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DNA history of Egypt

dna history of egypt
The genetic history of Egypt's demographics reflects its geographical location at the crossroads of several major biocultural areas: North Africa, the Sahara, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan Africa


  • 1 Ancient DNA
  • 2 DNA studies on modern Egyptians
    • 21 Y-DNA haplogroups
    • 22 Autosomal DNA
    • 23 Copts
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References

Ancient DNA

Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes create obstacles to the recovery of ancient DNA[1] Consequently, most DNA studies have been carried out on modern Egyptian populations with the intent of learning about the influences of historical migrations on the population of Egypt[2][3][4][5] A study published in 1993 was performed on ancient mummies of the 12th Dynasty, which identified multiple lines of descent [6]

In 2013, Khairat et al conducted the first genetic study utilizing next-generation sequencing to ascertain the ancestral lineage of an Ancient Egyptian individual The researchers extracted DNA from the heads of five Egyptian mummies that were housed at the institution All the specimens were dated to between 806 BCE and 124 CE, a timeframe corresponding with the Late Dynastic and Ptolemaic periods The researchers observed that one of the mummified individuals likely belonged to the mtDNA haplogroup I2, a maternal clade that is believed to have originated in Western Asia[7]

A study published in 2017 described the extraction and analysis of DNA from 151 mummified ancient Egyptian individuals, whose remains were recovered from Abusir el-Meleq in Middle Egypt Obtaining well-preserved, uncontaminated DNA from mummies has been a problem for the field of archaeogenetics and these samples provided "the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods" The specimens were living in a period stretching from the late New Kingdom to the Roman era 1388 BCE–426 CE Complete mitochondrial DNA mtDNA sequences were obtained for 90 of the mummies and were compared with each other and with several other ancient and modern datasets The scientists found that the ancient Egyptian individuals in their own dataset possessed highly similar mitochondrial profiles throughout the examined period Modern Egyptians generally shared this maternal haplogroup pattern, but also carried more Sub-Saharan African clades However, analysis of the mummies' mtDNA haplogroups found that they shared greater mitochondrial affinities with modern populations from the Near East and the Levant compared to modern Egyptians Additionally, three of the ancient Egyptian individuals were analysed for Y-DNA, and were observed to bear paternal lineages that are common in both the Middle East and North Africa The researchers cautioned that the affinities of the examined ancient Egyptian specimens may not be representative of those of all ancient Egyptians since they were from a single archaeological site[8]

Blood typing and ancient DNA sampling on Egyptian mummies is scant However, blood typing of Dynastic period mummies found their ABO frequencies to be most similar to that of modern Egyptians[9]

DNA studies on modern Egyptians

Genetic analysis of modern Egyptians reveals that they have paternal lineages common to other indigenous Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Maghreb and Horn of Africa, and to Middle Eastern peoples, these lineages would have spread during the Neolithic and were maintained by the predynastic period[10][11]

A study by Krings et al 1999 on mitochondrial DNA clines along the Nile Valley found that a Eurasian cline runs from Northern Egypt to Southern Sudan and a Sub-Saharan cline from Southern Sudan to Northern Egypt[12]

Luis et al 2004 found that the male haplogroups in a sample of 147 Egyptians were E1b1b 361%, predominantly E-M78, J 320%, G 88%, T82%, and R 75% E1b1b and its subclades are characteristic of some Afro-Asiatic speakers and are believed to have originated in either the Middle East, North Africa, or the Horn of Africa Cruciani et al 2007 suggests that E-M78, E1b1b predominant subclade in Egypt, originated in "Northeastern Africa", which in the study refers specifically to Egypt and Libya[13][14]

Other studies have shown that modern Egyptians have genetic affinities primarily with populations of Asia, North and Horn of Africa,[15][16][17][10] and to a lesser extent Middle Eastern and European populations[18]

