Ancient DNA analysis reveals the origin mystery of the Biblical people


DNA analysis has always played a huge role to unfold mysteries, which include the oldest mummy of the world and origin secret of region-based ancient humans. Now a team of researchers retrieved and analyzed, for the first time, genome-wide data from people who lived during the Bronze and Iron Age.

Led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Leon Levy Expedition the team started their research on these people, who used to live in the ancient port city of Ashkelon. This city is one of the core Philistine cities between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C. However, it should be known that Philistines are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the enemies of Israelites.

As the team mentioned, during the study they found that a European derived ancestry was introduced in that ancient city of Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines' estimated arrival and it means that ancestors of the Biblical Philistines migrated across the Mediterranean and reached Ashkelon by the early Iron Age.

The study, which was published in the Science Advances, added that the European related genetic component was subsequently diluted over the centuries, suggesting a mixture between local and foreign people.

Over a century ago, Egyptologists stated that a group people called Peleset in texts of the late twelfth century BCE were the same as the Biblical Philistines. As per the Egyptians, the Peleset travelled from the "the islands," attacking what is today Cyprus and the Turkish and Syrian coasts, to attempt an invasion in the land of the pharaoh.

From 1985 to 2016, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, a project of the Harvard Semitic Museum, carried out the search for the origin of the Philistines at Ashkelon who is one of the five "Philistine" cities as per the Hebrew Bible.

At the very beginning the late American archaeologist Lawrence E. Stager and then Daniel M. Master, an author of the new study, director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon led a team who identified substantial changes in ways of life during the 12th century BCE which they connected to the arrival of the Philistines.

The researchers successfully accessed genomic data from the remains of 10 ancient people, used to live in Ashkelon during the Bronze and Iron Age and the results allowed the team to compare the DNA analysis of the Bronze and Iron Age people of Ashkelon to determine how they were related.

The lead author of the study Michal Feldman of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History stated explained the findings and said that the "genetic distinction is due to European-related gene flow introduced in Ashkelon during either the end of the Bronze Age or the beginning of the Iron Age.

"This timing is in accord with estimates of the Philistines arrival to the coast of the Levant, based on archaeological and textual records."

Feldman also mentioned that while the modelling suggests a southern European gene pool as a plausible source, future research could identify more precisely the "populations introducing the European-related component to Ashkelon."

Related topics : Archaeology