Scientists analyzed a 2,500-year-old Phoenician DNA and discovered a rare genome that was thought to belong to ancient Europeans only. The new information may lead to changes in theories concerning human migrations in the early days.
The DNA comes from a Phoenician boy that was discovered in 1994 in a sarcophagus from Carthage, Tunisia. Archeologists named him “Young Man of Byrsa” and considered him to be a representative of the Phoenician civilization.
It was long believed that farmers from Near-Eastern replaced the hunter-gatherers from Europe. One of the differences between these populations was a difference in DNA. The analysis done on Europeans revealed a very particular type of genome that presumably was not found in other populations.
Finding this rare genome on a Phoenician leads to further questions regarding the movements of people in ancient Eurasia.
Anthropologists believe that some of the European lineages may have been separated from the Near-Eastern that came on the continent. Living in the southern parts of Iberian Peninsula and on close-by islands may have been a plausible cause of this separation.
Afterwards, they could have travelled to North Africa by using the network of Phoenician and Punic traders.
This scenario is a novelty to the world of anthropology because until now the trading routes of Phoenicians were not taken into consideration when recreating the movements of ancient populations.
The historical reconstructions based on genetic variations didn’t prove so far that people could have traveled distances that long. On the contrary, the new finding shows that Eastern populations may indeed have moved on vast distances and genetically mark other populations in northern Africa.
The Phoenicians are believed to be originated from Lebanon. They expanded across the Mediterranean and left the heritage of alphabet and purple dyes. Phoenicians have built cities in Carthage, Lebanon, and southern Syria.
Historical artifacts have shown they could also have reached Morocco and Spain, but the history of this population had been reconstructed only through documents that were written by Greeks and Romans.
The discovery of ancient European DNA in a Phoenician region challenges the present theories on ancient migrations. Scientists will continue the research in order to find out on what circumstances Europeans may have travelled to Northern Africa and what type of exchanges may have taken place between ancient Europeans and Phoenicians.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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