DNA Analysis Identifies Living Descendants of Biblical Canaanites

3,700-year-old remains contained genomes found in 90 percent of modern Lebanese.

July 28, 2017 10:12 am
Living Descendants of Canaanites
Genome sequenced from 3,700-year-old remains of ancient Canaanites is found in today's residents of Lebanon. (Courtesy Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal)

Many Lebanese alive today carry on a Biblical legacy in their DNA.

Genomic sequencing of remains from 3,700 years ago has found that more than 90 percent of modern-day Lebanese residents are living descents of ancient Canaanites.

According to the findings published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Canaanite ancestry is an amalgam from across the region. Extracted from the remains of five people buried in the ancient port city of Sidon (present day Saïda), the sequenced genomes were compared against the DNA of 99 modern-day Lebanese residents.

National Geographic reports the ancestry includes migrants that came from the east 3,550 to 6,600 years ago and original settlers that arrived 10,00 years ago in the Levant, a region that includes parts of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.

Researchers say Eurasian DNA later entered the ancestry between 1800 and 200 B.C. when many say much of the Bible was written. Though, they caution about drawing too many conclusions from the data.

Extracting ancient DNA (aDNA) from remains found in the Middle East is notably difficult given its climate. Heat and moisture mean researchers rarely find aDNA that’s preserved as well as the remans from the five individuals in Lebanon, according to National Geographic.

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