Genetics Used to Study Ethno-Genesis of Kazakhs

The Committee of Science of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan recently held a training workshop for journalists on the subject “The Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of the Ethno-Genesis of Kazakhs.”

The training seminar was conducted in accordance with instructions from the Kazakhstan Secretary of State Marat Tazhin. The choice of the subject is justified by its topicality, as the population’s genome can unlock a revolution in the understanding of history and expand its horizons.

For Kazakhstan, this is a relatively new kind of historical science. According to young scientists Zhaksylyk Sabitov from Gumilev Eurasian National University and genetics specialists from Nazarbayev University Maxat Zhabagin and Aikyn Askapuly who conducted the workshop, genetic studies in the twenty-first century will become the main method of studying ethno-genesis of any people. This interdisciplinary approach, formed at the intersection of history and genetics, will be able to make a breakthrough in the study of the ethno-genesis of Kazakhs.

In the first 60 years of the twentieth century, twice Nobel Prize winning Linus Pauling advanced the idea that the accumulation rate of DNA mutations is constant and it can be used as a sort of molecular clock in evolutionary history, including in the study of events in the evolutionary history of man.

The Y-chromosome aroused great interest in scientists and historians who studied human populations this way. This is the smallest chromosome in the human genome and contains about 80 genes, a very small number compared to other chromosomes which have about 1,500 genes. But researchers have found that the Y-chromosome is passed exclusively from father to son, thereby, its descent can be theoretically traced by recording the male line through one’s ancestors.

“The study of the Y-chromosome on DNA markers is a new applied historical method which will test today’s scientific beliefs,” Sabitov said. “The population’s DNA can help historians answer many questions when ‘the files keep silence’ and reveal the secrets of time. There is no end to the work that can be done in this field. Today, our scientists have investigated the origin of only major tribes and clans, for example, the genealogy of Abul Khair Khan.”

The intense ethnic medley, especially in the era of great migration of Huns and later, the Turkic tribes and Mongols, left its mark on the appearance of the Kazakhs. In addition, during these turbulent ethno-migrations, the Kazakhs’ ancestors mingled with other ethnic groups, often assimilating them into their ethnicity. Scientists believe that the population’s genes could show these moments in history. The fact that Kazakhs have kept their genealogy, unlike other nations, will help them.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter and Telegram!