that of East Asians (Xue et al. 2005: table 1). Haplogroup O3 is also found among various Mongolic and Turkic groups at moderate frequency.52 The low frequency of haplogroup R1a1 (1.9~7%) among the Western Yugurs differentiates them from the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) and the Altaians.
Haplogroup C2 (formerly known as C3) reaches its highest frequency among the Kazakhs (66~73.7% among the Kazakhs of Kazakhstan,53 75.47% among the Kazakhs of Xinjiang (Zhong et al. 2010: figure 1), 78% among the Kazakhs of Karakalpakstan (Balaresque et al. 2015: supplementary figure 1) and 59.7% among the Kazakhs of the Altai Republic in Russia (Dulik et al. 2011, 2–3, tables 1 & 2)), whose ancestors include the Qipchaqs and other Turkic groups, and the Mongols, among others. However, some Kazakh tribes, divided into the Senior Horde (Ulu Jüz), the Middle Horde (Orta Jüz), and the Lesser or Junior Horde (Kishi Jüz), have their own representative Y-chromosome haplogroups. Among the Naiman, belonging to the Middle Horde, haplogroups C2 and O3 are the most common.54 Among the Argyn, another Middle Horde tribe, haplogroup G1-M285, which is believed to have originated in West Iran,55 is found at high frequency (57.7%). The Qipchaq (Karakypshak) tribe, another Middle Horde tribe, is characterised by the R1b subclade R1b1a1a1 (R1b-M73) (63.6%).56 This is a rare haplogroup that appears at moderate to high frequency only among this Kazakh tribe and some Turkic groups of the Altai Mountains region (35.3% among the Kumandin: Dulik et al. 2012: 234, table 2), among others. In general, the Kazakhs are characterised by a high frequency of haplogroup C2 and a low frequency of haplogroup R1a1, which differentiates them from the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) and the southern Altaians. The Karakalpaks, a Qipchaq Turkic-speaking people residing in western Uzbekistan, exhibit a set of haplogroups similar to those of the Kazakhs with relatively lower frequency of haplogroup C2 and higher frequency of haplogroups N and R1a1: C2 (31.5%), G (26%), R1a1 (9.26%), and N1b and N1c1 (7.4%) among the On Tört Uruw grouping; R1a1 (29.6%), N1b and N1c1 (22.2%), C2 (20.4%), and Q (11.1%) among the Qonghrat grouping (Balaresque et al. 2015: supplementary figure 1).
Compared to those of Inner Asian nomadic origins, the Turkic peoples who descend from both the nomadic and sedentary populations of the Central Asian oasis regions, i.e. Transoxiana and the Tarim Basin (which roughly correspond to modern-day Uzbekistan and southern Xinjiang, respectively), have more diverse sets of representative haplogroups. The Xinjiang Uighurs, who descend from both the ancient Indo-Europeans and the ancient Turkic Uighurs (Golden 1992: 409), exhibit haplogroups R1a1 (21~28.6%), J (18.4~27%), O3 (12.2~17%), C2 (6.1~18%), and N (0~4.1%).57 The modern Uzbeks, who also descend from the ancient Indo-European (Iranic) populations and various Inner Asian nomadic peoples (Golden 1992: 407), including the Shibanid Uzbeks,58 exhibit a set of haplogroups similar to those of the Xinjiang Uighurs: R1a1 (17.6~32%), J (5.9~21.4%), C2 (7~18%, 41.2%59 ), O3 (0~12%) and N (0~5.9%).60 Haplogroup J is a patrilineal lineage originating in the Middle East and probably reached Central Asia with Neolithic farmers from the Middle East.61 As to haplogroup R1a1 among the modern-day Uzbeks and Xinjiang Uighurs, the extent to which it originated from the Bronze Age Indo-European pastoralists and from the Turkic and Turkicized Inner Asian nomadic groups, respectively, remains open to speculation. Haplogroups O3, C2, and N were in all likelihood brought to Transoxiana by various Turkic and Mongolic peoples.62
