Zemuye
Needing help on personal research; I've found that there are (at least) 9 Ethnic groups throughout Eritrea. The most prominent in Mendefera seems to be Tigrinya, but I was wondering if there were any others that were also prominent in that region pre-1960?

The reason I ask is because my Mother was born in Adi Ugri in 1937 to, according to her Birth Certificate, an "Indigenous women". Her Father was Greek/Italian living in Asmara at the time. From my research, I had concluded that I therefore must be Tigrinya and Greek/Italian on my Mother's side... until I did a DNA test! But let's start there before I reveal what my DNA test found, I would like unbiased responses of the Ethnic History of that particular region first...
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madote
Zemuye wrote: Needing help on personal research; I've found that there are (at least) 9 Ethnic groups throughout Eritrea. The most prominent in Mendefera seems to be Tigrinya, but I was wondering if there were any others that were also prominent in that region pre-1960?

The reason I ask is because my Mother was born in Adi Ugri in 1937 to, according to her Birth Certificate, an "Indigenous women". Her Father was Greek/Italian living in Asmara at the time. From my research, I had concluded that I therefore must be Tigrinya and Greek/Italian on my Mother's side... until I did a DNA test! But let's start there before I reveal what my DNA test found, I would like unbiased responses of the Ethnic History of that particular region first...



Welcome Zemuye!

You are correct with your educated guess. The ethnic group predominantly living in Adi Urgi (now known as Mendefera, which means "who dares") is Tigrinya ethnic group and has been that way for a long, long time.

Archaeological evidence seems to indicate the ancestors of Tigrinya people have been living in the Eritrean highlands (including Adi Ugri/Mendefera) for at least 2,900 years. 

You can read more on it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2000297.stm

Tigrinya ethnic group represent 55% of the population
Tigre ethnic group represents 30% of the population

The rest 15% are split among Saho, Afars, Beja, Bilen,  Kunama, Nara and Rashaida.  
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Zemuye
madote wrote:


Welcome Zemuye!

You are correct with your educated guess. The ethnic group predominantly living in Adi Urgi (now known as Mendefera, which means "who dares") is Tigrinya ethnic group and has been that way for a long, long time.

Archaeological evidence seems to indicate the ancestors of Tigrinya people have been living in the Eritrean highlands (including Adi Ugri/Mendefera) for at least 2,900 years. 

You can read more on it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2000297.stm

Tigrinya ethnic group represent 55% of the population
Tigre ethnic group represents 30% of the population

The rest 15% are split among Saho, Afars, Beja, Bilen,  Kunama, Nara and Rashaida.  


Thank you for the excellent information! But this is where my own confusion now comes in... I'm assuming these DNA tests are too broad and general; maybe not very accurate (I have thus far taken the Ancestry test, will be doing the 23andMe test next) because for my mother's side it shows that I am 15% Greek/Italian (they consider Greeks and Italians the same thing) 24% "Middle East" which can include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Syria, Jordan, etc. and 6% Cameroon/Congo.

So I was assuming that the Tigrinya people, if you go far enough back, are actually Arab/Congolese mix? Where the Arabs migrated down into Eritrea while the peoples from the Congo were migrating up to Northern Africa? In any case, I will be getting a "second opinion" when I do the other DNA test soon... but I do encourage everyone to do a DNA test, as you just might be surprised at what you find! (We were always told my Father was Irish and Scottish, the DNA test says mostly Irish and Scandinavian instead, which makes sense, since the Scottish were made up of Celtic/Irish and Scandinavian people.)
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Ezane97
Zemuye wrote:
So I was assuming that the Tigrinya people, if you go far enough back, are actually Arab/Congolese mix? Where the Arabs migrated down into Eritrea while the peoples from the Congo were migrating up to Northern Africa?


Not true. The majority of the Eritrean people have been in the highlands for thousands of years. There is a noticeable difference between the unmixed Ethiopian/Eritrean gene and the Congolese gene. Here is a study where they address the unmixed Horn of African gene (Ethiopic), the unmixed Near East African gene (nilo-saharan), the unmixed West African gene and West Eurasian Admixture.

http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004393

It shows how diverse Africa is and how of the West (niger-congo), Near East (Nilo-Saharan) and Horn of Africa (ethiopic) are very unique from one another. 

