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Greek Descendants of the Seleucid Dynasty in Today’s Kyrgyzstan

Seleucid Dynasty
A tetradrachm coin showing Seleucus I Nikator. Credit: Classical Numismatic Group/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The Seleucid Dynasty, founded by Seleucus I Nicator (“the Victor”), a general who served under Alexander the Great, has descendants in today’s Kyrgyzstan — 2,300 years later.

Kubanychbek Kendirbaev, a history researcher and director of Seleucia — a Public Charitable Fund he established in 2019 — says his clan are Seleucid Dynasty descendants.

The researcher’s resume includes his employment at the Ministry of the Culture of the Kyrgyz Republic and Helvetas Kyrgyzstan, the Swiss Association for International Cooperation. He is also a graduate of the National Academy of Science of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Kendirbaev, who lives in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan has formed the Seleucia PCF with the aim to  aid education, culture and the preservation of historical heritage.

“Our Beshkoruk clan lives in Kyrgyzstan. My grandfather Shyrdakbek Khan was Emir of Kashgar, Jarkend, Andijan, Kokand and he is a National and epic hero of Kyrgyzstan,” he tells Greek Reporter.

“Canadian-Greek composer and singer Yannis Kapa created a song and orchestral music dedicated to him. Our clan lived in Seleucia, Baghdad (Iraq) and Andijan (Uzbekistan),” he continues.

“Ergeshbay Ajibaev, a 80-year-old member of our Beshkoruk clan gave me a manuscript. The manuscript states:

“Our clan is a descendant of a well-known Greek Dynasty. They have Hellenic genes. Our ancestors were Greek orthodox Christians before Islamic culture in Baghdad.”

Kendirbaev went deep, while searching for his roots. He studied history, focusing on Alexander the Great and his conquests in Asia and Northeastern Africa. He also took a more scientific approach than is sometimes seen in those who claim such illustrious ancestry.

“Two years ago Kazakh researchers from Astana tested our clan member’s Y-DNA. My test result shows that I am a bearer of Haplogroup I1. Our ancestor was born in Northern Europe 6,000 years ago,” he says.

“There are no people with such a Haplogroup in Central Asia, but our clan of Beshkoruk has European genetic lineage. In Greece about 300,000 men have the similar Haplogroup I1,” he continues.

Kendirbaev is very proud of his Greek roots and tries to promote Hellenism via his website, here. 

“My blood is European, not Asiatic. We are descendants of King Seleucus I Nikator. Seleucus was a friend and general of Alexander the Great,” he explains with pride.

The Hellenistic Seleucid Dynasty

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state in Western Asia that existed from 312 BC to 63 BC, founded by Seleucus I Nicator, a general in Alexander the Great’s army.

Following the split of the Macedonian Empire established in Asia by Alexander the Great, Seleucus I first took the Mesopotamian region of Babylonia in 321 BC.

The general then founded Antioch and expanded his dominions to include much of the Near Eastern territories that belonged to the former Macedonian Empire.

The Seleucid Empire took over more territories including Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and today’s Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Turkmenistan.

The Seleucid Empire promoted Hellenistic culture in Asia, while at the same time tolerating local languages and traditions rather than eradicating them.

A Greek elite dominated politics, thus making the empire attractive to numerous immigrants from Greece.

However, the Seleucid Empire’s western territories were contested with Ptolemaic Egypt, another Hellenistic state, while there were conflicts with Chandragupta of the Maurya Empire that led to the cession of vast territory west of the Indus River.

In the early second century BC, efforts of Antiochus III the Great to extend the empire into Hellenistic Greece were stopped by the Roman Republic.

After their battle losses, the Seleucids were forced to pay costly war reparations and relinquish territorial claims west of the Taurus Mountains.

That was the beginning of the decline of the Seleucid Empire. When Mithridates I of Parthia conquered much of the remaining eastern lands of the empire, the Seleucid kings were reduced to a small state in Syria.

In 63 BC, the Roman general Pompey overthrew the Seleucids, dealing the final blow to the Hellenistic empire in Asia.

 

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