All  
Painted side of sarcophagus from Agia Triada, Crete, around 1400 BC. Painted plaster on limestone. Shows the relationship between the Minoans and Egyptians.

Ancient DNA Analysis Reveals the ‘Mythical’ Heritage of Modern Greeks

Print

Phys Org reports that a recent analysis of ancient DNA suggests that Ancient Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically identical, with both peoples descending from early Neolithic farmers. The study also reveals that they are both closely related to modern Greeks.

Who Were the Minoans?

The Minoan and the Mycenaean Civilizations, are widely considered the first literate civilizations of the Western World and the ancestors of what later would be defined as Classical Greece. However, many questions about the origins of the Minoans and their ties to the Mycenaeans have long perplexed historians and archaeologists alike. The main question is: where did these people came from?

The detail of the Potnia Theron belongs to the largest piece of Mycenaean wall painting preserved in Mycenae

The detail of the Potnia Theron belongs to the largest piece of Mycenaean wall painting preserved in Mycenae (CC BY 2.0 )

As a previous Ancient Origins article reports , the examination of DNA from teeth taken from Bronze Age Cretan skeletons cleared up the mystery to some extent. American and Cretan researchers showed that ancient Cretans of the Minoan civilization have the closest relationship to both Neolithic and modern Europeans, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Communications. The first advanced Bronze Age civilization of Europe was established by the Minoans about 5,000 years ago. However, according to their estimations people first arrived on Crete about 9,000 years ago, about the same time as the development of agriculture in the Near East and the migrations that brought farming to Europe, the authors wrote.

The "Blue Boy" or the "Saffron-Gatherer". Minoan fresco from Knossos (Evans reconstruction)

The "Blue Boy" or the "Saffron-Gatherer". Minoan fresco from Knossos (Evans reconstruction) ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

Arthur Evans, an archaeologist who exposed the Minoan civic center of Knossos in 1900, named the Minoans after mythical King Minos of Knossos, the ancient people’s capital. Based on similarities in art, burials and the shared practice of wearing codpieces, Evans speculated that they were refugees from Egypt’s Delta after King Narmer conquered northern Egypt about 3000 BC. Geneticist George Stamatoyannopoulos of the University of Washington in Seattle, along with Hughey and other researchers, was able to extract mitochondrial DNA from the teeth of 37 ancient Minoans and compared it to 135 ancient and modern populations. The team found the Minoans had 21 mtDNA markers, including six unique to themselves and 15 common in Neolithic, Bronze Age and modern Europeans. None of the ancient Minoans had mitochondrial DNA similar to modern African people, proving how sadly mistaken Evans had been with his theories.

Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete. Minoan bull-leaping fresco (1600-1450 BC)

Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete. Minoan bull-leaping fresco (1600-1450 BC) ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Recent Study Disproves Previous Questionable Studies

A paper published yesterday in Nature , correlates with the previous study of Dr. Stamatoyannopoulos and suggests that the Minoans had deep roots in the Aegean. In this further analysis, Stamatoyannopoulos has worked in conjunction with Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute, who undertook comprehensive genomic DNA sequencing using techniques developed in his laboratory, and P David Reich of Harvard Medical School, who worked with Iosif Lazaridis on collation and statistical genetic analysis of the data. The researchers analyzed tooth DNA from the remains of nineteen ancient individuals – including ten Minoans from Crete dating to 2900 to 1700 BC, four Mycenaeans from the archaeological site at Mycenae and other cemeteries on the Greek mainland dating from 1700 to 1200 BC, and five people from other early farming or Bronze Age. The main ancestors of both the Minoans and Mycenaeans were natives of the Neolithic Western Anatolia and Greece and the two groups were very closely related to each other, and to modern Greeks.

"Minoans, Mycenaeans, and modern Greeks also had some ancestry related to the ancient people of the Caucasus, Armenia, and Iran. This finding suggests that some migration occurred in the Aegean and southwestern Anatolia from further east after the time of the earliest farmers," Iosif Lazaridis from Harvard University‏ told Phys Org .

The lady from Mycenae as depicted in a fresco at Mycenae, mainland Greece

The lady from Mycenae as depicted in a fresco at Mycenae, mainland Greece ( Public Domain )

Motivation Behind the Meticulous Study

The passion for history and justice were the main motivations of Dr. Stamatoyannopoulos when he launched this ambitions project, "For over a hundred years, many hotly contested theories have circulated concerning the origin of the inhabitants of Bronze Age, Classical, and modern Greece, including the so-called 'Coming of the Greeks' in the late second millennium, the 'Black Athena' hypothesis of the Afroasiatic origins of Classical Greek civilization, and the notorious theory of the 19th century German historian Fallmerayer, who popularized the belief that the descendants of the ancient Greeks had vanished in early Medieval times," he told Phys Org .

And despite the new study not replying definitively to every question there is, it definitely provides some key answers. The greatest example of all, is how the findings disprove the widely accepted until now theory that the Mycenaeans were a foreign population in the Aegean and were not related to the Minoans. The findings also disprove the theory that modern Greeks are not descendants of the Mycenaeans and later ancient Greek populations.

Ultimately, from a scientific point of view, the study once again highlights the incredible potential of ancient DNA analysis as a tool in the hands of scientists who attempt to solve perplexing historical issues.

Top image: Painted side of sarcophagus from Agia Triada, Crete, around 1400 BC. Painted plaster on limestone. Shows the relationship between the Minoans and Egyptians. ( Public Domain )

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Comments

Psukhe's picture

The article provided the most plausible explanation for the obvious. The advancing peoples of the Cradle of Civilization (Sumer) explored prime real estate in the Mediterranean Sea. The island flourished due to proximity to Egypt and Indus Valley civilizations.

