On August 4th, I posted that the day prior some geneticists revealed in their report that they had discovered from their extensive DNA testing that present-day Lebanese people are descended mostly from the ancient Canaanites mentioned in the Bible. Marc Haber admits that this genetic match is surprisingly high to him: present-day Lebanese are 93% Canaanite.
Marc Haber and Chris Tyler-Smith are the lead authors (with 14 other contributing geneticists) of the report in the American Journal of Human Genetics that is entitled “Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences” (Vol. 101, Issue 2, pp. 274-82), published on August 3, 2017. (The Levant is the land bridge connecting Asia and Africa that includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the remaining territory between the Lake Galilee-Dead Sea depression and Mediterranean Sea until Egypt.) This report begins,
“The Canaanites inhabited the Levant region during the Bronze Age and established a culture that became influential in the Near East and beyond. However, the Canaanites, unlike most other ancient Near Easterners of this period, left few surviving textual records and thus their origin and relationship to ancient and present-day populations remain unclear. In this study, we sequenced five whole genomes from 3,700-year-old individuals from the city of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. We also sequenced the genomes of 99 individuals from present-day Lebanon to catalog modern Levantine genetic diversity. We find that a Bronze Age Canaanite-related ancestry was widespread in the region, shared among urban populations inhabiting the coast (Sidon) and inland populations (Jordan) who likely lived in farming societies or were pastoral nomads. This Canaanite-related ancestry derived from mixture between local Neolithic populations and eastern migrants genetically related to Chalcolithic Iranians. We estimate, using linkage-disequilibrium decay patterns, that admixture occurred 6,600–3,550 years ago, coinciding with recorded massive population movements in Mesopotamia during the mid-Holocene. We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.” The Bronze Age in the region of the Aegean Sea began in 3,200 B.C. and lasted to the Iron Age which began in about 1,400 B.C.
The last quoted sentence above suggests there likely is genetic continuity in other areas of the Levant between ancient peoples and moderns, thus perhaps between the Philistines and Palestinians. These geneticists continue, “more work is needed to establish a thorough understanding of Levantine genetic history. Such work is hindered by the hot and sometimes wet environment, but improved aDNA technologies including use of the petrous bone as a source of DNA and the rich archaeological remains available encouraged us to further explore the potential of aDNA in this region. Here, we present genome sequences from five Bronze Age Lebanese samples and show how they improve our understanding of the Levant’s history over the last five millennia.”
The petrous bone is an extra-dense skull material behind the ear. The five samples are from five skeletons of people who lived 3,700 years ago in ancient Sidon. This city still exists today on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon.
These geneticists further explain, “The Canaanites inhabited an area bounded by Anatolia to the north, Mesopotamia to the east, and Egypt to the south, with access to Cyprus and the Aegean through the Mediterranean. Thus the Canaanites were at the center of emerging Bronze Age civilizations and became politically and culturally influential. They were later known to the ancient Greeks as the Phoenicians.” Anatolia was located in present west-central Turkey.
This article then explains how these geneticists conducted their scientific testing. The reading is extremely complex and thus accessible only to professional geneticists. They say they created a “dataset to shed light on the genetic history of the Canaanites, resolving their relationship to other ancient populations and assessing their genetic contribution to present-day populations.”The authors conclude, “In this report we have analyzed ancient whole-genome sequence data from a Levantine civilization and provided insights into how the Bronze Age Canaanites were related to other ancient populations and how they have contributed genetically to present-day ones. Many of our inferences rely on the limited number of ancient samples available, and we are only just beginning to reconstruct a genetic history of the Levant or the Near East as thoroughly as that of Europeans who, in comparison, have been extensively sampled.”
So, the genetic map of the Levant is in its new-born stage. But this recent discovery, that present-day Lebanese are genetically 93% Canaanite, appears that it may overturn some previous assumptions about the genetic links of moderns to ancients. Marc Haber says of their analysis, “What we see is that since the Bronze Age, this ancestry, or the genetics of the people there, didn’t change much. It changed a little, but it didn’t change much, and that is what surprised me.”
Why was lead author and team member Haber surprised that modern Lebanese are so highly linked genetically to ancient Canaanites? It is because historians, archaeologists, and other specialists have for a long time assumed that thousands of years of war, movements of peoples, and thus intermarriage of ethnicities would result in very little genetic link, or none, of moderns to such peoples as the Canaanites. But now that this genome study has proved otherwise regarding Lebanese and Canaanites, maybe the same or a similar genetic connection exists between Palestinians and the Philistines.
The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon announced last summer that they have uncorrupted DNA from skeletons they discovered in a Philistine cemetery that is about 3,000 years old. Their first aim is to compare it to people living nowadays along the Greece and Turkey coastlands of the Aegean Sea to learn if there is a genetic match. If so, that would certify that the Philistines migrated from there to the Levant, as experts believe. The team also says they will then try to determine, with an international team of geneticists, if there are any substantial genetic links of this Philistine DNA to peoples now living in the Levant.
I think it is more important to compare this Philistine DNA with the DNA of today’s Palestinians. Why? If a substantial genetic link between Palestinians and Philistines can be proved, that could lead to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is, Palestinians could then legitimately claim their ancestral land, as Jews did in their 1948 Proclamation of Independence, which could then lead to solving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have many posts on this on this blog.
[At the time of this writing, most of my book, Palestine Is Coming, is available for free reading as an e-book at my website kermitzarley.com. Also, see there ten update articles about this book’s thesis. It’s thesis is that, according to Bible prophecy, Palestinians will get their own state in the coastal plain as a very expanded Gaza Strip, and Israel will annex the West Bank. This may occur by means of a land swap. See the many posts on this blog about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by clicking on this subject in Categories.]