Early humans left Africa by way of Egypt, amazing study shows

Early humans left Africa by way of Egypt, amazing study shows

A new genetic analysis of populations in Egypt and Ethiopia has rewritten the history of humanity's great migration from Northern Africa 60,000 years ago.

A recent genetic analysis of modern day humans in North Africa has changed the way the scientific community views the emergence of civilization. Traditionally, Ethiopia was believed to be the gateway from Africa to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. According to this EurekAlert press release, however, researchers now believe that many of our earliest ancestors passed through Egypt to get to the rest of the world.

Dr. Luca Pagani of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge in England wanted to compare the genomes of people living in Egypt and on the Sinai Peninsula with those of people living in nearby Eurasia to see if he could establish a pattern across the different populations.

He analyzed DNA from a group of 100 hundred Egyptians, and five groups of 25 Ethiopians. By looking at the differences in the peoples’ genomes, he was able to determine the likeliest thoroughfare between Africa and Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“Two geographically plausible routes have been proposed,” said Dr. Pagani. “An exit through the current Egypt and Sinai, which is the northern route, or one through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait, and the Arabian Peninsula, which is the southern route. In our research, we generated the first comprehensive set of unbiased genomic data from Northeast Africans and observed, after controlling for recent migrations, a higher genetic similarity between Egyptians and Eurasians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians.”
The study’s findings imply that a higher population density existed on either side of the path out of Egypt, and people inevitably reproduced and settled along the way.

Dr. Pagani hopes his research will be able to inform further medical and anthropological studies, as it is one of the first comprehensive genetic analyses of people living in Ethiopia and Egypt. The study was published on May 28 in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

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