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More info for those with Middle Eastern DNA

Native American Brainfood

There is a surprising connection between the Ottoman Empire, the Netherlands and Elizabethan England that might explain the early presence of Middle Eastern Christians and Jews in the Southeast.

The BBC and the History Channel, during its early years, produced some outstanding documentaries on the history of the Middle East.  When the United States sent troops into Afghanistan and Iraq after the 2001 terrorist attacks,  the History Channel programs became “white washed” propaganda . . . leaving out many facts of history that might offend Muslims in Middle Eastern countries because they conflicted with the religious propaganda coming out of that region.

Many of you still wonder where those Middle Eastern DNA markers came from.  Here is some more info.

Even at the beginning of the Renaissance, Islam was a minority religion in most of the Middle East, north of Arabia. In 1512, 2/3 of the population of the Ottoman Empire was Christian.  Another 10-15% were either Jewish or Zoroastrians.   As long as the Christians were a majority, they were generally treated with tolerance, since a religious tax on Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians furnished most of the revenue for the empire.  Muslims were not required to pay taxes or serve in the military at that time.  Only non-Muslims could be enslaved.

The ruling classes were entirely Muslim and Jewish, but most of the common folks  outside of western Turkey were Christian.  All of the Turkish sultan’s harem were Christian slaves.  Virtually all of the Turkish army and navy were either Christians or Zoroastrians.   The Turks had been trying to conquer Armenia and Christian Anatolia for 700 years, with little success, so in turn went into southeastern Europe in the 1400s and conquered a vast swath of the region.

Until after 1512,  the Turks only attacked Christian countries.  However, in the early 1500s, Spain became the primary enemy of the Ottoman Empire.  The sultans needed more money to expand their navies to combat Spain, so they declared the rulers of all the other Middle Eastern nations to be heretics and conquered most of the Middle East.  With the wealth captured in these campaigns, the Ottomans were able to create massive armies that swept across Anatolia, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

By 1600,  the percentage of Christians in the Ottoman Empire had fallen to about 1/3.  There had been several periods of persecutions and massacres of Christians in Anatolia and Armenia because the sultans were afraid of the Armenians, whom they had just conquered.  In one 16th century campaign alone, 300,000 Anatolians and Armenians were expelled from the Ottoman Empire after 500,000 had been killed or enslaved.

Now this is really interesting . . .  the Ottoman Empire was an ally of the Protestants in the Netherlands and England.  On several occasions the Turks replenished  treasuries of either Queen Elizabeth or the Dutch so they could keep on fighting Spain.  First generation Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands could generally speak Arabic and maintained constant communication with Jews living in Istanbul and the Ottoman province of Thessalonika in Greece.  Dutch ships were allowed to dock at Ottoman ports.  Many of their  crew members were Anatolian Christians.

So, in the exact period when  Southeastern North America was first being explored and colonized,  vast numbers of expelled Middle Eastern Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were wandering across the landscape, looking for a place to live, while Dutch ships were regularly making trips from the ports of the Ottoman Empire to Northern Europe, North America and a Dutch colony in Brazil.

It makes perfect sense that the Dutch would help establish a “New Jerusalem” for these stateless refugees within the interior of North America.  The locations of these colonies were far enough from the coast and Florida that they were out of reach of the Spanish military.

It was undoubtedly assumed that the colonies would grow so strong that they could conquer Florida and be a major threat to Spanish shipping.   I suspect that French efforts during the 1560s to establish colonies on the South Atlantic Coast and Northeast Georgia were directly connected with the plight of the Middle Eastern refugees.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Many thanks for this research. I had no idea!


    Thanks again for providing forgotten knowledge. Your efforts are appreciated!


    Not sure how this would affect the population dynamics, but as the Holy Roman Empire applied militar and political pressure to the French during the 15th century, they formed an alliance with the Ottomans, which they maintained, at least, until the reign of King Louis XVI.




    I found this to be interesting! Like most southern families, my dad always said we had Native American ancestors. When I did my dna test I was surprised to get results with amounts from India, the Caucus Mountains, and the Iberian Peninsula. The majority was British Isles but the 12% Scandinavian threw me too. Do you know of any studies being done in southern people where we can submit or dna results to be included? Thanks!

    • No I don’t Angie. DNA Consultants, Inc. is doing extensive studies on the Iberian and Middle Eastern DNA showing up in Native American descendants. Your Scandinavian DNA probably comes from Eastern Scotland and England, or perhaps Normandy, which were conquered by the Norse and Danes. Most of my Caucasian DNA is Scandinavian because my European ancestors came from Scotland.


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