Monday, September 25, 2017

antiquity's genomes

Research using ancient genomes is still advancing rapidly. At first, it was limited to higher latitudes, but it is now possible to sequence ancient DNA from warmer parts of the world, bringing it closer to the origins of western civilisation, and, soon, to the origins of our species.

In my latest feature I discuss the results of genomic studies of ancient Greeks and Canaanites (in today's Lebanon), which add genetic substance to the stories of Homer and the Bible. Both studies pin down migrations, but also reveal a remarkable degree of genetic continuity across millennia. While the piece was in press, some of the groups involved in the Greek study have gone further south and published ancient genomes from sub-Saharan Africa. Hard to keep up these days.

Read all about Greeks, Minoans, and Canaanites here:

Roots of Mediterranean civilisations


Current Biology Volume 27, Issue 18, pR979–R982, 25 September 2017


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Restoration of a late Minoan fresco dated ca. 1525–1450 BCE. Only the offset, irregularly shaped fragments are original. The faces of the women were copied from other, smaller Minoan artworks. (Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Dodge Fund, 1927.)

PS: looks like archaeology at Troy is also making progress, see this report in The Guardian which came out just after my feature.

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