Do you know who your great-great ancestors are? A report from the University of Leicester has decided to find the truth behind the fact that claims Genghis Khan was the ancestor of 1 in 200 men.
Several nomadic tribes came together under the leadership of Genghis Khan, who was the ruler of Mongols in 1206. Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history! It was also the second-largest empire by landmass after the British Empire. It originated in Mongolia in East Asia and eventually spread to Eastern Europe, Central Europe, parts of the Arctic, Indian Subcontinent, Mainland Southeast Asia, the Iranian Plateau, the Levant, and the Carpathian Mountains in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Genghis Khan’s original name was Temujin. He gave himself the name Genghis Khan after he defeated the most powerful Mongol leader of that time named Kurtait. The term Mongol was used for all the people who spoke Mongolic under Genghis Khan’s control. Genghis Khan wasn’t just the father of the largest empire, he also helped populate the empire and almost 8% of the men living today are descendants of Genghis Khan.
The Prominent Genes
A report about genetics from the University of Leicester, the Y-chromosome which is specifically found in males and is passed down from father to son. It was found that more than 5,000 Asian men from 127 populations consisted of a similar Y-chromosome.
While most Y-chromosomes are different and rare, the team of researchers from the university found 11 types that were similar from all the samples, and their distribution and histories were studied extensively. Out of those, two common male lineages were discovered; namely Genghis Khan and Giocangga in addition to nine other dynastic leaders who hailed from Asia and dated back to 2100 B.C. and 700 A.D.
The Trans-generation Amplification Effect
Professor Mark Jobling from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics, the project lead said, “The youngest lineages, originating in the last 1700 years, are found in pastoral nomadic populations, who were highly mobile horse-riders and could spread their Y chromosomes far and wide. For these lineages to become so common, their powerful founders needed to have many sons by many women and to pass their status as well as their Y chromosomes on to them. The sons in turn’ could then have many sons too. It’s a kind of trans-generation amplification effect.”
Spencer Wells, one of the 23 co-authors of the paper said that “This is a clear example that culture plays a very big role in patterns of genetic variation and diversity in human population. It’s the first documented case when human culture has caused a single genetic lineage to increase to such an enormous extent in just a few hundred years.”
The descendants who Extended His Empire
In order for someone to have such an incredible impact on the population of the world at large, the person must have had some special set of circumstances and Genghis Khan and his male relatives had all of those.
When Khan died, he already had established his rule not just in Asia but across the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea too. His troops would slaughter all those that were captured. His descendants successfully extended his already vast empire and maintained power in the region for hundreds of years. The males of that time were remarkably fertile and harems and concubines were the norms.
The Gruesome History
While it can be said that Khan had 100s of children, Khan’s eldest son Tushi for sure had 40 sons. According to the documents written during and after Khan’s reign mentioned that after a conquest, looting, pillaging, and raping was the gift for all of the war soldiers, but Khan got the first pick of the women.
We know it sounds disturbing but back in the day, it was very common and has been mentioned in history time and again. Khans’ grandson Kubilai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China had 22 legitimate sons, who knows how many illegitimate sons each of them had. It was also said that Kubilai would have 30 virgins to his harem each year.
The Genetic Markers
The researchers had studied the blood samples collected over ten years from more than 40 populations that lived in and around the former Mongol empire, which wasn’t small at all. The geneticists used the Y chromosome because it does not recombine like other genomes. The eye color, height, resistance, or susceptibility to a disease, is formed by a new genetic combination and each parent contributes half of the child’s DNA.
The Y chromosome is passed completely, without random mutation. The random mutations happen naturally and are harmless. They are called markers. Once the geneticists have identified the markers, they can identify from which time the mutation started which defined the lineage of descent.
The Odd Places
The lineage of the sample collected dates back to 1,000 years ago. The geneticists don’t say that it was Genghis’s originated lineage but that it was passed on to him by his great great grandfather. The only place outside of the Mongolian empire where the lineage was found, was in Pakistan. Wells says “The Hazaras (of Pakistan) gave us our first clue to the connection with Genghis Khan. They have a long oral tradition that says they’re his direct descendants.
Of course, all of this is just by connecting the dots in history but the proof that Genghis Khan was the ancestor of 1 in 200 men will remain uncertain unless we can get DNA directly from Genghis’ body. Till then, geneticists continue to seek more answers and more information from the people who originated from the Mongolian empire and the areas around it.