Some genetic studies done on modern Egyptians suggest a more distant relationship to Sub Saharan Africans[19] and a closer link to other North Africans[17] In addition, some studies suggest lesser ties with populations in the Middle East, as well as some groups in southern Europe[10] A 2004 mtDNA study of upper Egyptians from Gurna found a genetic ancestral heritage to modern Northeast Africans, characterized by a high M1 haplotype frequency and a comparatively low L1 and L2 macrohaplogroup frequency of 206% Another study links Egyptians in general with people from modern Eritrea and Ethiopia[16][20] Though there has been much debate of the origins of haplogroup M1 a recent 2007 study had concluded that M1 has West Asia origins not a Sub Saharan African origin[21] Origin A 2003 Y chromosome study was performed by Lucotte on modern Egyptians, with haplotypes V, XI, and IV being most common Haplotype V is common in Berbers and has a low frequency outside North Africa Haplotypes V, XI, and IV are all predominantly North African/Horn of African haplotypes, and they are far more dominant in Egyptians than in Middle Eastern or European groups[22]

Y-DNA haplogroups

A study using the Y-chromosome of modern Egyptian males found similar results, namely that North East African haplogroups are predominant in the South but the predominant haplogroups in the North are characteristic of North African and West Eurasian populations[23]

Population Nb A/B E1b1a E1b1b1 M35 E1b1b1a M78 E1b1b1b M81 E1b1b1c M123 F K G I J1 J2 R1a R1b Other Study
1 Egyptians 147 27% 27% 0 184% 82% 95% 0 75% 95% 0 197% 122% 34% 41% 21% Luis et al 2004[13]
2 Egyptians from El-Hayez Oasis Western Desert 35 0 570% 57% 286% 286% 0 0 0 0 0 314% 0 0 0 0 Kujanová et al 2009[24]
3 Egyptians from Siwa Oasis Western Desert 93 280% 65% 22% 65% 11% 22% 0 0 32% 0 75% 65% 0 280% 83% Dugoujon et al 2009[25]
4 Northern Egyptians 44 23% 0 45% 273% 114% 91% 68% 23% 0 0 91% 91% 23% 99% 68% Arredi et al 2004
5 Southern Egyptians 29 00% 0 0 172% 69% 69% 172% 103% 0 34% 207% 34% 0 138% 0 Arredi et al 2004
Distribution of E1b1b1a E-M78 and its subclades
Population N E-M78 E-M78 E-V12 E-V13 E-V22 E-V32 E-V65 Study
Southern Egyptians 79 506% 443% 13% 38% 13% Cruciani et al 2007[26]
Egyptians from Bahari 41 414% 146% 24% 219% 24% Cruciani et al 2007
Northern Egyptians Delta 72 236% 56% 14% 139% 28% Cruciani et al 2007
Egyptians from Gurna Oasis 34 176% 59% 88% 29% Cruciani et al 2007
Egyptian from Siwa Oasis 93 64% 21% 43% Cruciani et al 2007

Autosomal DNA

Genomic analysis has found that Berber and other Maghreb communities are defined by a shared ancestral component This Maghrebi element peaks among Tunisian Berbers[27] It is related to the Coptic/Ethio-Somali ancestral component see Copts, having diverged from these and other West Eurasian-affiliated components prior to the Holocene[28][29]

North Moroccans as well as Libyans and Egyptians carry higher proportions of European and Middle Eastern ancestral components, respectively, whereas Tunisian Berbers and Saharawi are those populations with the highest autochthonous North African component[30]


According to Y-DNA analysis by Hassan et al 2008, around 45% of Copts in Sudan carry the haplogroup J The remainder mainly belong to the E1b1b clade 21% Both paternal lineages are common among other local Afroasiatic-speaking populations Beja, Ethiopians, Sudanese Arabs, as well as many Nubians[31] E1b1b/E3b reaches its highest frequencies among Berbers and Somalis[32] The next most common haplogroups borne by Copts are the Western European-linked R1b clade 15%, as well as the archaic African B lineage 15%[31]

