Turkey's genetic inheritance close to Europe

Genetic study links Turks with Tuscany (Italy) and Spain

The DNA study reveals the genetic diversity of Turks, and that Europeans descend from Anatolian emigrants who arrived thousands of years ago.

A genetic study carried out over a decade on thousands of Turks has revealed that they have strong ties in their DNA with the population of Spain and the region of Tuscany, in Italy; the authors of the research emphasise that the results confirm the great genetic mix of the Anatolian population, as well as the fact that it has historically been a bridge between Asia and Europe.

The genetic research was carried out with the participation of several institutions, including the Suna-Inan Kıraç Foundation of the Koç University of Istanbul, the Turkish University of Health Sciences, the Rockefeller University of New York, the Yale and Cardiff Universities, and the Icahn School of Medicine in New York: all under the coordination of the department of molecular biology and genetics at Bilkent University in Ankara. To carry it out, the DNA of some 4,000 inhabitants of the 81 provinces of Turkey was analysed.

Professor Tayfun Özçelik of Bilkent University in Ankara, and director of the project, explained in statements to the Turkish news agency Anadolu that thanks to the study – which lasted for about 10 years and had a budget of 10 million dollars – important findings on the genetic makeup of the Turkish population have been discovered.

Turks have a great genetic diversity

“The results of our study show that Turkey has genetic integrity, and at the same time it contains a high level of genetic diversity,” commented Özçelik, noting that there are common genetic components among the populations of Turkey, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

However, Özçelik notes that research has found that Turks have more genetic patterns in common with Europeans even than previously thought. Not surprisingly, another genetic study carried out in 2019 by Polish scientists concluded that Europeans descend from emigrants who arrived from Anatolia about 9,000 years ago, specifically from the settlement of Çatalhöyük.

Inhabitants of Anatolia emigrated to Europe bringing agricultural advances

That same year, British scientists reconstructed the face of an Anatolian woman who lived 7,500 years ago in Gibraltar, where she or her closest relatives emigrated, bringing to the south of the Iberian Peninsula the advances and agricultural techniques that were used in Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey, like its geographical location, is a bridge between the East and the West in terms of its genetic makeup,” Özçelik said.

The professor explained that the results of the genetic study reveal the effects on DNA of human migrations in Anatolia. “It has been observed that Turkish society has a close relationship especially with the people who live in the Tuscany region of Italy. The second country with which the Turks have a close genetic relationship is Spain… These findings may be a reflection of the migrations of the first Anatolian farmers to Europe during the Neolithic period”, he concluded.