AintGottaClue's picture

It is not my intent to "downplay"the accomplishments of "Black Africans," nor promote "Caucasoid development." I just attempt to see things as they are, not how someone (anyone) "wants them to be," or "wishes they were." If an ancient civilization was"Black, "it was "Black," if it was "Caucasoid," it was "Caucasoid," etc., and there is little point in trying to "make it otherwise," just to satisfy some politically correct garbage that 90% of the time isn't "correct" to begin with. It is what it is, whether anyone likes it or not. The "Olmecs" are a good example....some say they are African Blacks, some say they are Asian, some say they are indigenous natives....and no one knows for sure, because the archaeological evidence is mixed. Some research indicates that the Olmecs did NOT "pre-date" the Maya, and that the Maya were actually contemporaries of the Olmecs, and may well have been responsible for wiping them out. As to whether the Olmecs were "Blacks"from Africa, I haven't a clue....there does seem to be a lot of evidence pointing in that direction, however. Hell, half the "Phoenicians" were "Black," but very few people will acknowledge or admit THAT, either, and the Phoenicians were world-wide travelers, no telling who wound up where. I just don't particularly care for those who try to promote things that aren't factually backed up by actually valid research. There is no doubt that Blacks were among early explorers...but there is also no doubt that none of the ancient, advanced civilizations such as those in Sumeria, in Northwestern India, in Northwestern China and Siberia were Caucasoid. Egyptian civilization is "up in the air," and may well have involved both Blacks and Caucasoid peoples....the evidence favors some sort of co-development, as there were both "Caucasoid and Negroid" Pharaohs, though very few ever mention the "Negroid" Pharaohs. Ignoring them does not make them "go away," it just means they are being ignored. I, personally, could care less who started what, when...I just want to know WHO/WHEN. The "alien intervention" theory is an area of interest to me for the simple reason there is a ton of evidence supporting that theory, and it DOES explain quite a number of historical anomalies that are VERY difficult to explain otherwise (if they are to be explained at all). I get on your case because you push the "Black thing" in areas where there is no support for your views, and it comes off as overt racism.. I have a tendency to push the "Caucasoid" side, as there is much evidence to support that, as opposed to making claims that can't be supported.

BTW: DNA analysis can distinguish racial markers. I'm not sure if AO's "spam" filters will let the following link come through, but if not, Google "Guide to Ethnic DNA Testing: How to Prove Your Ancestors' Ethnicity" and go to "dna-testing-adviser" OK,I'll try to post the link now, and we'll see if it goes through AO's filter.
http://www.dna-testing-adviser.com/EthnicDNATesting.html

History is nowhere near as well known as we think it is.

AINTGOTTACLUE,  VERY INTELLIGENT COMMENT SIR, AND IT IS NICE TO SEE THAT I AM WORTH TAGGING ALONG.    IT IS TRUE WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT ETHIOPIA AND ALL OF ITS ACCOMPLISHEMENTS, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT MANY OTHER ANCIENT BLACK CIVILIZATIONS SHOULD BE IGNORED FOR THE CAUSE OF MAKING WHITE PEOPLE FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES...EGYPTIANS, NUBIANS, ETHIOPIANS, KUSHITES, AKSUMITES, CARTHAGINIANS ETC ARE ALL THE SAME BLACK RACE OF PEOPLE, WITH SOME PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES, BUT THOSE DIFFERENCES DOES NOT PLACE THEM OUTSIDE OF THE BLACK RACE, ANYMORE THAN THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHITE NORDICS AND SOUTHERN EUROPEAN WHITES ARE CLASSIFIED AS BEING RACIALLY DIFFERENT…..THEY ARE JUST DIFFERENT, THAT’S ALL...

Charles Bowles

There is absolutely no proof that Egypt, China, S. American or Chinese civilizations were begun by caucasoids. None what so ever. Stop pushing a nonsense agenda about "white conquerors" or some crap.
Sumer was begun by near eastern Arab types. If you say they are "caucasoid" than that's your opinion but there is no way you can characterize ancient Chinese, Mayan or Indus people as caucasoid. You aren't pushing facts, not at all.

AintGottaClue's picture

If DNA analysis is carried out extensively in the area of "ancient, advanced civilizations," they are going to have to rewrite the history books whether they like it or not. The "out-of-Africa" theory is leaking like a sieve and it is becoming obvious that nearly all the ancient civilizations (Sumeria, Northwest India, China, Greece, Siberia, and S.America) were either started by Caucasoid peoples, or were taught by Caucasoid peoples. The Caucasoids in turn were apparently taught by (and may well have interbred with) aliens, who, of course, were called "gods" by those ancient peoples, because of their superior knowledge and technology. This is not "racism," this is the factual historical record, though individuals like Charles Bowles see "racism" under every rock, and would like history to be a bit different. It is what it is, whether anyone likes it or not. Such interbreeding would also explain a number of genetic anomalies, such as the Rh Negative blood factor controversy. Providing the DNA analysis continues, and is not swept under the rug to preserve the "status quo" of conventional history teachings, the historical picture may become more clear, and the link between advanced civilizations and "alien intervention" will be stuck out in the daylight for everyone to see. Gonna be interesting, to say the least! What is so sad is that people like Mr. Bowles pretty much ignore the Black Africans' own history of accomplishment in Africa, in the process....the Ethiopians in particular, who had a very high level of civilization as early as 1,000 BC, and WITHOUT any "outside intervention." They were coining money, for example, as early as 700 BC, and they conquered nearly the whole of what we now call the Arab Emirates (Yemen, Qatar,etc.), and a good chunk of Egypt as well.

History is nowhere near as well known as we think it is.

Pages

Next article