Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

New DNA study shows Armenian genetic traces across the world


As Peopleofar.com reports, a new paper in Science by Hellenthal et al. (2014) reveals extensive admixture in humans over the last few thousand years. Admixture is the result of previously distant populations meeting and breeding, leaving a genetic signal within the descendants’ genomes. However, over time the signal decays and can be hard to trace. Hellenthal et al. (2014) describe a method, using a technique called chromosome painting, to follow the genetic traces of admixture back to the nearest extant population. The approach revealed details of worldwide human admixture history over the past 4000 years.

Based on these results Hellanthal et al. (2014) created a Genetic Atlas of human admixture history that shows genetic traces for various world populations. Regarding Armenians, it is interesting to see in what populations Armenians left their genetic traces (according to the study). The map bellow shows significant percentages of Armenian DNA identified by Hellanthal et al. (2014) present in various non-Armenian populations.

Etruscan-Armenian connection

We observe a significant presence of Armenian genetic material in Italy especially in Tuscany. Tuscany is historically identified with the source of Etruscan civilization, etymology of which derives from Latin: Tusci. Numerous scholars have previously proposed an Armenian – Etruscan connection. British scholar Dr. Robert Ellis describes in his book The Armenian Origin of the Etruscans :

“The Armenians, like the Celts, are now few in number. They belong once to a longer extent of a country where they spread westward from Armenia to Italy under the names of Phrygians, Thracians, Pelasgians, Etruscans and also spread to other locations.”

Norwegian scholar Dr. Bugge, also suggested that the Etruscan language was of Armenian extraction. Other scholars like Vahan M. Kurkjian have identified Urartean art, architecture, language and general cultural traces of kinship to the Etruscans of the Italian peninsula. Armenian genetic traces among the populations of Tuscany therefore corroborate with the Etruscan-Armenian theory.

Armenian admixture

Concerning the admixture of Armenians (different people who contributed to Armenian genes), the study is inconclusive as it shows Armenians among the no-admixture or of uncertain admixture populations. According to the study Armenians do share significant genetic similarities with a number of foreign populations (including the Irish), but the “admixture signal is either too weak or too complex for the model to describe.” As Dienekes correctly noted, Armenians appear to be the only people between the Atlantic and Pacific that are identified as being un-admixed or of uncertain admixture (as seen in the map bellow). Most probably the Armenian admixture predates the scope of the study as the study only goes as far as 4000 years, while Armenian ethnogenesis is much older. We also know from previous studies that the dominant Armenian markers R1b, G2 and J2 originated in (and around) the Armenian Highlands, which indeed would provide clues to the direction of genetic spread from Armenia towards the outside.
Anatolian Turks

It is also interesting to note that the genetic makeup of people in Turkey mainly consists of Greek, Armenian and Iranian DNA, all of which show contributions around 10%. In contrast the (Asiatic) Mongolian contribution only amounts to 3,7%. It is safe to assume that Eastern Turkey would show even greater Armenian genetic contribution which would corroborate with the notion of Turks being acculturated Armenians as was previously discussed by various scholars.

Limitations of the Study

This study has some limitations which are discussed on Dienekes anthropological blog. Moreover some data is inconsistent with other genetic studies and the sample sizes were quite limited. Nonetheless it is interesting to see all the different genetic traces identified by the study and displayed in the Genetic Atlas. Perhaps future research will expand the Atlas with more data collected from more individuals and ethnic groups to reveal better results.

List of Armenian genetic traces in non-Armenian populations

According to the study the following groups of people show significant amounts of Armenian genetic traces.

Lezgins (North Caucasus, Caspian Sea) 13.8%
Georgians 12.4%
Tuscans (Italy) 10.7%
Turks 9.9%
Iranians 7.5%
Cypriots 7.3%
Druze (Levant) 6.6%
South Italy 6.2%
Adygei (North Caucasus, Black Sea) 5.9%
Syrians 4.5%
Jordanians 4.2%
West Sicily (Italy) 4.2%
Saudis 4.0%
Han, North China 3.9%
South Sicily (Italy) 3.8%
Hazara (Afghanistan) 3.7%
Uzbekistan 3.4%
Egyptians 3.4%
Bedouins 3.2%
Indian Jews 3.0%
Makrani (Pakistan) 2.9%
Tunisian 2.6%
Palestinian 1.7%
Myanmar 1.3%
Pathan (North Pakistan) 1.3%
Sindhi (Pakistan-India) 1.1%
UAE 1.1%
Uygur 0.9%
Spain 0.8%
Burusho (North Afghanistan) 0.8%
Papa New Guinea 0.6%
Cambodia 0.5%

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