DNA discovery reveals genetic history of ancient Egyptians





TOK TOPICS:   History , Natural Sciences , Reason


Case Description: The recent study and its findings published in nature communications concluded  that preserved remains found in Middle Egypt, were closest genetic relatives of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from the Near East, Anatolia and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans and modern Egyptians, by comparison, share much more DNA with sub-Saharan populations. While the study is limited in scope, these findings compel the historians to reevaluate the facts and related interpretations of the history of the region.


TOK LINK: The earlier DNA analysis of mummies has been treated with a necessary dose of skepticism as contamination is a big issue. Heat and high humidity in tombs, paired with some of the chemicals involved in mummification, all contribute to DNA degradation. However , the above study is touted to be based on “the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians” using improved DNA analysis technology and data contamination tests. Scientists extracted genome data of 90 individuals including 166 bone samples from 151 mummies, dating from approximately 1400 B.C. to A.D. 400 . Extracting genome data is a new frontier for Egyptologists.


Sample KQs:


To what extent can we rely on the evidence ? what role does technology play in knowing and understanding evidence?

How can we rely on Historical facts and data?