Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all


“The Canaanites are famous as the bad guys of the Book of Joshua in the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible. First, God orders the Hebrews to destroy the Canaanites along with several other groups, and later we hear that the Canaanites have actually been wiped out.”

Funny how the Jews below about the Holocaust but celebrate the genocide of other people.

“Among archaeologists, however, the Canaanites are a cultural group whose rise and fall has remained a mystery. Now, a group of archaeologists and geneticists has discovered strong evidence that the Canaanites were not wiped out. They are, in fact, the ancestors of modern Lebanese people.”

“The Canaanites were a people who lived three to four thousand years ago off the coast of the Mediterranean, and their cities were spread across an area known today as Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Syria. Though they were one of the first civilizations in the area to use writing, they wrote most of their documents on papyrus leaves that didn’t survive. As a result, our only information about these people has come from their rivals and enemies, like the Hebrews, whose accounts were likely biased.”

“Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute geneticist Marc Haber and his colleagues decided to find out who the Canaanites were by sequencing ancient DNA from five persons whose bodies were found buried in the Canaanite seaside town of Sidon. An ongoing archaeological dig at the site had uncovered the burials of three women and two men who lived roughly 3,700 years ago in the bustling area. After sequencing DNA from all five people, the researchers compared the results with the genomes of 99 modern-day Lebanese people.”

Further Reading

“This man’s skull was ritualistically transformed 9,000 years ago in Jericho

“Over 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of present-day Lebanese was derived from the Canaanites,” said Chris Tyler-Smith, who was on the research team. “In light of the enormously complex history of this region in the last few millennia, it was quite surprising.”

“Clearly, the Canaanites did not die out, though they came to be known by other names. They continued living in the exact same places they did 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age.”

“The overlap between the Bronze Age and present-day Levantines suggests a degree of genetic continuity in the region,” the researchers write in the American Journal of Human Genetics. In addition, the DNA from the five Bronze Age people revealed what they would have looked like. The ancient people had “brown eyes and dark hair,” just like modern people in the region, though the Bronze Age residents of Sidon probably had “darker skin than Lebanese today.”

“This evidence confirms what the archaeological record already suggested, which is that the Levant has been continuously occupied for thousands of years by the people called Canaanites in the Tanakh. However, that doesn’t mean the account in the Tanakh is entirely wrong. Because the Canaanites were an ethnic group whose people lived throughout the area, it’s possible that the Book of Joshua refers to the extermination of one specific group of Canaanites who clashed with the Hebrew armies.

Genetic mixing and continuity”

“Haber and colleagues’ genetic analysis also revealed the origins of the Canaanites, whose ancestry was so mysterious that even the ancient Greeks wondered about it. Analysis showed that the forbears of the five Bronze Age Canaanites in the study are the result of mixture between local Neolithic farmers and hunter-gatherers who hailed from the region today called Iran.”

“The Iranian group probably arrived in Sidon with the ascendency of the Akkadian Empire, which the researchers note “controlled the region from Iran to the Levant between 4,400 and 4,200 years ago.” A massive drought around 4,200 years ago led to the empire’s collapse and also sent refugees fleeing from the parched north of Mesopotamia to the south. There’s evidence that southern cities and villages in the area became overcrowded with the new migrants. Eventually, however, the two populations intermingled and produced a thriving, influential culture. The people of this culture called themselves Canaanites.”

Further Reading

“Ancient Egyptian “pot burials” are not what they seem

Modern-day Lebanese underwent another genetic transformation in the past one to three thousand years, as Steppe peoples migrated to the area from the east and mixed with the local population. As a result, people in Lebanon today are mostly Canaanite, with a touch of Eurasian ancestry. This change came about in the wake of another collapsing empire.”

Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all

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