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DNA Study Reveals Lebanese Are Descendants of Biblical Canaanites

07-31-2017
Buried Canaanite, Photo, The Sidon Excavation, Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal
Buried Canaanite, Photo, The Sidon Excavation, Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal

A new study by two researchers of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Great Britain concludes that the Lebanese people are descendants of the biblical Canaanites.

Archeologists used DNA from the bones of five people who were Canaanites. They lived between 3,750 and 3,650 years ago and died in the ancient biblical city of Sidon.

Marc Haber and Chris Tyler-Smith and their team of researchers extracted the DNA.

"Canaanite ancestry was widespread in the region, and several groups who were probably culturally different shared the same ancestral background," the Institute's Marc Haber and Chris Tyler-Smith told Live Science.

Researchers then compared their findings with the DNA of 99 Lebanese and with ancient DNA sequences of more than 300 other people from an ancient DNA database.

Their studies revealed a "broad overlap" between the DNA of the Canaanites they examined and the people of Lebanon. Researchers say some of the genetic variations they found indicate the ancient Canaanites may even have resembled modern Lebanese in skin, eye and hair color.

The study concluded that today's Lebanese descend from the Canaanite, "with a bit of Eastern hunter-gather and Eurasian Steppe influence" added to mix about 3,000 years ago.

"Genetics has the power to fill these gaps," Haber and Tyler-Smith told Live Science.

The Canaanites were mentioned in the Old Testament and were often at odds with the Israelites. The Israelites were commanded to drive them out of the land.

"And Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan." (Joshua 3:9-11)

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