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Thread: Faces of Three Ancient Egyptians Brought to Life Using 2,000-Year-Old DNA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philjames View Post
    The map on p.87 of the paper shows Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene samples from sub-Saharan Africa.

    Stojanowski et al. 2014
    But Sub-Saharan Africa ≠ West Africa. That's the region I was focusing on when I commented. None of the sites on that map in West Africa are within the time frame you were talking about. Itaakpa (#43), in particular, is only 2,800 years old and appears to be associated with Proto-Yoruboid speakers. So their presence on the map doesn't help much. I suppose one could try to point to Shum Laka, but Cameroon (Western Cameroon, too) is not usually considered West Africa proper, at least in a strict sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keneki20 View Post
    That basically limits the already scant number of relevant sites to one, which is Gobero in Central Niger, which was essentially inhabited by southern Iberomaurusians (the Kiffians), who appear to have been intrusive to West Africa. But tooth avulsion is already something Iberomuarusians did very frequently anyway. So, I'm not really sure that tells a whole lot.
    Is there an DNA results/work available that was done on those Kiffians(presumed Iberomaurisian from Central Niger)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alfa View Post
    Is there an DNA results/work available that was done on those Kiffians(presumed Iberomaurisian from Central Niger)?
    So, the paleontologist Paul Sereno, who helped to oversee the excavation, said the following:

    The present project aims to analyze new lines of evidence in several laboratories and finish the field work at the site in Niger. Laboratory analysis includes CT scanning of skeletons to better visualize burial postures and bone wounds, analyzing dental calculus for clues regarding died, and sampling teeth (dentine) for ancient DNA to better understand where Gobero’s inhabitants originated. Field work aims to collect the remaining skeletons, ceramic vessels and artifacts we have mapped at the site and laser scan the area to digitally refill Paleolake Gobero.
    Problem is that this was said in 2011. A whole ten years ago, yet nothing. I really can't say what has caused the hold-up, but since there's been no update since then, unfortunately, I don't think we'll be getting any DNA samples of Kiffians soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leorcooper19 View Post

    1. I think everyone who cares about this topic and about Natufians should start to understand just how imperfect of a proxy Natufians are for many of our relevant questions. Natufians are almost certainly not proto-AAs or the source of most "Natufian-like" ancestry anywhere, whether in the Levant or in North/east Africa. Their Y-chromosomes- E-Z830* if not pre-Z830- are dead ends. There is a need for another NE African group coming into the Levant c. 11kybp (?) to explain Semitic and more derived clades of E-M35. Once we realize that Natufians are simply the best we have right now, we'll be able to get out of the (IMO incorrect) assumption that any Natufian-like ancestry in Africa is from the prehistoric Levant.

    Looking at the TMRCA of the shared mtdna between East Africans and various Levantine + North African populations all of the most common Eurasian mtdnas seem to have a TMRCA around the time the Natufians were around or a bit younger. The exclusively East African branches also seem to have a time of formation around the same time.


