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Thread: Did Greek Orthodox Christians fleeing Arab rule spread Levantine DNA to SE Europe?

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    Did Greek Orthodox Christians fleeing Arab rule spread Levantine DNA to SE Europe?

    Let me be clear here. I am not asking how much of such admixture exists as we have used models to determine 15-25% is the likely estimate, but rather the route through which it spread i.e. point of dispersal and migration patterns. I have a theory personally that makes historical sense and is historically backed up, after putting some pieces together.

    The story is far simpler for southern Italy because there are a lot of gaps in the Aegean islands' history but I think I may have come up with a solution.

    Who agrees? Does anyone have a rebuttal?

    SOUTHERN ITALY:
    Under Byzantine rule, Sicily was homogeneously Greek Orthodox Christian in religion, Greek in language, and Greek in identity. Of these "Greeks" they were certainly not, however, all of the same genetic background. Even today the genetic diversity of different Greek groups testifies to the fact that a large number of populations of different origins became Hellenized and saw themselves as Greeks and would not have known, or cared, whether their ancestors had been Phoenician vs Siculi vs Sicanian. They were just Greeks.

    Byzantine Sicily, on a genetic level, likely was mixed between Greeks of various origins and the Italic Siculi people on the eastern side of the island (southeast Sicily like Syracuse is still this way today without much, if any, Levantine input), and a mixture of Greeks and various peoples of West Asian origin (Elymians, Phoenicians, etc.) on the western side. The Sicanians were rapidly Hellenized over 1000 years prior and any descendants of theirs would have been predominantly Greek. There is no evidence of western Sicily having an indigenous Italic population, and no evidence of eastern Sicily, at this point, having any sort of Levantine ancestry.

    Western Sicily was first conquered by invading Arabs, which saw a large exodus of Greek Christians (i.e. people of mixed Greek, Phoenician, Elymian, etc. genetic background) from western Sicily to northeastern Sicily, which was the last region of the island to fall to the Arabs and remained predominantly Christian all the way through the Arab conquest. What are today the provinces of Enna, Messina, Catania, and the eastern part of Palermo were flooded by western Sicilian Christians escaping the Arabs, which led to a large transfer of West Asian ancestry to a region where it had previously been absent. The eventual conquest of northeastern Sicily by the Arabs would have seen a further push into Calabria, especially the southern part, and over time as people moved throughout Italy you would have seen dispersal to the rest of the mainland.

    A secondary source of Levantine input in southern Italy would be from Greek-speaking Levantines fleeing Arab conquest of the Levant, who would have been more likely to end up in the Aegean islands and southern Italy rather than in mainland Greece, which was already destabilized in its battles against the Slavs.

    Today, people from southeastern Sicily such as Syracuse, parts of Ragusa, plot quite close to southern Peloponnesians, Cyclades islanders, and people from center-south Italy like Abruzzo and Lazio, likely reflecting their mixture of Greek and Italic (Siculi) ancestry. Having never had Phoenician or Carthaginian settlement, having not received many Christian refugees from western Sicily, and having only received settlement by Arabs and Berbers along the southern coast, to this very day they are more similar to people from mainland Italy and mainland Greece. Yet northeastern Sicily and Calabria do not, because in my estimation, many of their ancient ancestors had once lived further west in what is now Palermo or Trapani.


    AEGEAN ISLANDS:
    The Aegean Islands have a significant amount of historically unaccounted-for Levantine ancestry that clearly was not present in Minoans or Mycenaeans. Geographic proximity clearly does not explain it either, otherwise the Minoan and Mycenaean samples would show elevated Afroasiatic ancestry and they do not. This is what I think is the most likely explanation for today's Aegean islanders showing genetic affinity to Semitic-speaking Levantines.

    The Levant was Hellenized with a significant Greek Orthodox, Greek-speaking population under Byzantine rule. Like everywhere else, these people would have seen themselves as culturally compatible with other Greek-speaking people, whether in southern Italy, the Greek mainland, or the Greek islands. They would have been Hellenized Canaanites, Aramaeans, and so on but would have regarded themselves as Greeks to some extent.

