Modern Egyptians Have Little In Common With Ancient Egyptians, Genetics Studies Show

According to a study by a collaboration of scientists in Europe, ancient Egyptians have very little in common with modern Egyptians today.

The Discovery

European researchers studying DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies have found that modern-day Egyptians have genetically very little in common with Ancient Egyptians. Studies show that Ancient Egyptians are genetically more similar to Middle Eastern countries such as Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

It was previously thought that no preserved DNA were in mummies from that time period. However, the methods used when this conclusion was made in 2010 were reportedly not as good as current methods.

A new method, which was published in Nature Communications today, showed a much more precise method. It could analyze genomic data from many mummies from various time periods in history.

The Study

The new study analyzed genomic data from 151 mummies, which were from a location south of Cairo by about 100 kilometers.  No “usable” genetic material was found in the soft tissue, however some were found in their teeth and bones. Only incomplete DNA was found in around ninety of the mummies, but completely intact DNA was found in three.

The leader of the study, Verena Schuenemann, said: “We wanted to test if the conquest of Alexander the Great and other foreign powers has left a genetic imprint on the ancient Egyptian population.”

Based on these three mummies, geneticists found that Ancient Egyptians have more in common with modern-day Near Eastern people than with modern-day Egyptians. For example, the mummies had no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa, whereas around 20 percent of Egyptians today have genes from that region. Modern Egyptians share about 8 percent more of their DNA with peoples of those regions than with ancient Egyptians.

“This suggests that an increase in Sub-Saharan African gene flow into Egypt occurred within the last 1,500 years,” another researcher said.