Beirut, October 7, 2010- On October 5, 2010, Peter Hrechdakian, Administrator of the Armenian DNA Project at Family Tree DNA, delivered a lecture entitled “Armenian DNA Haplogroups: Ancient, Unique & Relevant” for the first Cultural Hour of this academic year in the Haigazian University Auditorium. This lecture is the first in a series of events and activities planned over the year, commemorating Haigazian University’s 55th anniversary.
Hrechdakian was visiting from Belgium, where he is currently working on the Armenian DNA Project, and was introduced to the audience by Dr. Arda Ekmekji, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Ekmekji stated that we uphold “a liberal arts system,” making us interdisciplinary, so that even scientific issues such as genetics and the makeup of the Armenian DNA are discussed in lectures at Haigazian.
Hrechdakian began his lecture by explaining how Armenian DNA is ancient, unique and relevant to the other populations in the world. Although himself neither a biologist nor a geneticist, Hrechdakian conveyed to the audience his passion for the Armenian DNA Project, which is based on individual DNA testing in collaboration with Family Tree DNA.
DNA testing, Hrechdakian emphasized, is very important for Armenians since most of their genealogical records were burned by the Ottoman Empire and this is a way for them to recover their history.
Going over the more scientific aspects of the topic, Hrechdakian described how paternal and maternal lines could each be uncovered by studying a different part of our DNA. He showed that Armenians belong to 13 distinct genetic groups that go back tens of thousands of years, while at the same time there is no trace of invaders in their DNA in the last 4000 years, making them “homogeneous in their diversity.”
Hrechdakian concluded with some surprising finds concerning Armenian DNA as a result of the over 300 individuals that have already been tested, revealing that the Armenian branches of DNA are at the root of many branches in Europe. In addition, 85% of Armenian groups are native to the region, having lived there even before the Armenian language came into existence.
This DNA project started 1 year ago and by 2011 Hrechdakian hopes to have 1000 individuals tested. It is his wish that other people will take interest and that the work will expand to research on ancient DNA, studying human remains that are thousands of years old, thus continuing to delve into the secrets of Armenian history and indeed that of the entire world.