The Qipchaq Turkic-speaking Volga Tatars and the Oghuric Turkic-speaking Chuvashes inhabiting the Volga-Ural region are characterised by high frequencies of haplogroups R1a1 (20.8~34.1% and 29.5~31.6%, respectively) and N (both N1c1 and N1b subclades) (23.1~28.3% and 27~28%, respectively) according to some surveys. Haplogroups J (15.1% and 15.9%, respectively), I (4~13.2% and 11.4%, respectively), and C (1.6~5.7% and 0~1.3%, respectively) are also found among the Volga Tatars and the Chuvashes (Trofimova et al. 2015: table 1; Tambets et al. 2004: 667, table 3). The Bashkirs, another Qipchaq Turkic-speaking people of the Volga-Ural region, are also characterised by the high presence of haplogroups N1c1 (3~65%) and R1a1 (9~48%). R1b subclades R1b1a1a1 (R1b-M73) (0~55%) and R1b1a1a2 (R1b-M269) (0~84%),63 C (0~17%), J (0~8%), and I (0~2%) also make up the genetic composition of the Bashkirs.64 However, it is difficult to assess the extent of the Turkic and non-Turkic genetic contributions to these groups with the given data. In the surveys discussed above, haplogroup R1a1 has not been classified into its subclade R1a1a1b1a (R1a-Z282), which prevails among East Slavs, and subclade R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93), which spread across Eurasia by the Bronze Age Indo-European (Iranic) pastoralists and is carried by various modern-day Turkic groups.65 One should also note that haplogroup N, found among the Turkic peoples of the Volga-Ural region and Central Asia, has ‘a common Siberian genetic background of Finno-Ugric and Turkic tribes’ (Khusnutdinova et al. 2008: 378).
Unlike the Turkic peoples of Kazakhstan, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, who speak the Qipchaq Turkic language, the Turkmens, the Azeris and the Anatolian Turks speak the Oghuz Turkic languages. The Turkmens descend from the Oghuz, a Turkic nomadic group that inhabited the Aral Sea and Caspian Sea steppes during the ninth and tenth centuries
Finally, the Turks of the Republic of Turkey, a successor state to the Ottoman empire, show the highest haplogroup diversity according to an extensive survey of Anatolian Turkish Y-chromosome variation. Their major haplogroups are those common in the Near East and Europe (Cinnioğlu et al. 2004: 130, figure 2): J (33.5%), R1b (15.86%, including R1b-M73, which makes up 0.76% of the Turkish R1b) (Cinnioğlu et al. 2004: 130), E (11.3%), G (10.9%), R1a1 (6.9%), I (5.3%) and L (4.2%). Haplogroups I, more specifically its subclade I2 (formerly I1b), is most common in the Balkans, reaching its highest incidences among the Croats and Bosnians.71 Importantly, haplogroups N (3.8%), Q (1.9%), C (1.3%), and O (0.2%), which must have come from or via Central and Inner Asia, make up less than 10% of the total population (Cinnioğlu et al. 2004: 135).72 The Y-chromosome haplogroup composition of another Oghuz Turkic-speaking nation, the Azeris, is somewhat similar to that of the Anatolian Turks: J (31%), G (mostly G2) (18%), and E (6%) (Nasidze et al. 2003: table 2). The same holds true for that of the Azeris of northeastern Iran: J (27.2%), R1a1 (19.0%), R1b (17.5%), E (11.1%), G2 (8%), T (7.9%),73 Q (4.8%), and N (1.6%) (Grugni et al. 2012: table 1).
In sum, although they share certain haplogroups, modern Turkic populations exhibit dissimilar sets of Y-chromosome haplogroups with different representative haplogroups. The most prevalent haplogroups among different Turkic peoples are as follows: (1) N1c1 among the Sakhas residing in northeastern Siberia; (2) N (both N1b and N1c1), C2, Q, and R1a1 among the Tuvinians residing in the Sayan Mountains region; (3) R1a1 and C2 among the southern Altaians and the Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) from the Altai Mountains and the Tien Shan Mountains regions, respectively; (4) N and R1a1 among the Khakass from the Yenisei River regions; (5) R1a1 (mainly R1a-Z282), N, R1b (mainly R1b-M269), J, and I among the Turkic peoples of the Volga-Ural region; (6) R1a1, J, O3, and C2 among the Xinjiang Uighurs and the Uzbeks residing in the Central Asian oasis regions; (7) C2, O3, and G1 among the Kazakhs residing in the Inner Asian steppes; (8) Q, J, and R1a1 among various Turkmen groups; (9) J, R1b (R1b-M269), E, and G2 among the Turks and the Azeris residing in Anatolia and the Caucasus region, respectively. Such diversity implies that the Turkic peoples living in different regions have heterogeneous paternal origins and that they include linguistically Turkicised indigenous elements. This also indicates that the Turkicisation of many areas of Eurasia did not necessarily involve mass migrations of Turkic peoples.
