Friday, April 27, 2012

Hagar & Bnei Yosef mtDNA Associations

In follow-up to my previous post suggesting mother Sarah could have very likely belonged to mtDNA haplogroup U5, and noting that this haplogroup has evidenced a back-migration(s) into North Africa in the remote past, I thought it worthwhile to investigate mtDNA haplogroups native to Egypt given Abraham's relationship with the Egyptian princess Hagar and given Yosef's children's matrilineal descent through his Hebrew-Egyptian wife, Asnat1.

Wiki informs us regarding native Egyptian genetics:

Attempts to extract ancient DNA or aDNA from Ancient Egyptian remains have yielded little or no success until recently although the results continue to be hotly debated. Climatic conditions and the mummification process could hasten the deterioration of DNA. Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes have also created obstacles to recovery of Ancient DNA. 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. However, there was one notable study of ancient mummies of the 12th Dynasty, performed by Paabo and Di Rienzo, which identified multiple lines of descent, including some from sub-Saharan Africa.

and further

Other studies have shown that modern Egyptians have genetic affinities primarily with populations of Eurasia, North and Northeast Africa, and to a lesser extent Middle Eastern and European populations. Studies done on ancient Egyptians' remains have shown uniformity and homogeneity among the samples, and cranial/limb ratio similarity with populations from North Africa, Somalia, Nubia, Southwest Asia and Europe. Blood typing and DNA sampling on ancient Egyptian mummies is scant; however, blood typing of dynastic mummies found ABO frequencies to be most similar to modern Egyptians and some also to Northern Haratin populations. ABO blood group distribution shows that the Egyptians form a sister group to North African populations, including Berbers, Nubians and Canary Islanders.

Some genetic studies done on modern Egyptians suggest that most do not have close relations to most tropical Africans, and other studies show that they are mostly related to other North Africans, and to a lesser extent southern European/Mediterranean and Middle Eastern populations. 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 another study links Egyptians in general with people from modern Eritrea and Ethiopia. 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. 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 Africa. Haplotypes V, XI, and IV are all supra-Saharan/Horn African haplotypes, and they are far more dominant in Egyptians than in Near Eastern or European groups.

Historically there have been differing accounts of the appearance of ancient Egyptians as compared to people of other nations. Egyptologists generally consider the ancient Egyptians to have been a continuum from the lighter northern population of Lower Egypt to the darker Upper Egyptians. A number of supporting studies have therefore been undertaken on craniometric patterns and skeletal remains. The results have varied, and interpretation has been complicated by conflict over the baselines to be used in analysing this data.

So, while none of this is conclusive and is only speculative, it seems plausible to suggest that Native Egyptian Hagar may have been from a more directly Native Egyptian M1 mtDNA, haplogroup (or alternatively, Fulani L2a, another Native Egyptian mtDNA haplogroup), while Yosef's Hebrew-Egyptian wife Asnat may have been of a mtDNA haplogroup associated with Egypt less directly through Hebrew-backmigration linked North African Berber U5b (my mtDNA haplogroup).

More on Ancient Native Egyptian DNA

1Yosef's tribe was split into Ephraim and Menashe, making their mother Asnat a matriarch of the Hebrews along with Leah and Rachel.

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