Lunes, 23 Octubre, 2017

DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry

Ancient Egypt DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry
Montez Delgado | 31 May, 2017, 00:31

The data derived from the deep past contrasts with what we know about the genetics of modern Egyptians, who "share approximately 8% more ancestry on the nuclear level with Sub-Saharan African populations than with ancient Egyptians". Since all the mummies were from this area, the scientists note that their results can not be generalized to the south or north of Egypt (Upper or Lower Egypt), which may have been more or less affected by foreign conquest.

Map of Egypt, showing the archaeological site of Abusir-el Meleq (orange X), and the location of the modern Egyptian samples used in the study (orange circles). There was no usable genetic material in any of the remaining soft tissue, but some left in the bones and teeth.

A detailed study of the DNA of mummies has found ancient Egyptians were more closely related to Europeans and Turks than Africans.

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MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN HISTORY-An worldwide team of scientists, led by researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, successfully recovered and analyzed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BCE to 400 CE, including the first genome-wide nuclear data from three individuals, establishing ancient Egyptian mummies as a reliable source for genetic material to study the ancient past. The study also shows genetic linkage between ancient Egyptians and Neolithic peoples from modern-day Turkey and Europe, Schuenemann says. The scientists were particularly interested in the change in ruling class at the turn of the first millennium.

This artifact, known as the Sarcophagus of Tadja, was found at the Abusir el-Meleq archeological site. Interactions between different cultures have been documented in Egypt throughout ancient history, including worldwide trade exchanges and foreign invasions.

For example, Professor Quirke said many thousands of soldiers had taken part in the Arab Invasion of Egypt in the 7th century, but they were still vastly outnumbered by the resident population of about six million. "We see exactly the opposite", he said.

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Max Planck Director for the Science of Human History and senior author Johannes Krause said: "The potential preservation of DNA has to be regarded with scepticism".

But some classical scholars and egyptologists disagree, pointing to ancient Egyptian art that depicts them as having reddish or yellow skin and more Arabic features.

The study also suggests that gene flow from Sub-Saharan Africa to Egypt has significantly picked up in the last 1,500 years, likely facilitated by the slave trade, which began early in this time period. Nor could the study determine the origin of the Egyptians.

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A study in Nature Communications found the analysis gives us a greater glimpse into the lives of the famous ancient society that flourished for so many generations, adding to evidence from literature and archaeological artifacts that can help paint a picture but have their limitations. To answer that, scientists will have to find genomes "back further in time, in prehistory".

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