According to an article published in the PLOS One magazine, Phoenicians may have had European ancestors, and not the other way around, as researchers previously believed. These theories were influenced by the DNA analysis performed on an ancient Phoenician body discovered in Tunisia.
“Ariche,” or “Young Man of Byrsa” as the Phoenician body was dubbed, was found in Tunisia. Upon the discovery, researchers started collecting DNA samples in order to create a comprehensive history of the Phoenician people’s heritage. Their findings revolutionized the way in which we see the history of the skilled ancient people.
Previous studies characterized the Phoenicians as an influential people. They used to have a monopoly on the Mediterranean trade routes. Historians believe that the people originated from Lebanon before expanding their influence across the sea, bringing the alphabet and their prized, unique purple dye with them.
They first established a home in Carthage, not far from where modern-day Tunisia stands. Also, they took shelter in Byblos, Tyre, Arwad, and Sidon. Some evidence even shows that the Phoenicians even reached the coasts of Morocco and Spain, and even managed to circumnavigate all of the African continent.
However, there is no real evidence of their complete history since their own papyrus recordings got disintegrated in time. The only reliable source is represented by the accounts of the Romans and Greeks that conquered the Phoenician people.
Now, thanks to the development of genetic mapping and analysis, researchers can retrace the steps of the Near East people.
According to the tests performed on “Ariche,” Phoenicians may have had European ancestors and not the other way around. It seems like the DNA of the remains contain a gene called U5b2c1. This gene, commonly dubbed the haplogroup, was usually found in ancient people that lived in central Europe and the northern Mediterranean.
By finding the haplogroup in the DNA of a Phoenician that died in Tunisia, researchers are now confronted with the idea that Europeans and Phoenicians knew each other for a longer period of time, the latter traveling back and forth, probably in the process of trading goods.
The scientists involved in the study declared that they are still analyzing the DNA of ancient Phoenicians in the hope that they will find more answers regarding the mysterious people.
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