A)Ancient Egyptians were more European than African, groundbreaking DNA research on mummies reveals
A new DNA analysis of Ancient Egyptians shows they were more Turkish and European than African.
The team of scientists has recovered and analysed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BC to 400 AD – and they discovered they were genetically similar to people from the Mediterranean.
Researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, conducted the first study to establish a proper genetic database to study the ancient past.
The study, published in Nature Communications, found that modern Egyptians share more ancestry with Sub-Saharan Africans than ancient Egyptians did.
They also discovered ancient Egyptians were found to be most closely related to ancient people from the Near East.
Egypt is a promising location for the study of ancient populations, because it was a world-wide trading hub.
Recent advances in the study of ancient DNA present an intriguing opportunity to test existing understandings of Egyptian history using ancient genetic data.
Max Planck Director for the Science of Human History and senior author Johannes Krause said: “The potential preservation of DNA has to be regarded with scepticism.
“The hot Egyptian climate, the high humidity levels in many tombs and some of the chemicals used in mummification techniques, contribute to DNA degradation and are thought to make the long-term survival of DNA in Egyptian mummies unlikely.”
The ability of the authors of this study to extract nuclear DNA from such mummies and to show its reliability is a breakthrough that opens the door to further direct study of mummified remains.
The team sampled 151 mummified individuals from the archaeological site of Abusir el-Meleq, along the Nile River in Middle Egypt, from two anthropological collections hosted and curated at the University of Tuebingen and the Felix von Luschan Skull Collection at the Museum of Prehistory of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preussicher Kulturbesitz.
In total, the authors recovered mitochondrial genomes from 90 individuals, and genome-wide datasets from three individuals.
They were able to use the data gathered to test previous hypotheses drawn from archaeological and historical data, and from studies of modern DNA.
Prof Alexander Peltzer, from the University of Tuebingen, said: “In particular, we were interested in looking at changes and continuities in the genetic makeup of the ancient inhabitants of Abusir el-Meleq.
“We wanted to test if the conquest of Alexander the Great and other foreign powers has left a genetic imprint on the ancient Egyptian population.”
The team wanted to determine if the investigated ancient populations were affected at the genetic level by foreign conquest and domination during the time period under study, and compared these populations to modern Egyptian comparative populations.
The study found that ancient Egyptians were most closely related to ancient populations in the Levant (modern day Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon), and were also closely related to Neolithic populations from the Anatolian Peninsula and Europe.
Fellow researcher Wolfgang Haack, group leader at the Max Planck Institute, added: “The genetics of the Abusir el-Meleq community did not undergo any major shifts during the 1,300 year timespan we studied, suggesting that the population remained genetically relatively unaffected by foreign conquest and rule.”
The data shows that modern Egyptians share approximately eight per cent more ancestry on the nuclear level with Sub-Saharan African populations than with ancient Egyptians.
They are proud that they managed to prove Egyptian mummies can be a reliable source of ancient DNA, and can greatly contribute to a more accurate and refined understanding of Egypt’s population history.
By Ben Cusack
B)Paleolithic landscape of extraction: flint surface quarries and workshops at Mt. Pua, Israel
Prof. Ran Barkai – firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Avi Gopher – email@example.com
A complex Late Acheulian – Early Mousterian quarry landscape was discovered during a reconnaissance investigation of prehistoric communities in the central Dishon Valley, Northern Israel (Figure 1). The site is located on the flat and narrow summit of Mt. Pua, where numerous flint nodules of various sizes are exposed within the limestone outcrops (Barkai and Gopher 2001). The mountain summit is studded with hundreds of tailings (quarry debris heaps), each covered with flint nodules and prehistoric artifacts such as tested nodules, cores, roughouts, tools, blanks and knapped lithic waste material. Preliminary mapping of the site revealed approximately 1500 tailing heaps (Figure 2), varying in size from <1 to >15 meters in diameter and from <0.3 to >3 meters in height.