Analysis of Ancient
Importantly, studies of ancient
While it may be safe to assume that haplogroup R1a1 was not a major Xiongnu lineage, it probably constituted the majority of the nomads residing in the Altai Mountains during the Bronze Age. A study of 14 human specimens excavated in the westernmost Mongolian Altai Mountains shows that the Bronze Age nomads of the Altai Mountains belonged to haplogroups R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93) (44.45%), Q subclade Q1a2a1-L54 (44.45%) and C (11.12%) (Hollard et al. 2014: 201, table 1).77
One should note here that the above-discussed genetic makeup of the Xiongnu and their neighbouring Altaian nomads, who were probably incorporated into the Xiongnu confederation, corroborates the Xiongnu phenotypical characteristics depicted in Chinese histories. It is likely that the Inner Asian-looking Xiongnu mostly belonged to Y-chromosome haplogroups C2, Q, and N, while the West Eurasian-looking Jie probably belonged to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1. Alternatively, if the Jie, ‘a separate branch of the Xiongnu’, who founded the Later Zhao Dynasty (319–351
During the Bronze Age and early Iron Age, the Yenisei River region was inhabited by Indo-Europeans. The
The medieval Sakhas were characterised by haplogroup N1c1 like their modern descendants. The analysis of the Y-chromosome
The Y-chromosomes of the Kök Türks have not been studied. After the collapse of the Second Türk Khaganate in 745
Like the Kök Türks, the Y-chromosomes of the Tiele or the ancient Uighurs have not been tested. Yet we may perhaps infer their genetic markers from the
The major Y-chromosome haplogroups of the medieval Turkmens may also be inferred from those of their modern descendants, which are haplogroups Q, R1a1, J and N, among others. The presence of haplogroups R1a1 and J among the Turkmens may explain the reason why the medieval Turkmens were described as having lost their original Turkic physiognomy and as becoming Tajik-looking, i.e., sedentary Iranian-looking, by Muslim writers. At the same time, haplogroups Q and N may explain why al-Masʿūdī wrote that the Oghuz Turks residing in Yengi-kent had ‘slanted eyes’ and ‘dimunitive stature’ (al-Masʿūdī 1962–: Vol. 1:212).
In sum, like the modern-day Turkic peoples, the Xiongnu (who had haplogroups C2, Q, N and R1a1), the Sakhas (characterised by haplogroup N), the Yenisei Qirghiz (characterised by haplogroup R1a1), the Tiele (who had haplogroups C2, N, O3, and Q, among others), the Turkmens (who had haplogroups Q, J, R1a1 and N), and the Qipchaqs (who probably had haplogroup R1b1a1a1 (R1b-M73) and C2, among others) possessed different representative haplogroups and exhibited dissimilar haplogroup compositions. It is therefore likely that the early and medieval Turkic peoples themselves did not form a homogeneous entity and that some of them, non-Turkic by origin, had become Turkicised at some point in history. Accordingly, one may also suggest that many of the modern Turkic-speaking populations, who exhibit more diverse haplogroup compositions, are not direct descendants of the early Turkic peoples (Table 3).
On a final note, one should remember that medieval Chinese historians did not classify the Inner Asian tribes into Turkic-speaking and Mongolic-speaking groups. Likewise, Muslim writers generally viewed the Mongols and other non-Turkic Inner Asian tribes as a branch of Turks. Genetic studies corroborate the fact that drawing a clear line between the historical Mongolic peoples and the Turkic peoples is unrealistic, since the two shared such haplogroups as C2, N, Q, O3 and even R1a1. The geneticists who analysed the
In this article, we conducted a comparative analysis of textual information provided in Chinese histories and genetic survey data on the origins, identity and physiognomy of the early and medieval Turkic peoples. As discussed above, the official Chinese histories do not view the Turkic peoples such as the Tiele/Uighur, Kök Türks (Tujue) and Qirghiz as belonging to a single uniform entity called ‘Turks’. Instead, they describe them as forming separate identities. The Chinese histories also depict the Turkic-speaking peoples as typically possessing East/Inner Asian physiognomy, as well as occasionally having West Eurasian physiognomy.
