Saturday, December 17, 2005

Egyptians’ stone-age roots

An article about a recent study by Joel Irish into the origins of the Badarian. "In the study, Joel Irish of the University of Alaska Fairbanks analyzed similarities among teeth from almost 1,000 people from various eras of Egyptian history and prehistory and found, he wrote, “overall population continuity” over this roughly 5,000-year span.Irish described the results in a paper in the Dec. 5 online edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. But he noted that while the finding backs up views that some archaeologists have voiced before, it’s partly at odds with some other studies of skeletal remains, so further tests are needed. The different results might stem from different sample sizes or types of data used, he wrote.To the extent that Irish found variations among the teeth, he wrote, many of those that differered most from the norm came from upper-class tombs. That, he added, suggests these nobles had become genetically somewhat apart, perhaps through inbreeding.On the whole, the findings provide a window into a poorly understood question, Irish said: Who were the ancient Egyptians? By providing a glimpse into their possible prehistory, he said, the study may help explain how the Egyptians developed their world-renowned culture, including the great pyramids that still stand.Some studies have also found genetic similarities between ancient and modern Egyptians. These results are debated, but if both they and Irish are right, Egypt’s present-day people and their pyramid-building forebears may largely be part of the same family dating back to the Stone Age".
See the full article for more, including a short overview of the Badarian.

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