    R0a2 formed 12700 ybp, TMRCA 10400 ybp

    N1a1a formed >20000 ybp, TMRCA 12300 ybp

    N1a1a3 formed 12300 ybp, TMRCA 10300 ybp

    N1a1a-a formed 12300 ybp, TMRCA 9200 ybp

    N1a1a-a2 formed 12300 ybp, TMRCA 3200 ybp

    N1b2 formed >20000 ybp, TMRCA 12900 ybp

    I formed 18900 ybp, TMRCA 14400 ybp

    K1-a formed 18700 ybp, TMRCA 15800 ybp

    K1a12a formed 13300 ybp, TMRCA 11500 ybp

    HV1a'b'c formed 16200 ybp, TMRCA 14000 ybp

    HV1b1 formed 11500 ybp, TMRCA 4700 ybp

    T2-a formed 12100 ybp, TMRCA 10000 ybp

    M1a formed >20000 ybp, TMRCA 17300 ybp

    M1a1 formed 17300 ybp, TMRCA 10500 ybp

    M1a1b formed 10500 ybp, TMRCA 7200 ybp

    M1a1f formed 10500 ybp, TMRCA 7900 ybp

    M1a1k formed 10500 ybp, TMRCA 8400 ybp

    U6a2a formed 15100 ybp, TMRCA 10700 ybp

    U6d2 formed 12900 ybp, TMRCA 3300 ybp

    U9a formed 18800 ybp, TMRCA 13000 ybp

    The specific Natufian E-Z830 samples we have right now maybe dead ends but E-Z830 derived lineages seem to be the most common E lineage in Pastoral Neolithic populations. We don't have many African E-V1515 samples in Yfull but they also have a TMRCA (12500 ybp) roughly around the time the Natufians lived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mnemonics View Post
    The specific Natufian E-Z830 samples we have right now maybe dead ends but E-Z830 derived lineages seem to be the most common E lineage in Pastoral Neolithic populations. We don't have many African E-V1515 samples in Yfull but they also have a TMRCA (12500 ybp) roughly around the time the Natufians lived.
    All dead ends? But wouldn’t at least some populations in North/Northeast Africa (e.g., Egypt, Sudan) have at least some Natufian-descended lineages inherited from the Neolithic Levantine ancestry they have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keneki20 View Post
    All dead ends? But wouldn’t at least some populations in North/Northeast Africa (e.g., Egypt, Sudan) have at least some Natufian-descended lineages inherited from the Neolithic Levantine ancestry they have?
    I'm not sure if they are dead ends at all. Are the Natufian samples high coverage enough to test for lower branches? All I know is that they are derived for E-Z830.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keneki20 View Post
    All dead ends? But wouldn’t at least some populations in North/Northeast Africa (e.g., Egypt, Sudan) have at least some Natufian-descended lineages inherited from the Neolithic Levantine ancestry they have?
    There is no evidence to support that the Neolithic in NE Africa was from the Levant. No one has plausibly explained why the oldest examples of domesticated cattle are found in Nubia instead of Egypt if the Neolithic in NE Africa spread from the Levant. Not even the most ardent critics of an independent domestication of cattle in Africa dare suggest that this supposed Levant cultural import was associated with large-scale migration based on archaeology:

    https://link.springer.com/article/10...963-017-9112-9
    As McDonald and others have noted (Barich 2016; Barich and Lucarini 2008; McDonald 2016), Western Desert lithic technologies evolved locally, and plant exploitation and cultivation activities did not include Near Eastern summer rainfall crops. However, population movement from the Levant into the Nile Delta via the land barrier, or using small sea-going craft, with diffusion from the Delta into the Western Desert, as well as an earlier and possibly also contemporary route across the Red Sea, meant that there was cultural contact with all its attendant possibilities of exchange of animals and indeed maybe apprenticeships on controlling and herding those animals. Anthropologically, it is very difficult for hunters to become herders (Ingold 1980), but if there were small-scale exchanges through trade and migration between North Africa and the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, similar to what has been proposed for the spread of domesticates into southern Africa (Smith 2016), then there is the apprenticeship (as well as the T1 haplotype) needed for communities in Northeast Africa to encounter animal husbandry.
    All they have are speculative theories as to how Middle Easterners could have provided these Africans with "apprenticeship."

    I should also add that the earliest plant domesticates in the Sudan neolithic are all plants or cereal indigenous to Africa, such as Sorghum. Moreover, animal domestication usually precedes plant domestication in the Nile Valley and the Sudan. This makes no sense if the neolithic was introduced as a package by incoming Middle Easterners.

    As has been explained earlier. The Levant Neolithic ancestry in these regions can be explained by common ancestry between the African ancestors of Neolithic NE Africans and the Aftican-related ancestors of Neolithic Middle Easterners.

    Based on this, we should expect Mesolithic DNA from the Sudan to be even more Middle Eastern like than what we have so far as such ancient DNA would be closer to the common ancestry shared between NE Africa and the Levant that I just mentioned.