    Similarly to in Sicily where the Arab conquest destabilized the Christian population, the Arab conquest of the Levant likely pushed a lot of Greek Christians westward, toward the Aegean islands and Cyprus. Cyprus, being geographically closest, likely saw the largest demographic impact, followed by the Dodecanese and Crete. Other island chains such as the Cyclades and North Aegean, too, would be impacted but not quite as strongly, and surely some people would have ended up in mainland southern Italy, which was, unlike Sicily, not under Arab rule and still Byzantine.

    The Slavic invasion of mainland Greece, which affected everywhere from Thrace to the Peloponnese, would have made mainland Greece inhospitable to Levantine Christians fleeing Arab rule. Byzantine Greece was using all of its resources to fight off the Slavs, and in fact needed to import Greeks from southern Italy and Anatolia to do so and to numerically increase the Greek population against the Slavs. Therefore, if you wonder why these Levantine Christians happened to avoid mainland Greece, it was not by coincidence. It would be like immigrants choosing to come to the United States at a time when the whole nation is embroiled in war on its own soil... it would not happen.
    Last edited by Sikeliot; 08-18-2019 at 02:32 PM.

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    As to Aegean islands , what about the Emirate of Crete' period (824–961) for an additional or even a more plausible input ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleach View Post
    As to Aegean islands , what about the Emirate of Crete' period (824–961) for an additional or even a more plausible input ?
    The Muslims in Crete were mostly Muslims from Spain. This would not explain Levantine ancestry.

    Do you think my explanation for Sicily and Calabria makes sense? It is historically documented but I do believe if not for Arab rule pushing Christians into northeast Sicily, the Levantine DNA would be largely restricted to western Sicily today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sikeliot View Post
    The Muslims in Crete were mostly Muslims from Spain. This would not explain Levantine ancestry.

    Do you think my explanation for Sicily and Calabria makes sense? It is historically documented but I do believe if not for Arab rule pushing Christians into northeast Sicily, the Levantine DNA would be largely restricted to western Sicily today.
    What does make you think that Norheastern Sicily was not such West Asian before the Westerner refugees arrival ?

    Historically documented , Calabria went through a heavily settlement from Armenians and Greek Anatolians as soldiers/civil servants over the byzantine rule. It's as well as plausible they hold the most of their seeming Levantine component from these ones rather than greek orthodox Syrians refugees from the Arab conquest (also let's not neglect all the Bronze age migrations from Anatolia)

    To be honest, as I dont believe (for now) to a direct transfert from Levant to Italy about the Western jews ' ethnogenesis , I won't believe either to Levantins migrants fleeing Arab conquest of Syria to settle over there

    As to Sicily , Some of us have argued that Punic settlers in the West, were not as numerous as we could have believed and they could have been rather berber like than Levantine like , then during the Emirate period things are also complex about the different ethnic inputs as we kwow that invaders could have been as well Berbers , Egyptians, Levantines,Mesopotamians,...and it makes more sense from a historical standpoint

    For all these reasons
    I think we tend to inflate the levantine component strictely speaking for Sicilians and Southern Italians
    Because we can make up G25 models giving better results both including Egyptians , Berbers , Levantines,Mesopotamians, and so

    The first models are made up with ancient samples and the latter with modern ones
    Notice how Anatolian/Iranian/Armenian are higher for Calabarians in both models opposed to Sicilians




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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleach View Post
    What does make you think that Norheastern Sicily was not such West Asian before the Westerner refugees arrival ?

    Historically documented , Calabria went through a heavily settlement from Armenians and Greek Anatolians as soldiers/civil servants over the byzantine rule. It's as well as plausible they hold the most of their seeming Levantine component from these ones rather than greek orthodox Syrians refugees from the Arab conquest (also let's not neglect all the Bronze age migrations from Anatolia)

    To be honest, as I dont believe (for now) to a direct transfert from Levant to Italy about the Western jews ' ethnogenesis , I won't believe either to Levantins migrants fleeing Arab conquest of Syria to settle over there

    As to Sicily , Some of us have argued that Punic settlers in the West, were not as numerous as we could have believed and they could have been rather berber like than Levantine like , then during the Emirate period things are also complex about the different ethnic inputs as we kwow that invaders could have been as well Berbers , Egyptians, Levantines,Mesopotamians,...and it makes more sense from a historical standpoint

    For all these reasons
    I think we tend to inflate the levantine component strictely speaking for Sicilians and Southern Italians
    Because we can make up G25 models giving better results both including Egyptians , Berbers , Levantines,Mesopotamians, and so

    The first models are made up with ancient samples and the latter with modern ones
    Notice how Anatolian/Iranian/Armenian are higher for Calabarians in both models opposed to Sicilians



    I was aware of Armenian settlement in Calabria, I forgot about that but you are correct. When I say Punic I am thinking of the original settlement of Phoenicians from Lebanon. But it appears you are seeing the Near Eastern affinity as more likely coming from Anatolia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia + a North African component and that could contribute to part of it.