Geological controls on quarry development
Quarry activities at Mt. Pua were concentrated at higher elevations, where the nearly flat-lying limestone beds (karrens) form a series of steps. These higher elevation locations were preferable to those at lower elevations for practical reasons, most importantly the enhancement of master joint systems (regular networks of near-vertical fractures in the bedrock) by solution weathering. Accelerated dissolution of the limestone along the master joints provided a more convenient means of prying away the limestone to reach the desired flint nodules. The master joints at Mt. Pua rarely intersect flint nodules, so the thick limestone beds were crushed and broken along joints before the flint was extracted out of the limestone matrix. Large, homogeneous limestone blocks were apparently used as hammerstones. These impact instruments are rectangular to sub-rounded masses of dense limestone which are derived from the local outcrops. These instruments are simply joint-bounded blocks with crushed edges, sometimes slightly modified for use in quarry extraction .
The summit area also provided room for maneuver of extraction debris as the outcrops were quarried and enabled the development of a large-scale quarry complex. In contrast, lower elevation locations have master joint systems that are still tightly sealed (owing to a less advanced state of weathering) and only one face of the outcrops would be visible, making it more difficult not only to extract the flint but even to assess just how much flint was available to be quarried. In addition to that, preliminary geological reconstruction seems to indicate that sources at lower elevations might not be exposed during the Middle Pleistocene (Ronen et al. 1974; Yair 1962). The importance of solution-enhanced master joint systems to the Paleolithic quarrying process is apparent at other locations in Israel (personal observations by the authors), where extensive Paleolithic quarry landscapes have developed in limestone formations.
Surface quarrying at Mt. Pua
Most, if not all, of the extraction debris heaps lie adjacent to limestone outcrops containing flint nodules. Numerous flint nodules have eroded from the outcrop owing to natural weathering processes. However, specific breakage patterns and impact marks observed on the outcrops we described above, as well as massive hammerstones bearing impact marks, indicate human exploitation of the flint nodules via a method of extraction called “surface quarrying” (e.g. Claris & Quartermaine 1989). Our preliminary reconstruction of the extraction techniques applied at the site reveal that Paleolithic hominids took advantage of master joints in the limestone outcrops, expended these joints using massive hammerstones, smashed the limestone blocks, extracted the flint nodules and heaped the extraction waste in proximity to the extraction front. The large quantities of broken limestone blocks found in the waste heaps are thus products of this surface quarrying activity. Test pits excavated at two different heaps indicate that the tailing heaps are placed on top of exhausted flint sources, covering exploited extraction fronts. Finer-scale flint debris interspersed between the limestone blocks indicates that flint-working took place on top of these heaps throughout all stages of their “construction.” We interpret this behavior as related to the organization of flint procurement and exploitation strategies practiced at the site, specifically, that expended flint sources were intentionally covered as potential sources were exposed for future manipulation. This pattern of heaping extracted waste and working flint on top of the heaps is visible at other recently discovered Lower-Middle Paleolithic quarry sites in Israel (personal observations by the authors), as well as at the Early Bronze Age workshop at Mt. Haruvim (Shimelmitz et al. 2000). The occurrence of this phenomenon suggests that this strategy may be employed in general wherever flint nodules are embedded within rocky outcrops (karrens).
Lithic assemblages at the Mt. Pua site
The tailing heap assemblages generally include all stages of the lithic reduction sequence (nodules, cores, waste and tools). While some of the individual heaps have similar tools and lithic debris, others contain only specific stages of the reduction sequence – mainly nodules and tested nodules, with no evidence of more advanced reduction stages.
A test pit excavated at one of the large scale stone heaps revealed among thousands of waste lithic artifacts found in-between the limestone blocks, two flint caches deposited on top of the exhausted extraction front, a meter below the present heap surface. The caches include mainly large blanks and cores and a detailed technological and typological analysis of these caches is currently underway. The following notes deal with the two most conspicuous components of the lithic assemblage – Levallois cores and handaxe roughouts.
