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Monday, July 31, 2017

DNA of Ancient Canaanites: Levant, Lebanon, and Lines


      Researchers have deciphered the complete DNA of five Canaanite skeletons. By comparing these five Canaanite genomes with those of other ancient and modern populations, the scientists identified the Canaanites’ ancestors and discovered their descendants were modern Lebanese people.




     The results, reported July 27 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, give new insight into the origins and fate of a people whose story has largely been told through the secondhand accounts of its contemporaries.




     "The Canaanites emerged in the Levant, a region east of the Mediterranean Sea, 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. This cultural group, which established extensive trade networks and colonies across the Mediterranean region, left behind few written records, perhaps because they wrote on papyrus rather than clay. So most knowledge of the Canaanites comes from ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek documents."



     "But, doubt surrounds some of those accounts. For one thing, Greek historians thought the Canaanites originated near the Persian Gulf, whereas archaeological records suggest they arose from farming communities that settled the Levant up to 10,000 years ago. For another, the Old Testament makes reference to the destruction of Canaanite communities, but some of their cities, such as Sidon in Lebanon, appear to have been continually inhabited through the present day."




      
     "Researchers reconstructed the genomes of the 3,700-year-old remains of five Canaanites unearthed in Sidon. Comparisons of these genomes with those of other ancient Eurasian peoples indicate that Canaanite ancestry was split roughly 50-50 between the early farmers who settled the Levant and immigrants of Iranian descent who arrived later, between 6,600 and 3,550 years ago."




     “You’d need a lot of migration for roughly half of the population to be replaced by the incoming Iranian-related populations,” says Iosif Lazaridis, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the study. “This must have been some important event in the history of the Near East.” One possibility is the spread of the Akkadian Empire, which controlled a region spanning from the Levant to Iran between 4,400 and 4,200 years ago. That connection may have presented the opportunity for interbreeding between these far-flung populations."




     "The researchers also determined that modern Lebanese people can attribute about 93 percent of their ancestry to the Canaanites. The other 7 percent comes from Eurasians who probably arrived in the Levant 3,700 to 2,200 years ago. Study coauthor Chris Tyler-Smith, was surprised by how much Canaanite heritage dominated modern Lebanese DNA. He says he expected to see a more mixed gene pool because so many populations have crossed through the Levant in the last few thousand years."





     "This study alone may not paint the complete picture of the Canaanite lineage, says Aaron Burke, an archaeologist at UCLA, because the researchers examined the genomes of only five Canaanites."



      "However, the study’s Canaanite genetic data do provide “a snapshot of history in the area,” Lazaridis said. Identifying which populations crop up in the Canaanite lineage — and when — can help trace the historical movements of people throughout the Near East. With DNA analyses of enough ancient people, Lazaridis says, “I think it will be possible to reconstruct the whole timeline of what happened in Lebanon and other parts of the world.” 

No lamentations; looking forward to more data!
Steph

49 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Aww, c'mon, everybody's entitled to an "Aleppo moment".

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    2. Well, in the grand scheme of things ...
      ?

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    3. Ahem! In the grand scheme of things it came to pass.

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    4. Well, Paul, I do enjoy the ammonites!

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    5. Don't tell me they're minerals!

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    6. Really, really old fossils ;-)

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    7. "All stocks dwelling in unwalled towns". . .

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    8. That's a helluva lot better than 'parasites'.

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  2. And I never knew the Colorado coat of arms was so ... geological. How appropriate, Steph!> (That's Wikipedia's featured picture today.)

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    1. Yup, it's our state's birthday tomorrow.

      It's all about the rock, 'bout the rock, 'bout the rock, rock, miners!

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  3. "This cultural group, which established extensive trade networks and colonies across the Mediterranean region, left behind few written records, perhaps because they wrote on papyrus rather than clay. So most knowledge of the Canaanites comes from ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek documents."
    That's why I write on silicon ... can't trust those Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks to get it right.

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    1. Speaking of languages, Paul, enjoy this polyglot smorgasbord of wet fish and more.

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    2. "This cultural group, which established extensive trade networks and colonies across the Mediterranean region, left behind few written records, perhaps because they wrote on papyrus rather than clay. So most knowledge of the Canaanites comes from ancient Egyptian, Hebrew and Greek documents."
      "This Usurpian cultural group, which established extensive trade networks and colonies across the New World region in the Western Hemisphere, left behind few written records, perhaps because they wrote on clouds somewhere out there in cyberspace(!) rather than on clay or silicon (like the wise Paul). So most knowledge of these New World Usurpians comes from modern National Enquirer, People Magazine and New York Post documents."