The analysis of genetic survey data on the Turkic peoples also allows us to speculate on the Turkic Urheimat. We suggest that it was a geographical region where the carriers of haplogroups C2, N, Q and R1a1 could intermix, since these haplogroups are carried by various past and modern-day Turkic peoples in eastern Inner Asia and the Xiongnu. It has been suggested that the early Turkic peoples probably had contact with Indo-European, Uralic, Yeniseian, and Mongolic groups in their formative period (Golden 2006: 139). As non-linguists, we are unqualified to discuss the origin of the Turkic languages. However, drawing on the findings of
Finally, we suggest that the Turkicisation of central and western Eurasia was the product of multiple processes of language diffusion85 that involved not only originally Turkic-speaking groups, but also Turkicised (Indo-European) groups. That is, the earliest Turkic groups first Turkicised some non-Turkic groups residing in Mongolia and beyond. Then both Turkic and ‘Turkicised’ groups Turkicised non-Turkic tribes (who were mostly carriers of haplogroups R1a1) residing in the Kazakh steppes and beyond. Through multiple processes, including the Mongol conquest, the members of the extended Turkic entity spread the Turkic languages across Eurasia. They Turkicised various non-Turkic peoples of central and western Eurasia, including those in the Central Asian oases (who were carriers of haplogroups R1a1 and J, among others). Importantly, the Turkmens, who were themselves made up of both original Turkic and Turkicised elements (carriers of haplogroups Q, J, R1a1 and N, among others), reached Anatolia and Turkicised the local populations carrying haplogroups J, R1b, G, E, R1a1 and T, among others, who have now become ‘Turks’.
We express our heartfelt gratitude to our University of Toronto colleague Maryna Kravets for her indispensable feedback on this project.
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The term ‘Inner Asia’ is used in this article to refer to the Mongolian and Kazakh steppes, while ‘Central Asia’ is used for the interior region stretching from the Caspian Sea in the west to Xinjiang, China, in the east and from Kazakhstan in the north to Afghanistan in the south.
At the same time, it is also true that geneticists’ interpretations of
The Standard Histories (zhengshi 正史), also known as the Twenty-Four Histories, are a collection of official Chinese annals covering the period from antiquity to the Ming Dynasty in the seventeenth century.
We are not concerned with modern theories of ethnicity or identity in this study. Our main concern is demonstrating how the historical Turkic peoples were identified by their contemporary historians.
‘太子詹事孫珍問侍中崔約曰:「吾患目疾,何方療之?」約素狎珍,戲之曰：「溺中則愈.」珍曰:「目何可溺？」約曰:「卿目睕睕,正耐溺中.」珍恨之,以白宣.宣諸子中最胡狀,目深,聞之大怒,誅約父子.珍有寵于宣,頗預朝政,自誅約之後,公卿已下憚之側目’ (Jinshu 106.2776). The Jie may have spoken a Yeniseian language. See Vovin (2000: 92–103).
‘思摩者, 頡利族人也. 始畢、處羅以其貌似胡人, 不類突厥, 疑非阿史那族類, 故歷處羅, 頡利世, 常為夾畢特勒, 終不得典兵為設’ (Jiu Tangshu 194a.5163). Perhaps this is reminiscent of the Kazakh view of non-Inner Asian physiognomy. Ármin Vámbéry, the Hungarian Turkologist, who travelled in Central Asia in the mid nineteenth century, writes that ‘[the Kazakhs] compassionate all whose faces have not the pure Mongol conformation. According to their aesthetic views, that race stands at the very zenith for beauty …’ (Vámbéry 1865: 421).
‘烏孫於西域諸戎其形最異. 今之胡人, 青眼赤髭鬢, 狀類彌猴者, 本其種也’ Hanshu, 96b.3901. The same passage is written in the Tongdian 通典 [Comprehensive statutes], a universal administrative history. See Du You 杜佑. Tong dian 通典 [Comprehensive statutes], chapter 192. https://zh.wikisource.org/zh-hant/%E9%80%9A%E5%85%B8/%E5%8D%B7192 (accessed 14 July 2017).
Perhaps the physiognomy of the Kök Türks is well manifested in the stone head of Kül Tegin, an Ashina general of the Second Türk Khaghanate. According to the Russian anthropologist Oshanin, the Kök Türks spread the ‘Mongoloid’ phenotype to Central Asia (Oshanin 1964: 20).
The Jiu Tangshu lists the Qarluq and Chuyue among the tribes of the Western Türks (Jiu Tangshu 194b.5179; Xin Tangshu 217b.6143).