Levallois cores form an important component of the lithic industry at Mt. Pua (Figure 5). Various Levallois core reduction strategies (unipolar parallel, bipolar, centripetal, unipolar convergent) were employed at the site, although only few Levallois blanks are present. Another component of the industry is roughouts of large bifacial tools, mostly representing early stages of handaxe manufacture . However, the bulk of the flint assemblage is comprised of large numbers of non-Levallois cores , many cortical elements, flakes, chunks and chips as well as a small quantity of blade cores and blades. Small numbers of completed tools were found at Mt. Pua, and most of these tools are rejects owing to failure during manufacture. These artifacts and debris composition suggests that selected blanks and pre-shaped tools were transported from the workshops. Few chopping tools are also worth mentioning .
The presence of Levallois cores and debitage, as well as handaxe roughouts and chopping tools, suggests that the quarrying activity at Mt. Pua is related to the later phase Acheulian complex of the Lower Paleolithic period (e.g. Goren 1979; Goren-Inbar 1985), or perhaps the early stages of the Mousterian complex of the Middle Paleolithic period. Archaeological assemblages from other periods were not identified at the site3. As a result of our preliminary observations, we propose that the site of Mt. Pua as a whole was in use mainly during Paleolithic times. The extraction activities we have identified, as well as some aspects of the lithic industry, could indicate late Lower Paleolithic stages of stone procurement strategies. Early Paleolithic examples for stone procurement are known from Africa and southern Asia, such as the MNK chert factory site at Olduvai Gorge (Stiles 1998; Stiles et al. 1974) and the Acheulian Isampur quarry in India (Petraglia et al. 1999; Paddayya et al. 2000; Blackwell et al.2001). Middle Paleolithic extensive flint extraction sites were recently studied in Egypt (Vermeersh et al. 1990, 1995, 1998; Vermeersh and Paulissen 1997).
An extensive quarry landscape was developed at Mt. Pua in the central Dishon Valley, upper Galilee, Israel, during the late Lower Paleolithic to early Middle Paleolithic, as indicated by the presence of handaxe performs, chopping tools and Levallois cores and debitage. Late Acheulian sites found at the Yiron and Bara’m plateaus, in very close proximity to the Dishon valley and to Mt. Pua, were studied by Ohel (1986; 1990). The lithic assemblages of these Acheulian sites are similar to finds described above from the quarry site of Mt. Pua and thus a possible connection between these two complexes can be suggested. Other Late Acheulian sites in Israel are characterized by the presence of both handaxes and Levallois products (e.g. Goren 1979; Goren-Inbar 1985). Acheulian lithic assemblages from Europe and Africa which include both handaxes and Levallois technology were recently reported (Rolland 1995; Tuffreau 1995; Monnier 2000) and a technological and conceptual link between handaxe manufacture and the Levallois technology was suggested (DeBono and Goren-Inbar 2001; Tuffreau 1997; Roe 2000).
At the present stage of our research we thus can not determine the exact cultural assignment of the site. The prominent role of Levallois technology in the lithic assemblages of Mt. Pua points in favor of assigning the site to the Mousterian, but it seems to us that since the site was in use for very long time periods, one can not rule out the possibility that it was visited both during Late Acheulian and Early Mousterian times. Geological characteristics inherent in the bedrock, such as rock fabric, controlled the distribution and development style of the quarries; such controls are common to Paleolithic quarries at other sites in Israel as well as at Isampur, India (Petraglia et al. 1999). However, the increasingly advanced degree of quarry organization from Isampur (quarry activity but no sense of maintenance) to Mt. Pua (possible task subdivision and evidence for maintenance) suggests that quarrying activity may also have been influenced by changes in cultural traditions during the Acheulian and the Mousterian. Our research thus suggests that the development of large-scale quarry landscapes bearing signs of task subdivision and maintenance begins during the late Lower Paleolithic.