Maternally, Hassan 2009 found that Copts in Sudan exclusively carry various descendants of the macrohaplogroup N This mtDNA clade is likewise closely associated with local Afroasiatic-speaking populations, including Berbers and Ethiopid peoples Of the N derivatives borne by Copts, U6 is most frequent 28%, followed by the haplogroup T 17%[33]

A 2015 study by Dobon et al identified an ancestral autosomal component of West Eurasian origin that is common to many modern Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa Known as the Coptic component, it peaks among Egyptian Copts who settled in Sudan over the past two centuries Copts also formed a separated group in PCA, a close outlier to other Egyptians, Afroasiatic-speaking Northeast Africans and Middle East populations The Coptic component evolved out of a main Northeast African and Middle Eastern ancestral component that is shared by other Egyptians and also found at high frequencies among other Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa ~70% The scientists suggest that this points to a common origin for the general population of Egypt[28] They also associate the Coptic component with Ancient Egyptian ancestry, without the later Arabian influence that is present among other Egyptians[34]

See also

  • Egyptians
  • Archaeogenetics of the Near East
  • Demographics of Egypt
  • Genetic history of North Africa
  • Ancient Egyptian race controversy
  • Population history of Egypt


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt By Kathryn A Bard, Steven Blake Shubert pp 278-279
  2. ^ SOY Keita & A J Boyce, S O Y; Boyce, A J Anthony J June 2009 "Genetics, Egypt, and History: Interpreting Geographical Patterns of Y Chromosome Variation" History in Africa 32 1: 221–246 doi:101353/hia20050013 
  3. ^ Shomarka Keita 2005, S O Y 2005 "Y-Chromosome Variation in Egypt" African Archaeological Review 22 2: 61–75 doi:101007/s10437-005-4189-4 
  4. ^ Keita, SOY 2005 "History in the Interpretation of the Pattern of p49a,f TaqI RFLP Y-Chromosome Variation in Egypt" American Journal of Human Biology 17 5: 559–67 doi:101002/ajhb20428 PMID 16136533 
  5. ^ Shomarka Keita: What genetics can tell us
  6. ^ Paabo, S, and A Di Rienzo, A molecular approach to the study of Egyptian history In Biological Anthropology and the Study of Ancient Egypt V Davies and R Walker, eds pp 86-90 London: British Museum Press 1993
  7. ^ Rabab Khairat, Markus Ball, Chun-Chi Hsieh Chang, Raffaella Bianucci, Andreas G Nerlich, Martin Trautmann, Somaia Ismail 4 April 2013 "First insights into the metagenome of Egyptian mummies using next-generation sequencing" PDF Journal of Applied Genetics doi:101007/s13353-013-0145-1 Retrieved 1 June 2017 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
  8. ^ Schuenemann, Verena; Peltzer, Alexander; Welte, Beatrix 30 May 2017 "Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods" Nature Communications doi:101038/ncomms15694 
  9. ^ Borgognini Tarli, SM; Paoli, G 1982 "Survey on paleoserological studies" Homo 33: 69–89 
  10. ^ a b c Manni F, Leonardi P, Barakat A, Rouba H, Heyer E, Klintschar M, McElreavey K, Quintana-Murci L; Leonardi; Barakat; Rouba; Heyer; Klintschar; McElreavey; Quintana-Murci 2002 "Y-chromosome analysis in Egypt suggests a genetic regional continuity in Northeastern Africa which in the study refers specifically to Egypt and Libya" Hum Biol 74 5: 645–58 doi:101353/hub20020054 PMID 12495079 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  11. ^ Arredi B, Poloni E, Paracchini S, Zerjal T, Fathallah D, Makrelouf M, Pascali V, Novelletto A, Tyler-Smith C; Poloni; Paracchini; Zerjal; Fathallah; Makrelouf; Pascali; Novelletto; Tyler-Smith 2004 "A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in North Africa" Am J Hum Genet 75 2: 338–45 doi:101086/423147 PMC 1216069  PMID 15202071 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  12. ^ Kings, T; Salem, AE; Bauer, K; Geisert, H; Malek, AK; Chaix, L; Simon, C; Welsby, D; et al 1992 "mtDNA Analysis of Nile River Valley Populations: Genetic Corridor or a Barrier to Migration" PDF Am J Hum Genet 64 5: 1116–76 doi:101086/302314 PMC 1377841  PMID 10090902 