Now as to where your mothers results might have came from. There is a group in Eritrea that migrated from West/Central Africa that resides in the Western regions. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunama_people

Its very possible that this could be the case. In any case I hope it doesn't make you feel less Eritrean. Many African Ethnic groups migrated from east to west and vice versa. You are still Eritrean no matter what the tests may say.

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Zemuye
Ezane97 wrote:
Not true. The majority of the Eritrean people have been in the highlands for thousands of years. There is a noticeable difference between the unmixed Ethiopian/Eritrean gene and the Congolese gene. Here is a study where they address the unmixed Horn of African gene (Ethiopic), the unmixed Near East African gene (nilo-saharan), the unmixed West African gene and West Eurasian Admixture.

http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004393

It shows how diverse Africa is and how of the West (niger-congo), Near East (Nilo-Saharan) and Horn of Africa (ethiopic) are very unique from one another. 

Now as to where your mothers results might have came from. There is a group in Eritrea that migrated from West/Central Africa that resides in the Western regions. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunama_people

Its very possible that this could be the case. In any case I hope it doesn't make you feel less Eritrean. Many African Ethnic groups migrated from east to west and vice versa. You are still Eritrean no matter what the tests may say.

 

Well, I guess I can just chalk it up to Ancestry's DNA test just not being very accurate; it's actually very general. They just say that "other small sampling from this region seem to share similar DNA" or something like that (I am paraphrasing.) This is the map of what they claim that part of my DNA is from:

 

EthnicityMap.png 

For reference, here is a photo of my Mother in her Teens:

MyMotherTeens.jpg

And as a young adult, on your left (both photos taken in Asmara):


MyMotherYoungAdult.jpg 

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madote
Zemuye wrote:

Thank you for the excellent information! But this is where my own confusion now comes in... I'm assuming these DNA tests are too broad and general; maybe not very accurate (I have thus far taken the Ancestry test, will be doing the 23andMe test next) because for my mother's side it shows that I am 15% Greek/Italian (they consider Greeks and Italians the same thing) 24% "Middle East" which can include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Syria, Jordan, etc. and 6% Cameroon/Congo.

So I was assuming that the Tigrinya people, if you go far enough back, are actually Arab/Congolese mix? Where the Arabs migrated down into Eritrea while the peoples from the Congo were migrating up to Northern Africa? In any case, I will be getting a "second opinion" when I do the other DNA test soon... but I do encourage everyone to do a DNA test, as you just might be surprised at what you find! (We were always told my Father was Irish and Scottish, the DNA test says mostly Irish and Scandinavian instead, which makes sense, since the Scottish were made up of Celtic/Irish and Scandinavian people.)


Forgive me for answering late. I had completely forgotten about this thread. 

I am not qualified to answer your questions. However, based on my research of Eritrea's ancient history, I am of the strong opinion that Eritreans look the way they do not from mixing with Middle Easterners but because of their diet (teff) and mountainous topography. I think groups of people naturally begin to develop unique geographical phenotypes when isolated from other groups of people like the Indian sub-continent, East Asians, San People from Southern Africa, Europeans, etc.

Although some mixing always takes place with neighborly people I don't think that was the main factor that makes Eritreans look the way they do because people in the Horn of Africa with almost no contacts with Arabs like the Oromos look similar to the rest of the groups in the Horn of Africa that had some contacts with Arabs.

Mixing is also a two-way street. Horn of Africans are usually reminded they are mixed with Arabs (without evidence I might add), while Arabian Arabs are almost never reminded of being mixed with the Horn of Africa people. I believe this is because the colonial era historians who started this mixing myth couldn't believe the African people in our region could develop such sophisticated civilizations without intermixing with white Arabs. In other words, these are colonial era ideas that were intended to give credence that Africans were 'primitive' people who lacked the capacity to build civilizations without the aid of 'superior' whites.

I think Tigrinya people are African people. They are neither Congolese or Arabs. Their DNA is unique to its region in much of the same way the San People of Southern Africa, who are very light skinned and have unique features, developed in their region from other Africans. 

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