For the first time, scientists have managed to sequence the DNA from some ancient mummified human remains in Egypt. These people lived thousands of years ago and were meticulously mummified – to the point where modern science does not fully understand how they were able to achieve this.
Well the results of the DNA tests are in and it turns out, this ancient people are not closely related to the people who currently live in Egypt. They are actually more similar to the people living in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In fact, it turns out that the DNA of ancient mummies is genetically more similar to the people living in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq.
It was a hard task and Stephan Schiffels, head of the German Population Genetics Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History makes the point:
Researchers were generally skeptical about DNA preservation in Egyptian mummies, due to the hot climate, the high humidity levels in tombs and some of the chemicals used during mummification, which are all factors that make it hard for DNA to survive for such a long time.
There were many issues, the mummies are in many cases contaminated by modern handling and not complete. The scientists had a real challenge in finding genuine, ancient DNA from the mummies. They were left with only a few options, and they had to then enrich the DNA to do the tests. After studying DNA from mummies ranging over a 1300-year span, the scientists are happy that the results are a breakthrough.
Ultimately, modern Egyptians have more sub-Saharan African DNA present – around 20 percent – than the ancient Egyptians, who had little to no sub-Saharan African DNA present at all. With globalization and mass immigration across the world DNA will soon not be able to indicate clearly where somebody lived, but these results are interesting, in that they do definitively distinguish that the people who live in Egypt now and those who lived in ancient times.
Featured image via YouTube.