Ancient DNA suggests that biblical nemesis of Jews may have come from

first_imgIs it possible that Goliath was a Greek? Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, seem to think so.Multiple excavations in areas such as Ashkelon, in the area now occupied by Israel, have yielded pottery that is Greek in style, however people argued that Aegean cultural practices may have been adopted due to sea trading routes. Now, human remains from an ancient cemetery in southern Israel have yielded DNA in a new study published in the journal of Science Advances that seeks to prove the European origin of the enigmatic nemesis of the Jews  – the biblical Philistines.The Philistines resided in the coastal area of Israel and the Gaza Strip around 3,000 years ago. To the Hebrews, they were adversaries, however their background has been an enigma to scientists until now. DNA technology has allowed research into ten skeletons showing that they belonged to a genetically distinct community.Scientists, led by Michal Feldman, found that at around 1200BC there was an influx of southern European genes, suggesting a surge of Greek immigrants to the area.“Probably all these immigrants that came in intermarried with the local population until this foreign ancestry was diluted,” Feldman says, adding that researchers were lucky to have seen the genetic blip at all due to the rapid integration. “We could have missed it if we only had the later Iron Age individuals.”In the bible, the Philistines are stated as hailing from a distant isle. In an Egyptian temple built by Rameses III there are reliefs of battles with “Sea People” who appeared on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, whereas Egyptian text gives then a name that is similar to the Hebrew name for the Philistines.READ MORE: Controversial doco claims Jesus ‘was Greek not Jewish’Feldman’s team looked at DNA samples from 108 skeletal remains from burial places around Ashkelon dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. The genetic information gathered was compared to DNA from other ancient and modern populations from around the world. During the middle period, there was a 20 to 60 per cent similarity to DNA from ancient skeletons in Crete, the Iberian Peninsula and from modern people living in Sardinia, Italy.The genetics of the four infants are similar to ancient genomes found in Southern Europe at the same time, however to narrow down where in Southern Europe the immigrants hailed from there would need to be studies on more 3000-year-old skeletons with ancient DNA Intact.READ MORE: New app gives Israeli visitors insight into Greece’s Jewish history“It will be really cool to get samples for places like Cyprus and from parts of Anatolia in present-day Turkey and other parts of Europe that we don’t have samples yet from,” says Feldman. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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