Are Contemporary Turks Armenian?

Editorial, 15 September 2013

A number of studies of genetics, in the past decade, including several by Armenian scientists, have concluded that the DNA of modern Turks has an extremely high percentage of Armenian DNA. Other geneticists say that less than 10% of Turkey’s population has Central Asian/Mongol origins and that 90% of Turkish ancestry is a genetic cocktail. Others have gone so far as to wonder whether most Turks of Turkey are acculturated Armenians (same genetic structure) and that Turks of Turkey are the only people in the world who have completely changed their genetic pool from Turkic to that of Asia Minor and the Balkans.

Editorial, 15 September 2013

A number of studies of genetics, in the past decade, including several by Armenian scientists, have concluded that the DNA of modern Turks has an extremely high percentage of Armenian DNA. Other geneticists say that less than 10% of Turkey’s population has Central Asian/Mongol origins and that 90% of Turkish ancestry is a genetic cocktail. Others have gone so far as to wonder whether most Turks of Turkey are acculturated Armenians (same genetic structure) and that Turks of Turkey are the only people in the world who have completely changed their genetic pool from Turkic to that of Asia Minor and the Balkans.

We have no idea as to the validity of the above research or conclusions. Even if the research is based on solid science, Armenians—and Turks—might well ask: “So what?” In the affairs of nations, genetics is not destiny. Politics, economics, culture, and values weigh heavier as identifiers. These drive state and national relationships between people, not genetics.

In the past decade Dutch geneticists have deduced that Jews of Israel, Arabs of Israel and Arabs of West Bank have similar genes. They said that Palestinian Arabs were Jews who had converted to Islam when the Arab armies of the Arabian Peninsula conquered the Middle East in the 7th century. Jews and Arabs gave short shrift to the Dutch findings: even if they are related, the alleged commonality of their genes couldn’t, wouldn’t impact their political relationship.

Byzantium had more than a score of Armenian emperors and countless military leaders. As far as the Armenian nation is concerned, they might as well have been Albanian, Macedonian or even Turk. Genetically Armenian, they acted Byzantine, thus mostly hostile to Armenians.

Celebrated “French” author Henri Troyat presented himself as an exiled White Russian who wrote biographies of Tsars and celebrated Russian writers. He revealed his Armenian identity (Tarassian) late in his life. He didn’t contribute anything to our nation…an Armenian who hid under the cloak of White Russian and wrote in French about Russian greats.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is half-Armenian, half-Russian. For all intents and purposes, he might be 100% Russian. He acts on behalf of Russia, as he should. Napoleon Bonaparte was Italian-born (real name Nabuleone di Buonaparte), but as a French emperor he invaded his homeland and looted Italian Renaissance art, including the “Mona Lisa”. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the head of the Allied armies in World War II, was of German origin.  Irving Berlin, the man who wrote the iconic “God Bless America”, “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade” was a Jew born in Russia, and although some Americans believe Christopher Columbus was Spanish, the “discoverer” of America was Italian (real name Cristoforo Colombo) born in Genoa. Ataturk’s adopted daughter was an Armenian orphan. As a pilot in the Turkish air force, she bombed Alevis and Armenians in Dersim in the late ‘30s.

Andrei Solzhenitsyn, the Russian novelist, wrote: “Russian nationality is not about blood but abut spirit. The greatness of our people is to be sought in the inner development in its breath and soul…all those who feel themselves part of this heritage in spirit are true Russians.” Many Armenians would echo the same sentiments about their identity and might go one better and say: “Armenian is as Armenian does.”  What matters is what we do; how we live.  

Going back to the findings of the geneticists, no Armenian would be surprised to hear that many Turks have Armenian blood. Starting with the Turkic invasions of Armenia in the 10th century and continuing for the next thousand years—to be finally topped by the Genocide—Turks not only conquered and pillaged our land, they also looted our culture, and committed genetic theft through forcible conversion, through assimilation, by stealing Armenian women and girls, and by telling many Armenian orphans of the Genocide that their parents were killed by the Gavoor Armenians.

