The Genetic Origins of the Greeks (2018)


By Kostas Triantaphylidis

Member of IHA

A short description of the book


The origin and evolution of the human species and the birthplaces of current and ancient populations have always fascinated both scientists and the general public. This book seeks to reconcile the findings and conclusions of history, archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, and sometimes linguistics and mythology, with the results of genetics to provide scientific answers to fundamental questions and to support or challenge theories about the origin of the present day inhabitants of Greece.

The publication at hand constitutes an attempt to document and present in an organized, systematic and yet popularized manner the results of hundreds of scientific research publications on the genetic heritage of the human species and the inhabitants of Europe. It focuses and presents in extensive detail results, including impressive data from several archaeogenetic studies, on the subject of the genetic heritage of the present day inhabitants of Greece. In this context, the genetic heritage of the Greeks is compared with the genetic make-up of Eurasian and African populations in order to examine from a new perspective key questions such as: What is the genetic origin of the modern Greeks? Are modern Greeks descendants of ancient Greeks?

The multitude of data cited cannot fail to impress, particularly since they shed light on hotly disputed issues, supporting or disproving theories regarding:

The continuity of the modern day population of the Lassithi plateau on Crete from ancient Minoan predecessors.
The migrations from Greece to the rest of Europe since the Middle Palaeolithic Era.
The existence of the Greeks’ genetic signature among the present-day inhabitants of the sites of ancient Greek colonies.
The triple origin of Greeks: a) the early colonization of Greece by pioneer hunter-gatherer Homo sapiens from Africa through the Near East during the Middle Palaeolithic Era. b) The population movements from Northern/Central Europe to the warm Balkan glacial refuge during the Last Glacial Maximum period, followed by postglacial re-population of deserted areas of Central and Northern Europe from the Balkan glacier refuge, and c) the Neolithic demographic diffusion of farmers from the Near East/West Anatolia and their arrival into Greece approximately 10,000 years ago.

Among numerous findings it is quite intriguing that the genetic data: a) do not verify the commonly held historic view regarding the “Dorian Invasion”. b) Reject Falmerayer’s theory about the Slavic origin of the Greeks, and more importantly, c) Supports the reports of ancient writers about the indigenous origin of the Greeks from the Bronze Age onwards, and d) The genetic data support the idea of continuity, but not isolation, in the history of populations of the Aegean, before and after the time of the earliest civilizations.

The book’s aim is to provide access to up-to-date scientific knowledge not only to the specialist but also to the average reader who wishes to be informed responsibly on important, sensitive and exciting questions about the genetic identity and genetic origin of the Greeks away from oversimplifications and extreme obsessions.