A New Genetic Study Sheds Light on the Biblical Canaanites https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/history-ideas/2020/06/a-new-genetic-study-sheds-light-on-the-biblical-canaanites/

June 9, 2020 | Amanda Borschel-Dan
About the author:

The Hebrew Bible presents the Canaanites as a relatively homogenous group of pagan tribes who inhabited the Land of Israel and its environs when Abraham first arrived there, and remained until the era of the Davidic monarchy. Based on ancient DNA gathered from 93 different bodies buried at nine separate locations, from a period of over a millennium, scientists have confirmed this portrait. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

“The Canaanites, although living in different city-states, were culturally and genetically similar,” said the Hebrew University ancient-DNA specialist Liran Carmel. . . . The study also discovered that they shared a genetic relationship with another group of people who slowly and continuously migrated from the far-away Caucasus and/or Zagros Mountain regions. [The latter range stretches from southwestern Turkey, through northern Iraq, and across western Iran.] This special genetic mix of Canaanite and mountain peoples can still be seen in some form in modern Arabic-speaking and Jewish populations, wrote the authors.

In Carmel said that Bronze Age (circa 3500-1150 BCE) populations in the southern Levant—today’s Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and parts of Syria—were not static. “Rather, we observe evidence for the movement of people over long periods of time from the northeast of the Ancient Near East, including modern-day Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, into the southern Levant region,” he said.

Even though Canaanites lived in different city-states, archaeological evidence has always suggested that they presented a common material culture. And indeed, as the paper explained, this homogeneity was found mirrored also in their genetic ancestry.

Read more on Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/study-shows-canaanites-israelites-biblical-frenemies-kept-genetic-integrity?

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now