    Bear in mind that "Sicilian East" is Syracuse, and "Sicilian West" is Trapani. Trapani has higher North African and West European (Norman? Italian resettlement) than other parts of western Sicily, while Syracuse has the least impact from Afroasiatic or Semitic sources. I think if we had a sample from Palermo or other parts of central Sicily, or even Messina/Catania we would see West Asian ancestry increase.

    So my rebuttal to your point might be, why does southeast Sicily (and I can show you GEDmatch results from there) not have any significant Near Eastern input in excess of what you might find in say, Lazio or Abruzzo, or the Peloponnese? Why would Armenians, Anatolian Greeks, etc avoid this area but choose to go to Calabria or Messina/Catania? I can show historically that Afroasiatic peoples never settled there en masse.

    I do think that a lot of different types of West Asian and North African settlers contribute to the Near Eastern DNA in Sicily and Calabria and certainly some of it could have been Mesopotamian (Armenian, northern Iraqi Arab, etc). In particular I notice in many Palermitans, an elevated Caucasus component, and the ability to model them as a mixture of Assyrian/Armenian + Iberian/North Italian, which I have not been able to come up with a plausible historical explanation other than Muslim settlement from further east than the Levant. Could also be Pontic Greeks, Armenians under Byzantine rule like in Calabria. I am not suggesting all of such affinity is Levantine.

    But if history is correct that a migration of Christians from western Sicily arrived in northeast Sicily, we have to realize that we're speaking of Hellenized people with significant Near Eastern ancestry such as Phoenician.

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    Last edited by Claudio; 08-18-2019 at 09:59 PM.

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    “Why would Armenian,Anatolian Greeks etc avoid these area’s but chose to go to Calabria”

    Perhaps because people from these populations Were especially attracted to and chose to continually go to Calabria Because Calabria was always the religious Capital of the Orthodox Greek Church of the Byzantine Empire.

    Also this is interesting:
    53E09B60-7919-44E3-9015-60499A7FA81F.png
    Seems to be a reference to Palestinian and Egyptian population movements into Sicily & Calabria under Byzantine administration or some such.
    Last edited by Claudio; 08-18-2019 at 11:06 PM.

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    What about the Exarchate of Ravenna? Before it fell?


    And I think there would also be significant military migration to the Exarchate of Carthage from Byzantine Garrisons too. And the Exarchate of Carthage was nearest to Sicily. My former Religious Order's founding Documents Saint Augustine's "City of God" and "Confessions" we're written in African Romance since Saint Augustine was Bishop of Carthage on the fall of Rome to Germanics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudio View Post
    “Why would Armenian,Anatolian Greeks etc avoid these area’s but chose to go to Calabria”

    Perhaps because people from these populations Were especially attracted to and chose to continually go to Calabria Because Calabria was always the religious Capital of the Orthodox Greek Church of the Byzantine Empire.

    Also this is interesting:
    53E09B60-7919-44E3-9015-60499A7FA81F.png
    Seems to be a reference to Palestinian and Egyptian population movements into Sicily & Calabria under Byzantine administration or some such.
    Well Sicily and Egypt did.have strong connections. If I am not mistaken, the Fatimid Caliphate had territory all the way to Sicily before the Normans captured it from them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rene Bascos Sarabia Jr. View Post
    Well Sicily and Egypt did.have strong connections. If I am not mistaken, the Fatimid Caliphate had territory all the way to Sicily before the Normans captured it from them.
    This is true. Sicily saw more migration from Egypt and Tunisia, while Spain/Portugal saw more from Morocco.

    So I have to ask, what do people think explains the extra West Asian in the Aegean islands? Do people agree with my explanations?

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