Rabat - A study published in Nature Communications presents new research on DNA obtained from ancient Egyptian mummies that shows strong genetic links to the Middle East rather than sub-Saharan Africa.
Rabat – A study published in Nature Communications presents new research on DNA obtained from ancient Egyptian mummies that shows strong genetic links to the Middle East rather than sub-Saharan Africa.
The study, led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Science and Human History along with the University of Tubingen in Germany, breaks new ground as previous efforts to recover DNA from mummies had been largely unsuccessful due to contamination. Despite the challenges of recovering DNA that is often lost in the harsh climate of Egypt and the practice of embalming bodies that destroyed genetic material, researchers were able to find DNA that had been preserved in the bones and teeth of the mummies.
The research is based on data from 90 mummies that were buried between 1380 BCE and 425 CE originating from Abusir el-Meleq which was as ancient Nile community in central Egypt. Analysis of the DNA obtained from these mummies shows that ancient Egyptians were genetically related to the ancient farmers that inhabited present-day Israel and Jordan. These findings refuted previous claims that ancient Egyptians were more closely related to inhabitants of sub-Sharan Africa and suggest that the increase in sub-Saharan ancestry took place after Roman control of the region.
While previous archaeological discoveries and preserved documents suggested strong links between Egypt and the Middle East, this research reinforced these connections. This was a welcome confirmation for Omer Gokcumen, an evolutionary anthropologist from the State University of New York at Buffalo who told Nature News that “it is very nice that this study has now provided empirical evidence for this at the genetic level.”
While the new findings offer a glimpse into the history of ancient Egypt, they also leave many questions unanswered. For the researchers, this first look into the genetic history of Egypt is only the beginning.