For instance, in the Jiu Tangshu (194b.5190), Wuzhile[i] (烏質勒), a Türgesh chief, is described as being from ‘a separate stock of the Western Türks (西突厥之別種)’.
The Khazars are referred to as ‘Tujue Hesa (突厥曷薩)’ in the Xin Tangshu (221b.6247). Thus, the Khazars may well have been an offshoot of the Western Türks.
For the Muma Tujue, see Xin Tangshu (217b.6148). For the Xianyu Tujue and Niuti Tujue, see Xin Wudaishi (73.907).
It is not clear whether or not these Tujue tribes were indeed Kök Türks. Denis Sinor suggests that they were the Kök Türks ‘living outside the Türk state’ or ‘[not belonging] to the ruling stratum of the Türk state’ (Sinor 1985: 152–7).
For instance, in their official inscriptions, the Uighurs (Uyγur) use the term Türük only for the Kök Türks, whom they consider to be their enemies and oppressors. See Tekin (1983: 46 (text), 49 (trans.)); see lines 9–10 (north side) of the Šine-Usu inscription (Moriyasu et al. 2009: 11 (text), 24 (trans.)).
For instance, see lines 11–14 (east side) of the Kül Tegin inscription translated in Silay (1996: 4).
‘堅昆部落非狼種, 其先所生之窟在曲漫山北。自謂上代有神與牸牛交於此窟. 其人髮黃, 目綠, 赤髭髯.’ Duan Chengshi 段成式. You yang za zu 酉陽雜俎 [Miscellany of Youyang], chapter 4. https://archive.org/stream/06047413.cn#page/n120/mode/2up (accessed 16 July 2017).
Gardīzī, a mid eleventh-century Persian historian and geographer, also writes in his work that the Qirghiz were characterised by their ‘reddishness of hair and whiteness of skin’ because they were originally Slavs (Saqlāb). See ʿAbd al-Ḥayy ibn Z̤aḥḥāk Gardīzī (1984: 557): for an English translation of this text, see Martinez (1982: 126).
On the origin of the Qirghiz, see Golden (1992: 177–8). While Golden acknowledges that the Qirghiz may have been a ‘Turkicised’ people, Michael R. Drompp (1999: 399–400) refutes this idea and argues that whether the Qirghiz were ‘originally’ a Turkic people or a ‘Turkicised’ people would never be determined. However, genetic studies show that the Qirghiz were most likely a non-Turkic people by origin.
According to the Xin Tangshu (218.6153), the Chuyue acquired the name ‘Shatuo Türk’ after residing near a great desert called Shatuo.
See ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn ʿAṭā Malik Juvaynī (1958: vol. 1, 55–57): A similar legend of Bügü Khan was also recorded by Yu Ji in the Gaochang wang shi xun bei 高昌王世勳碑 [The monumental inscription of the king of Gaochang]: see Su Tianjue (1965: vol. 2, 259). For a detailed discussion of the Qocho Uighur foundation myths involving a parent-tree, see Okada (1987: 197–201).
After defeating the Naiman, Chinggis Khan hired Tatatonga 塔塔統阿, who was an Uighur scholar (傅) serving the Naiman khan, to teach his sons in the Uighur script (Yuanshi 124.3048).
According to Yuri Bregel, the Naiman and Uighur tribes in Khiva were regarded as sharing ‘common ancestors’ and were ‘related with marriage’: see Shīr Muḥammad Mīrāb Mūnīs & Muḥammad Rīżā Mīrāb Āgahī (1999: 548 n107). Abū al-Ghāzī Bahādur Khan (r. 1644–63), the Chinggisid ruler of the Uzbek Khanate of Khiva, also notes their friendly relations in his work: see Aboul-Ghâzi Béhâdour Khân (1970: 185 (text), 195 (trans.)).
Both Omeljan Pritsak (1982: 336–9) and Peter Golden (1988: 22) support a Mongolic origin of the Ölberli clan.
‘土土哈, 其先本武平北折連川按答罕山部族, 自曲出徙居西北玉裡伯裡山, 因以為氏, 號其國曰欽察. 其地去中國三萬餘里, 夏夜極短, 日暫沒即出. 曲出生唆末納, 唆末納生亦納思, 世為欽察國王’ (Yuanshi 128.3131).