    So if indeed Nubian Mesolithic DNA is forthcoming, expect it to look like Levant Neolithic or Israeli Chalcolithic.
    Last edited by Mansamusa; 10-14-2021 at 01:24 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mnemonics View Post
    Looking at the TMRCA of the shared mtdna between East Africans and various Levantine + North African populations all of the most common Eurasian mtdnas seem to have a TMRCA around the time the Natufians were around or a bit younger. The exclusively East African branches also seem to have a time of formation around the same time.
    General timing coincides with end of arid glacial period and beginning of Green Sahara though, so we would expect population expansions at that time unrelated to Natufians.

    I'm not sure if they are dead ends at all. Are the Natufian samples high coverage enough to test for lower branches? All I know is that they are derived for E-Z830.
    The highest coverage one had E-Z830(xM123, V1515) and another one had E-Z830(xM123), according to Genetiker. All the Natufian samples we have are from one cave though, we can hardly take them as representative of the whole culture. They could have had all kinds of E. Or E could be rare and most of them had H2 or something. Who knows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philjames View Post
    No comment on this? You seem to have missed it:

    "Nearly 70 graves (at Al-Khiday) belong to a pre-Mesolithic phase, showing an unusual ritual of body deposition. The individual was buried in a prone and elongated position, a rare ritual only attested to in Africa at Wadi Kubbaniya [Egypt] and Jebel Moya [Sudan], as well as in the Near East at several Natufian sites and in Europe at Dolni Vestonice [24,000 BC]. ... in contrast the Neolithic burials are all in a flexed contracted position."

    Salvatori et al. 2011, p.191
    Do you think that Natufians have cranial and post cranial metric and non metric affinities with Jebel Sahabans, Wadi Halfans, Tushkans and West Africans? And again your are tying this affinity together based on how a skeleton was situated?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mansamusa View Post
    There is no evidence to support that the Neolithic in NE Africa was from the Levant. No one has plausibly explained why the oldest examples of domesticated cattle are found in Nubia instead of Egypt if the Neolithic in NE Africa spread from the Levant. Not even the most ardent critics of an independent domestication of cattle in Africa dare suggest that this supposed Levant cultural import was associated with large-scale migration based on archaeology:

    https://link.springer.com/article/10...963-017-9112-9


    All they have are speculative theories as to how Middle Easterners could have provided these Africans with "apprenticeship."

    I don't treat their having Neolithic Levantine ancestry equivalent to the notion of Neolithic in that part of the continent simply being an unadulterated extension of the Levantine Neolithic. Neolithic Levantine imports, as far as I can tell, were very important, but it's still an imperfect overlap. That's to say, I believe the reality is more involved.

    Niroyuki Shirai in The diffusion of material culture and domesticates from the Levant to Egypt said the following:

    Therefore, Bar-Yosef’s suggestion that the PPNB collapse could have triggered the dispersal of Levantine people and their subsequent colonisation of the Nile Delta (Bar-Yosef 2003: 122) is presently an unsubstantiated assumption, because no site of the 7th millennium cal.BC has been found there.

    It is certainly surprising that there is no clear evidence of contacts between the southern Levant and the Nile Valley during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, given the distance which could easily have been traversed in a matter of days (Kuijt and Goring-Morris 2002: 428). This is one reason why it has been argued that the diffusion of barley farming and sheep herding from the northern Levant to the Nile Delta might have taken place by sea and not by land (Bar-Yosef 2002a: 54-55). However, the sporadic occurrence of the side-notched and tanged projectile points in northeastern Africa seems to indicate that there were some contacts by land but that these contacts were definitely other than colonisation.

    That first quote is quite significant. But to move on, it’s simple for one to think pre-existing Lower Nile Valley inhabitants were simply overrun and absorbed into the incoming peoples, and that the known linguistic tapestry of North Africa reflects that, but the truth seems more complex than that. From here, to spare myself from typing paraphrased information, I’ll just be posting relevant quotes from my notes. A source I have states the following:

    * The Global Prehistory of Human Migration

    There is no evidence for an indigenous domestication of native Egyptian plants or animals (except perhaps cattle); rather the plants and animals were fully domesticated examples of types that originated in the Levant.

