DNA discovery identifies living descendants of Biblical Canaanites

DNA research is shining new light on the Biblical Canaanite civilization, which existed thousands of years ago in the Middle East.

The ancient civilization, which created the first alphabet and is mentioned frequently in the Bible, has long fascinated historians. LiveScience reports that, because the Canaanites kept their records on papyrus, rather than clay, relatively little is known about them.

Now, however, scientists have found a genetic ‘trail’ back to the Canaanites’ ancient world.

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By sequencing the genomes of five Canaanites that lived 4,000 years ago with genomes from 99 people living in modern day Lebanon, researchers identified a strong genetic link to the mysterious civilization.

The results surprised the scientists, whose work was supported by U.K. biomedical research charity The Wellcome Trust.

“In light of the enormously complex history of this region in the last few millennia, it was quite surprising that over 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of present-day Lebanese was derived from the Canaanites,” said Chris Tyler-Smith, senior group leader at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, in a statement.

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In addition to the ancient Canaanite DNA, the analysis of genomes from the modern day Lebanese people also showed a small proportion of Eurasian ancestry that may have come from conquests by Assyrians, Persians or Macedonians, according to the experts.

The researchers also discovered that the ancient…

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