Xu Qianxue 徐乾學, Zizhi tongjian houbian 資治通鑑後編, chapter 141: http://skqs.guoxuedashi.com/wen_562r/11559.html (accessed 16 July 2017). However, E. Bretschneider (1876: 174, n301) argues that the Qipchaqs are confused with the Russians here. According to the Russian anthropologist L.V. Oshanin (1964: 24, 32), the ‘Mongoloid’ phenotype, characteristic of modern Kazakhs and Qirghiz, prevails among the skulls of the Qipchaq and Pecheneg nomads found in the kurgans in eastern Ukraine.
An Arabic geographical manuscript states that the Uighurs (Toquz Oghuz), the people of China, and the Turks resembled each other in facial appearance: see Frye (1949: 92–3).
The Oghuz were a nomadic group that inhabited the Aral Sea and Caspian Sea steppes during the ninth and tenth centuries
The stone heads of the Seljuk princes kept at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art show that the Oghuz possessed Inner Asian physiognomy. For images of the Seljuk stone heads, see Canby et al. (2016: 44–46, 50).
Every person has 22 matching pairs of chromosomes, but the 23rd pair, the x and y gender chromosomes, are unmatched and they determine one’s maleness (xy) or femaleness (xx). A large portion of the Y chromosome does not exchange material with the x chromosome.
For the origins of modern human populations based on the study of Y-chromosomes, see Underhill et al. (2001); Jobling & Tyler-Smith (2003).
This study is concerned with the Y-chromosome
Contemporary states in Inner Eurasia cannot readily use genetics to make nationalist claims since
The funerary rituals of the pre-modern Sakhas were similar to those of the Turkic peoples of the western Baikal region and of the ancient Xiongnu (Crubézy et al. 2010: 8, 9–10).
However, the two groups possess different subclades of N and C2, which means that they have distinct paternal origins.
According to genetic studies, the Native Americans descend from a migrant group from the Altai Mountains region. See e.g. Dulik et al. (2012: 229–46; Malyarchuk et al. 2011: 583–8).
On this point, see Semino et al. (2000: 1156: M17 or Eu19 in this article corresponds to R1a1); Zerjal et al. (2002: 477–8, table 3: haplogroup 3 corresponds to haplogroup R1a1); Keyser et al. (2009: 406–9); Li et al. (2010: 9–10).
The Altaians have been divided into northern and southern groups based on linguistic, cultural and anthropological traits. According to genetic research, the northern Altaians are closer to Yeniseian, Ugric and Samoyedic speakers, while the southern Altaians are closer to their neighbouring Turkic groups. The southern Altaians and the Tien Shan Qirghiz (Kyrgyz) share recent common ancestry with each other. The northern Altaians in general exhibit relatively higher frequencies of haplogroups N and Q and lower frequencies of C2 and R1a1 in comparison to the southern Altaians. See Dulik et al. (2012: 234).
On this issue, see Golden (1992: 404–6). For a study that acknowledges their connection, see Bernshtam (1962: 119–28).
According to a major study of haplogroup R1a1, the Kyrgyz mostly carry the R1a1 subclade R1a-Z2125, a subgroup of R1a-Z93 that is rare among the Khakass. See Underhill et al. (2014: table S4). This means that if the Khakass are the true descendants of the Yenisei Qirghiz, the Kyrgyz may not be the direct descendants of the latter.
See Wells et al. (2001: 10245, table 1: M17, M130, M46, M175 and 122, and M48 correspond to haplogroup R1a1, C2, N1c1, O, and C2b1b1, respectively); Zerjal et al. (2002 474, table 3: haplogroups 3, 10, 13, 16, and 36 correspond to haplogroups R1a1, C2, O3, N1c1, and C2b1a2, respectively); Balaresque et al. (2015: supplementary figure 1); Di Cristofaro et al. (2013: figure S7).
For the Mongols, see e.g. Katoh et al. (2005: 66, table 1). For the Kazakhs, see e.g. Dulik et al. (2011: 2–3, tables 1 & 2).
Wells et al. (2001: 10245, table 1: M130 and M48 correspond to haplogroup C2); Zerjal et al. (2002: 474, table 3: haplogroups 10 and 36 correspond to haplogroup C2).
For haplogroup C2, see Zhabagin et al. (2017: table S1). For haplogroup O, see Sabitov (2013: 35). A survey shows that haplogroup O3 accounts for over 50% of the tested samples. See haplotypes 1–41, which make up 61.2% of all tested haplotypes in Tarlykov et al. (2013: 21, table 2). An online haplogroup predictor has been used to determine the haplogroup of the given Naiman haplotypes.
