Greek and Turkish Cypriots are Close Genetically, Study Says

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
Last Update: 14:24

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have a lot in common genetically, says a DNA study presented in scientific journal Plos One.

“Despite historical records on the origins of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the genetic ancestry of the two communities has not as yet been systematically compared,” the study said.

According to the new DNA study most Greek and Turkish Cypriots come from a single paternal gene pool of local origin and have very close genetic affinity.

The Y-chromosomal analysis of Greek Cypriots reveals a common pre-Ottoman paternal ancestry with Turkish Cypriots. Y-Chromosome analysis is used to research direct paternal ancestry.

The research was carried out by a group of researchers from the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING). It also indicated that Greek Cypriots in particular appear to share some haplotypes, or DNA signatures, with Calabrian Italians and Albanians, while Lebanese patrilineages also appear to be very close to those of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Libyan patrilineage is shared only with Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, Turkish Cypriots show evidence of genetic contribution over the past few centuries from mainland Turkey and to a lesser extent from North Africa.

The study sample was 344 Greek Cypriot men with no biological relationship and whose paternal grandfathers had confirmed Greek Cypriot ancestry. The Greek Cypriots’ haplotypes were then compared to a publicly available Turkish Cypriot population sample as well as profiles from populations in West Eurasia and North Africa.

“Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots share between them many more Y-chromosome haplotypes, both in relative and absolute terms, than with any other surrounding population,” the research said.

“The only Greek sub-population showing close genetic proximity to Cypriots (in terms of Y-haplogroup composition) is Cretan Greeks… It could be speculated that Cypriots and Cretans experienced very similar migratory events over the centuries,” it said.

The study also found that the genetic affinity observed between Cypriots and Calabrian Italians could be a result of a common ancient Greek (Achaean) genetic contribution to both populations, as both Calabria and Cyprus were settled by Achaean Greeks in the late Bronze Age.

Also, according to the study, the high genetic affinity between Cypriots and Lebanese can be explained by Phoenician migration from coastal Levant to Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, Maronite migration up to the Middle Ages and other Levantine settlers during the Frankish era.

The survey confirmed the scientific assumptions that the high percentage of shared haplotypes between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots is primarily of local origin, meaning that they share a common local pre-Ottoman ancestry.

Regarding Turkish Cypriots, there is “evidence of recent (past few centuries) genetic contribution from mainland Turkey and the presence of minor Eastern Eurasian and North African paternal ancestry.” This is due to a population influx from Anatolia and other Ottoman regions in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and North Africa to Cyprus during Ottoman rule.

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