(ORDO NEWS) — Thanks to the first detailed data on the genetic history of the entire Middle East, paleogenetics found that all the cities of the biblical Canaan were inhabited by the same people. The findings of scientists published the scientific journal Cell.
“Despite the fact that the Canaanites lived in different city-states, they were very similar to each other both from the cultural and genetic points of view. Similar similarities were inherent in all individuals whose remains were found in Canaan. Therefore, its inhabitants can be considered a full-fledged demographic group, “commented one of its authors, a geneticist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) Lirand Carmel, commented on the results of the study.
According to the Bible, Canaan is the collective name for several countries in the west of the Middle East, which included many small city states, Phenicia, the Hittite and Amorite powers. In the second half of the second millennium BC, according to the Bible and archaeological excavations, the territory of Canaan was gradually conquered by the Jewish kings.
Scientists practically do not know anything about the culture and origin of the inhabitants of Canaan, since they have not yet found written evidence of their migrations. This is due to the fact that the Phoenicians and other Canaanites used unbaked clay tablets to record information.
Under the influence of water and natural elements, such material is easily destroyed, so historians know almost nothing about the life of the inhabitants of these territories, except for their alphabet, the foundations of religion and some information about the political system.
Three years ago, paleogenetics from Britain and Israel first deciphered the genomes of five ancient inhabitants of Sidon – one of the largest ports of Phenicia. Their analysis showed that the Canaanites did not disappear: their descendants live on the territory of modern Lebanon. The ancestors of these people turned out to be both the peoples of the Middle East and the ancient inhabitants of Iran.
The unity of the peoples of Canaan
Carmel and his colleagues continued these studies, deciphering and correlating between themselves 73 genomes of the ancient inhabitants of Canaan, as well as several dozen people from other regions of the Middle East who lived in the Bronze Age. In addition to this, paleogenetics re-studied the two dozen genomes of residents of other cities of Canaan, which their colleagues have deciphered earlier.
A DNA comparison confirmed previous conclusions about the origin of the inhabitants of Sidon, and also indicated that the genomes of the inhabitants of Megiddo, Ashkelon, Yehud, Hatzor and a number of other Canaanite policies that were located at a great distance from the Phoenician port were similarly arranged. This suggests that they were united not only by a common culture and language, but also by their origin.
Interestingly, in the genome of Canaanites, the proportion of DNA of alien peoples that originally lived in the area of the Zagros mountain system in Iran and in the territory of ancient Armenia gradually increased. According to scientists, this suggests that representatives of these peoples continued to migrate to Canaan after the appearance of the first city-states.
“The scale of this migration and the fact that it continued for many centuries can explain why many rulers of the Canaanite policies at the end of the Bronze Age had Hurrian rather than Semitic names. Such migrations may explain why these peoples had some common cultural traits, ”explained Carmel’s colleague at Shai Carmi University.
In the near future, paleogenetics plan to study the genomes of the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East during the Iron Age, including the inhabitants of Judea, Israel, Ammon, Moab and other biblical kingdoms of that era. As the researchers hope, the DNA of their inhabitants will also present them with many interesting surprises and significantly enrich our ideas about the history of this region.
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