Middle Pleistocene hominids used the natural resources at Mt. Pua extensively during a long time period, in recurring visits. The site can be regarded as a Paleolithic “industrial area” representing large scale resource extraction and unprecedented human impact on ancient environments. Mt. Pua must have been exploited by generations of foragers and thus represent a monumental landmark in the Paleolithic landscape. This new aspect of Middle Pleistocene human behavior is a testimony for complex, large scale environmental manipulation by early hominids. This may suggest new perspectives regarding man-environment relationship and the capabilities of Pleistocene hunter-gatherers to alter nature.
Further investigation of this extensive Lower-Middle Paleolithic industrial complex will permit a better reconstruction of the Late Acheulian-Early Mousterian lithic cha?ne op?ratoire. It will also contribute more generally towards a better understanding of raw material procurement and exploitation strategies, land use patterns and early human impact on the environment and landscape, in a region that represents the crossroads of the ancient hominid world.
The lithic assemblage from the site was studied by D. Meyer and the authors. We would like to thank the following colleagues for visiting the site with us as well as for their advice and suggestions: O. Bar-Yosef; A. Frumkin; N. Goren-Inbar and A. Horwitz. L. Meignen made useful comments regarding the lithics. Fig. 1 was prepared by Y. Dekel and Figs. 4-8 by R. Pinhas. Photographs are by the authors.
Barkai, R. and Gopher, A. 2001. Lower-Middle Paleolithic flint extraction sites and workshops at Har Pua, Israel. Paper presented at the XIVth International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Liege, Belgium, September 2001.
Bar Yosef, O. and Kuhn, S. 1999. The big deal about blades: laminar technologies and human evolution, American Anthropologist 101:322-338.
Blackwell, B.A.B; Fevrier, S; Blickstein, J.I.B; Paddayya, K; Petraglia, M; Jhaldiyal, R. and Skinner, R. 2001. ESR dating of an Acheulean quarry site at Isampur, India. Paper presented at the Paleoanthropology Society Meeting, Missouri, U.S.A. March 2001.
Claris, P. and Quartermaine, J. 1989. The Neolithic quarries and axe factory sites of Great Langdale and Scafell Pike: A new field survey, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 55: 1-25.
DeBono, H. and Goren-Inbar, N. 2001. Note on a link between Acheulian Handaxes and the Levallois method. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society 31:9-23.
Goren, N. 1979. An Upper Acheulian industry from the Golan Heights, Quart?r 29-30:105-121.
Goren-Inbar, N.1985. The lithic assemblage of the Berekhat Ram Acheulian site, Paléorient 11: 7-28.
Marks, A.E. and Monigal, K. 1995. Modeling the production of elongated blanks from the Early Levantine Mousterian at Rosh Ein Mor. In: Dibble, H.L. and Bar-Yosef, O. (eds.). The Definition and Interpretation of Levallois Technology. Monographs in World Archaeology 23. Madison, Prehistory Press. Pp. 267-277.
Monnier, G.F. 2000. A Re-evaluation of the Archaeological Evidence for a Lower/Middle Paleolithic Division in Western Europe. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
Ohel, M. 1986. The Acheulian Industries of Yiron, Israel. Oxford: B.A.R. International Series 307.
Ohel, M. 1990. Lithic Analysis of Acheulian Assemblages from the Avivim Sites, Israel. Oxford: B.A.R. International Series 562.
Paddayya, K; Jhaldiyal, R. and Petraglia, M. 2000. Excavation of an Acheulian workshop at Isampur, Karnataka (India), Antiquity 74:751-2.
Petraglia, M; La Porta, P. and Paddayya, K. 1999. The first Acheulian quarry in India: stone tool manufacture, biface morphology and behaviors, Journal of Anthropological Research 55: 39-70.
Roe, D. 2000. The British Lower Paleolithic: out of the doldrums. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 66:397-403.
Rolland, N. 1995. Levallois technique emergence: single or multiple? A review of the Euro-African record. In: Dibble, H.L. and Bar-Yosef, O. (eds.). The Definition and Interpretation of Levallois Technology. Monographs in World Archaeology 23. Madison, Prehistory Press. Pp. 333-359.