  13. ^ a b Luis, JR; Rowold, DJ; Regueiro, M; Caeiro, B; Cinnioglu, C; Roseman, C; Underhill, PA; Cavalli-Sforza, LL; Herrera, RJ 2004 "The Levant versus the Horn of Africa: evidence for bidirectional corridors of human migrations" Am J Hum Genet 74 3: 532–544 doi:101086/382286 PMC 1182266  PMID 14973781 
  14. ^ Underhill 2002, Bellwood and Renfrew, ed, Inference of Neolithic Population Histories using Y-chromosome Haplotypes, Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, ISBN 978-1-902937-20-5
  15. ^ Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu E, et al 2004 "Ethiopian mitochondrial DNA heritage: tracking gene flow across and around the gate of tears" Am J Hum Genet 75 5: 752–70 doi:101086/425161 PMC 1182106  PMID 15457403 
  16. ^ a b Stevanovitch A, Gilles A, Bouzaid E, et al 2004 "Mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity in a sedentary population from Egypt" Ann Hum Genet 68 Pt 1: 23–39 doi:101046/j1529-8817200300057x PMID 14748828 
  17. ^ a b Arredi B, Poloni E, Paracchini S, Zerjal T, Fathallah D, Makrelouf M, Pascali V, Novelletto A, Tyler-Smith C; Poloni; Paracchini; Zerjal; Fathallah; Makrelouf; Pascali; Novelletto; Tyler-Smith 2004 "A predominantly neolithic origin for Y-chromosomal DNA variation in North Africa" Am J Hum Genet 75 2: 338–45 doi:101086/423147 PMC 1216069  PMID 15202071 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  18. ^ Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi; Paolo Menozzi; Alberto Piazza 1996-08-05 The History and Geography of Human Genes Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-02905-4 
  19. ^ Cavalli-Sforza, LL, P Menozzi, and A Piazza 1994, The History and Geography of Human Genes Princeton:Princeton University Press,
  20. ^ Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu E, Rosa A, Brehm A, Pennarun E, Parik J, Geberhiwot T, Usanga E; et al 2004 "Ethiopian mitochondrial DNA heritage: tracking gene flow across and around the gate of tears" Am J Hum Genet 75 5: 752–70 doi:101086/425161 PMC 1182106  PMID 15457403 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  21. ^ González, A M; Larruga, J M; Abu-Amero, K K; Shi, Y; Pestano, J; Cabrera, V M 2007 "Mitochondrial lineage M1 traces an early human backflow to Africa" BMC Genomics 8: 223 doi:101186/1471-2164-8-223 PMC 1945034  PMID 17620140 
  22. ^ Keita, SO 2005 "History in the interpretation of the pattern of p49a, f TaqI RFLP Y-chromosome variation in Egypt: a consideration of multiple lines of evidence" Am J Hum Biol 17 5: 559–67 doi:101002/ajhb20428 PMID 16136533 
  23. ^ Lucotte, G; Mercier, G 2001 "Brief communication: Y-chromosome haplotypes in Egypt" American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121 1: 63–6 doi:101002/ajpa10190 PMID 12687584 
  24. ^ Kujanová, Martina; Pereira, Luísa; Fernandes, Verónica; Pereira, Joana B; Černý, Viktor October 2009 "Near Eastern Neolithic genetic input in a small oasis of the Egyptian Western Desert" American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140 2: 336–346 doi:101002/ajpa21078 PMID 19425100 
  25. ^ Dugoujon JM, Coudray C, Torroni A, Cruciani F, Scozzari F, Moral P, Louali N, Kossmann M The Berber and the Berbers: Genetic and linguistic diversities
