bpk/Aegyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, SMB/Sandra Steiss

Foreign conquests and assimilation into Greek and Roman empires more than 1,500 years ago appear to have left very little genetic imprint on ancient Egyptians, according to a new study that, for the first time, successfully sequenced DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies.

Main takeaways:

  • Ancient Egyptians show more genetic similarity to Near Easterners from western Asia and the Middle East than modern Egyptians.
  • The DNA of the mummies was largely unchanged even as the Greeks and Romans conquered the region. But modern Egyptians, depending where they are from, have 10 to 20% genetic makeup from sub-saharan African ancestry, indicating there was a sudden increase in gene flow into Egypt over the past 1500 years. The researchers suggest this could be due to increased trade -including slaves - along the Nile River.
  • The study marks the first time researchers successfully sequenced the genomes of ancient Egyptians - "game-changing results."
  • "We find no genetic change from the New Kingdom to the Roman time period, suggesting that foreign invasions (e.g. Alexander the Great) have left no genetic descendants that we can detect," said lead author Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

The details: The team sampled 151 mummified individuals originally from the archaeological site of Abusir el-Meleq, along the Nile River in Middle Egypt. Radiocarbon dating showed the range of the individuals spanned 1300 years from 1400 BCE to 400 CE. They recovered mitochondrial genomes from 90 individuals, and genome-wide datasets from three individuals.

Limitation: The research team cautioned that since the genetic samples were taken from just one archaeological site, they may not represent all of ancient Egypt.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."