View Full Version : Some DNA from Iron Age Lebanon.

09-12-18, 11:56

PgmNr 2716: Mount Lebanon provides an opportunity to study DNA from the ancient Near East.

M. Haber 1; Y. Xue 1; C. Scheib 2; C. Doumet-Serhal 3; T. Kivisild 4; C. Tyler-Smith 1

1) Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom; 2) Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia; 3) The Sidon excavation, Saida, Lebanon; 4) Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The hot climate of the Near East has limited the study of ancient DNA from this region. Here, we sequenced five whole genomes from ~1,600-year-old individuals who lived during the Roman period in a village in Mount Lebanon. We consistently found surviving endogenous DNA in the petrous bones of the ancient individuals and we attribute this success to the mild climate of Mount Lebanon. The ancient individuals derived most of their ancestry from a population modelled by previously-reported Bronze Age individuals who lived on the Lebanese coast or inland in Jordan. In addition, we found steppe-like ancestry in the Roman Period individuals which we have previously detected in present-day Lebanese but not in Bronze Age individuals. This supports our previous proposition that the steppe ancestry penetrated the region more than 2,000 years ago, and genetic continuity in Lebanon is substantial. Our results show that individuals inhabiting the Mount Lebanon range likely shared similar ancestry with contemporaneous people living elsewhere in the region, but have higher chances of endogenous DNA surviving today and thus provide an opportunity to study past events more easily than in lowland Near Eastern samples.

It's nice to have Iron Age DNA from the Levant this time. It'll be useful when comparing with modern Levantines and the Jewish Diaspora.