The Canaanite people of ancient Palestine are mostly lost to the historical record. They appear in the Bible and a lot of archaeological evidence. However, their own records were mostly wiped. This happened because of the centuries of being conquered over and over again by multiple foreign nations. They allegedly eventually evolved into the civilization known as the Phoenicians, but even these eventually disappeared. Now, with a new study out, the disappearance of the Canaanites might be a mystery no more.
Truth Is, The Canaanites Apparently Never Left
A group of scientists with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England did a deep dive into ancient DNA samples. They looked at dozens of ancient bodies found in digs all around the modern city of Sidon. This was once a major center of this trading empire. The individual mummies were of all ages when they died. Some of them even went as far back as being 4,000 years old.
For this new study, they extracted DNA from the ancient skeletons and then compared it across a range of time and to modern day Lebanese individuals. What they discovered is that modern day people from the same area of the world share 93% of the same DNA markers with their ancient counterparts, the Canaanites.
It turns out that despite the many times their nation had been conquered by invading armies, the Canaanite people were able to maintain a cultural and genetic identity that stretched back to Neolithic times. In fact, the 7% variance could mostly be traced back to the Asian steppes. It appears that this new DNA joined theirs during the Mongol conquests.
“In light of the enormously complex history of this region in the last few millennia,” said researcher Chris Tyler-Smith, “it was quite surprising that over 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of present-day Lebanese was derived from the Canaanites.”
According to ancient religious text, the Canaanite cities were reduced to dust. Some others just claim that they simply disappeared. However, this new study offers a new look and proposes another faith for the people of Canaan, one that saw them live longer than expected.
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