Family History - Anatolia (Turkey)

1 CE At the beginning of the study period, Anatolia was an integral Greek-speaking part of the Roman empire. The Eastern end of Anatolia was ethnically Armenian, and there were large Jewish communities. Indeed, Anatolia received Jewish immigrants following the Judean Jewish and Bar Kochba rebellions in the first and second centuries. Politically, the Roman Empire held onto Anatolia for the next thousand years, during which it was safe from the mass migrations that washed over Europe. This later Roman Empire (aka Byzantine Empire) ruled from Constantinople and had a Greek speaking aristocracy. This region experienced no major migrations of peoples, despite several attempts of the Arab Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates to defeat it. Thus, if you had ancestors living in Anatolia in CE 1000, their ancestors could have been living anywhere in the Eastern Roman Empire in CE 500, or anywhere in the Roman Empire in CE 1.

11th Century: Shortly after CE 1000, the Seljuk Turks, a Central Asian nationality, migrated into Iran and the fertile crescent, converted to Sunni Islam, and founded the Seljuk Empire, which replaced the Abbasid Caliphate. (Note, in CE 500 the Turks were still in their place of origin - Modern Mongolia.) The Seljuks accomplished what the Arabs had been unable to do - grab most of Anatolia from the Roman/Byzantines. The Seljuk's Empire was very short-lived, however even after it broke up, the Seljuks and their descendants continued to rule Anatolia into the fifteenth century. Thus, if you had ancestors living in Anatolia in 1490, their ancestors would probably have been living in both Anatolia, Iran, and Central Asia in CE 1000, and in those countries plus Mongolia in CE 500 and CE 1.

13th Century: Growth of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks were a remnant of the Seljuks who ruled a small area in Northwest Anatolia (around the city of Bursa) which they managed to turn into the nucleus of a great empire. Genetically, the Ottomans were not like their Central Asian Seljuk forebears, having intermarried with the local Greek-speaking Anatolian population. Additionally, as the Ottomans expanded their state, they conquered portions of Anatolia and the European Balkans in pretty much equal amounts. Within their borders, people changed religion and intermarried. In 1453, they conquered the city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul). By the 17th century, they ruled a cosmopolitan Empire that encompassed Greece, Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Hungary, the fertile crescent and to a lesser extent, North Africa and pieces of Arabia. The Ottomans had a practice of drafting non-Muslim children into public service, raising them, and training them for the army or for high administrative posts. Because of this:

One odd bit: During the 18th century, the Ottomans made their second attempt to capture Vienna. It failed and their army disintegrated. Place names and family names from the region suggest that remnants of the Turkish army settled there. Tom Holtz apparently stems from such ancestors.