DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry
The ancient Egyptians were the dream of an archaeologist. They left behind complex coffins, huge pyramids and beautiful hieroglyphic code of pictorial writing was broken in 1799. The Egyptians recorded tales of royalty and gods. They took note of the blends of life, too, as much fun as the beer revenue and doctor notes.
But there was a persistent hole in ancient Egypt identity: its chromosomes. Fresh and dry permafrost can preserve prehistoric DNA as a natural freezer, but Egypt is a gene incinerator. The area is hot. In mummies’ graves, where scientists expected to find genetic samples, moisture was destroying their DNA. In addition, sodium carbonate and other chemicals used by Egyptian embalmers damage the genetic material.
A study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Science in the History of Humanity and the University of Tübingen in Germany has managed to connect some of these genetic deficiencies. The researchers destroyed the genetic material of 151 Egyptian mummies, radiocarbon dating New Kingdom of Egypt (the oldest to 1388 BC) to Roman times (the youngest to 426 AD), according to reports in the journal Nature Communications.
Johannes Krause, a paléogénétisme of the University of Tübingen and author of the study, said the main finding was that “during the year 1300, a complete genetic continuity is observed.” Despite the repeated conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Arab Assyrians – and the list goes on – the ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change. “The other big surprise,” said Krause, “if we do not have many sub-Saharan African ancestry.”
The remains were from Abusir el-Meleq, an ancient Nile community in the middle of Egypt. Mummies, scientists have extracted bone samples from teeth and soft tissues. (Although Egyptian embalmers had removed the brains of the deceased, scientists wrote that “in most cases, unmixed mother heads still retain much of their soft tissue.”)
Difficult samples produced most of the DNA, perhaps because the teeth and bones were protected by the soft tissues or because the hiring process leaves a hard material intact. After preparing the samples in a sterilized room in Germany, the researchers bathed the samples under UV rays for one hour to minimize contamination.
The ancient Egyptians were closely related to those living along the eastern Mediterranean, according to the analysis. They also shared the genetic material with the residents of the Turkish peninsula at the time and in Europe.
Given Egypt’s location at the intersection of Africa, Europe and Asia, and the influx of foreign leaders, Krause said he was surprised that genetics appeared to be stable during this period. Scientists are particularly interested in the change of the ruling class at the beginning of the first millennium. First, the Hellenistic dynasty, following the conquests of Alexander the Great, from 332 BC. In the year 30 BC. AD, then the Roman rule in 30 BC. In the EA does not seem to be bothered by the change policy of 400 AD However, genetics community Abusir el-Meleq.
Scientists compared the ancient DNA to that of modern Egyptians 100 and 125 modern Ethiopians previously analyzed. If you ask the Egyptians, who say they have recently become more European, said Krause. “We see exactly the opposite,” he said.
It is relatively recent in Egypt’s long history that sub-Saharan genetic influences have become more pronounced. “In the last 1500 years, Egypt has become more African, if you will,” said Krause.
In their article, the researchers acknowledged that “our genetic data were obtained from a single site in Middle Egypt and may not be representative of ancient Egypt.” In southern Egypt, the authors wrote that sub-Saharan Africa’s influences could summer stronger.