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Thread: Aethiops milites -The genetic trace of Roman-Egyptian soldiers in North West Europe

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    Aethiops milites -The genetic trace of Roman-Egyptian soldiers in North West Europe

    'Aethiops milites'

    -The genetic trace of Roman-Egyptian soldiers in North West Europe-

    A few years ago, a heated discussion was held in England about dark-hued Romans in images for the history lesson. The Guardian wondered, 'If there were Africans in Roman Britain, why isn't there a genetic legacy from these individuals among present-day inhabitants of Britain? ". Although this genetic inheritance is small, it is certainly there. My position is that Egyptian soldiers in Roman service have left a recognizable genetic trace in Northwestern Europe. And in the form of 'Egyptian' Y-DNA E-V22. I will further substantiate the plausibility of this. In present-day northwestern Europe, E-V22 is a rarity in less than 0.5% of men, this is present (even absent in Scandinavia). Egyptian soldiers, part of which had Y-DNA E-V22, were most likely an important factor in the spread across the Alps.

    Schermafbeelding 2020-06-21 om 11.32.54.jpg
    Attachment 38090
    (illustration: North African light cavalry on Trajan’s Column in Rome, cAD110)

    Origin in Egypt
    For this I will first return to the region of origin of E-V22, namely Egypt. E-V22 is a form of paternal DNA (= Y-DNA) and is a division of Y-Dna: E-M78. E-M78 is thought to have originated in North Africa, more specifically in the border area of ​​present-day Libya and Egypt. Around 6000 BC, E-V22 split off from this. At that moment, desertification started and there was a migration to the Nile. The first settlements arose along the Nile. At that moment we see an explosion of E-V22 side branches. This indicates rapid population growth. E-V22 is therefore closely linked to the emergence of Egyptian civilization.
    It is therefore not surprising that in one of the Egyptian mummies of the Pushkin museum in Moscow also found E-V22 and the suspected E-V22 of Pharaoh Ramses III is still being disputed. In any case E-V22 is widely distributed in the Horn of Africa. There is a thin distribution in the Mediterranean area, linked by some to the spread of agriculture and / or the Phoenicians. In Northwestern Europe so far there is no evidence of any prehistoric presence of 'Egyptian' E-V22.

    Schermafbeelding 2020-06-21 om 13.30.10.jpg

    Attachment 38091
    (Letter from an Egyptian soldier in the Roman army to the 'home front' (third century AD): “Aurelius Polion, soldier of legion II Adiutrix, to Heron his brother and Ploutou his sister and his mother Seinouphis …” )

    Aethiop milites
    This changed with the arrival of Egyptian soldiers in Roman service. The later Emperor Augustus was responsible for the annexation of Egypt in 30 BC. Egypt became Rome's famous granary and crucial in the trade of products from the Far East such as pepper and perfumes. Participation in the Roman army was also a classic route for Egyptians to eventually obtain Roman citizenship. We see an influx of North Africans towards Northwest Europe, especially in the time of Emperor Septimius Severus (145-211 AD). In the Septimius army, eight North Africans were in high command as well as several as officers of the cavalry. Severus led one of the greatest invasion operations (209 AD) of the Romans to Scotland. He died in York in 211.
    Famous is a scene when Septimius stays in Northern England, he gets from a jolly 'Aethiop', synonymous with a dark colored African from (Upper) Egypt, a garland around his neck:

    ‘After inspecting the wall near the rampart in Britain ... just as he [Severus ] was wondering what omen would present itself, an Ethiopian from a military unit, who was famous among buffoons and always a notable joker, met him with a garland of cypress. And when Severus in a rage ordered that the man be removed from his sight, troubled as he was by the man's ominous color and the ominous nature of the garland, [the Ethiopian] by way of jest cried, it is said, You have been all things, you have conquered all things, now, O conqueror, be a god. ‘

