I was browsing the Guardian’s guide to Istanbul when I noticed the district, Üsküdar, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. I first came across Üsküdar when rsearching the Bony M song Rasputin.
“That melody is old.” my mother told me.
Nothing is totally originally; compare the two tunes:
Boney M – Rasputin
Safiye Ayla – While going to Üsküdar
So what was Üsküdar?
It’s one of the oldest areas of Istanbul. It was founded under its earlier name of Chrysopolis (golden city). Byzantium was founded a few decades later on the European side. For over two thousand years it lay within the Greek and Roman speaking world. Over time it (along with its neighbour, Chalcedon) became a suburb of Byzantium.
Byzantium became Constantinople, which became Istanbul. By about the time of the Norman Conquest, Turks from the central Asian steppes, drifted into Anatolia and came to dominate the region thus setting a boundary for the West. By the thirteenth century, the Mongols gathered together mounted warriors from many nomad tribes, to populate their armies. The common language of the nomads was Turkish (but Mongol was the language of administration). They went on to destroy many realms – in the process, creating the vast Mongol Empire. City dwellers were exterminated wholesale; the slaughter of males in and around what is now Kazakhstan changed the genetic map.
Kazakhstan itelf is a relic that harks back to the nomadic past of the Turks. It was then known as Khwarezm and included the cities of the Silk-Road. The Mongols considered nomads as noble and worthy, and city dwellers as parasites. Back then the term for city dweller was Tajik. The Turco-Mongol Hordes based in Khwarezm titled themselves ‘Kazakh’. This, like Tajik, became an ethnonym.
Turkish is still well established in places such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The linguistic and cultural overlay upon Near Eastern peoples is attested through the history of the Seljuks and the later Ottomans.
On the basis of Y-DNA haplogroups, the genetic legacy of the Turks is mainly evidenced in C3c Kazakh which, in and around Kazakhstan, is an island interposed over former R1a / R1b haplogroups. To the south and west, in particular, Turkey, J2 (i.e. pre-Arabised Levant / Mediterranean) is still strongly present.
A recent study of Tajiks suggests that pre Kazakh, the dominant Y-DNA haplogroups for the region would have been
R1a1 (East Europe / West Russia),
R2a and L (Dravidic)
Ref: Y Chromosomes in Iranians and Tajiks
Y-DNA haplogroups are passed down through the male side.
The Guardian’s guide to Istanbul
Istanbul city break guide on The Telegraph