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Are you descended from Genghis Khan? 1 in 200 men alive today have Genghis Khan's DNA
Emperor Genghis Khan
Large Statue of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan's Genes
Geneticists performed a DNA survey with startling results in 2003. Apparently 1 in every 200 men alive today is a direct male line descendant of Genghis Khan. Specifically, that's every 8th Asian man, about 16 million men all up!
According to the survey, Genghis Khan’s descendants make up 10% of modern Mongolia. That means that 200,000 of the modern Mongolian population of 2 million share the same lineage based on the research. So far no other historical figure can be shown to have more living descendants than Genghis Khan!
The Y chromosome is a bundle of DNA directly passed from father to son. The Y chromosome is what determines the male sex. Unlike other types of DNA material, it is not mixed between parents to create the unique new person's DNA. If you are a man, your Y chromosome is the same as your father's which is the same as his father's and his father's before him and so on.
Therefore men with the exact same Y chromosome are all descended from the same man at some stage in the past. Even more interesting that is genes mutate over time. The sort of mutations that are present in the Y chromosomes can be used to identify the male progenitor or common ancestor.
The Y chromosome is not present in women, so while there must be (presumably in the same numbers) female descendants of Genghis Khan among us, we cannot easily identify them. Going by simple probabilities, it seems that Genghis Khan could have as many as 32 million living descendants, male and female, in the world today!
The Mongol Empire
131-Foot Statue of Genghis Khan
BBC Production on Genghis Khan Episode 1
Where are Genghis Khan's descendants?
Genghis Khan lived from about 1162 to 1227. He established the largest ever contiguous land empire the world has ever known, stretching across Asia, Russia and the Middle East all the way to include parts of Europe.
Genghis Khan and his armies killed the men and inseminated the women of the conquered territories as they moved westward. Genghis had four legitimate sons and a great many illegitimate sons with his many wives and concubines. His empire was handed down to his sons and their sons, who were an incredibly fertile bunch.
It was not unusual for rulers to have harems in those times and there are stories of one the Khan's being given "30 virgins per year" for his harem. Perhaps this is how Genghis Khan's Y chromosome has come to be so incredibly prevalent in today's world.
Geneticists discovered one particularly remarkable genetic mutation in their survey. This single mutation showed up with amazing frequency in the vast region stretching from China across Mongolia and as far as modern Uzbekistan. The mutation is so common that 8% of the men in the region have it. Outside this region, only about .5% of Asian men have the mutation. Geneticists were able to narrow the origin of the mutation down to a man who lived in Mongolia about 1,000 years ago, plus or minus three centuries.
By tracing back to the time when the mutation began to appear and then matching this with the travels of Genghis Khan as he built up his empire in the 12th and 13th Centuries, experts believe that he is the source of the mutation.
The logical conclusion of the theory (or at least the most interesting conclusion) is that the men who carry this particular mutation are all descended from Genghis Khan. Of course it could have been from another prolific lover associated with Genghis Khan (he traveled with a cast of thousands).
Clearly it is supposition that the common ancestor was in fact Genghis Khan, as his grave has never been located so no tissue samples can be tested. However, it is well documented that Genghis was always given first pick of the conquered women as the army moved across the territories. It is also well documented that a hallmark of prestige for many Asian ruling families and houses over the centuries since the Mongolian Empire was the claim that they were descended from Genghis Khan.
Genghis and Three of his Four Sons
- Born as 'Temujin' in 1165
- Became a tribal leader aged 10 after the murder of his father
- He and his mother and brothers were abandoned by the tribe and they led a poor subsistence living until he became a leader again
- He killed his own brother
- He married his wife Borte when he was about 20, he loved her until she died, despite having many other wives and concubines.
- He rescued Borte after she was kidnapped In 1206. She was absent for about a year and gave birth to his eldest son Jochi after her return - it is said that Jochi's paternity was always in question even though Genghis claimed him as a son.
- Genghis united the divided tribes of the Mongol peoples
- He created the Mongol Empire by conquering most of Asia, including China, Russia, Persia, and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe with his unique style of mainly mounted warfare and adoption of new technology (Chinese explosives etc)
- Genghis died in 1227
- His body was returned to Mongolia but no one has ever discovered his tomb
- He is regarded as the father of modern Mongolia and introduced writing and religious tolerance
Claiming descent from Genghis Khan
For centuries, many Asian rulers have claimed descent from Genghis Khan to lend a sense of entitlement to their rule. Of course some of the claims have now turned out to be true.
Sometimes entire ethnic groups have been linked to Genghis Khan. The Hazara peoples of central Afghanistan have long been thought to have descended from Genghis Khan and his invading armies. The Hazara are often considered to be outsiders (and are persecuted) by other Afghans because of their obvious differences. Some Hazara tribes are actually named after famous Mongolians from Empire times.
Many Hazara peoples dispute having a Mongolian ancestry, claiming to be of Turkic origins, but genetic testing has shown a significant incidence of the mutation in their profile. It has been seen that the genetic make up of many Hazara people is a mix between Mongolian genes and those of the people who inhabited the area in the thirteenth century (presumably the local women inseminated by Genghis Khan and his armies). Many other Hazara people are of Turkic or other origins, but there is some truth to the claims.
Whichever way you look at it, Genghis Khan was a success. He was the most successful warlord and empire builder of all time according to some. He united his people as no one before him ever had.
And now it seems, he has left the ultimate legacy - his incredible success as a progenitor with up to 32 million descendants alive today!
Thanks for stopping by. If you like my work please leave a comment, feedback and please do vote :)
Please feel free to check out my other work by clicking on the nearby links.
Thanks again, Mel.
- High Achiving Genes: Are you descended from Genghis Khan?: http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/25/genghis-khan-descendants-lead_achieve07_cz_cz_0301khan.html
- Are you related to Genghis Khan? Odds are higher than you might think: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x7365388
- Taking the Genghis Khan test: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/3871159.stm
- Are you descended from Genghis Khan?: http://www.examiner.com/article/are-you-descended-from-genghis-khan
- Hazara People, National Geographic: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Hazara_People
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