  26. ^ Cruciani, F; La Fratta, R; Trombetta, B; Santolamazza, P; Sellitto, D; Colomb, E B; Dugoujon, J-M; Crivellaro, F; et al 2007 "Tracing Past Human Male Movements in Northern/Eastern Africa and Western Eurasia: New Clues from Y-Chromosomal Haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12" Molecular Biology and Evolution 24 6: 1300–1311 doi:101093/molbev/msm049 PMID 17351267 
  27. ^ Brenna M Henn; Laura R Botigué; Simon Gravel; Wei Wang; Abra Brisbin; Jake K Byrnes; Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid; Pierre A Zalloua; Andres Moreno-Estrada; Jaume Bertranpetit; Carlos D Bustamante; David Comas January 12, 2012 "Genomic Ancestry of North Africans Supports Back-to-Africa Migrations" PLOS Genetics 8 1: e1002397 doi:101371/journalpgen1002397 PMC 3257290  PMID 22253600 Retrieved 21 April 2016 
  28. ^ a b Begoña Dobon et al 28 May 2015 "The genetics of East African populations: a Nilo-Saharan component in the African genetic landscape" PDF Scientific Reports 5: 9996 doi:101038/srep09996 PMC 4446898  PMID 26017457 Retrieved 13 June 2015 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al link
  29. ^ Jason A Hodgson; Connie J Mulligan; Ali Al-Meeri; Ryan L Raaum June 12, 2014 "Early Back-to-Africa Migration into the Horn of Africa" PLOS Genetics 10 6: e1004393 doi:101371/journalpgen1004393 PMC 4055572  PMID 24921250 ; "Supplementary Text S1: Affinities of the Ethio-Somali ancestry component" doi:101371/journalpgen1004393s017 Retrieved 21 April 2016 
  30. ^ Sánchez-Quinto, F; Botigué, LR; Civit, S; Arenas, C; Ávila-Arcos, MC; et al 2012 "North African Populations Carry the Signature of Admixture with Neandertals" PLoS ONE 7 10: e47765 doi:101371/journalpone0047765 PMC 3474783  PMID 23082212 CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al link
  31. ^ a b Hassan, Hisham Y et al 2008 "Y‐chromosome variation among Sudanese: Restricted gene flow, concordance with language, geography, and history" PDF American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137 3: 316–323 doi:101002/ajpa20876 PMID 18618658 Retrieved 14 October 2016 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al link
  32. ^ Trombetta, Beniamino et al 2015 "Phylogeographic refinement and large scale genotyping of human Y chromosome haplogroup E provide new insights into the dispersal of early pastoralists in the African continent" PDF Genome Biology and Evolution 7 7: 1940–1950 doi:101093/gbe/evv118 Retrieved 13 October 2016 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al link ; Supplementary Table 7 Archived 2016-12-26 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Mohamed, Hisham Yousif Hassan "Genetic Patterns of Y-chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Variation, with Implications to the Peopling of the Sudan" PDF University of Khartoum Retrieved 13 October 2016 
  34. ^ Begoña Dobon et al 28 May 2015 "The genetics of East African populations: a Nilo-Saharan component in the African genetic landscape" PDF Scientific Reports 5: 8 doi:101038/srep09996 PMC 4446898  PMID 26017457 Retrieved 13 June 2015 The North African/Middle Eastern genetic component is identified especially in Copts The Coptic population present in Sudan is an example of a recent migration from Egypt over the past two centuries They are close to Egyptians in the PCA, but remain a differentiated cluster, showing their own component at k = 4 Fig 3 Copts lack the influence found in Egyptians from Qatar, an Arabic population It may suggest that Copts have a genetic composition that could resemble the ancestral Egyptian population, without the present strong Arab influence CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al link

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