Insitome Podcast: Ancient Egyptian Genetics

Jovialis

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I find it baffling that so little from Ancient Egypt and ancient North Africa as a whole has been studied. Is it really so hard or are there political and technical hurdles? Even Sub-Saharan Africa, which is generally more humid, has received a few interesting archaeogenomic studies in the last few years. Meanwhile, Egypt has only one autosomal DNA study (please, don't come here to mention that ridiculously weak and implausible DNA Tribe study that Afrocentrists relentlessly quote to "prove" their point).
 
I find it baffling that so little from Ancient Egypt and ancient North Africa as a whole has been studied. Is it really so hard or are there political and technical hurdles? Even Sub-Saharan Africa, which is generally more humid, has received a few interesting archaeogenomic studies in the last few years. Meanwhile, Egypt has only one autosomal DNA study (please, don't come here to mention that ridiculously weak and implausible DNA Tribe study that Afrocentrists relentlessly quote to "prove" their point).

I recall during the podcast, they said the embalming method has made it exceedingly difficult. Because the process greatly damaged the DNA. However, I bet they could get something from the Petrous bone. But that would involve partially destroying the mummy. I'm not sure if that is actually a hurdle. But I'd imagine that museums and archaeologists are very cautious.

Razib Khan and Spencer Wells did stress that the findings do indicate that Egyptians are mostly still related to their ancient ancestors. Interestingly, they also commented on how some nefarious actors on the internet try to distort the findings for their own agendas. They also made a point about how Ancient DNA compared to Modern DNA can be somewhat misleading, with the inferences that can be made by the data.
 
I listened to the podcast. Very good. The Ancient vs. Modern DNA was also interesting. People today look and see the modern DNA has some admixture not present dating back to 1,300 BC, which is how far the study went back, and conclude population replacement. As they noted, modern Egyptians are still related to the ancient ones from the periods the DNA was from, and estimated 80% or so. So there is a strong genetic continuity from the period studied (1,300 BC till today).
 
^ Are you sure it's 80%?

Here is the admixture chart; they seem to have a bit more of the cyan component mostly associated with Iran_N, and of course the Yoruba-like component in red. Though, they are mostly the same.

Though, I would say the Yemenite Jews look a bit closer to their autosomal component admixture rates. On the PCA they overlap more with BedouinA, Palestinians, and Saudis:

FPp4ixK.jpg
 

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