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Have Researchers Found the Genetic Traits of Friar Julian’s ‘Eastern Magyars’?

Fanni Kaszás 2019.05.28.

Friar Julian was one of a group of Hungarian Dominican friars who journeyed to the East at the beginning of the 13th century in order to find ‘Magyars’ remaining in the eastern homeland. According to the chronicles, he found Hungarian speaking people in an area called Magna Hungaria. Unfortunately, it was later swept away by the Mongol invasion and the Magyars seemed to have completely disappeared. However, a study conducted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) found Y-chromosomal connections between Hungarians and geographically distant populations of the Ural Mountain region and West Siberia.

Endre Németh, Tibor Fehér and their fellow researchers conducted the study in the hopes of answering the question of Hungarians’ common genetic heritage with the Obi-Ugric speakers (Khanty and Mansi). Though geographically distant, they are the closest linguistically to Hungarians.

An earlier 2013 publication shows there’s a common component on the paternal branch (in the Y chromosome) which doesn’t appear in the genes of the surrounding Central European people. The next step in the research was to determine where this particular common component comes from. From the data obtained, we can come to a conclusion about what happened to the groups of people carrying this gene over time.

The current research team consists of Richard Willems, the former President of the Estonian Academy, and the researchers of the genetic component of the study, Siiri Rootsi and Helen Post. They examined around 5000 samples from 46 Eurasian populations in an effort to show the presence of the lineages among Hungarians and in the populations from the Ural Mountain region.

The map shows the presumed migration path of early Hungarians based on archaeological data. The yellow area shows the Mansi population, the red indicates the location of the Khanty population today. In the large pink area, ancient Hungarian archaeological finds were found. This roughly corresponds to the location of Magna Hungaria as mentioned by Friar Julian. Source: mta.hu

They found that the previously identified paternal common genetic component occurs in a higher proportion among various Ob-Ugric and Bashkir groups and is also found among the Volga Tatars and the Hungarians.

Further research is needed to accurately interpret the results, but it seems that researchers have indeed found the genetic traits of Friar Julian’s ‘Eastern Magyars’ from Magna Hungaria. Instead of completely disappearing after the Mongol invasion, it’s likely the group merely melted into the Bashkirs and Volga Tatars.