Where do Cretans come from?

20% of the DNA of Cretan men indicates origin from Peloponnese while, contrary to the view that their DNA has been influenced by Turks, because of their long existence in Greece, there is only 1.5% of blending with people of Mongol origin, who are related to Turks. At the same time, though, our DNA proves the passage of the Venetians from Crete.

These are just a few of the interesting propositions included in the book The Genetic History of Greece – The DNA of Greeks, written by peer professor of Genetics and Human Genetics, Konstantinos Triadafyllidis, who has spent many years on this study. Ekriti.gr contacted him and Mr Triadafyllidis revealed some of the many facts he has included in his book, which was recently presented in Thessaloniki and it has already been a mega-hit.

He collaborated closely with Professor of Medicine and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, Georgios Stamatogiannoopulos, who has been analyzing DNA samples from skeletons found in a cave at Agios Charalampos at Lassithi Plateau, as well as in other places of Crete and comparing the results with those coming from samples from 135 different modern and ancient populations.

Hence, on the basis of the results of the research conducted by M. Stamatogiannopoulos and by M. Triantafyllidis, we can easily conclude that the genetic origins of Neolithic Cretans can be traced to Near East rather than Egypt.

The DNA of Cretan men implies an association to Peloponnese by 20% and can be rather associated to the Myceneans who had come to our island in 1100 B.C.

According to research, at Chania, the people from Sfakia present a distinctive genetic constitution, probably due to the isolated character of the area, while they claim to have a direct origin from ancient Dorians.

Equally interesting is the fact that thalassemia was totally absent from Crete 3,400 years ago.

Mr Triantafyllidis visited Crete in 2000 and, in collaboration with doctors, he managed to collect, mainly from villages, 50 random representative samples which he eventually analyzed.

The results obtained were compared with those of samples from Egypt, and no co-relation was noticed.

According to the Professor, the people who lived in Crete during the Neolithic era, around 8300 B.C. came from Near East and they were allegedly ancestors of the Minoans. Hence, the Professor claims that the Minoan Civilization was purely European and had no relation to Africa.

Mr Triantafyllidis also explains that by Near East we refer to the region from Syria to Iran.

Mr Triantafyllidis considers that the most important finding of Mr Stamatogiannopoulos’ research is that the DNA analysis of 35 skeletons from Aghios Charalampos of Lassithi Prefecture and other areas, as compared with those of 35 skeletons of Eurasian populations present similarities, thus establishing the relational continuity between the current inhabitants of Crete and its inhabitants from the Bronze Age.

It is worth noting that Mr Triantafyllidis contends in his book that the Greeks were by no means genetically influenced from other peoples; on the contrary, they rather spread their DNA to the rest of Europe.

Indeed, the Greek genetic material resembles the genetic material of the Italians, presenting less similarities with that of the French and a percentage of the Spanish, and absolutely no similarity with Turkish genetic material, contrary to what can be deduced on the basis of the Turkish occupation.

What is impressive is that the DNA of contemporary Greeks indicates an origin from the Neolithic era and a direct continuity with the DNA of ancient Greeks, having undergone no blending throughout the millennia. Moreover, certain scientists are also researching into the possibility that ancient Greeks had been to America long before Columbus made it to “Western India”.

In his book, apart from putting forward his findings, the acclaimed scientist also compares the characteristics of Greeks with the equivalent characteristics of peoples from the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

New research, which is based on the study of DNA instead of blood, may lead to more valid conclusions and is expected to provide further information on the genetic material of the Greeks, as Mr Triantafyllidis suggests. He also underscores the fact that now, thanks to 300,000 genes and genetic markers, we have the evidence to refute the points made by various scientists, such as the notion that the Greeks are of African descent.

He adds that the results of further research are eagerly anticipated. “Swedish scientists studied bones found in graves in southern Sweden and discovered that the residents of Mycenae had arrived there thousands of years ago, thus transferring not only cultural goods, but also ships, and their genetic material”.

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