Egyptians - Genetic History

Genetic History

Beginning in the predynastic period, some differences between the populations of Upper and Lower Egypt were ascertained through their skeletal remains, suggesting a gradual clinal pattern north to south.

When Lower and Upper Egypt were unified c. 3150 BC, the distinction began to blur, resulting in a more homogeneous population in Egypt, though the distinction remains true to some degree to this day. Some biological anthropologists such as Shomarka Keita believe the range of variability to be primarily indigenous and not necessarily the result of significant intermingling of widely divergent peoples. Keita describes the northern and southern patterns of the early predynastic period as "northern-Egyptian-Maghreb" and "tropical African variant" (overlapping with Nubia/Kush) respectively. He shows that a progressive change in Upper Egypt toward the northern Egyptian pattern takes place through the predynastic period. The southern pattern continues to predominate in Abydos, Upper Egypt by the First Dynasty, but "lower Egyptian, Maghrebian, and European patterns are observed also, thus making for great diversity."

A 2006 bioarchaeological study on the dental morphology of ancient Egyptians by Prof. Joel Irish shows dental traits characteristic of indigenous North Africans and to a lesser extent Southwest Asian and southern European populations. Among the samples included in the study is skeletal material from the Hawara tombs of Fayum, which clustered very closely with the Badarian series of the predynastic period. All the samples, particularly those of the Dynastic period, were significantly divergent from a neolithic West Saharan sample from Lower Nubia. Biological continuity was also found intact from the dynastic to the post-pharaonic periods. According to Irish:

samples exhibit morphologically simple, mass-reduced dentitions that are similar to those in populations from greater North Africa (Irish, 1993, 1998a–c, 2000) and, to a lesser extent, western Asia and Europe (Turner, 1985a; Turner and Markowitz, 1990; Roler, 1992; Lipschultz, 1996; Irish, 1998a). Similar craniofacial measurements among samples from these regions were reported as well (Brace et al., 1993)... an inspection of MMD values reveals no evidence of increasing phenetic distance between samples from the first and second halves of this almost 3,000-year-long period. For example, phenetic distances between First-Second Dynasty Abydos and samples from Fourth Dynasty Saqqara (MMD ¼ 0.050), 11-12th Dynasty Thebes (0.000), 12th Dynasty Lisht (0.072), 19th Dynasty Qurneh (0.053), and 26th–30th Dynasty Giza (0.027) do not exhibit a directional increase through time... Thus, despite increasing foreign influence after the Second Intermediate Period, not only did Egyptian culture remain intact (Lloyd, 2000a), but the people themselves, as represented by the dental samples, appear biologically constant as well... Gebel Ramlah is, in fact, significantly different from Badari based on the 22-trait MMD (Table 4). For that matter, the Neolithic Western Desert sample is significantly different from all others is closest to predynastic and early dynastic samples.

A group of noted physical anthropologists conducted craniofacial studies of Egyptian skeletal remains and concluded similarly that "the Egyptians have been in place since back in the Pleistocene and have been largely unaffected by either invasions or migrations. As others have noted, Egyptians are Egyptians, and they were so in the past as well."

Genetic analysis of modern Egyptians reveals that they have paternal lineages common to indigenous North-East Africans, populations primarily, and to Near Eastern peoples to a lesser extent—these lineages would have spread during the Neolithic and maintained by the predynastic period.

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