Insight or Perspective: What makes us Greek and how ‘Greek’ is your DNA?


By Eleni Elefterias

Questions fought with problems. On one hand trying to trace your DNA can be viewed as a nationalistic pursuit. On the other it could be a way to find lost family members.

I share my DNA map here and I must say I was shocked when I got this as both sides of my family, as far as I know, come from Asia Minor, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and Nicomedia (now IZMIT) with some heritage from Argyroupoli in Pontos (now Gumushane) so I was surprised to see so much Peloponnesian DNA when we have no relatives there at all.

One explanation is that the ancient Ionians travelled form there to Asia Minor to set up colonies of which my family on both mother’s and father’s side come from.

I had expected some Turkish but all the results I got were Greek and some Caucasian. I suspect they do not have enough markers needed to give a more accurate result. However, it seems I have more Greek DNA than many of my friends who originate from mainland Greece but whose DNA’s include Albanian, Bulgarian, Italian with a minority of Greek DNA. Does that mean I am more Greek than many in mainland Greece and the islands? How is that possible?

There has been much racism towards the people from the north who may have Slavic roots (knowlingly or unknowingly). Many were under pressure by Greek government policies to assimilate with the Greek nation and speak only Greek. With the influx of the Greeks from Asia Minor during the population exchange many of them were treated abominably and called “Turkish seeds” even by academics such as Giorgios Vlachos in a book about Eleftherios Venizelos. Well, well, with a name like Vlachos, he should have kept quiet. Our names often give away our roots.

Though DNS tests can be confusing indeed.  Next week I continue on this idea we have of what makes you Greek.

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