While Turks have Armenian blood (double entendre intended), Armenians have very little—if any–Turkish blood. Turkish genetic theft and Armenian endogamy explain why it is so.  Unless coerced, Armenians—with few exceptions—don’t marry Muslim Turks.

We doubt that the geneticists—Armenian and non-Armenian—have a political agenda. However, their conclusions are prone to trivialization and to political exploitation.

Turkish propagandists could tell Armenians: “Since we are brothers, let’s bury the hatchet…”. Turkish propagandists might tell the world the Armenian/Turkish quarrel is fratricide, not genocide. Turkish propagandists might tell Armenians: “Stop calling us Seljuk and Ottoman brigands from Central Asia. We are as indigenous to Asia Minor like you.” Turkish propagandists might tell Armenians: “Why do you demand lands in Asia Minor? They are already yours. Turks, who are, in fact, Armenian, are living in the lands of our mutual ancestors…they are even fighting the trespassing Kurds.”

Only last year, Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, described the Armenian descendants of the Genocide as members of the Turkish Diaspora.

One thing about “Mehmet, My Brother”, it never pays to underestimate his chicanery and duplicity. He can’t be Armenian.


  1. Are Contemporary Turks Armenian?

    The answer is "NO". The gene pool of modern Turks is a hodgepodge of genes they acquired over the centuries from the population in the occupied territories. I like to remind readers that for a considerable period of time, the Black Sea was a Turkish lake because all the lands surrounding it were under Ottoman rule. However, it is highly possible that the frequency of Armenian genes may be higher than that of other occupied people. This is because we have suffered the longest period under their rule.

    The science that you have referred to is solid. But as you mention, the modern Turk is not an Armenian but as you say ''an Armenian is as Armenian does'' (actions). 

  2. Armenians Marrying Turks

    Re your comment: "Unless coerced, Armenians—with few exceptions—don’t marry Muslim Turks",
    I would like to state that during one of his visits to the US, in the late 1990s, Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, said that 40% of the Armenian marriages in Turkey are with Turks. Talk about White Genocide!

    1. Inter-marriage

      This is nothing new. The problem of Armenian-Turkish marriages has existed for a long time.

      At a conference on Armenian issues, at the University of California at Los Angeles, Osheen Keshishian, the editor of the "Armenian Observer" referred to this when he spoke about the Armenian press in the Ottoman Empire. Some Armenian newspapers in Izmir had editorials about the dangers of marrying Turks. Those editorials were dated from the early 1800s. Imagine that…Obviously, this problem has existed since the Mongols came to Anatolia. First by rape and then by force and later by free will…How sad.

  3. Contemporary Turks

    The last part of the article is worth close attention. I have been following the various scientific studies that have concentrated on the commonalities of Turkish and Armenian’s genetics. As mentioned in the article, the Ottoman Turks have over the years believed in eugenics just like Hitler’s Germany.

    Hitler's Germany and many other countries and nations have believed that they either kept their race clean by avoiding intermarrying other races or improving their races by marrying races that were perceived to be smarter, stronger, and better fighters. Currently, it is not politically correct to even mention the word eugenics. But it has been practiced.

    The Ottomans believed that by intermarrying Serbs, Armenians and other nations they could improve their gene pool. Armenians referred to it as cleaning the Turkish race. We talk about Turks stealing Armenian women and think it was just for pleasure. However, these women bore children and contributed to the Turkish gene pool. If Turks thought that intermarriage to Armenian women would hurt their race, they would have never done it. Thus it is no surprise that scientists now find a large amount of similarities between Turkish genes and Armenian genes. However, if the study was to be performed correctly, it should have measured the similarities between predominant Armenian genes and the pure Turkish genes, which is still not discussed or explored. The emphasis has been how similar Turks are to Armenians. It does not take a multi-million dollar study to prove that. History shows that Turks have stolen our women and married them and have had children with them.

