The Genomic History of the Bronze Age Southern Levant

Cell. 2020 May 28;181(5):1146-1157.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.024.


We report genome-wide DNA data for 73 individuals from five archaeological sites across the Bronze and Iron Ages Southern Levant. These individuals, who share the "Canaanite" material culture, can be modeled as descending from two sources: (1) earlier local Neolithic populations and (2) populations related to the Chalcolithic Zagros or the Bronze Age Caucasus. The non-local contribution increased over time, as evinced by three outliers who can be modeled as descendants of recent migrants. We show evidence that different "Canaanite" groups genetically resemble each other more than other populations. We find that Levant-related modern populations typically have substantial ancestry coming from populations related to the Chalcolithic Zagros and the Bronze Age Southern Levant. These groups also harbor ancestry from sources we cannot fully model with the available data, highlighting the critical role of post-Bronze-Age migrations into the region over the past 3,000 years.

Keywords: Abel Beth Maacah; Baq‛ah; Tel Megiddo; Tel Shadud; Yehud; ancient DNA; archaeology; demographic inference; genetic ancestry; population genetics.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology / methods
  • DNA, Ancient / analysis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Ethnicity / genetics*
  • Ethnicity / history
  • Gene Flow / genetics*
  • Gene Flow / physiology
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Population / methods
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Genomics / methods
  • Haplotypes
  • History, Ancient
  • Human Migration / history
  • Humans
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Middle East
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Ancient
  • DNA, Mitochondrial