Research on ancient DNA in the Near East

Research on ancient DNA in the Near East

An interesting read on the state of aDNA work in the near East. Of most interest was to me was the aDNA from the mummies at Dakleh Oasis.

To obtain the frequencies of these mtDNA types, amplification of the HVRI region and three RFLP markers was conducted. The authors succeeded in analysing RFLP markers in 34 samples and HVRI sequences in 18 of the samples. Both populations, ancient and contemporary, fit the north-south clinal distribution of “southern” and “northern” mtDNA types (Graver et al. 2001). However, significant differences were found between these populations. Based on an increased frequency of HpaI 3592 (+) haplotypes in the contemporary Dakhlehian population, the authors suggested that, since Roman times, gene flow from the Sub-Saharan region has affected gene frequencies of individuals from the oasis.

Which is from the Graver mummy DNA study, I believe. It actually suggests there’s more sub Saharan input  to the Egyptian population than anything else since the Roman era.

Mitochondrial DNA Research in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt
Alison M. Graver, Ryan L. Parr, Sandra Walters, Renée C. Praymak, Jennifer M. Maki and J.El Molto

Molecular genetic research is being conducted as part of the Dakhleh Oasis Project (DOP), an international and multi-disciplinary research initiative in the western desert of Egypt. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is being analyzed from both ancient human skeletal remains associated with the Roman period town of Kellis (100 to 450 AD) and contemporary inhabitants of the Dakhleh Oasis. The primary objectives of this research are to derive paleogenetic information about the inhabitants of ancient Kellis, and to develop a picture of change over time within this desert oasis. Preliminary mtDNA restriction site data and control region sequence variability suggest significant genetic differences exist between the ancient and modern oasis populations

It’s a good grounding in the state of aDNA at the moment, human, animal and pathogenic. Worth the read.

There’s also another pdf  with a lot of abstracts about ancient DNA from the 5th annual ancient DNA conference.


One response to “Research on ancient DNA in the Near East

  1. I have to disagree with their conformist evaluation of Shlush 2008. It is an interesting paper but forcing the Druze to be a “refugium” population, instead of the most likely multiple founder effects (from the Black Sea area and from Egypt) plus extreme localized inbreeding (that fully fits the known history of this gnostic sect) is a forced ideological (Zionist) interpretation of the data.

    The issue here is that Druzes approach better the Jewish genetic pool than any other West Asian population (except maybe Anatolians) and this leads to an unavoidable conclussion: that modern Jews are mostly descendant of the Anatolian Jewry and not so directly connected with their mythological ancestral land. This conclussion, even if realistic (fits perfectly of what we know of Jewish history in Hellenistic, Roman and post-Roman times), is unacceptable for the Zionist mindset as it would mean accepting that Palestinians are more Jewish than Jews themselves, at least from a secular genetic viewpoint, even if most of them converted to Christianism and Islam, losing their Jewish (or Samaritan or whatever other local) identity in the process.

    This issue has arisen repeatedly in Israeli research papers and it’s not a coincidence, IMO, that Doron M. Behar (an important Israeli geneticist that nevertheless has also force-fed unbelievable conclussions in other papers on Jewish genetics) figures among the authors of this particular paper. Nevertheless the raw data of these studies is perfectly valid and most interesting, what I contend is their very much forced ideological conclussions.

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