Study finds ancient Canaanites genetically linked to modern populations

Written on |

Today’s Jews and Arabs in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon get half their ancestry from Bronze Age Levantines

Most of today’s Jewish and Arabic-speaking populations share a strong genetic link to the ancient Canaanites, according to a new study conducted by an international team of archaeologists and geneticists, including TAU’s Prof. Israel Finkelstein from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures.

The study concludes that modern-day groups in Lebanon, Israel and Jordan share a large part of their ancestry, in most cases more than half, with the people who lived in the Levant during the Bronze Age, more than 3,000 years ago.

The researchers also determined that the Canaanites – who frequently appear in ancient sources, including the Bible – descended from a mixture of an earlier Levantine population and migrants coming from the Caucasus region or modern-day Iran.

Tale of bones

The researchers analyzed genetic material from dozens of skeletons found at Canaanite sites across Israel and neighbouring countries, and compared it to the genomes of other ancient populations as well as to modern-day groups.

“This study suggests there is a deep genetic connection of many Jewish groups today across the Diaspora and many Arab groups to this part of the world thousands of years ago,” said Prof. Reich, a Harvard University geneticist and one of the world’s top experts in the study of ancient DNA, speaking to Haaretz.

Invasion or migration?

Experts know the ancient Canaanites were divided into independent city states, such as Megiddo, Hazor, and Acre. Most of the texts about them come from outsiders or later sources, so did the “Canaanite people” really exist as a coherent entity? The new study shows that genetically at least, the Canaanites did have a lot in common with each other.

Most of the recovered genomes could be modelled as having a roughly 50/50 contribution of ancestry from local Neolithic inhabitants and from a group that hailed from the Caucasus or the Northwestern Zagros mountains, in today’s Iran. For the ancestry of the Canaanites to be split halfway between locals and newcomers there would have had to be an influx of a significant number of people; and a question that begs to be asked is whether this inflow was an invasion or a peaceful migration.

“I don’t think we are dealing with an invasion,” Prof. Finkelstein said. “We have no archaeological evidence of destruction or a major disruption in the Early Bronze Age.”

The next step for researchers will be to continue modelling the ancient populations of the Levant, especially after the time of the Canaanites. According to Prof. Finkelstein: “It will be interesting to see what happened afterwards, what was the genetic profile of the people of biblical Israel and Judah, how do they connect to us and to their predecessors, and what were the other contributions to the genetic pool along the way.”

related posts

Recordings of the magnetic field from 9,000 years ago teach us about the magnetic field today

August 19, 2021

New Type of Prehistoric Human Discovered in Israel

June 27, 2021

A new type of Homo unknown to science

June 25, 2021

Got Beef? Your Ancestors Were Likely VERY into Meat…

April 5, 2021

When Size Does Matter…

March 11, 2021

A Glimpse into the Wardrobes of King David and King Solomon

February 1, 2021

TAU Excavation Examines “Ancient High Tech”

January 25, 2021

The Toolkit of Prehistoric Humans

January 20, 2021

Globalization During the Bronze & Early Iron Ages

December 28, 2020

A 6,500-year old copper workshop uncovered in Beer Sheva

October 12, 2020

The Texts From The Biblical-Period Fortress At Tel Arad Were Written By 12 Different Authors

September 14, 2020

Straight to the Point

July 5, 2020

Dead Sea Scrolls “puzzle” solved with DNA from ancient animal skins

June 3, 2020

Iron Age Temple Complex Discovered Near Jerusalem Calls Into Question Biblical Depiction of Centralized Cult

February 3, 2020

New study reveals palace bureaucracy in ancient Samaria

January 23, 2020

Study shows Europeans migrated to the Levant 40,000 years ago

November 6, 2019

Study Finds Prehistoric Humans Ate Bone Marrow Like Canned Soup 400,000 Years Ago

October 9, 2019

Early Humans Deliberately Recycled Flint To Create Tiny, Sharp Tools

May 30, 2019

New evidence points to existence of Biblical figure

May 6, 2019

A match made in Megiddo

February 13, 2019
Ontario and Western Canada

3130 Bathurst Street, Suite, 214, Toronto, ON | M6A 2A1 
Phone: 416.787.9930 | Toll Free: 833.32.CFTAU (22328)
Email: toronto@cftau.ca

Ottawa, Quebec and Atlantic Canada

6900 Boulevard Décarie, Suite 3480, Montreal, QC | H3X 2T8
Phone: 514.344.3417
Email: montreal@cftau.ca


© CFTAU  | all rights reserved
Charitable registration: 124035643RR0001

TO TOP