Sunday, May 20, 2007

Who are the descendants of Genghis Khan?   posted by Razib @ 5/20/2007 09:51:00 PM

Via Dienekes this paper about the distribution of the Genghiside patrilineage amongst Eurasian peoples:
...The highest frequency of haplotypes from the cluster of the Genghis Khan's descendants was found in Mongols (34.8%). In Russia, this cluster was found in Altaian Kazakhs (8.3%), Altaians (3.4%), Buryats (2.3%), Tyvans (1.9%), and Kalmyks (1.7%).

It is no surprise that the Mongols have a high frequency of the Genghiside lineage. But, it is interesting that the Kalmyks have the lowest frequency, they are the western (European) branch of the Oirat Mongolian tribes. During the rise of Genghis Khan the Oirats of western Mongolia were forest dwellers at the margins of the grand historical forces which reshaped the heart of Eurasia. Centuries later they rose to the fore to become the most ferocious power of Inner Asia, triggering mass migrations of other nomadic peoples before them, reminiscent of the folk wanderings caused by the depredations of the Huns. The Mongolian peoples to their east, the Khalkha Mongols, allied with the Manchus to eventually defeat the Oirats. The Khalkha elite rejected domination by the Oirat in part because they were not of Genghiside descent. The high frequency of Genghiside lineages amongst non-Mongolian peoples, for example, the Altaian Kazakhs, attests to the cultural power that descent from Genghis Khan had as a way of accruing status and asserting the right to rule amongst the various Turkic Islamic peoples of Inner Asia. It is of course via the Turks, and particularly the Moghuls, that Khan became a common titular surname amongst the Muslims of South Asia. This is an illustration of how exceptional and rare phylogenetic events can sweep across populations and confound previously clear relationships. Two thousand years ago the proto-Oirat and proto-Khalkha male lineages would have been obviously closely related in comparison to Turkic outgroups. But less than one thousand years one subgroup of the proto-Khalkha lineage expanded across the semi-civilized region of Innner Asia, which naturally excluded the forests of the Oirats. Now on top of the short range genealogical networks facilitated by deme-to-deme mate exchange there is a larger system which corresponds to a social force that emerged at a precise historical point.