    The last part of the article talks about the political ramifications of these studies with the Turkish desire to legitimizes Turkish occupation of Armenian lands. It does so by depicting Turks as lost Armenians who have a legitimate right to be on the Armenian lands. The Armenian scientists have to be careful since they are on a very slippery slope with their studies. They are not adding any value to the Armenian cause. They are weakening the Armenian cause.

  4. “Mona Lisa”, looted or given as a gift?

    For the record, the statement "Napoleon Bonaparte … looted Mona Lisa" in the "Are Contemporary Turks Armenian?" article is incorrect. The Mona Lisa was taken to France by the artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, when he went to work for the French King Francois I (or Francis I). It was given to the king by Da Vinci or acquired by the king and thus became the property of France.

  5. Are Modern Azeris Armenian?

    Considering that King Tigran Medz ruled the lands stretching to the Caspian Sea, why can't the people of Azerbaijan have Armenian roots? I suggest a study about Azeri descent. Where have the former Armenians in those lands gone? This is a matter that's often on my mind.

    São Paulo

  6. Encourage the youth

    Let's look at the reality: Whether under Communism, Ottomanism, Fascism, or in capitalism, minorities are always forced to stick together, due to discrimination from the top or solidarity from the bottom.

    As discrimination eases, ethnicity begins slowly to dissipate, unless you have a strong program to groom the youth in their culture, encourage their growth socially, morally, culturally, educationally and financially.

  7. Excuse Me, But I Think ….

    Excuse me, but I think that this matter is like the discussion about the gender of angels. An Armenian is an Armenian in his heart, and not in his/her DNA. 

    São Paulo

  8. You forgot to mention comversion to Islam

    Even though there may have been cases of forced marriages of Armenian women, I think the main cause of the similarities in the gene pool is the voluntary conversion to Islam under the Ottomans; the way it happened with other Christian subjects of the empire: Greeks, Serbs, Croats, Albanians, Bulgars, Georgians etc. We have to keep in mind that back in those times converting to Islam (becoming a Turk) was advantageous, similar to everyone coming to America with hopes of getting American passport.

    1. On becoming Muslim

      Dear Boshnak friend,
      The reason for becoming Muslim was self preservation, so that one would not see the edge of Yatagan (Turkish yatağan). Coming to America is not forced on anybody. You are comparing apples with oranges.

    2. Conversion to Islam

      Conversion to Islam by the subjects of the Ottoman Empire is a complex dynamics. Surely there must have been voluntary conversion to Islam and it may have been a way of life during the early years of the Seljuk Turks occupying for all practical purposes what was the Byzantine or the Eastern Roman Empire.

      However, let us be mindful that the financial burden towards the state mostly fell on the minorities as the Muslims did not pay nearly the heavy tolls imposed on the non Muslim minorities. Conversion to Islam was socially, if not legally, not accepted later on from the "Millets". Even if one wanted to convert, the dynamics would not be there to accept the person, save may be a minority woman marrying Muslim forcefully or voluntarily.

      In 1846 when the Protestant community came to be accepted as a separate "Millet" in the Ottoman Empire, it was explicitly stated in the Sultan's "Firman" that the conversion to new evangelical faith was accepted among the non-Muslim minorities and by omission no Muslim would be accepted for conversion to the new Protestant "Millet".

      I am not sure if "Donmeh" is a term used only for crypto-Jews in the Ottoman Empire but Armenian converts were also not accepted as true Muslims and were regarded "Donmehs". Whether they were also spared paying heavy toll the Muslims did not pay, I am not sure.

      I am inclined to believe, had the conversion to Islam been accepted or encouraged, we would not have had an Armenian minority left in the empire over the centuries. The cruel realities imposed on the Armenian subjects were too heavy for a human being to bear. Had conversion to Islam been encouraged. it would have been an avenue that would have been embraced to escape the dehumanizing tyranny.


