January 25, 2009

Magyars and Madjars

American Journal of Physical Anthropology doi:10.1002/ajpa.20984

A Y-chromosomal comparison of the Madjars (Kazakhstan) and the Magyars (Hungary)

A.Z. Bíró et al.


The Madjars are a previously unstudied population from Kazakhstan who practice a form of local exogamy in which wives are brought in from neighboring tribes, but husbands are not, so the paternal lineages remain genetically isolated within the population. Their name bears a striking resemblance to the Magyars who have inhabited Hungary for over a millennium, but whose previous history is poorly understood. We have now carried out a genetic analysis of the population structure and relationships of the Madjars, and in particular have sought to test whether or not they show a genetic link with the Magyars. We concentrated on paternal lineages because of their isolation within the Madjars and sampled males representing all extant male lineages unrelated for more than eight generations (n = 45) in the Torgay area of Kazakhstan. The Madjars show evidence of extensive genetic drift, with 24/45 carrying the same 12-STR haplotype within haplogroup G. Genetic distances based on haplogroup frequencies were used to compare the Madjars with 37 other populations and showed that they were closest to the Hungarian population rather than their geographical neighbors. Although this finding could result from chance, it is striking and suggests that there could have been genetic contact between the ancestors of the Madjars and Magyars, and thus that modern Hungarians may trace their ancestry to Central Asia, instead of the Eastern Uralic region as previously thought.



hjernespiser said...

"and thus that modern Hungarians may trace their ancestry to Central Asia"

The Madjars (Mazsars) are supposedly descendants of ancient Magyar tribes who remained in the east around Volga Bulgaria, were absorbed into the Golden Horde, and distributed into one of the Kazakh founding tribes. This study seems to confirm that theory, but I doubt such a bold conclusion about modern Hungarians can be made from it. Mazsars are also found in western Mongolia where they haven't quite fully assimilated into the Kazakh identity.

BlaiseVillaume said...

So are you contending that the Madjars and Magyars have share an antecedent ancestor outside of their respective modern locations? Or that there is no such common ancestor?

hjernespiser said...

"So are you contending that the Madjars and Magyars have share an antecedent ancestor outside of their respective modern locations?" Yes. The abstract says "thus...modern Hungarians may trace their ancestry to Central Asia". That statement is based upon the assumption that the Madjars have stayed in the same place. It's like saying that the Madjars may trace their ancestry to Europe.

hjernespiser said...

It's like saying that the Madjars may trace their ancestry to Europe. Most would reject that interpretation because it is known from history that modern Hungarians are descendants from tribes that came from somewhere east. If the writers understood Golden Horde history, they'd equally reject the notion that Madjars have stayed in place.

BlaiseVillaume said...

Alright, I just wanted to clarify that. I think there is a lack of knowledge as to plain old history in some of these anthropology papers. I don't understand how else anybody could suggest that any people were stationary in the steppes.

nemsoha said...

I understand what you say about it being the same as claiming they can trace their origin back to Europe, however when you take into account traditional Hungarian history that says Magyars were from the same group as the Huns (many Chinese scholars also support this such as Wang Shiping, Lin Gan, Wang Zu, etc.), I'd say it's entirely possible that they are from Central Asia, especially given that the Uralic theory is so weak and is hardly accepted by most scholars today. I don't think it has to necessarily have something to do with the Golden Horde. Even the Csango are Magyars who split from the others on their way into Hungary, and don't forget the Szekely who settled there even earlier than Arpad. They're all the same people.

Ádám said...

Zsolt András Biró is not a real scientist, he doesn't have even a PHD. He is political supporter of the Jobbik party, and leader of the Hungarian Turan Society, which is famous for the spread of fringle theories and pseudo-science.

Read about the "Hungarian Turanism" in English Wikipedia.

The name of the "Madjar people" means "faithful muslim"

Ádám said...


The author argues against the false identification of the Kazakh clan-namemadiyar with Magyar, the ethnic name of the Hungarians, which has been based on a time-honoured hypothesis long favoured in Russian scholarly circles.Until recently, no one has made a thorough linguistical (including comparativeonomatological) analysis of the name madiyar.After giving a critical overview of the false identifications made so far,the author goes on with the detailed etymology of madiyar that proved tobe a compound anthroponym (Madi[y]-yar) of Arabic-Persian origin. The paper also provides the explanation of the anthroponyms Aldi-yar (’Allah’sfriend/follower’) and Ḫudi-yar (’God’s friend/follower’), the “relatives”of Madi(y)-yar (’Muhammad’s friend/follower’). The “relative names” (or name-relations) of this kind highly support the credibility of one another’s etymology. Apart from the striking similarity in form and structure, the members of such “name-relations” have significant similarity in meaning as well. Each of them is in connection with the Islam religion meaning – ina figurative sense – someone who is a faithful friend and follower of the“True Faith”.As a result of many-sided analysis, it is proved that the Kazakh clan-name madiyar has nothing in common with Magyar, the ethnonym of Hungarians.

Ádám said...

Bíró is not a scholar, he has not even a PHD exam. HE stated that the Haplogroup G is the key.

So he had a bad idea, Haplogroup G is very rare in Hungary, but more common in other countries.


The last genetic study Bálint reviews is a study published by András Zs. Bíró and his team. As background to this subject we should state that in the 1960s a physical anthropologist by the name of T. Tóth, on a visit to the Soviet Union, “discovered” a clanin Kazakhstan called the Madijars and concluded that these people were Magyars.Decades later another Hungarian traveler, M. Benkő, visited the region and again declared this clan a relative of the Hungarian nation. Following this, Bíró and his team went to visit the Madijars and were greeted enthusiastically as long-lost relatives. Bálintpoints out that Bíró and his associates referred to this clan not by their real name,Madijars, but by a name they gave them: Madjars. Bíró and the members of his team managed to obtain y-DNA samples from a group of Madijar men and eventually compared the results with the y-DNA of another rather small group of Hungarian men.To make a long story short, Bíró and his associates came up with the conclusion that genetic evidence also supported their conclusion about the relatedness of Madijars and Magyars. What upset Bálint even more is that these geneticists — who, according to Bálint, had no qualifications as historians, linguists or ethnographers — on the basis of such limited evidence suggested that the ancient homeland of Hungarians must have been in Central Asia.The writer of these lines cannot but sympathize with Bálint’s view. The y-DNA tests done on Madijar men indicate that they are so distant genetically from Hungarians that any relationship between the two peoples is inconceivable. Crudely put, the argument used by Bíró and company sounds like this: the Madijars are genetically extremely distant from all other populations, and they are very distant from Hungarians: therefore they must be the closest relatives of Hungarians.