Just recently, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute revealed the results of their study on Ancient Egyptian mummies and the genetic data they gathered and analyzed from them. The scientists looked to determine if the various conquest left a genetic trace on the local population.
According to observations, the answer is a quite surprising “no”. However, this research did come with a bigger surprise. The study showed that the analyzed local ancient population had a different than expected ancestry.
Research results are available in the journal Nature Communications.
Ancient Egyptian Mummies Present Surprising Ancestry
The study team is part of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in Jena, Germany. Led by Johannes Krause, they analyzed some 151-ancient human remains. Out of them, 90 presented incomplete genetic data while three had a perfectly preserved genome. All of these Egyptian mummies were discovered in Abusir el-Meleq, an ancient settlement on the Nile’s flood plain.
Previously conducted radiocarbon dating placed these remains as varying to in between around 1,400 BCE to about 400 CE. As such, their existence covers over 1,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. This spans from the rule of Amenhotep II to the Greek and Roman invasions and settlements in the area.
After sequencing the ancient Egyptian DNA, the researchers compared it to the genetic data of the area’s modern-day dwellers. As the team was looking for genetic data left behind by the conquests, they had quite a surprise.
The various invasions seem to have little or no trace. However, a genetic change did undoubtedly occur. Modern-day Egyptians have around 20 percent sub-Sahara genes. In contrast, their ancient counterparts did not present any DNA connected to sub-Saharan Africa.
Instead, it was more closely related to people living in the Near East, even modern-day ones. The researchers decided to focus on a single, local population, so their results may not apply to the whole ancient Egyptian nation. These genetic difference between the ancient and modern-day population may be due to an increase in trading and contact throughout the years. At least according to the study lead.
“The methodology presented here opens up promising avenues for future genetic research and can greatly contribute towards a more accurate and refined understanding of Egypt’s population history,” sais Krause.
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