One of the most hotly-contested fields of genetics revolves around the genetic lineage of ancient Egyptians. A new study of 90 Pre-Ptolemaic, Ptolemaic, and Roman mummies raises as many questions as it answers.
Via a team lead by Verena Schuenemann in Nature:
We found the ancient Egyptian samples falling distinct from modern Egyptians, and closer towards Near Eastern and European samples (Fig. 4a, Supplementary Fig. 3, Supplementary Table 5). In contrast, modern Egyptians are shifted towards sub-Saharan African populations. Model-based clustering using ADMIXTURE37 (Fig. 4b, Supplementary Fig. 4) further supports these results and reveals that the three ancient Egyptians differ from modern Egyptians by a relatively larger Near Eastern genetic component, in particular a component found in Neolithic Levantine ancient individuals36 (Fig. 4b). In contrast, a substantially larger sub-Saharan African component, found primarily in West-African Yoruba, is seen in modern Egyptians compared to the ancient samples.
The area of study is especially controversial due to fear it will be seized upon by various groups for political purposes.
• Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods (Nature)
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