Monday, March 13, 2017

Ancient Egyptian Elites Had Less Sub-Saharan Admixture Than Modern Egyptians

Egypt, located on the isthmus of Africa, is an ideal region to study historical population dynamics due to its geographic location and documented interactions with ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Particularly, in the first millennium BCE Egypt endured foreign domination leading to growing numbers of foreigners living within its borders possibly contributing genetically to the local population. Here we [examine] mtDNA and nuclear DNA from mummified humans recovered from Middle Egypt that span around 1,300 years of ancient Egyptian history from the Third Intermediate to the Roman Period. Our analyses reveal that ancient Egyptians shared more Near Eastern ancestry than present-day Egyptians, who received additional Sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times. This analysis establishes ancient Egyptian mummies as a genetic source to study ancient human history and offers the perspective of deciphering Egypt’s past at a genome-wide level.
Krause et al., "Ancient Egyptian Mummy Genomes Suggest an Increase of Sub-Saharan African Ancestry in Post-Roman Periods" (Forthcoming Society for American Archaeology 2017 Conference Paper) Via Eurogenes.

I would suggest that pretty much anyone who's reading an SAA 2017 conference paper actually knows where Egypt is even without having it explained in the first sentence of the abstract to the paper.

I would also suggest that the remains of royal or aristocratic Egyptians that survive as mummies, particularly those following the Levantine derived Hyskos 15th Dynasty (ca. 1650 BCE to 1545 BCE) in the Third Intermediate period (ca. 1070 BCE to 664 BCE), and with the Eastern Mediterranean interchange enriched Roman period, may not be representative of the larger Egyptian population genetically, any more than the genetics of royal families in Europe were in the early modern and modern periods of European history when royals were frequently foreigners.

It could be that ancient Egyptians did indeed have less sub-Saharan admixture than they do in more recent times, but it would not be at all surprising to see a class differential in population genetics in Egypt in much the same way that we do in India.


AlanL said...

> I would suggest that pretty much anyone whose reading an SAA 2017 conference paper actually knows where Egypt is

... who's ...


andrew said...