Canaanites: New insight from 73 ancient genomes

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Republication from phys.org/

A general view of the Tel Megiddo site. Credit: Megiddo Expedition

The people who lived in the area known as the Southern Levant—which is now recognized as Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, and parts of Syria—during the Bronze Age (circa 3500-1150 BCE) are referred to in ancient biblical texts as the Canaanites. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Cell on May 28 have new insight into the Canaanites’ history based on a new genome-wide analysis of ancient DNA collected from 73 individuals.


Out of Africa and into an archaic human melting pot

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Republication from phys.org

by Robyn Mills,


Proposed route of the ancestors of modern humans out of Africa and through Island Southeast Asia. Credit: University of Adelaide

Genetic analysis has revealed that the ancestors of modern humans interbred with at least five different archaic human groups as they moved out of Africa and across Eurasia.

While two of the archaic groups are currently known—the Neandertals and their sister group the Denisovans from Asia—the others remain unnamed and have only been detected as traces of DNA surviving in different modern populations. Island Southeast Asia appears to have been a particular hotbed of diversity.


Archaeological mystery solved with modern genetics

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Republication from chaali.com

Review of the currently accepted demographic model of the Japanese population on the continent. (University of Tokyo )

The current thinking about the origin of the Japanese population maintains that the original residents, Jomon’s people, were met about 2,500 years ago by a separate group mainly from the Korean Peninsula, the Yayoi people. However, archaeological evidence used to achieve this conclusion is insufficient to tell the final story. Now DNA evidence from Y chromosomes provided the necessary data.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo conducted a census of the Japanese population some 2,500 years ago using Y chromosomes living on the main islands of modern Japan. For the first time, the analysis of modern genomes estimated the size of the ancient human population before they were met by a separate ancient population.


Viking migration left a lasting legacy on Ireland’s population

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Republication from The Conversation


The early medieval period in Ireland (400-1200AD) was a time of key importance. It was a turning point in European history and the origin of much contemporary Irish culture and identity. Ireland, the early medieval “land of saints and scholars”, had much cultural and economic growth during the 5th and 6th centuries. Elsewhere in Europe there were unstable populations in the wake of the fall of Rome.


Yamnaya nomads left a strong genetic mark on Europeans and Asians

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By Ann Gibbons

Republication from www.sciencemag

The Bronze Age came to Europe and Asia 5000 years ago, leaving a trail of metal tools, axes, and jewelry that stretches from Siberia to Scandinavia. But was this powerful new technology an idea that spread from the Middle East to European and Asian people, or was it brought in by foreigners? Two of the largest studies of ancient DNA from Bronze Age and Iron Age people have now found that outsiders deserve the credit: Nomadic herders from the steppes of today’s Russia and Ukraine brought their culture and, possibly, languages with them—and made a relatively recent and lasting imprint on the genetic makeup of Europeans and Asians.

In the studies, published online today in Nature, two rival teams of geneticists analyzed the DNA from 170 individuals who lived at key archaeological sites in Europe and Asia 5000 to 3000 years ago. Both teams found strong evidence that a wave of nomadic herders known as the Yamnaya from the Pontic-Caspian, a vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea and as far east as the Caspian Sea, swept into Europe sometime between 5000 and 4800 years ago; along the way, they may have brought with them Proto-Indo-European, the mysterious ancestral tongue from which all of today’s 400 Indo-European languages spring. These herders interbred with local farmers and created the Corded Ware culture of central Europe, named for the twisted cord imprint on its pottery. Their genes were passed down to northern and central Europeans living today, as one of the teams posted on a preprint server earlier this year and published today.


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