Ronen, A; Gilead, I; Bruder, G. and Meller, P. 1974. Notes on the Pleistocene geology and prehistory of the central Dishon Valley, Upper Galilee, Israel. Quart?r 25:13-23.
Shimelmitz, R; Barkai, R. and Gopher, A. 2000. Canaanean blade workshop at Mt. Haruvim, Israel, Tel Aviv 27:3-22.
Stiles, D.1998. Raw material as evidence for human behavior in the Lower Pleistocene: the Olduvai case, in M.D. Petraglia & R. Korisettar (ed.), Early Human Behavior in Global Context: The Rise & Diversity of the Lower Paleolithic Period. London, Routledge. Pp. 133-50.
Stiles, D; Hay, R. and O’Neil, J. 1974. The MNK chert factory site, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, World Archaeology 5: 285-308.
Tuffreau, A. 1995. Variability of Levallois technology in northern France and neighboring areas. In: Dibble, H.L. and Bar-Yosef, O. (eds.). The Definition and Interpretation of Levallois Technology. Monographs in World Archaeology 23. Madison, Prehistory Press. Pp. 413-427.
Tuffreau, A.; Lamotte, A. and Marcy, J-L. 1997. Land-use and site function in Acheulean complexes of the Somme valley. World Archaeology 29:225-241.
Vermeersh, P.M.; Paulissen, E. and Van Peer, P. 1990. Paleolithic chert exploitation in the limestone stretch of the Egyptian Nile Valley. The African Archaeological Review 8:77-102.
Vermeersh, P.M.; Paulissen, E. and Van Peer, P. 1995. Paleolithic chert mining in Egypt. Archaeologia Polona 33:11-30.
Vermeersh, P.M.and E. Paulissen. 1997. Extensive Midle Paleolithic chert extraction in the Qena area (Egypt). In: Schild, R. and Sulgostowska, Z. (eds.). Man and Flint. Proceedings of the VIIth International Flint Symposium. Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa. Pp. 133-142.
Vermeersh, P.M.; Paulissen, E.; Stokes, S.; Charlier, C.; Van Peer, P.; Stringer, C. and Lindsay, W. 1998. Paleolithic burial of modern human at Taramsa hill, Egypt. Antiquity 277: 475-484.
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C)Examination of Imported LHIIIC Pottery from Israel
Assaf Yasur-Landau Haifa University
Anna-Lucia d’Agata CNR, Roma
Hans Mommsen Universität Bonn
Yuval Goren Tel Aviv University
The relatively small quantity of imported LHIIIC pottery found in Israel is of unique importance to questions of Aegean trade and chronology in the 12th century, since it mostly comes from stratigraphical contexts that can be dated using Egyptian objects. As such, it is the only source for absolute dates for probably most of the LHIIIC period. Its mere presence opens numerous questions concerning the nature of interregional interactions in a period when international trade is thought to be largely terminated, following the end of the Mycenaean palaces and the turbulence in the Near East, some of which is attributed to Aegean raids and migration.
Previous research was conducted on some parts of this assemblage, mainly identifying and using part of the pottery from Beth Shean as a chronological anchor for the absolute date of the LHIIIC period (Hankey 1966; Warren and Hankey 1989: 164-165). Provenance study (using NAA) of the stirrup jar from Tell Keisan (Balensi 1981; Gunnewag and Perlman 1994) had shown a Cypriote origin for the vessel.
However, our understanding of LH/LMIIIC regional styles and phasing within the period was immensely improved in the last few years (e.g. Deger-Jalkotzy 1998; Mountjoy 1999; D’Agata 1999). Concepts about the chronology of the end of the Bronze Age and the Egyptian domination in Canaan have been seriously challenged (e.g., Finkelstein 1995). Finally, questions of continuation of trade through the turbulence of the early 12th century (e.g., Sherratt 1998; Bauer 1998), call for reevaluation of the source and nature of trade in Aegean pottery.
Aim of research
The reexamination of the imported LHIIIC material from Israel will address two major topics: the absolute chronology of the LHIIIC ware and the nature of trade in LHIIIC pottery to Israel.