      Lego...WellNoI'veNeverBeenToHeavenButIKindaLikeTwoBeatles(LikeGeorgeAndJohn)AndI'veBeenToCanaanToSeeTheKing

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    3. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Lego. We have missed you! Your cloud thoughts are well-received on a cloudy Colorado night. . .

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  4. CRISPR/cas9 goes from lab discovery to edited human embryos in five years. Pretty amazing.

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    1. Fascinating, jan. Thanks.

      And I learned about the term "indel" used in conjunction with CRISPR/cas9.

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    2. Article in the WaPo I read this morning has a lot fewer of those nasty science-y words.

      Interesting implications, but the bigger question for Blaine's blog: what city and stage has the most "Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats"? Assuming minimum of 3 letters, so far my list includes:
      Okolona, Mississippi (8)
      Soso, Mississippi (8)
      Toccopola, Mississippi (8)
      Belle Meade, Tennessee (4)
      Savannah, Tennessee (4)
      Kinikinik, Colorado (9)

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    3. of course I meant state, not stage.

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    4. Who doesn't love science-y words?!

      eco, the new CRISPR clallenge with cities and states rocks. I have not been to Kinikinik, CO, as yet.

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    6. Funny thing, I MAY HAVE been to Kinikinik.

      Though I can't be sure, I was too busy wanting to lose my lunch as a friend drove too fast up the Poudre Canyon Road. I know we were boating on Seaman Reservoir, can't remember how much farther up we went, it was 30 years ago.

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    7. Yes, that's a windy road for sure. Shambhala Mountain Center is up that way.

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    8. You bring back all sorts of memories. I knew someone who worked at Shambhala; she wanted to build a new wellness center on the western slopes, near Montrose (perhaps on Kinikin Road!). I did some early design sketches, probably 20 years ago.

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    9. Cool. Show us your sketches?

      My son worked there for awhile.

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    10. I'm struggling to remember her name, I can almost see it, will likely pop in my head in the middle of the night.

      Sketches are probably deep down in the boxes of old drawings, eaten by the Lepisma saccharina (See, I can use a big science-y word!) Or lost and never backed up 7 computers ago.

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    11. My son was there in the past year. . .

      Yeah, for science-y words and bummer your sketches may be gone.

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    12. I DID remember the clients name, Katelon Jeffereys, but she left there long ago, and is in Seattle now.

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  5. A friend in Vacaville, CA, experienced a heat burst last night where the temp spiked from 80 degrees at 9 p.m. to 95 degrees at midnight.

    Has anyone else here experienced this phenomenon?

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    1. I think it was Thursday night; they talked about it on last night's news. There was a similar event early Friday morning in part of Oakland. Didn't happen in my little part of the world.

      Never felt one, seems like Texas and Oklahoma are the hot spots for this, not sure that convinces me to spend a lot of time there.

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    2. eco, it was, indeed, Thursday night.

      Yeah, you can skip most of OK and TX. I lived in Dallas for a year; not much to report except big hair, money, oil, good old boys, and debutante balls.

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    3. On the other hand, Californians will feel at home with Oklahoma earthquakes.

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    4. Yeah, the disposal of waste water after fracking is such a huge issue and the regulation is lax in many areas.

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    5. Big fracking fight in upstate New York, sad to see that beautiful country being tortured. The Dakota Access Pipeline route would make a pretty good map for locating wind turbines. Maybe a little farther west through Nebraska to Texas, which have been annoyingly windy every time I've gone through. I'll trust Hammerstein on Oklahoma.

      30 years ago Scientific American had an article that said North and South Dakota alone could meet our electric needs with wind. And technology improves; large, slow turning turbines are better for birds.

      Our wide open spaces give us a big advantage over Northern European countries, where folks are starting to complain about the noise and vibration from large wind farms near homes. I suspect the indigenous folks would be more receptive to wind farms on their sacred lands; I'm sure the few remaining small farmers would love some income leasing portions of their land, especially as they can continue to grow corn and wheat around the turbines. Cows are probably too stupid to notice, at least they don't seem bothered in Livermore.

      But you know all that. Can you explain why our politicians don't?

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    6. A few do get it, especially local politicians. Seems like a slam dunk. . .and happy cows, to boot.

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    7. I'll bet the whole cows to boot experience isn't very happy.

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    8. Indeed, tough to hide that way.

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    9. I knew a tough cow; she was so persistent she just couldn't be suede.

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    10. Yes, I imagine it was hard to change her moo-d.

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    11. In high school I read The Bovine Comedy. We've milked that for all it's worth, time to look at the new posting.

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  6. New post on "Crinoids for Cri-nerds" is now up. Enjoy!

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