    The Egyptians were mainly found in the Roman strongholds within and along the Roman limes. For Great Britain we are talking about London (Londinium) next to York (Eboracum). In the German Rhineland, along the Germanic Limes, it mainly concerns Aachen (Aquis-Granum), Cologne (Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium) and Mainz (Mogontiacum). There are indications that Egyptians mainly served in the fleet, because the experience on the Nile could also be used along the Rhine. The watchtowers around the Egyptian limes showed similarities to those in England.
    In London, for example, remains of North Africans from Roman times have been found. In York, mummies after Egyptian examples have even surfaced. DNA tests on the 'York gladiators' show that one of them may be from Egypt.
    The Egyptian military also brought the Isis-Serapis cult with them. Isis temples have been found in London and Mainz. In York there was a Serapis temple. Several Egyptian objects have been found in London, such as a hairpin with an Isis illustration and a lamp with an Anubis image. In Cologne, the Isis temple was later converted into a church dedicated to St. Ursula, which resembles the Isis cult in terms of appearance and specific rites. Egyptologists even point to a great similarity between the Isis rites and the Rhenish carnival. The early Roman Catholic church has greatly incorporated the "Egyptian legacy" in the Rhineland. The martyrdom of saints like St. Mauritius and St. Gereon (Cologne) are associated with the so-called Thebes Legion.

    Roman 'Nursery'
    The Thebes Legion probably never existed, but finds its likely source of inspiration in Legio II Traiana Fortis. This legion was stationed in Egypt for a long time, including in Thebes, and was one of the pillars of the military power of Emperor Septimius Severus. Emperor Caracalla (son of Septimius, 188-217 AD) even gave this legion the name 'Germanica' in 213, because of the successful efforts towards the Germanic tribes. This indicates that this army has left its (military) traces in both Britannia and Germania.
    And probably also in the form of genetic traces. Soldiers signed for 25 years of service in the Roman army at age 17, at the end, at age 42, praised and coveted Roman citizenship. All these years, the soldiers were expected not to marry. These soldiers, in the prime of their lives, 'evaded' this by organized prostitution and / or by female slaves of local origin. Severus Septimius has also legalized marriages during the years of service.
    Historian David Mattingly assumes that the Roman garrison at Britannia had reached its peak with 55,000 men, and further argues that if a fifth of it had any relationship with a woman, it would be more than 10,000 women. This is indeed a peak moment. At the same time, this has continued for centuries. This has created considerable clusters of (ex) Roman soldiers who have settled in Northwest Europe and who have descendants.
    Moreover, Britannia is not isolated, it is a process within and along the entire Limes. so also for the Rhineland. In both Britannia and Germania, Roman soldiers have left a (considerable) genetic footprint with this. A (small) part of it was Egyptian. And a substantial part of that again had E-V22. Since, as far as we know E-V22 in Northwestern Europe prior to the Roman period did not exist, it was then mainly confined to Egypt and the surrounding area, it is therefore an excellent indicator of the presence of Egyptian soldiers in Roman service.
    After the Roman period this was spread from former Roman strongholds and at the same time, due to the lack of new Egyptian (E-V22) immigration, it has gradually been diluted or subjected to genetic drift. E-V22 is therefore only sporadically found in contemporary Northwest Europe.

    E-V22 is often associated with the Jewish diaspora in northwestern Europe. However, research by Wim Penninx also shows that not all E-V22 in northwestern Europe can be traced back to this. This applies, for example, to a number of English, Irish and Dutch persons with E-V22 (see the Y-Full tree). This is also the case with my ancestral E-V22 line. For these lines, a link with Egyptian soldiers in the Roman army is a real option.
    For example, my ancestral roots lie in the heart of Friesland, in the town of Wartena. Until the late 19th century, this mound village was only accessible via waterways. Friesland did not fall under the Limes. The old Frisians were strongly oriented towards the Roman Empire. The end of the Roman period meant depopulation for the Frisian region. Anglo-Saxons and Jutes took their place (E-V22 empty areas of origin).
    The flowering time of Wartena (900-1200 AD) completely coincided with the era of what is called the 'Frisian Trade'. The Frisians were strongly focused on English cities such as London, York and the Rhenish cities of Aachen, Cologne and Mainz (the ancient Roman 'strongholds' with Egyptian presence). The Frisians had trading colonies in these cities. In this period, for example, they were famous for their slave trade, such as in London. Slaves, however, had poor reproductive chances. The Christian mission from York and the surrounding area was strongly oriented to Friesland. Due to the connection via waterways aimed at the North Sea, the relative distance to, for example, York was smaller than to the inland cities of the continent.
    In any case, a migration from an 'Egyptian descendant' from one of the ancient Roman strongholds, either as a merchant, as a slave or as a missionary, is very likely given the above. In the absence of concrete medieval sources, we will remain in the dark about the exact course of events. Testing for remains of Roman soldiers and the increasing popularity of the number of Y-DNA tests will shed more and more light on the Egyptian Y-dna E-V22 in northwestern Europe.

    A Google translated version, notes are on request available.
    Last edited by Northener; 21-06-20 at 22:27.

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