Descendants of the Phoenicians
An international group of scientists has found that every 17th inhabitant of the Mediterranean is a descendant of the Phoenicians, who dominated this region for about four thousand years, starting from the fourth millennium BC. The scientists published their discovery, made with the help of DNA analysis, in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Briefly, the main conclusions of the work are given by BBC News (DNA legacy of ancient seafarers) and National Geographic (Phoenician Blood Endures 3,000 Years, DNA Study Shows).
Phoenicia was located on the Mediterranean coast and occupied the territory of modern Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The Phoenicians built large cities, actively traded with their neighbors and had their own writing system. Phoenicia was captured by the Romans at the turn of the second and third centuries BC.
To date, very little evidence has been preserved by which historians can judge the life and people of Phoenicia. Researchers involved in the Genogeographic Project of the National Geographic Society decided to find the missing information in the DNA of people living on the territory of the ancient state.
Scientists, the lead of which was Chris Tyler-Smith, analyzed the DNA sequence of the Y chromosome of 1330 men from the Mediterranean basin. This chromosome is present only in men and is passed from father to son. Over time, mutations accumulate in the Y chromosome. By analyzing the "pattern" of mutations, scientists can trace the inheritance of the Y chromosome and divide the people whose DNA they studied into groups according to the degree of similarity in the distribution of mutations.
The authors of the study compared the DNA of men living in the places of the former settlements of the Phoenicians with the DNA of men living in territories that were not part of Phoenicia. They found that the distribution of mutations in the Y chromosomes in men "from Phoenicia" is similar. In order to exclude the impact on the result of human migrations, scientists have developed special analysis algorithms.
As a result of the study, six genetic lines of people were discovered, which presumably go back to the Phoenicians. They make up about six percent of all lineages found in modern populations of people in the Mediterranean, originating from former Phoenician settlements.