    On the other hand, there are significant differences in the use of bifacially flaked sickles instead of sickle blades, hollow-based arrowheads of an African type, and separate farmsteads constructed of wattle and daub with enclosed courtyards, as opposed to the interconnected mud-brick houses that formed congested villages throughout the contemporary Levant. For example, while the sickles used by Neolithic Egyptians were bifacially flaked from cores, Neolithic Levantine sickles were produced from regular blades which had been removed from quite sophisticated blade cores. Such differences in lithic technology are evidence for significant cultural differences. Overall, it is difficult to determine the extent of human migration from the Levant involved at the start of the Egyptian Neolithic, but it is possible to conjecture that sizable Neolithic communities migrated to the Egyptian delta and amalgamated with the indigenous Epipaleolithic Egyptian population to form a distinctive Nile Valley complex.
    Another source I have says the following:

    * The diffusion of material culture and domesticates from the Levant to Egypt

    The appearance of bifacially-retouched serrated sickle blades in the Neolithic of Lower Egypt and their persistence in the Predynastic of Lower and Middle Egypt, despite their fast disappearance in the southern Levant, can be regarded as a founder’s effect, which constrained the subsequent morphological change from what had been a narrowly defined pool of variability in their place of origin. Those Neolithic sickle blades in Lower Egypt seem to suggest that Levantine domesticates and technical knowledge of farming were soon passed onto local foragers in Lower Egypt by the migrants of the Lodian culture in the southern Levant during the first half of the 6th millennium cal.BC. More importantly, the long persistence of such peculiar sickle blades in Lower Egypt suggests that after the middle 6th millennium cal.BC, further inflows of migrants, who should have brought new types of sickle blades or new ideas about making sickle blades from the southern Levant, stopped.

    The widespread appearance of small projectile points comparable to Levantine Pottery Neolithic ones in the northern half of the Egyptian Western Desert including the Fayum suggests that socioeconomic contacts across the southern Levant, Negev, Sinai and northeastern Africa became frequent and fast in the late 7th - early 6th millennia cal.BC. Through these contacts and probably the establishment of dense kin networks during this period, information about arable land in Egypt would have accumulated sufficiently on the side of Levantine farmer-herders, and an idea about wheat/barley farming and sheep/goat herding would have been acquired on the side of Egyptian foragers. Levantine farmer-herders would have had little reluctance to migrate, once the information about potential destinations was acquired, and routes were defined following kinship connections.
    And lastly, I have a few more salient sources:

    * New Archaeozoological Data from the Fayum “Neolithic” with a Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Early Stock Keeping in Egypt

    Faunal evidence from the Fayum Neolithic is often cited in the framework of early stock keeping in Egypt. However, the data suffer from a number of problems. In the present paper, large faunal datasets from new excavations at Kom K and Kom W (4850–4250 BC) are presented. They clearly show that, despite the presence of domesticates, fish predominate in the animal bone assemblages. In this sense, there is continuity with the earlier Holocene occupation from the Fayum, starting ca. 7350 BC.
    * New Archaeozoological Data from the Fayum “Neolithic” with a Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Early Stock Keeping in Egypt

    The new faunal studies at Kom K and Kom W have significantly increased the numbers of identified bones of domesticated animals for the Fayum Neolithic (Table 4). The earliest remains date to ca. 5400 BC but most evidence, including that from Kom K and Kom W, is from the mid-5th millennium BC. Domesticated animals are present at nearly all prehistoric sites in the Fayum dating after 5400 BC, but numerically fish are predominant. This is also true of the preceding Epipalaeolithic period [21], [23], [24], [25] (and Veerle Linseele and Wim Van Neer, unpublished data). In fact, as has been pointed out by Brewer [24], [25] and Wetterstrom [26], the species spectrum of the fauna of all prehistoric sites in the Fayum is very similar apart from the presence of domesticated animals at the later sites.
    * An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt

    Although the domesticated cereals and sheep/goat at the Faiyum A sites were not indigenous to Egypt, the stone tools there argue for an Egyptian origin of this culture. Lithics include grinding stone for processing cereals, but also concave-base arrowheads for hunting, which are found earlier in the Western Desert. Unlike Neolithic evidence in the Nile Valley, the Faiyum A Culture did not become transformed into a society with full-time farming villages.

