The genetic continuity of northern Canaanites confirmed for at least 4,000 years.
Experts have long debated who the Canaanites were genetically, what happened to them, who their ancestors were and if they had any descendants today.
In the new study of ancient remains from the Near East, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientist Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith and co-authors sequenced the entire genomes of five Canaanite individuals who lived 4,000 years ago in a city known as Sidon in present-day Lebanon.
“Genetic studies using ancient DNA can expand our understanding of history, and answer questions about the likely origins and descendants of enigmatic populations like the Canaanites, who left few written records themselves,” Dr. Tyler-Smith said.
“It was a pleasant surprise to be able to extract and analyse DNA from 4,000-year-old human remains found in a hot environment, which is not known for preserving DNA well,” added Dr. Marc Haber, also from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The scientists also sequenced the genomes of 99 present-day Lebanese and analyzed the genetic relationship between the ancient Canaanites and modern Lebanese.
They discovered that more than 90% of present-day Lebanese ancestry is likely to be from the Canaanites, with an additional small proportion of ancestry coming from a different Eurasian population. ...