      1. Here is the Muslim Armenians

        Hello Everybody,

        We are a group of Muslim Armenians in Turkey and have a facebook page to express ourselves.

        Our page contains news and comments about the Armenians that are Muslim by birth or became Muslim afterwards. No blasphemy or insults at any religion or races shall be tolerated or allowed on this page. Turkish, Azerbaijani and Armenian racism shall not be tolerated.

        • Platform of Armenians that are Muslim by birth or became Muslim afterwards condemn the massacre of 1915.
        • It denies all racist notices, including Armenian and Turkish racism, in entirety.
        • It does not hide being Armenian nor does it deny its ancestors.
        • They accept the message of Prophet Mohammed and announce being a Muslim just like they accepted the message of Prophet Jesus and became Christian 1700 years ago.
        • It entirely refuses the thesis that a person who is not Christian cannot be recognised as Armenian.
        • They refuse all ideologies, including Kemalism, communism, socialism, Marxism and Leninism apart from Islam.
        • It stands by the people that are oppressed by imperial powers.
        • It acts in the acknowledgement that it is part of the Islamic world.

        Muslim Armenians

        1. New Reality

          Even though what is spelled here comes from the Facebook Muslim Armenians, there is no reason not to regard it as the manifesto of the Muslim Armenians.

          This declaration that  appears for the very first time in an Armenian forum was an eye opener for me. It is a forceful declaration of “this is who we are and you better accept it and deal with it”.

          I will not be surprised that our sentimental depiction of Muslim Armenians of late will soon give way to the stark reality for the Diaspora Christian Armenians to deal with this “game changer”. It is plainly evident that Muslim Armenians in no uncertain term regard the 1915 happening as massacres and not as genocide.

  9. I Am Turkish

    I am a Turkish man with partially Armenian ancestry on my mother's side. My Armenian ancestry is because of voluntary conversion to Islam. This is only the close relationship I know. I can never know the distant ones. Many of my paternal uncles and their children are blond and have blue eyes, which makes me doubt further about my ancestry. That may be Greek or Crusader contribution as well.

    1. To Faruk

      Hello Faruk,

      How do you know that your ancestor's conversion to Islam was voluntary? 

      1. He refused to leave

        Because he refused to leave his native Akbez town in Cilicia and didn't follow his parents when they left for Lebanon in early 1900s, instead converted to Islam, married a Muslim woman and stayed there as a voluntary Muslim. All his children were raised as true Muslims. That's another fact.

        1. Faruk, let’s read between the lines


          Let's read between the lines. What man with the right mind would stay in the eye of the storm when communities were being decimated? If he stayed in his village it is  because he was given a chance to survive by becoming Muslim. There are too many similar stories for yours to be an exception.

  10. Armenians Assimilating Turks

    I've often wondered what would have happened had the Turkic invasions of Armenia and Anatolia stoppped with the Seljuks? Would the Turks have been assimilated by the Armenians like other invaders before them? Unfortunately, later invasions (Mongols, Tamerlane, Ottomans, etc.) so weakened the Armenian people that the answer to that question goes unanswered. However, this article prompts me to consider the 'what if' these people in Turkey with Armenian DNA choose to be Armenian rather than Turkish? OK… I admit the question deserves a good laugh, but following that consider what happened some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago on the Armenian Plateau. The geographic reality in those days was Urartu and yet somehow, someway, the place became Armenia. What if it was more advantageous for Turks to identify as Armenians? How's that? you say. Through Armenian culture. That is if it can be demonstrated that Armenian culture is somehow more desirable than Turkish culture then maybe it's possible. The DNA evidence is in. All that needs to happen… OK, it's a big all… is for people to make a choice.

  11. Unless there is more detailed DNA studies

    Unless there is more detailed DNA studies some regions will have very high concentrations, not just because genocide or conversions but for 600 years we Armenians gave up first born boy to the state …. that was form of tax for Armenians.  This I belive more than anything else would skew the Y dna studies of Turks towards Armenians.

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