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Genetically, who is a Crimean Tatar?

I want to share with you the recent results obtained from my participation in the Genographic Project, sponsored by the National Geographic Society, a reputable organization in the US. By analyzing the DNA samples, the Project aims to trace the journey one’s ancestors may have taken over the centuries. The test is easy and painless. I ordered DNA Ancestry Kit Geno 2.0, collected two samples and mailed them to the designated laboratory. My identity remained anonymous throughout the process. (https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/about/)

I was born in Istanbul, but I am of Crimean Tatar descent. All of my grandparents originated from Crimea. My paternal grandfather’s family lived in Yevpatoria on the west, my maternal grandfather’s family came from Yalta in the south, and paternal grandmother’s family was from the Kerch peninsula on the east. My maternal grandmother’s family migrated to Turkey from Romania. All these families left Crimea in the 19th century, but they considered themselves Crimean Tatars and their native language was Crimean Tatar. (Red dots on the Crimea map show the locations where families of my grandparents lived.)

Map of 1813

Crimea: Red dots show where families lived

 

 

Here are the results of my DNA tests:

28% Northern Asian
22% Northern European
20% Southwest Asian (Middle East)
20% Mediterranean
7% Southeast Asian
2% Native American

 

 

In sum, I am %37 Asian, 42% European and 20% Middle Eastern. Perhaps the most surprising finding is the 2 percent Native American genes that I carry. This does not mean that any of my ancestors married Native Americans. Rather, some of my very distant ancestors were among those who migrated to the North American continent about 20,000 years ago. Similarly, one can explain the presence of the 7 percent Southeast Asian genes.

The above DNA test results reaffirm what we have known from history that Crimean Tatars are descendants of the various peoples who settled and lived in Crimea for centuries. The Crimean Tatars, indigenous people of Crimea, did not just come from the East, as many are inclined to think. Rather, they are the descendants of the people who moved to Crimea from different directions: Scythians, Goths, Byzantines, Genovese, and Turkic groups such as Khazars, Kipchaks, Tatars and Ottoman Turks.

No doubt, there are thousands of Crimean Tatars living in Crimea today who have a similar genetic makeup to mine. Some may have more Asian genes or more European genes perhaps. To those ultranationalist Russians who say to Crimean Tatars “Go back to where you came from,” one may respond: “Where should they go? They have nowhere to go but Crimea.”

Inci Bowman
Washington, DC

Posted: 18 June 2015


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