- LHIIIC chronology:
– Are absolute dates for the LHIIIC period, unconnected to historical reconstructions, attainable?
– Can absolute dates be given to sub-phases of the LHIIIC according to the present evidence?
- International trade in LHIIIC pottery to the Levant:
– What is/are the origin(s) of the vessels: Do they come from one region or from several, and is their origin within the Aegean world, or in areas “Aegeanized” in the 12th century (i.e., Cilicia, Cyprus etc.).
– Containers vs. tableware: Do the LHIIIC imports comprise mainly of containers with a minority of tableware (perhaps a distant mirror, on a much smaller scale of the LHIIIB imports, dominated by containers)?
– Duration of contact: Was pottery imported throughout the LHIIIC period, or just at its very beginning? How did the fall of Ugarit and the Aegean settlement in Cilicia and Cyprus influenced the importation of pottery to Israel? Finally, was the import chronologically earlier to the settlement of Aegeans in Philistia and the local production of LHIIIC pottery (Killebrew 1998: 159-160; Finkelstein 1995: 225) or was there a contemporaneity of interactions with the Aegean world: trade with northern Israel, and settlement in the southern coast.
Methodology and sample
A combination of NAA analysis, a thin section analysis (petrography) and stylistic analysis of a sample of sherds and vessels appears optimal for addressing the research questions posed. Thus for example, information about provenance will be best obtained when data from NAA and petrography is supplemented by stylistic analysis of the sherd, with respect to regional style. Chronological questions, however, will be answered chiefly by a comparison of the relative chronology within the LHIIIC period as manifested in the style of the sherds in the sample, to the absolute chronology available in some of the sites (especially Beth Shean), by the occurrence of datable Egyptian objects in the strata containing the imported LHIIIC pottery.
Our sample includes a total of ca. 40 vessels and sherds from Beth Shean, Acco, Dan, Megiddo, and Aphek.
Advances so far
The samples have been gathered, and the vessels were drawn, photographed, catalogued and sampled. We were privileged to receive an INSTAP grant, which enabled us to fund the processing of the NAA and the thin section samples. In February 2003 we received preliminary results of both the NAA and the thin section analysis, and are now at the beginning of the process of analysing the results and compiling first answers to our research questions.
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Bauer, A.A. 1998. Cities of the Sea: Maritime Trade and the Origin of Philistine Settlement in the Early Iron Age Southern Levant. OJA 17: 149-168.
D’Agata, A.-L. 1999. Defining a Pattern of Continuity during the Dark Age in Central-Western Crete: Ceramin Evidence from the Settlement of Thronos/Kephala (Ancient Sybarita). SMEA 41/2: 181-218.
Deger-Jalkotzy, S. 1998. The Last Mycenaeans and Their Successors Updated. In: Gitin, S., Mazar, A. and Stern, E., eds. Mediterranean Peoples in Transition. Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries BCE. Jerusalem: 114-128.
Finkelstein, I. 1995. The Philistines in Canaan. Tel Aviv 22: 213-239.
Gunneweg, J.P. and Perlman, I. 1994. The Origin of a Mycenaean IIIC:1 Stirrup Jar from Tell Keisan. RB 101: 559-561.
Hankey, V. 1966. Late Mycenaean Pottery at Beth-Shan. AJA 70: 169-171.
Killebrew, A.E. 1998. Mycenaean and Aegean-Style Pottery in Canaan during the 14th-12th Centuries BC. In: Cline, E. and Harris-Cline, D. eds. The Aegeans and the Orient in the Second Millennium (Aegeum 18). Liège: 158-166.
Mountjoy, P. 1999. Regional Mycenaean Decorated Pottery. Radhen/Westf.
Sherratt, S. 1998. “Sea Peoples” and the Economic Structure of the Late Second Millennium in the Eastern Mediterranean. In: Gitin, S., Mazar, A. and Stern, E., eds. Mediterranean Peoples in Transition. Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries BCE. Jerusalem: 292-313.
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