Haplogroup G, mostly its subclade G2, is found at low frequencies in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and at high frequency in the Caucasus region. G1 is mainly found in Iran and Kazakhstan. For a detailed study of haplogroup G1-M285, see Balanovsky et al. (2015).
Sabitov (2013: 35). A different subclade of R1b, haplogroup R1b1a1a2 (R1b-M269), is the genetic marker of Western Europeans, reaching 85.4% among the Irish people. For its distribution among different European populations, see Balaresque et al. (2010: table 1).
Zhou et al. (2008: 202, figure 2). See Wells et al. (2001: 10245, table 1: M17, M130, M46, M172, M175 and 122, and M48 correspond to haplogroups R1a1, C2, N1c1, J, O, and C2b1b1, respectively); and see Zerjal et al. (2002: 474, table 3: haplogroups 3, 9, 10, 13, 16, and 36 correspond to haplogroups R1a1, J, C2, O3, N1c1, and C2b1b1, respectively).
The Shibanid Uzbeks were a Turkic nomadic people who conquered the Turkic and sedentary Iranic populations of Transoxiana at the turn of the sixteenth century. Importantly, the Shibanid Uzbeks and the Kazakhs were one and the same people inhabiting the Kazakh Steppe prior to their division in the sixteenth century. On this point, see Lee (2016: 121–39).
This high frequency of C2 is found among an Uzbek group residing in Afghanistan. We are inclined to think that this group is descended from the nomadic Uzbeks from the Qipchaq Steppe (Haber et al. 2012: table S4).
See Wells et al. (2001: 10245, table 1: M17, M130, M46, M172, M175 and 122, and M48 correspond to haplogroups R1a1, C2, N1c1, J, O, and C2b1b1, respectively); Zerjal et al. (2002: 474, table 3: haplogroups 3, 9, 10, 13, 16, and 36 correspond to haplogroups R1a1, J, C2, O3, N1c1, and C2b1b1, respectively); Haber et al. (2012: table S4). According to another recent survey, the Uzbeks of Afghanistan exhibit R1a1 (29%), J (18%), Q (8.6%), C (4%), N (4%), R1b1a1a1 (3%), R2 (3%) and O (2.3%): see Di Cristofaro et al. (2013: figure S7).
Zerjal et al. (2002: 476–7: haplogroup 9 in corresponds to haplogroup J). On the spread of haplogroup J to Europe from the Neolithic period, see Semino et al. (2004).
The higher frequency of haplogroup O3 among the Xinjiang Uighurs may reflect the contribution of Han Chinese.
As mentioned above, R1b-M269 is the genetic marker of Western Europeans, whereas R1b-M73 is a lineage found at moderate to high frequency only among some Turkic groups in Inner Eurasia.
The frequency of each haplogroup varies depending on geographic regions. R1b1a1a1 (R1b-M73) is found at high frequency (55% and 19%) in Abzelilovsky District and Burzyansky District, respectively, but elsewhere it is virtually absent (Lobov 2009: 15, table 5; Trofimova et al. 2015: table 1). The Y-chromosomes of the Crimean Tatars have not been studied in detail. However, according to a survey, the Crimean Tatars residing in Uzbekistan exhibit haplogroups I (5%), J (14%), R1a1 (32%), C (9%) and O (10%) (Wells et al. 2001: 10245, table 1: M17, M130, M46, M172, M175 and 122, and M48 correspond to haplogroup R1a1, C2, N1c1, J, O and C2b1b1, respectively). According to Brian Glyn Williams (2001), most Crimean Tatars of today descend from indigenous sedentary elements. While the nomadic Tatars were closer to the Kazakhs in terms of physiognomy and spoke a Qipchaq Turkic dialect, the sedentary elements in the Crimea, who descend from ancient Goths, Greeks, Italians, Armenians and Alans, among others, exhibit West Eurasian physiognomy and speak a mixed Turkic or an Oghuz Turkic dialect like the Turks of Anatolia. According to another study, some Tatars of Mokhshi, the present-day Narovchat village in Penza Region, belong to haplogroups J, L and Q (Sabitov & Аkchurin 2014: 5–13). Haplogroup L is mainly concentrated in South Asia.