    In the fourth millennium BC when social complexity was developing in the Nile Valley, the Faiyum remained a cultural backwater. From around 4000 BC there are remains of a few fishing/hunting camps in the Faiyum, but the region was probably deserted by farmers who took advantage of the much greater potential of floodplain agriculture in the Nile Valley.
    So the information in the sources I’ve linked seems to indicate that the pre-existing foraging population, while adopting agricultural methods from neighboring Levantine peoples, must have kept many their practices alive, while also intermixing with incoming migrants. Even with the possibility of incoming migrants, that doesn’t seem to mean they were original culture(s) and language(s) were necessarily subsumed. So, there was continuity of the broader preceding population. The transition was strongest and sharpest in lowermost Egypt, but then farther south in Egypt and farther from the Nile, the transition appears to have been much more gradual. I trust that those coming directly from the Neolithic Levant brought their language(s) with them, but I personally don't think the language(s) they brought eventually survived, and, at least for the (Proto-)Egyptian language, I don't think that can be tied to these incoming Neolithic Levantine peoples, even though we see a strong signature of admixture with them reflected in Egyptians' DNA. But there's a bit more below.

    * An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt

    In Upper Egypt there is evidence of a transitional culture contemporaneous with the Faiyum A. In western Thebes scatters of lithics with some organic-tempered ceramics have been found by Polish archaeologists at the site of el-Tarif, and the associated material is called the Tarifian culture. Another Tarifian site has been excavated at Armant to the south. The chipped stone tools, which are mainly flake tools with a few microliths, seem to be intermediate in type between Epipaleolithic and Neolithic ones. There is no evidence of food production or domesticated animals.

    What is known about the Tarifian culture suggests that a Neolithic economy was to be found farther north in the Faiyum at this time, and was not fully developed in the Nile Valley of Upper Egypt, where hunter-gatherers were making very small numbers of ceramics.
    What I've understood this all to mean is that the pre-existing populations of Lower Nile Valley experienced a significant infusion of ancestry from the Neolithic Levant, but the incoming population was eventually absorbed into the various populations already in existence there, and it cannot be seen as akin to the migration that brought Anatolian farmers to Europe. Considering the Neolithic coincides with the appearance/development of farming and pastoral practices, one would expect a large overlap in agricultural and pastoral lexicon between, for example, speakers of various Afro-Asiatic branches, who, at the time, must have been more heavily concentrated in Northeast Africa. But that lexical overlap is virtually absent.

    Additionally, TuaMan provided some very interesting information about the Neolithic last year in a few correspondences I had with him.

    One important point made in that paper on the Fayum Neolithic is that Levantine crops like emmer and barley were not easily adapted to the Nile environment, the people that made those crops work there were clearly experienced cultivators who no doubt went through a lot of trial and error in refining their farming techniques in a specifically Egyptian context, but who also had a deep understanding of these specific (foreign) crops and how to best optimize them within that context. So it seems unlikely to me that some local hunter-gatherer group just decided to adopt Levantine crops and start farming, and that initial major cereal cultivation was a mostly acculturated indigenous Egyptian hunter-gatherer phenonmenon. But the opposite is true of animal domesticates like sheep, goats, cattle - even if those were fairly early imports from outside Egypt, it seems those domesticates were initially only integrated as supplements to a still primarily hunting and foraging society. So in other words, mobile bands of local HGs could pick up these domesticates from some recent Levantine outsiders and adopt a sort of primitive, supplemental herding economy while still primarily relying on hunting and gathering, which seems to have been exactly the case in 6th millenium Egypt. No need to imagine some population replacement in that particular case.

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