Material and genetic resemblance in the Bronze Age Southern Levant

May 28, 2020

A team around Ron Pinhasi at the University of Vienna carried out a detailed analysis of ancient DNA of individuals from the Bronze Age Southern Levant known as 'Canaanites', to provide insights on the historical and demographic events that shaped the populations of that time and area. The scientists aimed at answering three basic questions: How genetically homogenous were the people from the Bronze Age Southern Levant, what were their plausible origins with respect to earlier peoples, and how much change in ancestry has there been in the region since the Bronze Age?

The team extracted and studied the DNA of people from five archaeological sites in the Bronze Age Southern Levant. They all share the "Canaanite" material culture and seem to be descending from two sources: People who lived in the region at earlier times and people who arrived from the area of the Caucasus-Zagros Mountains. These populations mixed at roughly equal proportions.

The data shows strong genetic resemblance, including a component from populations related to Chalcolithic Zagros and Early Bronze Age Caucasus introduced by a gene flow lasting at least until the late Bronze Age and affecting modern Levantine population architecture. These groups also harbor ancestry from sources that cannot fully be modeled with available data, highlighting the critical role of post-Bronze-Age migrations into the region over the past 3,000 years. The study provides evidence that the movement of Caucasus/Zagros people is already evident 4,500 years ago and likely started even earlier. This movement continued (although not necessarily continuously) throughout the Bronze Age.

"Populations in the Southern Levant during the Bronze Age were not static. Rather, we observe people movements over long periods of time - not necessarily continuously - from the northeast of the Ancient Near East into the region. The Canaanites are culturally and genetically similar. In addition, this region has witnessed many later population movements, with people coming from the northeast, from the south and from the west", says Ron Pinhasi.

From the viewpoint of archaeology and history of the Ancient Near East, the team was surprised to see the strength of the Caucasus/Zagros component in the population of the Bronze Age, and that migration from this area continued as late as the second millennium BCE. According to archaeological findings, the Bronze Age Southern Levant was divided into city-states, which present similar material culture. Now it can be concluded that similarity between these populations extends also to genetics, showing that it is a case of cultural unity associated with shared ancestry. "Our results provide a comprehensive genetic picture of the primary inhabitants of the Southern Levant during the second millennium BCE", says Pinhasi.
Publication in Cell:

Agranat-Tamir et al., The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant, Cell, May 28, 2020.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.024

University of Vienna

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to