Extreme black holes can have ‘hair’, scientists say
The reactionaries, on the other hand, say that there have never been any significant black civilizations – an absolute lie, of course. There were several very advanced African empires and kingdoms throughout history. Oddly enough, some far-right groups have even used blood group data to claim a Nordic origin for King Tutankhamun and his brothers.
The problem, it was believed, was that the mummy’s DNA could not be sequenced. But a group of international researchers, using unique methods, overcame the obstacles to achieve this. They found that the ancient Egyptians were most closely related to the peoples of the Near East, especially the Levant. It is the Eastern Mediterranean which today includes the countries of Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The mummies used were from the New Kingdom and a later period (a period after the Middle Kingdom) when Egypt was under Roman rule.
Egyptian mummy. English Museum. Flikr.
Modern Egyptians share 8% of their genome with Central Africans, far more than the ancients, according to study published in the journal Nature communications. The influx of sub-Saharan genes has only occurred in the past 1,500 years. This could be attributed to the Trans-Saharan slave trade or simply to the regular long-distance trade between the two regions. Improved mobility on the Nile during this period increased trade with the interior, the researchers say.
Egypt during Antiquity was conquered several times, notably by Alexander the Great, by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, etc. The researchers wanted to know if these constant waves of invaders caused major genetic changes in the population over time. Group leader Wolfgang Haak from the Max Planck Institute in Germany said: “The genetics of the Abusir el-Meleq community have not undergone any major changes in the 1,300 years that we have studied, suggesting that the population remained genetically relatively unaffected by foreign conquest and domination. . “
The study was led by archaeogeneticist Johannes Krause, also of the Max Planck Institute. Historically, there has been a problem finding intact DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies. “The hot Egyptian climate, high humidity levels in many tombs, and some of the chemicals used in mummification techniques contribute to DNA degradation and are believed to make long-term survival of DNA in this area unlikely. Egyptian mummies, ”said Dr. Krause.
The mummified remains of Queen Hatshepsut’s nurse Sitre-In. Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 2007. Getty Images.
It was also thought that even if genetic material was collected, it might not be reliable. Despite this, Krause and his colleagues were able to introduce robust DNA sequencing and verification techniques, and completed the first successful genomic tests on ancient Egyptian mummies.
Each came from Abusir el-Meleq, an archaeological site along the Nile, 115 km south of Cairo. This necropolis houses mummies that present aspects revealing a dedication to the cult of Osiris, the green-skinned god of the afterlife.
First, the mitochondrial genomes from 90 of the mummies were taken. From these, Krause and his colleagues discovered that they could obtain the entire genomes of only three of the mummies in all. For this study, the scientists took samples of teeth, bones and soft tissue. Teeth and bones offered the most DNA. They were protected by the soft tissues which were preserved during the embalming process.
The researchers brought these samples back to a laboratory in Germany. They started by sterilizing the room. Then they put the samples under UV radiation for an hour to sterilize them. From there, they were able to do the DNA sequencing.
An Egyptian necropolis. Getty Images.
Scientists also gathered data from Egyptian history and archaeological data from North Africa, to give some context to their findings. They wanted to know what changes had happened over time. To find out, they compared the genome of the mummies to that of 100 modern Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians. “For 1,300 years, we see complete genetic continuity,” Krause said.
The oldest sequenced mummy was from the New Kingdom, 1388 BCE, when Egypt was at the height of its power and glory. The youngest was from 426 CE, when the country was ruled from Rome. The ability to acquire genomic data on the ancient Egyptians is a spectacular achievement, opening up new avenues of research.
One limitation according to their report, “all of our genetic data was obtained from a single site in Middle Egypt and may not be representative of all of ancient Egypt.” be closer to the interior of the continent.
Researchers in the future want to determine exactly when genes from sub-Saharan Africa entered the Egyptian genome and why. They will also want to know where the ancient Egyptians themselves came from. In order to do this, they will have to identify older DNA from, as Krause said, “Back further in time, in prehistory”.
Using high-throughput DNA sequencing and state-of-the-art authentication techniques, researchers have proven that they can recover reliable DNA from mummies, despite the ruthless climate and damaging embalming techniques.
Further testing is likely to contribute a great deal to our understanding of the ancient Egyptians and possibly even those in other places, helping to fill in the gaps in the collective memory of humanity.
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