The molecular Egyptology field started in the mid-eighties with the first publication on the ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis of an Egyptian mummy. Egypt has been a major interest for historians, archeologists, laymen as well as scientists. The aDNA research on Egyptian biological remains has been fueled by their abundance and relatively well-preserved states through artificial mummification and by the advanced analytical techniques. Early doubts of aDNA integrity within the Egyptian mummies and data authenticity were later abated with studies proving successfully authenticated aDNA retrieval. The current review tries to recapitulate the published studies presenting paleogenomic evidence of disease diagnosis and kinship establishment for the Egyptian human remains.
Regarding disease diagnosis, the prevailing literature was on paleogenomic evidence of infectious diseases in the human remains. A series of reports presented evidence for the presence of tuberculosis and/or malaria. In addition, there were solitary reports of the presence of leprosy, diphtheria, bacteremia, toxoplasmosis, schistosomiasis and leishmaniasis. On the contrary, paleogenomic evidence of the presence of rare diseases was quite scarce and mentioned only in two articles.
On the other hand, kinship analysis of Egyptian human remains, including that of Tutankhamen, was done using both mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear DNA markers, to establish family relationships in four studies.
It is clear that the field of molecular Egyptology is still a largely unexplored territory. Nevertheless, the paleogenomic investigation of Egyptian remains could make significant contributions to biomedical sciences (e.g. elucidation of coevolution of human host–microbe interrelationship) as well as to evidence-based archeology.
- Gad, Y.Z., Hassan, N.A.M., Mousa, D.M., Fouad, F.A., El-Sayed, S.G., Abdelazeem, M.A., Mahdy, S.M., Othman, H.Y., Ibrahim, D.W., Khairat, R. and Ismail, S. (2021). Insights from ancient DNA analysis of Egyptian human mummies: clues to disease and kinship. Human Molecular Genetics, 30(R1), R24-R28.
Peoples: | Places: Arab World and Egypt | Topics: Biomedical | DNA Type: Ancient DNA