Ancient northern Africans had different genetic roots from people south of the Sahara desert revealed a study by scientists at the Max Planck Institute.
The scientists obtained information about variations in mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to child, from 90 mummies. Because of contamination, the team was able to acquire detailed nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents, from only three mummies.
Both types of genomic material showed that ancient Egyptians shared little DNA with modern sub-Saharan Africans. Instead, their closest relatives were people living during the Neolithic and Bronze ages in an area known as the Levant. Strikingly, the mummies were more closely related to ancient Europeans and Anatolians than to modern Egyptians. Nature
Researchers used modern genetic analysis techniques to study the genomes of 93 mummies that lived between 1300 BC — the late New Kingdom Period — and around 30 BC during the time of the Romans…
“One of the questions that motivated us for our study is trying to find out when Egypt was conquered by the Greeks or Alexander the Great or by the Nubians or by the Romans, and did that actually have an impact on the population?” said archaeogeneticist Professor Johannes Krause, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.
It’s a question that is difficult to answer using artefacts and historical records, so Professor Krause and his colleagues decided to look in preserved genetic material.
They took samples of biological material from the bones and teeth of the mummies, and extracted the DNA using sequencing techniques that also allow them to verify the genetic material was indeed ancient, and not the result of modern contamination…
Their results were the opposite of what they were expecting to find, Professor Krause said. “They have these closest genetic links to the fertile crescent and the eastern populations of what’s now Israel.”
And yet, at some point in the past 1,500 years, there has been a major addition of sub-Saharan genetic material – largely West-African Yoruba – into Egypt’s population … There is evidence of an active slave trade that reached its peak in the 19th century, and which was responsible for the transportation of millions of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa to Northern Africa and Egypt. ABC.au