Biblical Canaanites DNA Linked To Modern-Day Lebanese

Genome sequenced from 3,700-year-old remains is found in modern-say Lebanese.  Modern-day Lebanese share 93% of their DNA with the ancient Canaanites.

In the first test, the researchers aimed to assess the ancestry of the ancient Canaanites and what they found was that ancient Canaanites shared a common ancestry with other ancient Levant civilizations including Phoenicians, Israelites, and Moabites. In the second test which aimed to identify the ancestry of modern Lebanese people, the DNA analysis showed that despite being separated by more than 3,700 years, the Lebanese genome shared as much as 93% of its composition with the genome drawn from the ancient Canaanites. Another interesting finding from the genetic analysis was that the Lebanese people have been isolated from other communities for thousands of years. WorldAtlas

Researchers supported by The Wellcome Trust were able to sequence the Canaanite genome from the remains of five individuals buried in the ancient port city of Sidon (modern Saïda, Lebanon) around 3,700 years ago. The results were compared against the DNA of 99 modern-day Lebanese residents.  NationalGeographic

Canaanite Secrets Unraveled

According to the Los Angeles Times, in the last 19 years, a team of archaeologists have been unraveling Canaanite secrets hidden for thousands of years at the Sidon excavation site situated in the Lebanon’s third largest city, Sidon. Archeologists have excavated 160 burial sites from this single excavation site from which they obtained numerous skeletons from the Bronze Era. Tests conducted on the skeletons show that they were over 3,700 years old. The skeletons from the necropolis are believed to be those of ancient Canaanites and this helped archaeologist to get a glimpse of their burial rituals where young children were buried in clay jars while adults were buried in the sand.

Canaanite individuals had been buried in large clay jars.

The Canaanites DNA

The Canaanites lived at the crossroads of the ancient world. They experienced wars, conquests and occupations for millennia, and as a result evolutionary geneticists expected that their DNA would become substantially mixed with incoming populations.

Astonishingly, new genetic analysis shows that scientists were wrong. According to a new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics, today’s Lebanese share a whopping 93% of their DNA with the ancient Canaanites.

The study also found that the Bronze Age inhabitants of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state in modern-day Lebanon, have the same genetic profile as people living 300 to 800 years earlier in present-day Jordan.

Later known as Phoenicians, the Canaanites have a murky past. Nearly all of their own records have been destroyed over the centuries, so their history has been mostly pieced together from archaeological records and the writings of other ancient peoples. LATimes

The buried remains of a Canaanite adult whose DNA was sequenced in the study. (Claude Doumet-Serhal / The Sidon Excavation)

DNA

First, they investigated the genetic ancestry of the Canaanites themselves. They found that these Bronze Age inhabitants of Sidon shared about half their DNA with local Neolithic peoples and the other half with Chalcolithic Iranians. Interestingly, this genetic profile is nearly identical to the one evolutionary geneticist IosifLazaridis and his team found last year in Bronze Age villagers near ‘Ain Ghazal in modern-day Jordan.

This suggests that Canaanite-related ancestry was spread across a wide region during the Bronze Age and was shared between urban societies on the coast and farming societies further inland. This evidence supports the idea that different Levantine cultural groups such as the Moabites, Israelites, and Phoenicians may have had a common genetic background, the authors said.

The researchers were also able to determine that the genetic mixing of the Levantine and Iranian peoples happened between 6,600 and 3,550 years ago, a range they would be able to narrow down with more ancient DNA samples from the region…

As expected, they found some new additions to the modern Lebanese genome since the Bronze Age. About 7% of modern Lebanese DNA originates from eastern Steppe peoples found in what is now Russia, but wasn’t represented in the Bronze Age Canaanites or their ancestors. What surprised the team was what was missing from their genetic data.

“If you look at the history of Lebanon — after the Bronze Age, especially — it had a lot of conquests,” Haber said. He and Tyler-Smith expected to see greater genetic contributions from multiple conquering peoples, and were surprised that as much as 93% of the Lebanese genome is shared with their Canaanite predecessors.

Though a 7% genetic influx from the Steppe seems very small, that number might be covering some hidden complexities, said Lazaridis, who worked on the Bronze Age Jordanian samples but was not involved in the new study.

Not much is known about the migrations of these eastern Steppe populations, he said. If the genomes of the incoming people were only half Steppe, for example, 14% of the Lebanese genome could have come from the new migrants.  LATimes

Online:  LATimes – The DNA of ancient Canaanites lives on in modern-day Lebanese, genetic analysis shows

National Geographic – Living Descendants of Biblical Canaanites Identified Via DNA

Study:  Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences,” and published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Video:  The DNA Of Ancient Canaanites Lives On In Lebanese | Los Angeles Times

Media Trumpets That Bible Is Wrong
Oops, media wrong again.

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” Judges 1:1

after a scientific study asserted that human remains dating to roughly 3,700 years ago from ancient Canaanites had DNA quite similar to Lebanese, many media outlets trumpeted that the Bible was wrong when it claimed the ancient Canaanites were completely destroyed.

David Klinghoffer, in Evolution Newslisted the plethora of media headlines emblazoned with the idea that the Bible was wrong:

  •  “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (The Telegraph)

  • “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon” (The Independent)

  • “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people” (Daily Mail)

  • “Scientists Find Evidence That Ancient Canaanites Survive Today: Was The Bible Wrong?” (Tech Times)

  • “New DNA study casts doubt on Bible claim” (Mother Nature Network)

  • “The Bible was WRONG: Civilisation God ordered to be KILLED still live and kicking” (Express)

  • “Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all” (Ars Technica)

  • “Canaanites Weren’t Annihilated by Ancient Israelites After All” (Newser)

  • “Study disproves the Bible’s claim that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (Click Lancashire)

  • “Canaanites survived Biblical ‘slaughter’, ancient DNA shows”(ABC Online)

  • “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” (Cosmos)

  • “The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese” (Pulse Headlines)

As Klinghoffer continues:

The first chapter in Judges lists all the places in Israel where the Canaanites persisted, “to this day,” “for they did not drive them out,” “he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land,” etc. God is not happy with this, for “they shall be as snares to you, and their gods shall be a trap to you” (2:3). From the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1 (“Canaan”), “The persistence of Canaanites within Israelite territory was a theological problem variously addressed by biblical writers.”

Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. Judges 1:31

Klinghoffer notes:  The ancient DNA evidence comprises the “complete genomes of five Canaanite individuals who lived almost 4,000 years ago in what’s now the modern-day Lebanese city of Sidon” (Science Daily). Interestingly, the Canaanites in that ancient city are among those that the Bible specifically says lived on (Judges 1:31) to cause serious trouble for the Israelites. DailyWire

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