A DNA ancestry test or procedure is a new way for individuals interested in the family background (genealogy) or ethnic characteristics to obtain relevant information. Genetic genealogy goes beyond the acquisition through modern tools of parental information and/or historical related documentation but tries to apply scientific tools to obtain additional knowledge. We often read on the web questions such as how can I find my DNA ancestry, can anyone tell me about my ethnic origin, why run a DNA test and many more.
The results of these DNA tests may include an ethnic assessment or evaluation: from the ancestral background showing the origins of ancestors among many ethnic groups. Participants can also find a list of the regions of origin of their ancestors, as well as the percentage of their DNA specifics that originates or corresponds to each region.
What plays an important role is the usefulness of various genetic groups developed and the territorial information indicating the specific groups that can be descended enabling us to better understand our origins.
DNA inheritance oriented similar tests may lead us to genomic inheritance procedures and finally define our heritage and not only. We define genomic heritage as attributes or characteristics of the general human genome that are fundamental to understanding human characteristics as a whole.
One idea is to explore the portion of DNA we inherited from our forefathers to understand the story of a specific population and its migration and of course our heritage. Lastly, find out or guess how they have adapted to their local environment. But bear in mind that specific variations in some chromosomes transmitted exclusively from father to son may be used to explore ancestry.
Testing DNA may reveal where a region’s heritage comes from and the extent to which each ethnic group is part of his/her ancestral origins. More specific results may also produce a) an estimate of ethnicity and b) DNA matches which may correlate or link to major life events of direct ancestors on the ethnicity map.
Many individuals have indeed participated in DNA Heritage projects. Chosen for their special family trees presenting and containing specific heritage information according to territorial and/or ethnic characteristics. A specific test group known as Founding Populations plays an important role. Each subgroup includes individuals whose ancestors have lived in the same area for generations, giving very specific features of the region's DNA. In other words, a regional DNA profile was created that mirrored unique DNA sequences. Special statistical procedures can be used to ensure that each founding population is properly grouped, resulting in a very rich and cohesive founding group. It is this reference group which is applied when analyzing the DNA of an additional individual to identify ethnicity.
Special DNA tests may reveal someone’s heritage or inheritance information. Powerful laboratory applications allow someone to test their own specific DNA and reveal valuable information about their family background as well as their ethnic origins. But keep in mind that one can't inherit more than half of an ancestor's DNA. Keep in mind that reading somebody's DNA is just the first step in generating an ancestry profile.
There are areas in the world where the past is undefined and in need of clarity. One of these is in Turkey. There are regions there historically inhabited by a variety of non-Turkish minorities such as the Greeks, the Armenians, the Kurds of Bosnia-Lazi, the Bulgarian Zaza and many others.
Efforts to apply DNA testing in Turkey have faced denial and obstacles from authorities. They fear that DNA testing will reveal the truth and prove the common belief that Turks come from Mongolian Asians. In addition, they are afraid that large percentages of Greeks or Armenians will be revealed. They are deeply concerned by the revelation that the majority of current Turks are not direct descendants of the Seljuks or Ottomans. Turkey has few links or connections to those who invaded Anatolia of Central Asia a thousand years ago. A report in the Annals of Human Genetics showed that the origin of those living in Turkey was 38% European, 35% Middle Eastern, 18% from South Asia and only 9% from Central Asia.
Identity has been an important question in Turkey since the establishment of democracy in 1923. After clearing the ashes of the multinational, multicultural and multilingual Ottoman Empire, new nationalist leaders in Turkey tried to develop a robust and solid Turkish identity in the country.
Until recently the questioning or even simple mentioning of "Turkishness" was punishable by up to two years in prison. Questions such as the fate of the survivors of the Armenian genocide and the situation of thousands of Greeks were very much prohibited. The fate of millions of Kurdish citizens was excluded from the discussions while attempts to examine minorities in the country were not permitted at all.
It is relatively easy for people to send a small sample to a lab and get a response on their ethnic origins. Such tests performed showed that not only the Mongols but also Italian, Greeks, Jews and Armenian are among their ancestors. But before the Armenian genocide, when more than one million Armenians were killed or starved in deserts, the situation was different. Compared to current figures, there was a relatively large Armenian population in many ancient Ottoman provinces.
The history of the Ottoman Empire and its successor modern Turkey is reflected in the complex origins of current Turks. People living there were forced after the arrival of the ottomans to convert to a different religion. Today they do not wish to talk publicly about these matters because of social pressure and not only. On the other side, it is difficult for a family in Turkey to accept the new identity because it can trigger a major debate about the forced Islamisation of non-Muslims and reveal unspeakable torture events. But problems come also from Turkish schools, where curiously the children learn that they are descendants of the Ionians, but they are not Greeks, but Old Turks!
According to research data, the majority of the current population of Turkey are Islamized ancient locals including Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Jews and others. According to the Greek scientist Constantine Triantafyllidis, the genetic results show explicitly that the population of Turkey was created through the mixing of different populations. Starting from the 11th century AD intruders from Central Asia mixed with the local population living in the region since even prehistoric times.
Genealogy has been a research subject for important journalists such as Ahmed Altan, the murdered Hrant Dink and others. But despite the difficulties, the appetite and dynamics of modern Turks to learn their true past has increased exponentially.
Important: notions like ancestry, heritage, inheritance, origins, and genealogy may be used somehow interchangeably but with complementary meanings and with ‘genetic tools’ offering the best solution platform.