As a matter of fact, according to the study of R1a1 by Underhill et al, the Tatars of Bashkortostan and the Chuvashes do not carry R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93) at all. Concerning the Tatars of Tatarstan, 64% of their R1a1 belong to R1a1a1b1a (R1a-Z282). See Underhill et al. (2014: table S4). This implies that the source population of the Tatar and Chuvash R1a1 is East Slavs.
It has been suggested that the Turkmens were formed from the Turkic groups who intermixed with the Iranic peoples of Central Asia. See Barthold (1962: 80–81); Agadzhanov & Karryev (1978: 171).
Haplogroup L is a South Asian lineage, found at significant frequencies in South Asia, but at low frequencies in the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. For its frequency in India and elsewhere, see Sengupta et al. (2006: tables 5, 6 & 7).
One should note that among the Turkmen tribes, the Tekke, for instance, are of (captive) Iranian origin. See Golden (1992: 400).
Interestingly, another survey reveals that the Turkmens living in Karakalpakstan are characterised by high presence of haplogroup R1a1 (72.5%) and minimal or non-existence of haplogroups N (3.9%) and Q (0%) (Balaresque et al. 2015: supplementary figure 1). A survey of the Afshar Turkmen villagers in Turkey offers a different picture of the Turkmen haplogroups. They are as follows: L (57%), J (13%), Q (13%), E (10%) and N (3%) (Gökçümen 2008: 125–9). In another Turkish village, the frequency of haplogroup N is 23% (Gökçümen 2008: 134).
The most common Turkish I subclade is I2 (formerly I1b) (Cinnioğlu et al. 2004: 134). For the frequencies of I2 in the Balkans, see Rootsi et al. (2004: 130, table 1).
According to the study of R1a1 by Underhill et al, about 57% and 43% of the Turkish R1a1 belong to R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93) and R1a1a1b1a (R1a-Z282), respectively. See Underhill et al. (2014: table S4). One should note that many of the Turkish men belonging to R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93), as well as haplogroup J, may be of Central Asian origin. Then the Central and Inner Asian contribution to the modern Turkish gene pool may be greater than suggested in Cinnioğlu et al.’s study. According to an admixture analysis of modern-day Anatolian Turks, Central Asian male contribution to the Turkish gene pool is 13% (see Berkman & Togan 2009: 2344–5). A study of autosomal chromosomes shows that Central Asian contribution ranges from 9% to 15% (see Hodoğlugil & Mahley 2012: 138–9).
Haplogroup T is a rare but geographically widespread lineage observed in the Middle East, Europe, India and East Africa.
For haplogroup N1c1, see Keyser-Tracqui et al. (2004: 326). Analysis of the mitochondrial
Kwang-Ho Lee, one of the main Korean authors of this work, commented in an interview that the carrier of haplogroup R1a1 was a slave buried with his Xiongnu master. The same author also revealed in another work published in Korean that haplogroups C (30%) and O (33.3%) are the two major lineages to which the Xiongnu skeletons he studied belong (Lee 2006: 129).
The Kets, who speak a Yeniseian language, exhibit the highest frequency of haplogroup Q (93.7%) in Eurasia (Tambets et al. 2004: 667, table 3).
Analysis of mitochondrial
In turn, the Inner Asian physiognomy of the modern-day Qirghiz (Tien Shan Kyrgyz) may be explained by their moderate frequency of Y-chromosome haploroups C2 (about 20%) and N and their high frequencies of East Eurasian mitochondrial
It has even been suggested that the Sakhas left their original area of settlement in the Baikal region due to Mongol pressure: see Pakendorf et al. (2006: 350).
As high as 50% of the medieval Magyars belonged to haplogroup N1c1, according to a Hungarian study of the
Russian physical anthropologists have already noted that the Xiongnu and Kök Türks, among others, spread the ‘Mongoloid’ phenotype to Central Asia and beyond: see Oshanin (1964: 16–25).
We are not arguing that certain
It is unlikely that the early Turkic speakers were characterised by a high frequency of haplogroup R1a1a1b2 (R1a-Z93), since the earliest carriers of this haplogroup in South Siberia and Central Asia were Indo-European speakers. It was the carriers of haplogroup R1a1a1b2 who also spread the Indo-European language to South Asia and Iran. Therefore, one may assume that an R1a1a1b2 dominant group were not the earliest Turkic speakers.
This also implies that conquest and empire-building activities by various Turkic peoples did not play a significant role in the diffusion of genes. The prevalence of indigenous